Jay Weatherill quits as Labor leader in South Australia

Morne de Klerk/Getty ImagesSouth Australian Premier Jay Weatherill

Jay Weatherill is quitting as Labor leader in South Australia after losing the state election to Steven Marshall.

Mr Weatherill told reporters at a press conference outside Adelaide Oval late on Sunday morning that he would be stepping down “sooner rather than later” and would become a backbencher representing his western suburbs seat of Cheltenham.

“I won’t be staying on as leader,” he said.

He said he had “zero ambition” to head to Canberra to take up any position in the Federal parliament.

He declined to specifically anoint anyone as his replacement, saying that was a matter for the party. But he did mention that one of his young Cabinet Ministers, Peter Malinauskas was among them.

“He’s a star performer,” Mr Weatherill said.

Mr Weatherill also said there were other talented candidates including his department Transport Minister Stephen Mullighan, outgoing Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis, and former Education Minister Susan Close.

Mr Weatherill had been Premier of South Australia since 2011, where Labor had been in power since 2002, the first nine years under Mike Rann.

Mr Marshall will lead a Liberal Government, with the party having secured at least 24 seats in the 47-seat lower house, although there are still two undecided seats.

He said on Sunday he wouldn’t have changed anything about the way Labor campaigned to seek a fifth term of government.

“I wouldn’t have changed a thing about the campaign,” he said.

He said the voters of South Australia had wanted a fresh government.

“They voted for change,” he said. “Having lost, we accept the verdict of the people”.

Mr Weatherill’s re-election pitch had been on stepping up the state’s push into renewable energy and promises of a $2 billion infrastructure spend including removing seven dangerous level crossings, partially funding a deepwater port in the Spencer Gulf and expanding Adelaide’s tram network.

Mr Weatherill said he was proud of his government’s achievements in renewable energy, which have delivered substantial investment by global pioneers including Tesla’s Elon Musk and British billionaire Sanjeev Gupta.

In February, Mr Weatherill lifted the state’s renewable energy target to 75 per cent, by 2025 and on Friday returned to the scene of an infamous verbal stoush with Federal Minister Josh Frydenberg to again spruik the importance of investment by global leaders such as Tesla in the industries of the future.

Mr Marshall campaigned using a slogan of a “Strong Plan for Real Change” built around cutting payroll tax for businesses with a payroll of up to $1.5 million, reducing red tape, capping local council rates, pruning $900 million-plus in costs from the public service and de-regulating shop trading hours.

This article was originally published by the Australian Financial Review. Read the original here, or follow the AFR on Facebook.

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