The crowd for the funeral of Tom Price, premier of the the world's first stable Labour government, in 1909.
Image courtesy State Library of South Australia
VAIBEN SOLOMON'S SEVEN DAYS AND HENRY AYERS' SEVEN TIMES plus Charles Kingston's
notoriety among colourful legacy of premiers
VAIBEN LOUIS SOLOMON LASTED ONLY SEVEN DAYS as South Australian premier in December, 1899, but he ranks among the remarkable men to have held that office.
A colourful risk taker in his own right, Solomon also represents the remarkable impact on South Australia by the Jews, not from a large population, but from, for instance, the political careers of his father and uncle and going right back to the Montefiores brothers Joseph and Jacob, who, in 1835-39, was a member of the South Australian Colonisation Commission in London.
Vaiben Solomon brought down the government of Charles Kingston, probably South Australia’s most notorious premier – not only for his raft of liberal reforms but also for his personal life.
Henry Ayers’ seven terms as premier reflect the precarious nature of South Australian politics in the days before a formal party system. The forming of the Labor party in the 1890s ushered in the system, and the first Labor premier, Tom Price, was a remarkable story of a rise from workman to state leader.
John Cox Bray was the first South Australian-born premier. His grandson, John Bray, would become the state’s chief justice (1967-78). The grandson of premier Thomas Playford II in the 19th Century would become the longest-serving premier – a conservative maverick who enacted socialist policies – in the 20th Century.
From an establishment background, Don Dunstan, as Labor leader, ended the Playford era. Wearing short pink shorts to parliament was emblematic of Dunstan’s sweeping social change in the 1970s.
FIRST FOUR PREMIERS START FIGHT FOR COLONY'S RIGHTS, interests, innovation, structure and independence to put into law
William Light loyalist Boyle Travers Finniss South Australia's first premier in 1856-57
A former military officer, Finniss became interested in the colony proposed for Gulf St Vincent and joined the South Australian Building Committee. He sold his army commission in 1835 to be appointed the colony’s deputy surveyor general. In this role, he became a strong critic of governor John Hindmarsh and supported surveyor general William Light’s choice for the city site. He remained loyal to Light to the end. After failing to adapt a First Creek water mill near his Traversbrook property at Burnside for grinding flour and timber sawing, Finniss returned to the public service in 1843 as police commissioner and police magistrate. Next year, he succeeded Captain Charles Sturt as registrar-general and treasurer, with a seat on the executive and Legislative councils. He was nominated to the new part-elected Legislative Council in 1851 and next year became colonial secretary. He played a small role in drafting the South Australian constitution bill. Although he became the first premier of South Australia in October 1856, Finniss wasn’t elected to the Adelaide seat in the new House of Assembly until 1857 and his ministry fell in August. Next year, he became treasurer in Richard Hanson’s ministry. He was returned for the Mount Barker seat to the second parliament but resigned in 1862. In 1864, Finniss became the South Australia’s government resident in the Northern Territory. Instructed to select a site for the capital’s territory, Finniss chose Adam Bay, despite its mosquito-infested mud flats. A royal commission condemned him for poor judgment and for spending £40,000 on the venture.
Conservative premier John Baker fights for the fiscal independence of 1850s South Australia
John Baker was only South Australian premier for 12 days in 1857 but, as a conservative with progressive tendencies, he fought strongly for the colony’s economic right, while staying intensely loyal to the crown and English traditions. Baker, who had built up a pastoral empire, represented Mount Barker in the first part-elected South Australian Legislative Council in 1851-56. Although disappointed that state aid to churches was abolished, he was determined that the colony should control its land revenue. In debates on the new constitution, he fought for a limited franchise for the upper house to preserve the rights of property owners. In the 1857 elections for the new Legislative Council, he won the second largest vote .In his 12 days as South Australia's second premier, he was able to bring in an important compact between both houses of parliament on amending money bills. He held his seat in the council until 1861 and 1863-72. Although labelled “spokesman for the pastoralists”, he remained firmly independent. He was a prominent critic of governor George Grey’s drastic economies and, with Jacob Hagen in 1844, charged Grey with “extremely corrupt conduct” in rejecting their tender for mining land. Baker complained to influential friends in England and Grey was transferred to New Zealand. In 1847, when lieutenant governor Frederick Robe introduced agistment charges for livestock on land occupied by licence, Baker refused to pay and won his supreme court case. He also opposed royalty charges on copper and persuaded the Adelaide Mining Co. not to pay. The company won its supreme court test case.
South Australian land titles system in 1857 becomes Robert Richard Torrens' claim to fame
Robert Richard Torrens, the son of South Australian founding figure Robert Torrens, became South Australia’s third premier but he is more famously associated with the land titles system that has been copied elsewhere. Arriving in South Australia in 1840, Torrens became collector of customs and ran into controversy. But he was nominated by the governor to the enlarged Legislative Council in 1851. When responsible government started in 1856, Torrens became treasurer in the ministry of Boyle Travers Finniss. He was elected as House of Assembly member for the City of Adelaide and in September 1857 became premier but his government lasted only a month. In December 1857, Torrens promoted an act for the transfer of real property. The system, later known as Torrens title, transferred property by registration of title instead of by deeds. Torrens’ credit for the system has been questioned. While the system may have also derived from a report to the British House of Commons in 1857, it was Torrens and German lawyer Dr Ulrich Hubbe (who knew the real property laws of the Hanse Towns), who put it into practical shape, with support from Carl Muecke and the German community. They fought it through parliament, with fierce opposition from the legal profession. Torrens later visited Victoria to help bring in the new system. In 1863, Torrens left Australia and became Liberal member for Cambridge in the House of Commons 1868-74.
Future supreme court judge Richard Hanson brings constitutional government to colony
South Australia’s fourth premier Richard Hanson was involved in passing several significant acts before he became chief judge of South Australia’s supreme courts. Hanson helped throw out the state aid bill at its first reading in the Legislative Council and brought in the colony's first constitution. He introduced the Education Act, led the passage of the Bullion Act and the District Councils Act – the first of its kind in Australia designed to encourage local democracy.
SOUTH AUSTRALIAN DEMOCRATIC SYSTEM SOLIDIFIED IN 1857;
economic theories into play after the copper boom widens wealth
Wesleyan preacher Thomas Reynolds behind votes for all males and secret ballot
Thomas Reynolds, a Wesleyan preacher known as “Teapot Tommy” for links to the total abstinence movement, was stung into political life by lieutenant-governor Frederick Robe’s attitude towards a deputation against state aid for churches. A prominent reformer, Reynolds sought an elected upper house of parliament and votes for all males in a liberal constitution. He was one of those responsible for the vote by secret ballot. Besides being premier briefly, Reynolds was treasurer in several ministries.
Free trader George Waterhouse battles blocking by judge Benjamin Boothby
George Waterhouse later became premier of New Zealand after his time as South Australian premier. The son of a Wesleyan missionary and a capitalist free trader, he was convinced that supreme court judge Benjamin Boothby was unjustified in refusing to recognise the Real Property and other acts passed by the South Australian parliament. When premier Thomas Reynolds, a Boothby supporter, resigned, Waterhouse reluctantly formed a government specifically aimed at Boothby’s removal.
Pastoralist Francis Dutton a leader in writing a democratic constitution for colony
Pastoralist and Kapunda copper mine investor Francis Dutton entered politics as a moderate democrat: a “staunch advocate of the Rights of the People”. Representing East Adelaide (1851-56) in the Legislative Council, he played a leading part in framing a democratic constitution for South Australia. He also wrote a pamphlet on the subject in German (drawing on his father’s background as British vice consul in Germany). He had two short stints as premier in the 1860s.
Burra mines power player Henry Ayers of rock fame becomes premier seven times
1863-73 (Seven short terms)
Henry Ayers was premier of South Australia seven times, but he is best remembered for having Ayers Rock (Uluru) named after him. He became rich from Burra Burra’s “monster mine” that secured the colony's wealth in the 1840s. Ayers was the youngest member elected to the Legislative Council in 1857 and continued as a member for 37 years, including being president 1881-93. In a divided and barely workable parliament, Ayers' seven premierships were between 1863 and 1873.
BIG THINKING: BLYTH, STRANGWAYS EXTEND AGRICULTURE;
Boucaut wants major works and even Hart favors telegraph line
Arthur Blyth ignores Goyder's advice and opens northern land with disastrous result
Despite his simple habits, businessman and investor Arthur Blyth was a founder of the Adelaide Club. He was a devout Anglican but strongly opposed to state aid to churches. As commissioner of crown lands under premier John Hart and then as premier in the early 1870s, he oversaw rapid northward expansion. He ignored surveyor-general George Goyder's advice and made available land in the upper north. This was disastrous for farmers who settled there and for dispossessed pastoralists.
Captain John Hart opposes wider role for government but likes telegraph line project
As a House of Assembly member, Captain John Hart' s greatest interests were port and shipping charges. He violently opposed government railways, government borrowing and providing water and drainage. By 1862, he favoured direct taxation of property, only if free trade displaced customs duties. He opposed free education and wanted a direct tax for secular education. But it was Hart who planned George Goyder’s survey expedition and carried the bill for the overland telegraph to Darwin.
James Boucaut goes from radical to wanting big government spend on rail and other works
James Penn Boucaut (pronounced “Boco”) was elected to the House of Assembly in 1862 as a radical opposing immigration at the public expense. At loggergeads with Henry Ayers and the "aristocrat club", Boucaut, by the 1870s, switched to being a federalist pro-immigration free trader advocating big government borrowing and spending on rail and other projects. The Legislative Council blocked his stamp tax bill. Boucaut’s ministry did give South Australia free, secular and compulsory education.
Henry Strangways solves crown land problem with parcels allocated on credit
Henry Strangways is best remembered for the1869 law that created agricultural areas and land parcels up to 259ha to be bought with credit after a 25% down payment and four years to pay. From 1857, when the parliament gained control of crown lands, many attempts had been made at land legislation. Strangways carried the Act which now bears his name, after a lot of conflict with pastoralists The South Australian Register acclaimed him as “St. George of Land Reformers” for this achievement.
TAXATION, PUBLIC WORKS DEVELOP; LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL A CONSTANT HURDLE; South Australia's federalism is growing
Wesleyan lay preacher John Colton introduces land and income tax, public health laws
A Wesleyan lay preacher, John Colton fits the pattern of the middle-class businessman Protestant Dissenter settler of South Australia. Colton formed his second ministry in 1884 and became premier and chief secretary. He successfully introduced a land and income tax as well as progressive legislation to improve public health, vermin destruction and opening up crown and pastoral lands, including small suburban blocks where workmen could supplement their incomes.
Businessman William Morgan sets off raft of building works and city's deep drain system
As premier, William Morgan many public works, including the town named after him at the railhead of the line connecting Adelaide with the north-west bend of the River Murray. Adelaide's deep-drainage sewerage system, the first in an Australian capital city, started. The first parts of Adelaide University, the public library and in 1881 the national gallery also began. Among many business interests, he was a founder in 1865 of the Bank of Adelaide. He was a free trader and a federalist.
South Australian-born John Cox Bray legalises unions, keeps fighting the Legislative Council
John Cox Bray, as the first South Australian-born premier, continued attempts to alter the constitution and curb the power of the Legislative Council. As attorney-general in John Colton’s government 1876-77, Bray introduced the Act for trade unions to be formed and registered, a first for Australia. Bray prominently opposed William Morgan’s government and in 1881 Bray became premier for two years and 358 days, the longest consecutive term for a South Australian premier so far.
John Downer backs votes for women; public works for jobless; and federalism enthusiasm
John Downer started a political dynasty. As attorney-general in John Cox Bray’s ministry, Downer's legal reforms included allowing persons charged with criminal offences to give evidence under oath. His Married Women's Property Act, finally in 1883 and he was an early supporter of women’s suffrage. He tried to find jobs for the unemployed on public works. He offered 250,000 acres to the Chaffey brothers for an extensive irrigation scheme at Renmark. He was also a keen federalist.
TOM PLAYFORD II, JOHN COCKBURN, FREDERICK HOLDER AND
CHARLES KINGSTON leave mark before playing federation roles
Thomas Playford II starts tariff system; a tidy treasurer but not pro democracy
As premier and treasurer 1887-89, Thomas Playford II's most notable achievement was South Australia's first systematic tariff, as strongly protective as Victoria’s. Playford in his second ministry was again a successful treasurer with all budgets in surplus and state debt greatly reduced. Not noted for his tact or democratic tendencies, Playford crossed the floor in 1899 to bring down his protegee Charles Kingston's government, to stop Legislative Council powers being eroded.
John Cockburn pushes Broken Hill rail line; increases tax structure; key to women's vote
John Cockburn became one of South Australia’s most liberal progressive politicians. With a first-class medical degree from London, he set up practice at Jamestown and became its first mayor. He lobbied the South Australian government to build a rail line to the NSW border to tap into the silver mining in the Barrier Ranges. In 1884, Cockburn passed progressive laws including succession duties and land tax. He supported the women’s suffrage campaign and helped convince Charles Kingston to legislate.
Frederick Holder brings in standard time, state bank, tax on land values, pay for MPs
In 1889, as treasurer in John Cockburn’s ministry, Frederick Holder introduced succession duties and a progressive tax on unimproved land values. The State Bank of South Australia started during Holder's treasury and he produced a balanced budget, despite drought and depression. The second Holder government from 1899 set up libraries in country towns and introduced standard time throughout South Australia. It also completed the Bundaleer and Barossa water schemes.
Charles Kingston duel challenge in Victoria Square only one aspect of notorious life, career
Charles Cameron Kingston was a notorious giant among among politicians of the 1890s when he led the South Australia government over six years. He was a liberal radical leader who introduced votes for women and many social and industrial reforms. He is also the only premier who has ever challenged a political opponent to a duel in Victoria Square. Richard Baker, a prominent conservative member of the Legislative Council, denounced Kingston, then chief secretary in Thomas Playford II’s ministry, as a coward, a bully and a disgrace to the legal profession, Kingston responded by describing Baker as “false as a friend, treacherous as a colleague, mendacious as a man, and utterly untrustworthy in every relationship of public life”. Kingston sent a pistol to Baker accompanied by a letter appointing the time for a duel in Victoria Square, Adelaide, on December 23, 1892. Baker informed the police who arrested Kingston when he arrived, holding a loaded revolver. Kingston he was tried and bound over to keep the peace for 12 months. This was still in force when he became premier in 1893. Victoria Square was the scene of another disturbance in 1895, when the Adelaide manager of the South Australian Company, provoked by remarks made by Kingston, thrashed him with a riding whip and drew blood. Kingston wrested away the weapon. Kingston became a leading member of federal parliament after 1901.
AFTER VAIBEN LOUIS SOLOMON EPISODE, RIGHT WING REACTS
to the Labor party's emergence and its first minority government
Vaiben Louis Solomon a seven-day wonder representing the Northern Territory
Vaiben Louis Solomon had the briefest term as premier –seven days – in 1899 while representing the Northern Territory (then part of South Australia) in the House of Assembly. A big personality, Solomon became opposition leader in 1899, when Charles Kingston's government was dissolved over Kingston’s proposal to extend Legislative Council suffrage to all householders and their wives. Solomon was premier for a week, before further machinations saw Frederick Holder take over.
American John Jenkins becomes premier in right-wing alliance with National league
John Greeley Jenkins was the American-born and -educated. From 1891, he served in several different ministries. When Frederick Holder went into federal politics in 1901, Jenkins became premier, forming government with Richard Baker’s right-wing Australasian National League (formerly National Defence League). As premier, he took on important work including providing free education, the Happy Valley water-supply system, the transcontinental railway and a River Murray agreement.
Richard Butler a sound and frugal treasurer in conservative drift during uncertain era
Richard Butler represented a drift towards conservativism in fluid political alignments. His mixed beliefs included opposing progressive land tax, intercolonial free trade and introducing coloured labour but favouring female suffrage, free education, payment of MPs and setting up a state bank. Although nicknamed “Dismal Dick”, Butler earned repute as treasuer by balancing budgets through retrenchment. He became alienated from the more liberal of Charles Kingston’s old supporters.
Tom Price leads world's first stable Labor government supported by Archibald Peake
Thomas Price formed the state’s first Labor minority government and the world’s first stable Labor Party government at the 1905 election with the support of non-Labor MPs to form the Price-(Archibald) Peake administration; elected again in 1906. Price brought in wages boards, a minimum wage, nationalised several companies to set up the Municipal Tramways Trust; the costly Northern Territory was surrendered to the federal government and free state secondary schools were introduced.
STRIKES, WORLD WAR I CONSCRIPTION HIT LABOR'S VERRAN AND VAUGHAN; conservative Barwell enters after liberal Peake
John Verran helps Aboriginals and poor but incites backlash against local Germans
Labor's John Verran helped improve conditions for Aboriginals and his Advances for Homes Act allowed the State Bank loans to poorer people but the Legislative Council blocked attempts to create state brickyards and timber mills. He spent large sums on railways and harbors but lost government over his handing of riots during a drivers’ strike. As a backbencher, he campaigned against locals of German descent during World War I and split from Labor in favour of conscription.
Archibald Peake asserts independence of a Liberal government; dies a few hours later
1909-10, 1912-15, 1917-20
Archibald Peake became Liberal Union premier in 1912 by defeating John Verran’s Labor government but lost office to Labor in 1915. Peake regained a majority to govern in 1918 with the support of National (pro World War I consciption) Labor Party members. But when the Nationals voted with Labor party to amend the industrial code bill, Peake decided to form a totally Liberal government. He died of a cerebral haemorrhage hours after this new ministry was sworn in.
Reformer Crawford Vaughan expelled from the Labor party over conscription support
Crawford Vaughan’s time as premier was cut short by his support of World War I service conscription – against Labor policy. His government improved public education by restructuring the department's senior bureaucracy, by extending the years of compulsory school attendance and providing better places for the intellectually and physically disabled. It allowed women to join the police force and become justices of the peace. Workers’ access to arbitration was improved.
Henry Barwell an arch conservative ally of Legislative Council; fondness for railways
Prominent establishment figure Henry Barwell became premier after Archibald Peake’s sudden death. He entered the House of Assembly in 1915 for the Liberal Union as an uncompromising conservative but controversally advocated importing coloured labour. He defended the restricted franchise of the Legislative Council. Barwell had a fondness for improving the railways but found his government increasingly unpopular due to his policies of small government and wage restraint.
JOHN GUNN'S SUDDEN EXIT LEAVES LABOR'S GOVT EXPOSED;
ripe for 1930s defeat by Richard Butler's Liberal Country League
Working class hero and anti conscriptionist John Gunn an achiever but dies in obscurity
John Gunn, who became an enemy of the wealthy Adelaide establishment as leader of the 1910 drivers’ strike, scored significant achievements as premier from 1924. Setting up the original State Bank of South Australia and developing Colonel Light Gardens were among Gunn's achievements, along with improvements in the public service, housing for the needy, health and education. Gunn resigned in 1926 to work in a commonwealth government position. He died in poverty and obscurity.
Lionel Hill kicked out of Labor party for taking tough Premiers' Plan route during Depression
Lionel Hill’s optimistic promises in the face of the Depression saw him elected premier in 1930 in a landslide. But Hill faced high unemployment, a formidable state debt, a shrinking economy and a strike prone workforce. Hill accepted the contentious Premiers’ Plan 1931 for cuts (including aid to the jobless) to public works and wages. The outcry against the Plan prompted the state Labor executive to expel all MPs, including Hill and his entire cabinet who supported it, from the party.
Bob Richards has nine weeks to salvage Labor after Hill goes to London as the agent-general
Bob (or “R.S.”) Richards had nine weeks in 1933 as South Australian premier in the face of a backlash over the austerity of the Premiers’ Plan to combat the economic Depression. Beleugured Parliamentary Labor Party premier Lionel Hill had resigned nine weeks before the election after appointing himself South Australian agent-general in London. The three Labor factions won only 13 seats in a landslide victory for Richard L. Butler’s revitalised Liberal and Country League.
Richard Butler follows his father as premier; a tough operator toppled by a moral crusade
Richard Layton Butler followed his father in becoming a premier with achievement such as starting the Housing Trust and enticing BHP to Whyalla. His tough approach to Canberra helped the state to lead the way in balancing its budgets. Butler boosted the electoral advantage of the Liberal Country League which he created. But the country members of that merger backed a moral crusade against Butler rejecting compulsory religion education and bans on drinking and gambling.
TOM PLAYFORD'S 26 TRANSFORMING YEARS COME TO AN END;
reform breaks up LCL as Don Dunstan's social revolution arrives
Socially conservative Thomas Playford IV a socialist pragmatist in interests of the state
Tom Playford IV, grandson of former premier Thomas Playford II, was a social conservative maverick premier who turned socialist pragmatist in protecting South Australia's interests. Playford transformed South Australia from a predominantly agricultural economy to an industrial state. Playford’s protectionism matched his socialist moves such as nationalising the state’s electricity supply, bolstered the housing trust and making the state bank and savings bank officially government arms.
Labor old guard led back into power by Frank Walsh; Don Dunstan takes over in 1967
Frank Walsh became the first Labor premier for 32 years in 1965. He was also the first Catholic to hold that position. Heading an old but inexperienced team, Walsh was an awkward speaker and media performer whose weaknesses were exposed by the 33-year-old Steele Hall who took over from Playford as LCL leader. The young attorney general Dunstan, who led most of the government reforms, took on the Labor leadership when Walsh reluctantly retired in 1967.
Steele Hall's electoral reform starts Liberal Movement and country split from the LCL
Steele Hall as premier brought tensions within the alliances that made up the Liberal and Country League to a head. Hall, elected with 46% of the two-party-preferred vote in 1968, committed himself to an electoral system that didn’t favour country areas. The ultimate upshot would be that that the party broke up into the a mainly conservative Liberal Party, the more urban progressive Liberal Movement (led from 1972 by Hall) and the Country (later National) party for rural members.
Don Dunstan brings major changes to laws, lifestyle; completes electoral reform
Labor's Don Dunstan brought sweeping progressive change to South Australian society. He had Aboriginal land rights recognised, homosexuality decriminalised; appointed the first female judge and the first indigenous governor. He enacted consumer protection; expanded public education and health; relaxed drinking laws; created an environment ministry; enacted anti-discrimination law; overhauled parliament’s Legislative Council and abolished the bias to rural electoral seats.
DAVID TONKIN TRIES FIXING LIBERAL FACTION SPLIT before John Bannon's rebuilding Labor era busted by State Bank crisis
Des Corcoran briefly premier after nine years as the unlikely deputy to reformist Don Dunstan
J.D. “Des” Corcoran served as deputy premier in 1968 and again from 1970-1979 in an unlikely partnership with Don Dunstan. Corcoran privately opposed many Dunstan social reforms, such as liberalised abortion and homosexuality. When Dunstan resigned in 1979, Corcoran (now representing the city seat of Hartley) was elected premier (also treasurer and ethnic affairs minister). He called a snap election (without telling the party officials). Labor suffered an 8% swing and lost to the Liberals.
David Tonkin a mix of economic conservative, socially progressive; hit by 1980s recession
Dr David Tonkin’s one-term Liberal government was economically conservative yet socially progressive. Tonkin made big cuts to the public service, turning unions against him, but also passed the land rights bill that returned 10% of South Australia’s area to the Pitjantjatjara people. He was early an supporter of the Liberal Movement faction but remained with the LCL. The early 1980s economic recession hindered Tonkin government’s chances of being elected again.
State Bank collapse blots John Bannon's wins, from the O-Bahn to the F1 Grand Prix
John Bannon’s three terms as premier were overshadowed by the State Bank collapse in 1992. Bannonmoved away from Dunstan social reform. His achievements include progressing the Olympic Dam mine, the Collins Class submarine project, the defence industry, the Hyatt Hotel and casino, converting part of Adelaide Casino into the convention centre, building the O-Bahn busway and the Formula 1 Grand Prix. Poker machines were introduced and urban renewal invigorated some inner suburbs.
Lynn Arnold faces State Bank backlash that finishes 11 years of Labor government
Lynn Arnold was left to face the backlash of State Bank collapse that ended ll years of Labor government with the 1993 election landslide loss. He was elected Labor leader and premier when Bannon resigned after the $3.2 billion State Bank collapse. Labor lost two stronghold seats, Hindmarsh and Grey, in the 1993 federal election and in the December state poll it suffered a 14-seat swing against and managed only 39% of the vote. A year later, Arnold resigned as Labor leader, and left politics.
DEAN BROWN, JOHN OLSEN IN A MODERATE/CONSERVATIVE
FIGHT exploited, along with privatisation, by Labor's Mike Rann
Dean Brown tangled in historic battle between Liberals' moderates and conservatives
Dean Brown led the Liberal Party to a landslide win in 1993 but lost the premiership in a challenge from John Olsen that represented the historic clash of the moderate and conservative wings of Liberal Party. Brown had struggled to rein in his party with its 14-seat majority—the largest in the state's history. Historic factional battles were still being played out. Prominent moderates Joan Hall and Graham Ingerson threw their support to Olsen who launched a successful party-room coup against Brown.
John Olsen brought down by Motorola affair after embarking on a privatising splurge
John Olsen scored a narrow win for the Liberals in the 1997 election, after his failures in 1985 and 1989. Olsen, who had a bitter conservative-moderate rivalry with Dean Brown, was forced to resign as premier in 2001 after being found to have misled the parliament in the Motorola affair. Olsen's government privatised the state-owned electricity industry (ETSA), partly to ease the financial situation due to the State Bank disaster, and management of the state's water supply in 1996.
Peter Lewis's shock vote for Labor denies Rob Kerin's Liberals an election win in 2002
Rob Kerin became premier less than six months before the 2002 election after John Olsen resigned over the Motorola affair. In the election, the Liberals won 50.9% of the two-party vote but Labor gains left it one seat short of a majority. In a shock move, Peter Lewis, expelled by the Liberals in 2000, announced he would back Labor in return for being made Speaker of the House of Assembly. Kerin's attempt to hold on against Labor's Mike Rann failed when he lost a confidence motion.
Mike Rann exploits privatisation angst to build nine years of infrastructure, events
Mike Rann as premier set a record time for a state Labor government in office. He became opposition leader in 1994 in the wake of Labor’s landslide loss in 1993 due to the State Bank collapse. Rann launched a strategy and vigorously opposed the privatising of water services and electricity assets. He exploited Liberal internal divisions, assisted by leaks from within the party. As premier, Rann embarked on an extensive infrastructure projects, including Adelaide Oval, and events.
SIXTEEN YEARS OF LABOR GOVERNMENT SHUT DOWN IN 2018 with Jay Weatherill defeated by Steven Marshall's Liberal Party
Jay Weatherill puts emphasis on green energy, health, CBD, outside investment
Premier Jay Weatherill’s defeat in the 2018 state election ended 16 years of Labor government. Weatherill’s term was characterised by a swing toward renewable energy supply, infrastructure spending, an attempt to transform the health sector and an agency created to attract investment in the state to combat loss industries such as GMH Holden's. It battled issues such as flaws in the state child protection and the health system, TAFE standards and mistreated aged dementia patients at Oakden.
Steven Marshall focus on payroll cuts, free shops hours, ICAC, Repat and population
Steven Marshall was elected 46th South Australian premier on a Liberal Party platform featuring scrapping payroll tax for small business, deregulating shopping hours, reducing the emergency services levy by $90 million, capping rates rises by councils, giving the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption the powers to hold public hearings and access cabinet documents, and reopening parts of the Repatriation General Hospital and generally reversing the state's population decline.