Welcome to another edition of I Call Bullshit. Today we’re looking at the leadership spill in SA, and asking: How does a leader limp on, her team in tatters behind her?

Moving forward… Pic: Mark Brake

State Liberal Isobel Redmond has clung on by a fingernail, after she managed to shake off the clawing hand of challenger Martin Hamilton-Smith (yes, the Libs do double-barrels in SA). 

In a twisted plot worthy of the Labor Party, Mr Hamilton-Smith is himself a former leader of the party. He was toppled when he fell for “dodgy documents” that he thought showed the Labor Party soliciting donations from the Church of Scientology.

After losing to the incumbent by one vote, he’ll have to slink off into the shadows, at least for a while. His ambition is unlikely to let him languish there forever.

His would-be deputy was more fortunate. Stephen Marshall will now serve as Ms Redmond’s 2IC, which obviously won’t prove to be awkward at all.

All this while the Liberals should be a shoe-in to win the next election.

One of the more pitiful things about the carnage is that Ms Redmond, who was known as Honest Izzy, has lost the right to that moniker. She got it because she was a refreshing change to the cultivated spin of the Mike Rann era.

She wasn’t fully spun. She was even slightly unkempt. But not everyone thought that equated to complete honesty – maybe more a lack of control. And that lack of tight control started to show as staffers fled her office and she made a series of silly, silly gaffes. Then she started plenty of pretty politicking around reports she’d offered to hand the leadership to former Howard man Alexander Downer. At which point she said she’d rein things in, determined not to be “caught” again.

And now, she has cast it off forever, as she spun for her life in a post-ballot press conference. She said:

I think this is a good development for the situation in our party room. The party will now lock in behind me and move forward as a united team.

Oh really? I Call Bullshit. This is probably the worst possible outcome. And history and common sense tells us that a party divided is rarely then united. We can expect leaks and counterleaks, whispers behind closed doors, simmering tensions.

Daniel Wills writes: “The Liberal leader used a number of phrases repeatedly during the press conference including; “line in the sand”, “press the reset button”, “move forward” and “lock in behind me”.”

Oh dear. That polliebabble all sounds so horridly familiar. And so hopeless; reverting to this sort of spurious spin didn’t work for Mr Rann in the end; and it won’t work for Ms Redmond. The only thing that would would be some actual honesty. And no more cock ups.

Comments on this post will close at 8pm AEST.

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    • DocBud says:

      12:14pm | 23/10/12

      I’ll write a comment, Tory, just to makes sure there is at least one. Other than Isobel Redmond and Martin Hamilton-Smith, I can’t imagine many people give a stuff about opposition politics in SA.

    • John says:

      12:38pm | 23/10/12

      Tony Abbott does. So does his very good friend Alan Jones.

    • lower_case_andrew says:

      12:45pm | 23/10/12

      John, mind hushing up while the grown-ups are talking?  Thanks, mate.

    • Richard says:

      01:09pm | 23/10/12

      Especially when Tony Abbott only beat Malcolm Turnbull by one single vote too.

    • PJ says:

      01:13pm | 23/10/12

      Talking about Leadership spills.

      Julia Gillard told us how she was forced to make a Leadership challenge at the last minute in order to save the party, which she felt was more inportsnt than he pledged support for her friend and mentor, Kevin Rudd.

      This story of events has been questioned my times, suggesting there was a sustained plot.

      McKew’s new book tells us that Julia Gillard plotted and schemed to undermine and remove Rudd. A plot that ran for months.

      Whom do you believe? Is Julia Gillard of questionable integrity as McKew suggests?

      One of the things Julia Gillard said was evidence Kevin Rudd was making a mess of things was record numbers of illegal immigrants. Julia Gillard vowed to give us secure borders in 2010.

    • Latika says:

      01:32pm | 23/10/12

      @ John

      Oh dear Abbott again! Latest mishap the word ‘babies’ Taken out of context by Gillard, her ministers and the media because our PM has never had a baby that we know of - Abbott apologizes. Too bad if it isn’t sincere and who gives a toss because the whole apology thing has been trivialized by this Government that it no longer carries any weight.

      Very much like the leadership challenge here in SA - it ain’t going to affect the living standards of everyday South Australians so don’t give a shit about it! Politicians shouldn’t challenge unless they are 100% sure they will win. Otherwise do it Gillard style.

    • dovif says:

      02:05pm | 23/10/12

      Wasn’t Julia’s good friend Simon Crean leaking daily to the Australian on the working of the Rudd government?

      That Julia, who Rudd had her full support, not much ever changes with the morally bankrupt.

    • Richard says:

      02:34pm | 23/10/12

      Apparently Tony Abbott has Malcolm Turnbull’s full support. Well he would, wouldn’t he, having won the ballot by one single vote just like Isobel Redmond.

      It’s so funny seeing the desperate righties trying to dismiss this story about the South Australian Liberal Party as irrelevant, or even trying to turn it into one about the federal ALP. They’re totally spooked.

    • Latika says:

      04:14pm | 23/10/12

      @ Richard

      Righties totally spooked - you wish. Spooked is the media and Gillard’s beloved Craig Emerson, keeping their eyes off the real issues and its effectiveness on the nation and its people and focusing on the words uttered by Abbott. Just finished watching 1 hour of politics commercials included of which half an hour was Abbott and having babies and Gillard no babies. Oh yeah, 5 minutes on Isobel Redmond.

    • Richard says:

      04:25pm | 23/10/12


      Nothing to see here then; move along. Right?

      Isobel Redmond will be most relieved to hear that. LMAO

    • Mahhrat says:

      12:26pm | 23/10/12

      Oh, how I LAFF.

      So what you’re saying is… the LNP are just as bad as the ALP?


      It never ceases to amaze me how people dyed red or blue (or green, or yellow or whatever colour Pauline Hanson was) can ever accuse another party’s politicians of poor behaviour when it is so obvious that every party (and almost every party member) would happily lie their way into parliament.

      I’m sure they had the best intentions - I’m sure Peter Garrett joined ALP and not Greens because he figured he’d be able to achieve more, for example - but seriously guys, when you’re egocentric enough to be a pollie in the first place, how long do you suppose you can resist just a teensy ride on the gravy train?

    • lower_case_andrew says:

      12:35pm | 23/10/12

      OK, for starters… it wasn’t the worst of possible outcomes.

      Redmond has been undermined by her “colleagues” for a long time now.  The fact that she took the fight to them, and won, says much about her tenacity.

      Particularly when you consider that much of the SA media, not to mention the Party, had Hamilton Smith as a shoo-in.

      This really cannot be seen for anything other than a victory for Redmond.  Now she can claim that not only does party lead the pools in SA, but she’s the popular choice according to those same polls, AND she’s honestly beaten off a challenger who has been white-anting her.

      “One of the more pitiful things about the carnage is that Ms Redmond, who was known as Honest Izzy, has lost the right to that moniker. “

      I disagree.  She is still widely seen as honest, by political standards.  Gaffes aside, she is generally seen as someone who speaks her mind, isn’t highly ideological, and is practical.  Rare traits indeed, particularly in SA politics.

    • Helen says:

      03:32pm | 23/10/12

      “...honest, by political standards”

      Love the qualification!!

    • lower_case_andrew says:

      12:47pm | 23/10/12

      p.s. if she was on the other side of the political fence, I’m pretty sure Wong and Plibersek and Gillard and Ellis would all be describing this as a victory for “women everywhere”.

      Alas, Isobelle is not the right _kind_ of woman to be a role model or figurehead for leftist feminists.

    • iansand says:

      12:50pm | 23/10/12

      South Australian politics - about as interesting to the rest of Australia as the recent council elections in the ACT.  By the way - is there any other local council in Australia that has an Attorney General?

    • Dan says:

      03:18pm | 23/10/12

      Agreed, its a glorified local council, but thats what happens when the Govt has a vote on whether the ACT should become a self-governing territory, gets a massive no vote, and does it anyway. The first legislative assembly in Canberra had 2/9 people from the non-self-government party.

    • simonfromlakemba says:

      12:56pm | 23/10/12

      But but but but but

      Only Labor do this..


    • Tell It Like It Is says:

      12:58pm | 23/10/12

      “How does a leader limp on, her team in tatters behind her?” 
      Perhaps you should look at the federal ALP government for an answer.

    • William says:

      01:18pm | 23/10/12

      It’s the federal Opposition who are in an identical position. Abbott only beat Turnbull by one vote.

    • Levi says:

      02:00pm | 23/10/12

      Didn’t involve an elaborate knifing of a sitting PM though did it William?

    • Ruby says:

      02:21pm | 23/10/12

      “It’s the federal Opposition who are in an identical position. Abbott only beat Turnbull by one vote.”

      “Identical position” ?  What page are you on?  This is 2012, not 2009 and the support for Abbott is around 100%, oops, make that 99% !

    • William says:

      02:46pm | 23/10/12


      Absolutely correct, Levi. No comparison whatsoever with the resounding win the PM had over Kevin Rudd.

      But a current Opposition leader who won their position by one single vote? Identical situation.

    • William says:

      03:27pm | 23/10/12


      What? The federal Liberal Party had another leadership spill recently and nobody told us? Link please, Ruby. 

      You’d think Abbott would have been shouting it from the rooftops if he won 99% of the votes.

    • Ruby says:

      04:00pm | 23/10/12

      What? The federal Liberal Party had another leadership spill recently and nobody told us? Link please, Ruby.
      You’d think Abbott would have been shouting it from the rooftops if he won 99% of the votes.

      That is precisely the point, there has been no leadership challenge.  I know you don’t like it but, 99% Abbott, 1% Turnbull ! Get it !

    • William says:

      04:10pm | 23/10/12


      When was this Liberal Party leadership ballot that Abbott won 99% of the votes and Malcolm Turnbull won 1% of the votes held, Ruby?

      I’d like that very much, but I haven’t heard anything about it.

    • Lita says:

      04:45pm | 23/10/12

      William, don’t be so daft,  Tony Abbott remained Opposition leader at the 2010 election and after that.  The Coalition have given him 100% backing because he has taken a huge number of seats from the incumbent Labor gov in 2010 and according to all the polls he will be the next PM in the coming election.

    • Ruby says:

      05:16pm | 23/10/12

      Thank you Lita.

      You are so accustomed to the ‘spin’ / ‘dodging and ducking’, you can hardly comprehend what is being said !

    • William says:

      05:28pm | 23/10/12


      When was this Liberal Party leadership ballot where Abbott won 100% of the votes?

    • acotrel says:

      01:01pm | 23/10/12

      What I admire is that the LNP are so mentally flexible.  They can always spin their way out of any situation which has negative potential, or shows them in their true colours.

    • lower_case_andrew says:

      01:11pm | 23/10/12

      “What I admire is that the LNP are so mentally flexible. “

      Yes, because you’re well known for your mental flexibility.

      And your open-minded, fair, impartial views on politics.

    • Christian Real says:

      02:23pm | 23/10/12

      So true,the LNP has perfected the art of deception

    • Levi says:

      05:37pm | 23/10/12

      “There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead” - J.Gillard
      “All this talk of a carbon tax is hysterical” - W.Swan

      You were saying about deception Christian?

    • Robert S McCormick says:

      01:27pm | 23/10/12

      This just goes to prove what most of us have known for a very long time.
      Today’s politics, be they Federal or State, have absolutely bloody nothing to do with people wanting to to good for Australia or their respective States & Territories.
      Politics have been corrupted by those sitting in our Parliaments.
      It is all about egocentric, self-interested, selfish, money-hungry bastards of both genders.
      The only reason Isobel Redmond is seen as being honest is because she says & does nothing. She proposes nothing. She spends most of her time taking cheap shots at various politicians. She never, ever addresses the ever-increasing problems the current profligate, dishonest ALP Government has created.
      If you say Nothing you cannot be held to account for anything.
      If you say Nothing then you can’t be accused of telling Lies, making mistakes
      That is not being Honest.
      As we have seen recently whenever she does say anything she makes a monumental gaffe.
      That is not being Honest
      Anyone would be better than the current ineffectual premier, Jay Weatherill.
      Anything would be better than the current dishonest ALP Government of SA
      Maybe now Redmond will start to actually be open & honest with us & tell us what her & the Liberal’s actual policies are for at the moment they appear to have none.
      For years our self-engrossed, self-interested, arrogant politicians, of whatever shade, have been telling us how unimportant those random, fortnightly or monthly Polls are. They reject them as being “irrelevant” & then twitter on as to how the “Only Poll that counts is the one on Election Day”.
      Yet what did we get from Isobel on Monday? She cited the very Polls they all so deride as justification for her being kept on as Leader of the State Opposition.
      If she & the rest of the Liberals don’t extract their fists & start acting like an alternative Government they might very well Gift South Australians with the worst possible Gift imagineable: The return of the ALP to the Government Benches in 2014.
      Remember, boys’n'girls, an Informal Vote is every bit as valid as a Formal Vote.
      Our votes are precious so why should we give them to people we don’t trust?

    • dovif says:

      01:34pm | 23/10/12

      I call BS on your call of BS

      And history and common sense tells us that a party divided is rarely then united. We can expect leaks and counterleaks, whispers behind closed doors, simmering tensions.

      You seem to have a blind spot on Tony Abbott, who manage to win the vote by 1 vote. The Liberals are not like the ALP, where Gillard’s backstabbing and white anting of Rudd with her friend Simon Crean is legendary and where Rudd’s revenge can be seen by everyone

      Facts are not every political party is driven by lies, spin and revenge like the ALP is.

    • Latika says:

      01:45pm | 23/10/12

      Why bother about leadership challenges when politicians can save all the anxiety by doing it “Gillard Style” Overnight she won and became Leader! All of you wanting Turnbull should advise him to allow Abbott to do all the dirty work for him, once Abbott is in the hot seat should he then do a Gillard. Wouldn’t it be great - we can really see then whether Gillard’s feminist group will still be playing the sexist card.

    • Richard says:

      01:48pm | 23/10/12

      Time to start acting like the next Premier of South Australia otherwise be prepared to spend some serious time in opposition.

    • Lexi says:

      02:01pm | 23/10/12

      Totally off topic - Tory it’s fabulous seeing you doing the talkback segment on Sunrise! Great work smile

    • Rickster says:

      03:25pm | 23/10/12

      Don’t worry invisable Isabel at least half of the party are standing behind you…...............with knives.

    • Richard says:

      05:34pm | 23/10/12

      The Drum Commentator thinks Alexander Downer is still in with a chance. I say go for it as being Premier of a state still beats being Opposition leader. Alex might as well be the top dog at least once.


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