Former Environment Minister David Spear has confirmed he is in the running to become opposition leader, saying the SA Liberal Party needs to apologize for a “very poor” election campaign.
- Former Environment Minister David Spears to run for Liberal leadership
- The party will hold a meeting after Easter to appoint a new leader.
- Josh Teague and Nick McBride have also put on their hats in the ring for the role
liberal After its massive defeat in the March election, the party room will meet after Easter to vote on its new leadership team.
Mr Spears has been touted for weeks as the party’s new potential leader to replace former premier Steven Marshall, but today his nomination is finally confirmed.
“We need to apologize to our members and supporters for losing the government after one term,” he told David Bevan and Stacey Lee of ABC Radio Adelaide.
Mr Spear said he believed the pandemic had an impact on the government, but added that the Adelaide lost the vote by canceling the 500 car race and failing to sell the benefits of its planned Riverbank Arena.
The MP for the southern suburbs held his seat of Black with a swing of 6.5 percent, but both Davenport and his neighboring electorate of Gibson lost to Labor with double-digit swings.
Mr Spears said it showed he could connect with voters.
“I am [public] Schooled, I’m a migrant, I’m a boy from Hallett Cove,” he said.
“I think I can get out there and connect with the traditions, the workers of South Australia, our frontline workers, our first responders, people who clearly thought we were not connecting with them. “
Spears wants to leave ‘clunk stuff’ behind
The South Australian Liberal Party has a long history of factional division, but Mr Spears wants to present himself as a “new face”.
“I’m not partisan Alliance, I am not part of any kind of dynasty,” he said.
“I want to leave behind the factional stuff, the dynasties stuff, the wealthy shepherds running this party, the corporate boardroom.”
Mr Spears achieved controversy last year, when he attended an evangelical Christian church and urged parishioners to join the party.
It initiated party audits of new membership applications.
He said the issue has been taken out of context.
“I encourage people from all walks of life, of all religions, to join politics,” he said.
Mr Spears was also asked about suggestions that he was hot-tempered, and made reference to his Scottish heritage.
He moved to Australia with his family when he was a teenager.
“There are plenty of examples of me being discouraged from time to time, but I don’t think that has stopped me from being a good environment minister and having a legacy in that portfolio.”
As environment minister, David Spears led the way in banning single-use plastics and promoting open water reservoirs for recreation.
But he attracted criticism for his handling of the Murray-Darling issues, particularly the signing of an agreement with the Eastern States on environmental flows.
Environment Minister Susan Close said, “I’m picking up pieces of the worthless deal at the Environment Department that they did on Murray when he was environment minister.”
“I am not sure that if I were in the party room I would have been encouraged to vote for someone who had been accused by the royal commission of surrendering to the interests of the eastern states.”
The southern suburban lawmaker isn’t the only candidate fighting for the leadership role.
Moderate-aligned Josh Teague will throw his hat in the ring with Southeastern MP Nick McBride, who last year threatened to leave the party.
But senior liberal sources have told ABC that Mr Spears is likely to win the contest.