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‘Absolutely not’: Steven Marshall exits parliament without turning up

Former Premier Steven Marshall has resigned without attending parliament to give a valedictory address, with the date for a by-election in his marginal seat of Dunstan to be announced on Thursday.

Feb 06, 2024, updated Feb 06, 2024
Steven Marshall announces his imminent resignation on January 24, 2024, alongside current Liberal Party leader David Speirs. Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

Steven Marshall announces his imminent resignation on January 24, 2024, alongside current Liberal Party leader David Speirs. Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

Marshall, who was Liberal Premier from 2018 to 2022, announced on LinkedIn this morning that today would be his last day in the South Australian parliament.

But the Member for Dunstan did not turn up for his final day in the House. Asked on ABC Radio Adelaide this morning whether he would be giving a valedictory address, Marshall said: “Oh, absolutely not.”

“Feather duster: out with the old, in with the new.”

Shortly after 11am today, House Speaker Dan Cregan confirmed he had received the former Premier’s resignation letter.

The letter triggers the process for a by-election in Marshall’s eastern suburbs seat.

Cregan, who will set the date of the by-election with Electoral Commissioner Mick Sherry, said he would issue the election writs on Thursday afternoon.

“I have today received a letter from the Honourable Steven Marshall resigning his seat in the House,” Cregan told parliament.

“I will meet as soon as reasonably practicable with the Electoral Commissioner, who is for the moment in an Electoral Districts Boundaries Commission hearing.

“I’ll take all necessary advice, including from the Commissioner, and return to the House at 4pm this Thursday of February 2024 with a writ for the by-election in the electoral district of Dunstan, and for avoidance of doubt will publish the by-election date at that time.

“This statement of the House triggers certain provisions of the South Australian electoral law, particularly the need for certain parties to file certificates to access public funding by 5pm today.

“I emphasise the importance of that deadline.”

Marshall announced on January 24 that he would not see out his four-year term as the member for Dunstan, where he has been the MP since 2010.

Dunstan is the state’s most marginal seat at 0.5 per cent, with Marshall retaining it for the Liberal Party by just 260 votes at the 2022 state election.

The Labor Party has preselected Cressida O’Hanlon to again run for the seat at the by-election.

The Liberals have chosen moderate Dr Anna Finizio, while the Greens have preselected Katie McCusker, who previously ran for the federal seat of Sturt.

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Marshall was the Member for Norwood/Dunstan since 2010 and leader of the Liberal Party from February 2013 to March 2022.

His single term as Premier was dominated by South Australia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic but also factional woes within the Liberal Party.

Asked if he wanted to settle some scores under the protection of parliamentary privilege, Marshall said: “No, absolutely not. I’m enormously grateful for the opportunity to serve.

“There have been some moments that didn’t go exactly the way I would have liked for it to have gone.

“But I certainly don’t leave with any animosity in my heart. Actually, just gratitude for the opportunity to serve and to lead the state through that extraordinary period.”

Asked what were some of the things that didn’t go the way he wanted, Marshall said: “COVID, bushfires, drought and fruit flies.”

He also said that opening South Australia’s borders to the eastern states before the more transmissible Omicron strain of COVID-19 was discovered “was not particularly helpful”.

Asked how his government managed to lose office after only one term, Marshall said: “I think that analysis can take place well down the track, I’m just looking forward.

“I think it was a great opportunity to serve and I look at our four years in government as an enormous time of reform for the state.

“I think we unequivocally left South Australia in a much better condition than what we found it. But democracy is democracy and I completely and utterly respect that and I wish South Australia all the very best for the future.”

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