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Labor humiliates the feeble Liberals


Just after 8pm, Premier Steven Marshall had been brought to the verge of defeat by a future-focused Labor campaign spearheaded by a photogenic and charismatic leader, Peter Malinauskas. He was even in trouble in his own seat of Dunstan.The Liberals were humiliated in the campaign, outmanoeuvred in the parliament and unable to avoid a succession of scandals that resulted in the majority they won in 2018 so eroded that they limped to the election in minority government. Just four years ago, the Liberals ended 16 years of Labor rule, securing 25 seats to Labor’s 19.But a torturous land tax saga in 2019 eroded Liberal support. An Advertiser-YouGov poll published in March, 2020 – just before the Covid-19 pandemic hit – showed the first warning signs for the Liberals. Labor had taken a 53-47 two-party preferred lead, while Mr Malinauskas was on the verge of becoming preferred premier.Mr Marshall’s political fortunes soared during the pandemic as voters revelled in SA becoming one of the safest places on Earth. But Labor kept hammering away with the eventually cutting line that Mr Marshall was not running the state – but Police Commissioner Grant Stevens and chief public health officer Professor Nicola Spurrier were making the crucial Covid-19 decisions.Disastrously for the Liberals, they were plunged into minority government early in 2021 and spent much of the year’s second half unsuccessfully battling to save the political scalp of the-then deputy premier Vickie Chapman. The government was focused on saving its deputy leader, rather than making the case for re-election on the back of a growing economy and attracting thousands of hi-tech jobs by convincing multinationals like Amazon, Google and Accenture to set up in Adelaide. Then the Omicron wave hit last December. The Liberal support bubble was burst. The Labor health and ambulance ramping campaign was turbocharged. Mr Malinauskas cut through voter disengagement by taking off his top in an Adelaide Aquatic Centre photo shoot and staging weekly 6am runs along the River Torrens, inviting people to join him “to talk about the state’s future”.Mr Marshall was hoping to become the first Liberal leader since 1962 to form government after successive elections. Instead, he last night was poised to become the first one-term premier in 40 years and at risk of being turfed out of parliament.

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