SA election: Don Farrell is in, then out

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This morning saw remarkable events in South Australian politics, involving a prominent federal politician launching an aborted attempt to enter state politics, and a threat from a sitting Premier to resign weeks out from an election.

Don Farrell, a prominent Labor senator and one of the so-called ‘faceless men’ involved in replacing Kevin Rudd with Julia Gillard in 2010, lost his seat at the 2013 election, when the ALP could only manage to get a single senator elected in South Australia. Farrell had originally been preselected first ahead of the left’s Penny Wong, but a public outcry at that order saw him step down in favour of Wong. At the time it was inconceivable that the ALP would fail to win two seats.

The Australian reported a story this morning that claimed that Labor minister Michael O’Brien would retire from the seat of Napier, and would be replaced by Farrell, whose Senate term ends in June.

The story also claimed that party figures would replace Weatherill with Farrell as Labor leader if the ALP lost the upcoming election.

O’Brien and Farrell soon confirmed that O’Brien planned to retire, and Farrell was planning to contest preselection in Napier.

The Premier, Jay Weatherill, then went on to local radio, confirming that he was aware of the ‘deal’, and saying that he did not support the idea. Weatherill went further and suggested he could resign as Premier and Labor leader before the election if Farrell was preselected.

Around 11:30, Don Farrell spoke to the press and confirmed that he would no longer be standing for preselection, and would leave public life when his Senate term finishes in June.

While the South Australian ALP was on track for a likely defeat in March, it was by no means guaranteed, and was likely to be a small loss. It is very unclear now what impact today’s events will have on the ALP in March.

Please use this post as a general thread on South Australian politics, the election and Farrell’s aborted jump into state politics.

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8 COMMENTS

  1. The Catholic right (wrong) of the ALP is destroying the party around the country! What happened yesterday has totally jeopardised the ALP’s chance of retaining Government which was a slim chance anyway. It is bad enough that the Electors of Napier have had a local Labor MP who lives in Springfield (one of Adelaide’s richest suburbs) but to have a losing ex-Senator possibly thrust into their community was an absolute disgrace. Labor nationally is going from one calamity to another. First step cleanse the party of the far right Catholics or even better start a new Party of the Centre/Left!

  2. I am in the minority and perhaps lone voice but Jay Jay stepping up to a faceless man moves him a step up in my book. That puts him on step 1.

    Stephan Marshall could do the same by getting Sophie Mirabella kicked of the sub corp board. Whilst that is probably not within his powers it would match Jay Jay in kicking one of the worst politicians in recent memory into the wilderness.

    It would be addition by subtraction of two.

  3. I think thats a good point, this shows Jay standing up to ‘faceless’ men in the party and is doing what his federal counterpart couldn’t do at the election and cement his leadership. I honestly don’t think this will affect any chance, this will be old news by the election and if the libs bring it up, they risk bringing their own leadership issues up

  4. I think thats a good point, this shows Jay standing up to ‘faceless’ men in the party and is doing what his federal counterpart couldn’t do at the election and cement his leadership. I honestly don’t think this will affect any chance, this will be old news by the election and if the libs bring it up, they risk bringing their own leadership issues up

  5. I think it’s a telling of the nonsense inherent in the “faceless men” meme that an individual can be described as both a “prominent Senator” and one of the “faceless men” in the same breath!

  6. If Jay4SA can run a good ‘presidential’ campaign, this may not be a negative. Fact is that it’s an old Government with a strong and likeable leader, so the more they focus on the Premier the better for Labor.

    If the campaign falls apart though, the commentariat will go back to this point as the beginning of the end. I think the campaign just became even more important than usual because we are at the crossroads of the narrative either being about a strong leader or a collapsed campaign. The next two weeks will be vital to both sides.

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