Snelling odds-on to replace Premier Mike Rann
Within weeks, South Australians will have a clear idea of who will replace Premier Mike Rann before the 2014 state election.
It’s a race between Employment Minister Jack Snelling and Attorney-General John Rau - both ministerial cleanskins with with less than a year’s experience in the ministry.
Both men are jostling to take over the role of Deputy Premier which the incumbent Kevin Foley is set to step down from when he returns in three weeks from a defence industry trip to the US.
Just hours before he left, and amid continuing speculation about his future, Mr Foley announced he would quit politics - an admission seen as the first move towards stepping down as deputy and Treasurer.
Mr Foley said while he would quit politics at the next election he would remain as Defence Industries Minister in the Rann Cabinet, sparking a frenzy of questions from journalists who saw it as a signal he would not be Treasurer or Deputy Premier within weeks.
Mr Foley denied there had been any deal struck about his future or that anyone from the party had tapped him on the shoulder to move aside.
That’s not what Labor insiders are saying. They believe Right faction leaders Senator Don Farrell and state secretary of the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association Peter Malinauskas have both made it clear to Mr Foley that his time was up.
Labor, having gone through almost a year of political hell since winning the March 2010, state election, needs a circuit breaker. The unions are up in arms over the last state Budget which has slashed public service jobs and conditions as well as cutting severely into essential state services.
The unions wanted both Premier Mike Rann and Foley gone. They tried to get rid of them at the party’s November convention and failed and both men were able to emerge unscathed from what had promised to be a convention floor covered in blood.
The Right saved them both (even though Rann is non-aligned) and Foley was left looking like a survivor until a few weeks later when rumblings started in party circles that he was on the way out.
Originally defiant and dismissive of any attempts to get rid of him, Foley has been much more circumspect as it emerged that faction bosses had told him he could go with dignity and pick his time of departure so long as it was within weeks, not months.
Foley returned from holidays last week and, in the words of some of his colleagues, shot himself in the foot by saying he had not been tapped on the shoulder and was ready to leave on the next bus out of Victoria Square if the party asked him.
Obviously the intention of the loyal Labor man was to show he was not going to rock the boat but it had the opposite effect, intensifying the efforts of those who want the controversial Treasurer to move on sooner rather than later.
Now he has announced he will quit politics at the next election saying there is a need for transition. The Right has the numbers in Caucus to ensure they will decide Foley’s successor and it will be either Snelling or Rau, both of whom have been good performers since joining the ministry after the 2010 election.
Snelling comes from what the Left terms ``the Bible-thumping Right’’ while Rau is seen as more independent because of his old connections with the more moderate elements of the Labor Party.
At the moment, it appears Snelling is the frontrunner and likely to get the nod over Rau. If he does, then Jack Snelling, the man who was the youngest MP in Parliament when he was elected, will be odds-on to succeed Mike Rann who, despite his protestations that he will be leading Labor to 2014, will go some time in 2012.
It is amazing that Labor, which had a stunning election victory against the odds last year, has gone from being a party in total control to one where the wheels are starting to come off and internal rumblings have been aired as never before in their eight years in office.
The one good thing going for them is that, unlike their hapless colleagues in NSW, the next election is still three years away.
Read all about it
Up to the minute Twitter chatter
The latest and greatest
Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…
I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…
In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…