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Date set for Dunstan by-election

House Speaker Dan Cregan has revealed the date of the Dunstan by-election, as both parties hit the eastern suburbs this morning for another day on the hustings.

Feb 08, 2024, updated Feb 08, 2024
Former premier Steven Marshall and Opposition leader David Speirs. Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

Former premier Steven Marshall and Opposition leader David Speirs. Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

Cregan told parliament on Thursday that the Dunstan by-election will be held on Saturday, March 23 – kicking off a six-week campaign for former Premier Steven Marshall’s seat.

The date comes on advice from the Electoral Commissioner, who is also managing the inaugural SA First Nations Voice election on March 16.

There are also two long weekends in March – Adelaide Cup Day (March 11) and Easter (March 29 to April 1) – which left limited dates available to hold the by-election.

Cregan said he would issue the writs for the by-election next Friday, February 16. The electoral rolls will close on February 26 and nominations on March 1.

The Liberal Party, which held onto Dunstan by just 260 votes at the 2022 state election, has preselected moderate Anna Finizio for the eastern suburbs seat.

She will go up against Labor’s Cressida O’Hanlon, who nearly won Dunstan in 2022 on a 7 per cent swing.

The Greens are also bullish about their chances and have preselected Katie McCusker for the seat. She is an office manager for federal senator Barbara Pocock and a former candidate for Sturt.

Leaders of both the major parties said today that they had not done any internal polling for Dunstan.

Premier Peter Malinauskas told reporters today the Labor Party will campaign “like we’ve got nothing to lose… because we don’t have anything to lose”.

“The only person who can lose the seat here is David Speirs and the Liberals,” Malinauskas said.

“This is a Liberal seat. It’s very different now to what the seat of Norwood was when Labor used to hold it, they’re very different seats both demographically and geographically.”

The Dunstan by-election also looms as the first election without political party corflutes on public roads and streets.

The Upper House on Thursday afternoon passed Liberal Party legislation banning political corflutes on public roads after the government threw its support behind the Bill on Wednesday.

Asked if the corflutes ban would favour Labor, Malinauskas said: “My view about this is these things honestly don’t make a difference.

“People will make all sorts of assumptions – they’ll scrutinise and analyse does a corflute help one candidate or one party over another.

“The truth is: everyone does it.

“My view is that people driving up a road two days into an election campaign, it just becomes another poster on another Stobie pole.

“How much effect they have I think is at the margins, I think what determines outcomes is the quality of your candidates and the quality of your policies.

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“We’ve got a local candidate as distinct from a candidate who’s come from the western suburbs, and we’ve got a lot of policy versus literally none.”

Opposition leader David Speirs went doorknocking with Finizio in Payneham this morning and attempted to frame the by-election as a “referendum on ramping”.

“It’s very clear that this will be a referendum on Labor’s record around our health system and around ramping,” Speirs said.

“They went to the last election very clear ‘we will fix the ramping crisis’. Today, there are some months where it’s almost three times as bad as what it was when the Liberals last were in office.

“Today and in the weeks ahead there’ll be an opportunity for the residents of Dunstan to have their say on whether they’re pleased with Peter Malinauskas, do they think he’s up to the job.

“There’s a lot of cynicism on the doorstep, a lot of disappointment, a lot of people who think the health system has not gotten better under Peter Malinauskas – in fact, it has collapsed.”

Finizio today dismissed accusations from the Labor Party that she has been “parachuted” in to run for Dunstan after she previously contested the federal seat of Hindmarsh in the western suburbs.

She said she has lived in Norwood for “a couple of years” as well as Kensington Gardens.

“I’ve been in Adelaide all my life so I’m certainly parachuting nowhere,” she said.

Finizio added that she has “a huge challenge ahead of me”.

“This is called the seat of Dunstan for a reason – it has always been traditionally a Labor seat.”

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