Liberals Outpoll Labor In South Australia But Weatherill Clings To Power As Two Independents Hold The Balance In Hung Parliament

The South Australian Labor government led by Premier Jay Weatherill is clinging to government as counting of today’s election continues. Two independents will most likely hold the balance of power in a hung parliament, with the ALP best placed to form government.

Weatherill

In the 47-member House of Assembly, the ALP has won 23 seats, the Liberals have 22, and there are 2 independents.

The ALP has lost three seats (Bright, Hartley and Mitchell) to the Liberal Party. It is narrowly behind in Mitchell and the seat is officially in doubt.

In addition to Bright, Hartley and Mitchell, the Liberals have also won Mount Gambier from an independent, bringing their total to 22 seats.

If the ALP can hold 23 seats, it may be able to form government by offering the Speakership to one of the two independents. Alternatively, the support of either or both independents could deliver government. When Labor won government in 2002 under Mike Rann, it offered the Speakership to an independent Liberal and a Cabinet post to a Nationals member.

The Liberal Party will struggle to form a government unless it can win one more seat. Speaking to supporters tonight, the Liberal leader, Steven Marshall, said the seats of Elder, Mitchell, Ashford and Wright were still in doubt.

Marshall

In Elder, the ALP leads with 51.9% of the two-party-preferred vote. In Ashford, the ALP is ahead with 52.2%. In Wright, the ALP leads with 53.6%. Experience suggests the ALP will hold these seats.

In Mitchell, the Liberal candidate leads with 50.5%, or 148 votes. This seat is genuinely in doubt.

The situation will remain unclear for some days because the counting of postal and pre-poll votes has not yet started. Reports say these votes number 160,000, around 14% of the total. Until these votes are counted, the outcome of the election will be unclear.

However, the result is an extraordinary outcome for a government that was thought to be headed for defeat. It is a disappointment for the Liberal Party and its new leader, Steven Marshall, who only entered parliament at the last election.

The statewide vote tallies show that the Liberal Party has increased its primary vote by 2.6% to 44.3%. The ALP’s primary vote fell 0.7% to 36.8%. The Greens increased their vote by 0.4% to 8.5%. Family First polled 6.1%, an increase of 0.7%.

The Liberal Party has polled 52.7% of the two-party-preferred vote. This is the second election in a row where the party has outpolled Labor but failed to win enough seats to form government. Some of that discrepancy arises because the two independents hold traditionally Liberal seats.

The two independents are Geoff Brock and Bob Such. Brock has represented Frome since winning a by-election for the Port Pirie seat in 2009. Such has represented the electorate of Fisher in the southern suburbs of Adelaide since 1989, first as a Liberal and then as an independent since 2000. He was a minister in the Liberal government in the 1990s.

Brock has said he would see who his voters preferred as their second preference before making a decision about who to support in a hung parliament. Brock’s voting record has been supportive of the ALP. Such is regarded as a genuine independent. He faced a concerted campaign from the Liberal Party but easily held his seat.

Final counting and the attitude of the independents will determine whether Weatherill will survive and whether the ALP can make it to sixteen years of continuous government.

  • Listen to Steven Marshall (4m)
  • Watch Marshall (4m)
  • Listen to Jay Weatherill (7m)
  • Watch Weatherill (7m)
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