Stan’s last stand? Controversial Lib veteran falls short in council bid

For decades Stan Evans has been the conservative patriarch of the Adelaide Hills – his imprimatur on successive Liberal preselection contests – but his storied and controversial political career appears to have ended not with a bang but a whimper after he failed to gain a seat on the local council.

Nov 13, 2018, updated Nov 13, 2018
Stan Evans (right) with son Ian and then-Davenport MP Sam Duluk in 2015.

Stan Evans (right) with son Ian and then-Davenport MP Sam Duluk in 2015.

Evans garnered 304 primary votes, finishing ninth of 13 candidates contesting seven vacancies in the Ranges Ward of the Adelaide Hills council area.

He was still in the mix for election, with one successful candidate, Leith Mudge, actually polling fewer primary votes on 291.

However, the veteran political strategist was ironically excluded on preferences.

Evans was a long-serving state MP and a divisive figure in the Liberal Party – one of the figures at the centre of the factional fights of the 1980s and 90s.

He shifted from his seat of Fisher after a redistribution gave him a razor-thin margin, fighting moderate rival Dean Brown for preselection in neighbouring Davenport.

Brown won the party’s endorsement, but Evans stood against him as an independent Liberal and won the seat – later rejoining the partyroom.

After his 1993 retirement, his son Iain replaced him in Davenport, going on to lead the Liberal Party in Opposition.

Evans today told InDaily he did not want to comment on the local government election result “as I haven’t got the official figures”.

“It’s better I wait until I hear the final result,” he said.

“At this stage, I’d prefer to wait until the umpire blows the final whistle, rather than lose it on the last kick of the day… for me, it’s not over till I see all the results.”

When InDaily pointed out that the Electoral Commission website had published final results for the ward, showing him being excluded on the 16th count, he said: “That may be so [but] I don’t use all that modern equipment.”

However, asked about his primary vote count, he said he “knew it was going to be tough”.

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“I didn’t go there expecting any particular figure… I went there to test out the waters,” he said.

“I may have had a history of doing a lot of community work, but there’s other factors that affect it nowadays.”

Liberal MP for Waite Sam Duluk, who previously replaced Iain Evans in Davenport with Stan’s endorsement, denied the result was symbolic of the Evans influence waning in the Hills area.

“For a bloke who’s 88-years-old and still got 304 votes out of a field of 13 – I reckon that’s pretty good,” he said.

“It’s a testament to Stan Evans and his civic-mindedness that when most people are enjoying gardening and watching the cricket, he’s still committed to try and make a small difference for his local community.”

Evans has remained an active figure in the Hills political scene. His endorsement was flaunted by conservative faction nominee for Heysen Stephen Blacketer last year, before he was forced to withdraw his candidacy over social media posts criticising then-PM Malcolm Turnbull.

Fellow former conservative faction MP – and one-time Local Government minister – Mark Brindal, noted while Evans “endorses every [Hills] preselection for the Liberal Party, the Liberal Party is a very small subset of the electorate”.

Evans wasn’t the only former state MP seeking a comeback in the council ballots, with neither former Liberal frontbencher Angus Redford nor Labor stalwart Vini Ciccarello successful in their ward bids for Norwood, Payneham and St Peters.

Former one-term Liberal MP for the federal seat of Kingston, Kym Richardson, missed out on a seat on Onkaparinga council after preferences, despite garnering the second highest number of primary votes in his ward.

However, there was better fortune for recent state parliament retiree Michael Pengilly, who was overwhelmingly returned to his former gig as mayor of Kangaroo Island.

It’s understood Evans vocally endorsed Hills mayoral aspirant George Healey, who decisively lost to council incumbent Jan-Claire Wisdom.

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