New SA Libs leader against state-based equal marriage laws
ADELAIDE: A single, 45-year-old first-term MP who claims to not have a favourite book, movie or band and who has never apparently smoked cannabis or a cigarette is the new leader of SA’s Liberal Party following the resignation of Isobel Redmond following months of leadership speculation.
In perhaps a worrying sign for the state’s LGBTI community, the new Liberal leader, Steven Marshall, has quickly moved to distance himself from Redmond’s support for state-based marriage equality laws; telling reporters on his first day in the top job that it was a matter for Federal Parliament.
The Norwood MP, who was deputy to Redmond since October last year, was officially elected unopposed following a partyroom meeting on Monday, February 4. Opposition Water spokeswoman, Vicki Chapman was named Deputy Leader after winning a vote against Iain Evans, 10-8.
The election of Marshall (pictured with Chapman) ended months of party disunity which saw Redmond announce her resignation in late January following a party conference at Port Pirie amid growing claims that former federal Liberal politician and Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, was tipped to make a run for party’s state leadership.
“In the face of ongoing leadership speculation and disunity I have reached the conclusion that it is in the best interests of the Liberal Party if I step aside,” Redmond said on January 31.
“Whoever is chosen as the new leader has my guarantee of my loyalty and support.”
Redmond will now continue on the backbench as member for the Adelaide Hills seat of Heysen, in a move some have said was to hamper any future attempt by Downer to enter SA Parliament courtesy of a by-election.
Considered to be a moderate, Marshall, who only last August pledged to not challenge Redmond, has said his priorities will be economic management, including a Commission of Audit to eliminate waste but has ruled out mass sackings of public servants.
“We have announced there will be a Commission of Audit under a successful Liberal government, that is our policy,” he said.
“I am not going to pre-empt the Commission of Audit, which is going to be looking for waste.”
Since taking the position, Marshall in interviews has described himself as an admirer of former premier Steele Hall, who believes in God and the afterlife but is against euthanasia.
Asked what he thought about same-sex marriage and whether he personally supported it, Marshall was blunt in his opposition.
“It’s a federal issue and needs due diligence,” he told the Sunday Mail.
A bill for state-based same-sex marriage, introduced by Greens MLC Tammy Franks and co-sponsored by Labor’s Ian Hunter is currently before the state’s upper house.
It is believed federal frontbenchers and factional enemies, Christopher Pyne and former senator Nick Minchin, both of whom hail from SA, have agreed to work together on the party’s campaign committee for the 2014 state election.
Image: Tait Schmaal (AdelaideNow)