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Leadership speculation swirls in SA -

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Leadership speculation swirls in SA

The World Today - Monday, 20 October , 2008 12:22:00

Reporter: Margi Smithurst

ELEANOR HALL: While the Labor Party licks its wounds in New South Wales and the ACT, in South
Australia it's hosing down leadership speculation.

There's been talk that the state's straight talking Treasurer might challenge Premier Mike Rann for
the top job.

As Margie Smithurst reports from Adelaide.

MARGIE SMITHURST: Premier Mike Rann's problems began after a reportedly boozy Labor dinner at
Adelaide's Parliament House last week where disgruntled backbenchers starting talking about new
leadership

MIKE RANN: A few people on Wednesday night, I think got a bit tired and emotional and said some
silly things.

MARGIE SMITHURST: Once word got out, the Government veered into damage control mode - privately and
publicly.

The subject of the talk, Treasurer Kevin Foley said he assured the Premier straight away that he
wasn't putting himself up as a rival.

KEVIN FOLEY: What I am saying is that I never sought, and never wanted and am not seeking
leadership of the Labor Party. Look, I have a tough enough job being Treasurer of this state and I
hardly think my good friends here in the media would really enjoy me in any other role than calling
a spade a shovel as the Treasurer of this state.

MARGIE SMITHURST: Indeed, Kevin Foley managed to put more of the garden shed in his mouth this
weekend when he refused to attend the annual state Labor conference, ostensibly to take the focus
off his non-challenge.

KEVIN FOLEY: Let's just say that I look forward to Labor Party conferences like one would look
forward to root canal therapy.

MARGIE SMITHURST: Flinders University political analyst Haydon Manning says the Treasurer's
propensity for unsavvy remarks and the view of him within the party and electorate, mean he's not a
leadership option anyway.

HAYDON MANNING: He has been a solid Treasurer but he is widely perceived as something of a bit of
bully. Not always the best communicator of the Government's message either.

MARGIE SMITHURST: But the speculation has turned the spotlight on the party's unity and left the
Rann Government with some navel gazing to do.

Indeed, it seems navel gazing boredom is part of the problem.

The mid-year cabinet reshuffle introduced no new blood to the ministry and has left ambitious
backbenchers apparently feeling sidelined.

Haydon Manning says one result of the past few days' dramas might be a change in ministry
pre-election.

HAYDON MANNING: If Mr Rann cannot settle that down and it continues to bubble along, you would
consider he may well be having to look toward a reshuffle early in the New Year.

MARGIE SMITHURST: He says the pattern seen in other states of premiers moving to appoint successors
pre-election probably won't happen in Premier Rann's Government.

Other ministers have been quick to rally behind the Premier and there now seems to be no question
about leadership changes pre-2010.

Still, the Government's got obstacles ahead - not least of which is the drain on the state's
coffers from the financial crisis and the rise in popularity of the Opposition.

ELEANOR HALL: Margie Smithurst in Adelaide.