Isobel Redmond: victorious or not?

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Things are not quite as they seem; former Liberal Party candidate Matthew Donovan explains what really happened in the South Australian leadership challenge yesterday.

SA Liberal leader Isobel Redmond, flanked by new deputy leader, and heir apparent, Steven Marshall.

After yesterday’s unsuccessful challenge, Isobel Redmond remains leader of the South Australian Liberals, while MHS (Martin Hamilton-Smith) has been forced to traipse away to the back benches, most likely never to come forward again. Significantly, Steven Marshall was elected unopposed as deputy leader.

But mark my words: the next Liberal Premier of SA will not be Isobel Redmond. More likely, and true to form, she will shoot herself in the foot once again with a gaffe of election losing proportions and then will quietly step aside and allow Steven Marshall to take over.

So, what really happened?

Well MHS had the numbers and the right faction – who are also keen to see Redmond depart, but hate the thought of being led by someone they can't control or bully choose a compromise – at the last minute will have given conditional support to Redmond on the proviso that if she makes one more gaffe, she will resign and Marshall will step up. MHS will have decided by that time that he has run his race and Marshall will have completed his crash course in leadership and will feel more comfortable to take on that role.

And let’s face it. Marshall is a good looking and youthful 42 year-old that is a vibrant successful businessman; someone who is a good match against the popular and young Jay Weatherill — a real contender against the ALP in the upcoming election.

Redmond is rapidly ageing, noticeably tired and, even more critically lacks vision, policy and drive. She has proven she has no media savvy and is prone to foot-stamping, embarrassing tantrums and election losing statements. It’s rumoured she was so angry when Hamilton-Smith won the deputy leadership, she refused to come out of her office and threatened to quit — really childish behaviour.

The next South Australia election is set for March 2014 — about 18 months away. Redmond has come out and said she will sack 35,000 public servants, so if SA Labor party wanted any materiel to use against the Liberals, this is like the Christmas of which they could never have dreamed.

Word from internal Labor sources say they are ecstatic Redmond won yesterday, as she is by far the biggest asset the ALP has in South Australia, being the most unpredictably damaging leader the Liberals could possibly have chosen. They are apparently busy printing leaflets, flyers, mailouts and all this will come out when the Libs are too close to the election to get rid of her and change leader — in the last 4 months.

If that happens, it will be a bloodbath.

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