Martin Hamilton-Smith, Former South Australian Liberal Leader, Defects And Becomes Minister In Weatherill Labor Government

The former leader of the South Australian Liberal Party, Martin Hamilton-Smith, has defected and will become a minister in the Labor minority government led by Jay Weatherill, securing its position in the hung Parliament.


The decision was announced at a surprise press conference in Adelaide this morning. Hamilton-Smith will become Minister for Investment, Trade, Defence Industries and Veterans Affairs. He has guaranteed to support the government on Supply and confidence motions. He will sit on the crossbenches and contest his electorate of Waite as in independent Liberal in 2018.

Hamilton-Smith’s support gives the Weatherill government 25 votes in the 47-seat House of Assembly. The ALP won 23 seats at the election two months ago and governs with the support of Geoff Brock, the independent member for Frome, who was also given a Cabinet position.

The Liberal Party won 22 seats at the election but will now have 21. There is one other independent, Bob Such, the member for Fisher, who is currently on sick leave. If Such returns to Parliament, his vote will not affect the government’s survival.

The Leader of the Opposition, Steven Marshall, learned of Hamilton-Smith’s defection as he was about to leave on an overseas trip. He condemned Hamilton-Smith’s decision as “an act of political betrayal and treachery”.

Hamilton-Smith, 60, spent 23 years in the Australian Army, serving in the Special Air Service Regiment (SAS). He had a private career in the childcare centres industry. He entered Parliament in 1997 as the member for Waite and was a minister in the final months of the Kerin Liberal government. He was leader of the Liberal Party from 2007 until 2009, losing the position after he used forged documents to accuse the ALP of accepting donations from the Church of Scientology.

The Federal Minister for Education and South Australian MP, Christopher Pyne, said: “Martin Hamilton-Smith will go down, not as a fighting leader of the Liberal Party who believed in things, but as the greatest traitor to his political party in the history of the state. Everyone respects someone who fights the good fight and loses, no-one respects a political traitor. Labor MPs will be laughing at Martin Hamilton-Smith behind their hands when he is in the room and laughing out loud at him behind his back.”

  • Listen to Weatherill and Hamilton-Smith (23m)

Media release from Jay Weatherill, Premier of South Australia.


Media release from Steven Marshall, Leader of the Opposition.


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