Don Farrell Just Made Himself The Mal Meninga Of South Australian Politics

Senator Don Farrell, a former federal minister for sport, didn’t land bat on ball when he attempted to enter state politics in South Australia today. Photo Matt King/Getty Images

Senator Don Farrell has enjoyed six years on the red leather in Canberra but in last year’s federal election he was second on the South Australian Labor senate ticket behind Penny Wong. He missed the cut to the likes of Family First’s Bob Day, Green Sarah Hanson-Young and Liberal Simon Birmingham.

Come July 1 this year, Farrell’s looking for something to do.

Jay Weatherill took over as South Australia Premier in 2011 and is six weeks away from a state election at which Labor is an outside chance.

This morning, Don Farrell made a bizarre attempt to parachute into the seat of Napier, where Finance Minister Michael O’Brien is retiring.

The move was sudden and if it happened, the Premier threatened to resign before the election, declaring the Senator a threat to Labor unity.

Mr Weatherill didn’t hold back on ABC radio, saying: “For better or for worse Don represents some of the divisions and disunity that comes from federal politics and we don’t want that playing into the state parliament.”

A few hours later, Senator Farrell, 60, a lawyer and former union official, withdrew his candidacy and once again the ALP’s internal divisions and factional deals were laid bare before an astonished electorate.

Senator Farrell has been described as one of the “faceless men” behind former prime minister Kevin Rudd’s demise in 2010 and he’s a heavyweight in South Australian politics, nicknamed “The Godfather”.

He lost the top spot on the ALP’s senate ticket to Senator Wong following a battle with Rudd ally Anthony Albanese.

Yet plenty of federal MPs came to Farrell’s defence, including Kingston MP Amanda Rishworth and Adelaide MP Kate Ellis.

When Senator Farrell’s term ends on June 30, he’s now indicated he’ll withdraw from public life.

The ALP has ruled South Australia for 12 years. Don Farrell tried to join them for a few hours.

The events of Friday, January 31, confirmed to voters that it’s time for change.

For fans of brief political careers, enjoy Mal Meninga’s 28 second candidancy in 2001 one more time…

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