The outcome of the South Australia election at the weekend hinged on the decisions of two men, despite the Liberals winning more than half of the two-party preferred vote.
After one of those men, 69-year-old independent MP Bob Such was taken unexpectedly ill, the final call over who would lead the state for the next four years — and whether the Prime Minister would get Liberal governments across every Australian state — was handed to fellow independent Geoff Brock.
In a fantastic piece, Michael Owen at The Australian details the tussle for favour fought between Labor leader Jay Weatherill, and the Liberal leader Steven Marshall, which ended with Weatherill’s victory over a pizza dinner at Brock’s house, 220km north of Adelaide.
While Brock — who won his safe Liberal seat of Frome at a 2009 by-election with the aid of Labor preferences — was meeting with Weatherill face-to-face, Marshall was waiting for phone calls to be returned, convinced no decision would be made until the independent MP spent some time with his family, and received more information on projects that could benefit his electorate.
Marshall had called Such’s house early Saturday morning to arrange a meeting, only to wait several hours before finding out his illness required surgery, and that he may need to take an indefinite leave of absence from politics. Weatherill had already become aware of the situation and had called Brock to arrange the meeting.
The Premier and his chief of staff Simon Blewett left Adelaide about 2pm, according to the report, for the drive to Brock’s Port Pirie home, where the deal was struck, with Marshall all the while convinced a decision wasn’t imminent. He was only informed by Brock minutes before he took the podium to announce his choice with the victorious Labor Premier.
Michael Owen has more here.
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