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.