Redmond quits

The South Australian Liberals will choose a new leader on Monday after Isobel Redmond announced this morning her increasingly beleagured tenure had come to an end.

Months after surviving a leadership challenge by a solitary vote, Isobel Redmond has pulled the plug on her three-and-a-half year spell as leader of the South Australian Liberals. Her successor will be chosen at a secret party room ballot at 9am on Monday. The hot tip had been that Alexander Downer would be drafted in to take the reins, but his denials today have been fairly emphatic. Deputy leader Steven Marshall appears to be a likely starter on Monday; the unsuccessful challenger from November, Martin Hamilton-Smith, is also presumably considering his options. This post will be feature updates on events as they transpire.

UPDATE (1/2/13): Daniel Wills of the Advertiser:

FIRST-term MP Steven Marshall is firming to become state Liberal leader after Isobel Redmond’s shock resignation, but senior party sources insist he will only take the job “on his own terms”.

Lucille Keen of the Financial Review:

The surprise move has pushed her deputy, Steven Marshall, into the leader’s position pending a party-room vote on Monday.

Insiders say he is likely to win that vote but speculation is still intense about the possibility that Mr Downer will lead the party to the March 2014 poll.

Paul Starick of the Advertiser:

It remains more likely, if he is to assume the leadership, that Mr Downer would wait until later in the year before declaring his hand.

Equally, he might just let the issue fizzle out if a new leader performs strongly.

UPDATE (2/2/13): Steven Marshall has appeared for a symbolism-packed photo opportunity with bitter 90s leadership rivals John Olsen and Dean Brown, who have both announced their support for his leadership bid. Olsen had “reportedly been a backer of the Downer option”. Downer was not available for comment yesterday.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

76 comments on “Redmond quits”

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  1. This is my comment on the subject, from the other thread, repeated:

    Isobel Redmond quits as SA Liberal leader. About time. She had lost control of her leadership and nobody had faith in her any more. Also her “rational” and “moderate” facade had dropped and she was starting to look extreme. As for her successor, Downer has said no, MHS most definitely will throw his hat in and Marshall has yet to decide. If Marshall says yes, the contest might be quite close. My view on the leaders’ potential: MHS would lose the election , Marshall would win. However, I suspect the Libs may want Marshall to prove he can retain Dunstan (currently Norwood) before they elect him, as the seat is a marginal (but not razor-thin), thus my gut feeling is MHS will be leader but I could be wrong – they may feel that they might as well strike with Marshall now.

  2. [Marshall could easily win but MHS is a loser, and the SA Libs are very very good at losing.]
    Marshall is in his first term in parliament! He would be a huge risk.

    If Downer took on the job in a Campbell Newman style leadership deal, he would win the next election easily.

  3. [If Downer took on the job in a Campbell Newman style leadership deal, he would win the next election easily.]

    He’s not running.

    Also, I don’t think Downer’s victory as Lib leader would be certain. He certainly has a lot of drawbacks that could harm him.

    The Libs need young, Adelaide-based moderates to give the party appeal in the metro area, where the votes are. People like Marshall fit that bill.

  4. SO

    I agree but I really hope Downer doesn’t take the job. I couldn’t stand seeing him all over again. I’ve only just gotten over the Howard years.

  5. BH

    MHS is considered a nice buffoon. His heart is in the right place but he’s inept. A bit of a Bertie Wooster character but with an army background (think Dickie Mountbatten).

    Weatherill is way out ahead of MHS.

  6. I’ve heard that Marshall is (obviously) gauging his support in the party and, if it’s not that strong, he may approach MHS to retain his deputy spot in an unopposed unity ticket and thus keep his powder dry for later. One thing that may go against that logic is that, if MHS performs poorly at the election, Marshall may be one of the seat casualties…

  7. Thanks Dio. Has my family name in his but I can’t place which branch he comes from. I’m not necessarily happy that he’s a Dickie Mountbatten.

    So without a strong leader does that give SA Labor another go? It’s such a long time in power.

  8. BH

    The new SA Labor team is almost unrecognisable from the old Rann one with all the top dogs gone except Weatherill. Rann, Foley, Atkinson, Hill, Holloway, Conlon etc were about 95% of the old Labor.

  9. Will SA Liberals be able to recover in time for the election? or another question would be, how long before another liberal leader to take the reigns?

  10. MHS doesn’t have the numbers but he is trying to convince SM he has so that SM stays as Deputy. I don’t think SM is that naive. SM it will be, unopposed.

  11. My money is on a return to Iain Evans with Stephen Marshall (who’s too inexperienced to be leader) as deputy.

    Martin Hamilton Smith has done far too much damage to himself over the last four years.

  12. [Will SA Liberals be able to recover in time for the election?]

    If they choose the right person to lead and pull themselves in line, definitely. (There’s still 13 months)

    [or another question would be, how long before another liberal leader to take the reigns?]

    Whoever wins the leadership vote (barring a stalemate-like situation on Monday) will most likely be leader at the election. Mood is they want to get this shit over and done with and focus on the government from this point on.

  13. At last the SA Libs are on a winner. Steven Marshall is street smart and a good snake oil salesman. Like Jay Weatherill, Marshall is a boy from the western suburbs and a Port Adelaide football supporter. But he now hangs out with the Norwood mob he once hated and is a shoo-in to retain Don Dunstan’s seat of Norwood/Dunstan he wrested from Labor in 2010.

    Labor has a new-look team but it’s low on talent and ripe for the picking.

  14. I think Marshall would be a good future leader for the Libs, but I think his elevation is pretty risky stuff. By Australian political standards, he is a serious L-plater, with most incoming premiers and prime ministers I can think of in the last 20 years having been in parliament at least 10 years prior to ascending to the position.

    I am still strongly of the opinion that Martin Hamilton-Smith has been the only effective opposition leader the Liberals have had since 2002. I feel certain he would have finished off Rann in 2010 if it wasn’t for the dodgy documents affair. He would have done better than Redmond. The problem for Marty is a fair few of his colleagues despise him. But I think the Liberals would have a better chance with him as leader. Marshall is too raw and a real risk in my opinion. I’m not saying he can’t win, but I think his inexperience means there lie plenty of traps ahead for him.

  15. The problem Weatherill has is that there’s no money. No money at all. So while he’s cleared the decks personality wise (at LAST), his only option is budget cuts between now and the next election.

    He’s generally regarded as a good bloke with solid progressive values.

    If the Libs put Marshall in I reckon the reality is that gravity will pull Labor down and the Libs will romp in the next election. We’ll then get the kind of public service bloodbath just experienced in Queensland, but with an economy much less able to weather the storm.

    I would love to see Weatherill go for some real game-changers – say, legalising gay marriage in SA (in D Dunstan’s memory, perhaps), banning pokies, a massive renewable energy program (SA already leads the nation), something like that.

  16. ALP won an election too many in SA, like they did in NSW and Qld. The Liberals will win easily with anyone leding them. It is just the cycle

  17. So some numbers regarding previous parliamentary/political experience of the current tranche of premiers/chief ministers and the prime minister upon ascension to the top job:

    Colin Barnett (WA, 18 years)
    Barry O’Farrell (NSW, 16 years)
    Terry Mills (NT, 13 years)
    Julia Gillard (FED, 12 years)
    Ted Bailleu (VIC, 11 years)
    Lara Giddings (TAS, 11 years with a gap)
    Katy Gallagher (ACT, 10 years)
    Jay Weatherill (SA, 9 years)
    Campbell Newman (QLD 0 years but 8 years as lord mayor)

    The previous tranche of leaders offers Marshall a little more hope perhaps:

    Mike Rann (SA, 17 years)
    John Brumby (VIC, 14 years, 21 years if you include his fed parliament stint)
    Anna Bligh (QLD, 12 years)
    Alan Carpenter (WA, 10 years)
    Kevin Rudd (FED, 9 years)
    Paul Henderson (NT, 8 years)
    Kristina Kenneally (NSW, 6 years)
    David Bartlett (TAS, 4 years)
    Jon Stanhope (ACT, 3 years)

    If we go back even further:

    John Howard (FED, 22 years)
    Geoff Gallop (WA, 15 years)
    Paul Lennon (TAS, 14 years)
    Gary Humphries (ACT, 11 years)
    Rob Kerin (SA, 8 years)
    Peter Beattie (QLD, 7 years)
    Clare Martin (NT, 6 years)
    Steve Bracks (VIC, 5 years)
    Nathan Rees (NSW, 1 year)

    So there are a few examples of very inexperienced MPs becoming head honcho, but almost exclusively on the labor side of politics. In the list of 27 leaders above (admittedly only 8 of them are conservatives), the least experienced conservative boss man other than Campbell Newman, was Rob Kerin, whose premiership lasted less than 5 months. For the Newman example, there are obvious extenuating circumstances due to his town hall experience.

    Do we really think that Evans, Chapman, Hamilton-Smith and co who have done the hard years of opposition are really going to let the new boy on the block take the glory?? They probably will, but you can bet the green eyed monster will be in the room bigtime.

  18. Labor will leave some great legacies – the new Royal Adelaide Hospital, the start of an electrified rail system, the upgraded Adelaide Oval, the desal plant (which is derided now but may be needed sooner than expected).

    Unfortunately the government embarked on at least one big project too many and has been caught out by straightened economic circumstances. The new Liberal government will find life difficult.

  19. Sykesie @24, I know it is a little while ago, but how much parliamentary experience did Bob Hawke have before he became leader of he Opposition and then Prime Minister?

    The inside word is a large number of Libs will not allow Vicki Chapman near the leadership, and many of them are also scared of MHS being deputy; but the numbers are close for both to get what they want, or nothing. As they are from opposite factions, they both won’t be happy.

    The most likely scenario is that Horst van der Pellekan will get the Deputy job to make it a clean sweep, but it will take Marshall’s request to make that happen easily.

    You read it here first.

  20. Congratulations Mr. Marshall and, indeed, the Liberal Party for your inevitable win next year.

    Let’s hope they have a decent vision this time that isn’t just gut the state’s infrastructure and do nothing, while everybody under 50 leaves…

    I would hate to see the progress made by this government undone by a bunch of myopic conservatives.

  21. Also, I am thoroughly disappointed that Labor MPs have not lined up to express how much they actually respected Redmond and how they despair over her treatment. If the shoe was on the other foot, you can be assured there would’ve been crocodile tears from everybody remotely associated with the Liberal Party…

  22. Oh, and Peter @16, you need to be corrected – Martin Hamilton-Smith did not manufacture the dodgy documents in regard to links between the ALP and the Church (sic) of Scientology.

    The dodgy documents landed on MHS’s desk off the so called back of a truck and he and his then COS thought they were genuine and ran with them in the media where the documents were soon discredited. As was Marty and his soon to be out of work COS.

    The SA parliament rumour mill has it that an ALP staffer did them up (I hasten to add without the knowledge of his superiors, at least at the time) to embarrass MHS – and it worked.

  23. The dodgy documents didn’t ruin MHS’ leadership. It was already dying. The documents saga just finished it off. MHS was a terrible leader who was too aggressive, yet toothless. He also lacked substance as well. Rann would’ve crushed him. Weatherill would definitely crush him this time, had he decided to run and won.

    Also, he’s from the conservative wing. They never do well as leaders of the state party. The voters tend to prefer moderate leaders.

  24. One thing that works in favour for the SA ALP Govt is that the PM has been kind enough to time the election to give South Australians a good solid six months of Federal Coalition government to make a few South Australian voters maybe think twice about giving them state government too.

  25. [I would love to see Weatherill go for some real game-changers – say, legalising gay marriage in SA (in D Dunstan’s memory, perhaps), ]

    The states can’t legalise same-sex marriage.

  26. Labor have next to no chance in 2014.

    Marshall isn’t too bad. He won’t get my vote, but he will get a lot of people’s – I think a Marshal/Chapman ticket will win a comfortable majority.

    Put it this way – it could be worse.

  27. There will be a vote on the issue early this year. Weatherill is personally for it but is allowing a conscience vote. Redmond similarly had extended the conscience vote to her party (and is personally for it), I daresay Marshall will take the same stance.

    As for the constitutionality, it is debated. I would like to see it pass, so the High Court can clear it up once and for all. Even if the HC strikes it down, it would still be good symbolically.

  28. Anyway, my point was – if the Labor govt. doesn’t have money to spend, it needs to look for something more along the lines of big picture social policies (like gay marriage) to show that it stands for something.

  29. [Anyway, my point was – if the Labor govt. doesn’t have money to spend, it needs to look for something more along the lines of big picture social policies (like gay marriage) to show that it stands for something.]

    I disagree. It should stand on its record of infrastructure investment and economic growth.* Same sex marriage should be legalised because it’s the right thing to do but the swing-voting “average Joe” isn’t going to give a damn about the issue of same sex marriage when it comes to voting.

  30. Jay was generous in his comments on Isobel, his former law firm colleague.

    If the Pelioan gets the deputy post, it will be good news for Marshall and the Libs. Two smart cookies on opposite sides of the Liberal divide. No doubt C. Pyne will be salivating over his boy’s accession to the top job.

  31. [Psephos – actually the states can make laws regarding marriage. It’s not an exclusive Commonwealth power.]

    My understanding is that the states can legislate for SSM but it could be challenged by the Feds.

    It would be friggin’ hilarious if SA legislates for SMM and Gillard tries to strike the law down, despite SSM being official ALP policy.

  32. It’s quite ironical that South Australia, which in 1894 gave women the right to vote and to stand for parliament, is the only state or territory not to have had a female chief minister or premier.

    Now that Isobel Redmond’s gone, there’s no woman on the horizon either.

  33. [It’s quite ironical that South Australia, which in 1894 gave women the right to vote and to stand for parliament, is the only state or territory not to have had a female chief minister or premier.

    Now that Isobel Redmond’s gone, there’s no woman on the horizon either.]

    What is less ironic though is it is the only state that has given a majority of its 2PP vote to a party led by a woman, both state and federally.

  34. Any state who opens the door to gay marriage will eventually rue the day they ever considered it. This is a fringe issue that affects fewer people in Australia than arguably more important indigenous issues.

    The plain facts are:
    1. Civil unions already allow equality in financial and legal benefit in the same way that de facto relationships are given.
    2. Marriage as a cultural and religious institution should not be made to bend to the will of those currently outside its legal boundaries. It is akin to waltzing into vegetarian restaurants and demanding that meat be served.
    3. The ‘best’ claims for SSM appear to be that couples are ‘in love’ and ‘deserve marriage equality’, which was never the basis for the institution of marriage in the first place. The ‘slippery slope’ arguments in such debates are always dismissed as strident ranting but once the heterosexual monogamous wall is breached on this issue, I guarantee that even if the high court needs to be involved, there is no defence to stop:
    a) related, sterilised, family members from marriage (as the famous ACA case from WA was reported in 2009 of a father and a daughter living in a de facto relationship)
    b) polyamorous relationships
    c) lowering of the age of consent (some countries already allow marriage at 13) and minimum age to wed

    Gay political activists decry current laws because there is still the (unfounded) belief (that the American Psychological Association has already walked away from) that gayness is genetically based so marriage equality is only fair. Is this where we should set the bar for legislation on families??

    Paedophiles have the highest rates of recidivism of any criminal offence and the poorest rates of rehabilitation, what if, to our horror, we found a gene relating to this behaviour. Is anyone suggesting here that if paedophiles could find a consenting child that marriage should be opened here too? This is not fiction. Operation Argos in Queensland has already uncovered a movement of paedophiles towards justification of their behaviour and decriminalising it.

    I know people in this blog have unwavering opinions on this issue and individual cases close to some of your families make it a very personal issue. However legislation is to protect ALL, not just those who feel ripped off with the current laws.

    Rights of children are paramount here. It matters not that ‘some homosexual’ couples would (anecdotally) make far better parents than some heterosexual couples’, some certainly wouldn’t… as you would find with ANY population of people. A more important point is that, wherever possible, we should ensure that children are able to grow up in an environment where the diversity and complementarity of both genders of parents is available to children. Where are their rights in this complex issue??

  35. Mick

    Homosexual couples are already allowed to adopt children and studies show they turn out much the same as other kids. SSM has nothing to do with homosexual adoption.

    Genetics are about 20% of sexual orientation using twin studies. Environment is more important.

    Plenty of places have legalised SSM. None of them have “rued the day”.

  36. Dio

    1. ‘much the same’ is not ‘the same’ and denies the importance of male and female parents as diverse and important influences on child rearing.

    2. The APA, as arguably the peak Psychological Association in the world, does not agree with any part of your statement regarding genetics. Some proclaim gayness is as prevalent as diabetes.. with the human genome project complete, it is odd that such evidence is still inconclusive.

    3. In the last decade, no government has ‘rued the day’, sure, but there are not ‘plenty’ of countries that have done this and it is nonsensical to consider consequences in such a short timeframe. The more problematic issue is that the box can’t be closed again once opened. Same as legalised prostitution, people have too much invested to have such laws ever reversed. Those countries that have SSM are now the ones most lobbied by the Polyamorists at present and the legal likelihood is that Polyamory and, with the rise of Muslim diaspora, Polygamy, will be the next frontline for ‘marriage equality’.

    There is a more serious problem to the ‘gay gene’ argument,which has for years split the political arms of the gay movement. At issue is the very real dilemma that if homosexual orientation is genetic AND affects cognition, affect and behaviour of the individual, then this re-opens the door that might suggest homosexuality as a mental disorder. How?

    Well Depression and Bipolarity are now clearly indicated with varying genetic predisposition. Both affect cognition, affect and behaviour as well. Medical conditions like breast cancer, diabetes, heart disease and myopia are all genetic and occur in a minority of the population. Some gay advocacy groups are now shifting tack and holding a ‘gay by choice’ line in defence of this possible regression.

    We now know a great deal about the behaviour, in particular of gay men and a wall of research shows that cognition about sex, obsessive sexual behaviour and acting out of sexual acts with higher risk (in terms of unprotected sex, sex in a public place etc) are statistically higher than in the average male population. The results are less clear for Lesbian relationships however, the literature is also more scarce. What is clear is that sex is far more central in the cognition, affect and behaviour of homosexual male populations than heterosexual ones.

    So there is definitely a diversion of ‘party line’ with gay political agendae.

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