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Isobel Redmond retains SA Liberal leadership -

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Isobel Redmond retains SA Liberal leadership
Nicola Gage reported this story on Tuesday, October 23, 2012 12:54:00

ELEANOR HALL: It's been a dramatic morning for the Liberal Party in South Australia.

Leader Isobel Redmond clung to power by just one vote in a party room ballot, as Nicola gage reports from Adelaide.

NICOLA GAGE: Isobel Redmond lives another day. Months of leadership speculation came to a head this morning in the state Liberal party room.

A large media contingent waited outside for the verdict.

Liberal Party whip Steven Griffiths.

STEPHEN GRIFFITHS: I can confirm that Isobel Redmond has been re-elected as leader of the parliamentary Liberal Party by a vote of 13 to 12.

NICOLA GAGE: It was a tight race. First term MP Steven Marshall was also elected, unopposed, as Ms Redmond's new deputy.

Leadership challenger Martin Hamilton-Smith.

MARTIN HAMILTON-SMITH: I think this decision give Isobel clean air, I think the party can now move forward. I support the decision and I will honour the decision and respect the decision of my colleagues.

I think the important thing now is for the Liberal Opposition to present as an alternative government. I will do what I consider to be the honourable thing and step aside from Cabinet. I think again that gives Isobel clean air.

NICOLA GAGE: A cloud has been over Isobel Redmond's leadership for months. Several gaffes - including announcing, then retracting, she would cut 25,000 public sector jobs - has seen her lose support from colleagues.

But she's popular with the public, which she argued was why she should continue as leader.

Isobel Redmond says the party will unite behind the decision.

ISOBEL REDMOND: There's been a lot of conversations, I've spoken to just about everyone in the party about all sorts of options, about how we best move forward. The party room has spoken, we've made the decision that I will continue as the leader, and that Stephen Marshall will be the deputy leader.

That is a team that is going to give a huge boost to the party and I think will signify a line in the sand for us to move forward to the 2014 election.

NICOLA GAGE: Mr Hamilton-Smith says he will support the new team.

MARTIN HAMILTON-SMITH: I have challenged for the leadership through a passionate commitment to the people of South Australia to ensure that the Opposition presents as a really good alternative government.

My passion is policy, my passion is ensure while serving as an MP that I have something to offer the people of South Australia. I've confined my argument during this contest to policy and to matters of substance because I want South Australia to go forward and I'm going to continue doing that after today's decision.

NICOLA GAGE: But he didn't rule out another challenge.

The latest Newspoll has put the Opposition in an election winning position, 57 to 43 on a two-party preferred basis.

And with the election a year-and-a-half away, the question remains whether changing the deputy leader will put a end to factional divisions.

ELEANOR HALL: Nicola Gage in Adelaide.