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Article from: Sunday Mail (SA)

Brad Crouch

March 18, 2006 11:30pm

PREMIER Mike Rann will lead a Labor Party governing in its own right after voters handed him a thumping endorsement for a second term.

Mr Rann's presidential-style "Rann Gets Results" campaign, putting the focus firmly on his leadership, paid off with a swing of almost 10 per cent, giving Labor its first absolute majority since 1985.

Labor was set to have at least 28 of the 47 seats in the 51st Parliament, ending its reliance on conservative independents to hold power as a minority government.

It may yet pick up two more doubtful seats and will have the support of two independents in Cabinet, giving Labor its greatest dominance since 1930.

Opposition Leader Rob Kerin announced he will stand down as Liberal leader, leaving Iain Evans and Vickie Chapman as the chief contenders to take charge of the demoralised Liberals.

The Liberal Party was reeling from losses in Hartley, Mawson, Newland, Bright, Light and Morialta, while Stuart remained in doubt.

In contrast, Labor consolidated its hold on its own marginal seats.

Jane Lomax-Smith turned Adelaide into a safe Labor seat, while in Norwood high-profile Liberal candidate Nigel Smart was unable to oust Labor MP Vini Ciccarello.

Mr Rann thanked voters and pledged to govern for all South Australians.

He recalled he took over the Labor leadership in 1993 when there were just 10 ALP MPs "at the worst time in its history".

"It's something I cherish as well as relish," he told supporters on claiming victory.

"With great humility, I am very privileged to be the leader of this great party at its finest hour.

"This is all about making sure the confidence and momentum we have in this state now continues for the future.

"As we form a new government and start doing all the hard yards ... it's all about making sure that the confidence and momentum that we have in this state now continues for the future.

"We are going to continue to get results because that's what we were elected to do and that's what we dedicate our second term to."

Mr Kerin rang Mr Rann shortly before 9pm to concede.

"This is an opportunity for the Liberal Party to re-build," Mr Kerin said.

"It has been an honour to lead the Liberal Party, someone else will have that honour in a week or so."

The cash-strapped Liberals' lacklustre campaign, which included several advertising blunders, failed to dent Labor's claim it was the best party to deal with health, jobs and law and order.

Even Mr Kerin suffered a big swing against him, making his previously safe seat of Frome marginal.

Liberal casualties include frontbenchers Robert Brokenshire and Joan Hall, wife of former Premier Steele Hall, ending a political dynasty.

Upper House MP Angus Redford failed in his bid to switch to the Lower House in the formerly Liberal seat of Bright, conceding defeat to Labor's Chloe Fox at 7.30pm.

"There is a significant swing to Labor across the state – at the end of the day I'm a feather duster," he said.

Ms Fox said the retirement of former Liberal MP Wayne Matthew made the seat winnable.

"If you wanted it enough it was there for the taking – I wanted it very, very badly," she said.

Both major parties aimed to reclaim seats lost to defectors who turned independent.

The Liberals took back Hammond, previously held by Peter Lewis, but Labor's bid to win Mitchell from Kris Hanna will be decided by postal votes.

Independent Rory McEwen managed to hold Mt Gambier despite a 20 per cent swing to the Liberal Party. Mr McEwen will be a member of the new Rann ministry.

The state's sole Nationals MP Karlene Maywald cemented her hold on Chaffey, polling some 70 per cent of the vote, and also will be a member of the new ministry. While independent Bob Such easily held his seat of Fisher, his role of Speaker is now under threat with eager Labor backbenchers expected to jockey for the spoils of victory.

The Christian-based Family First party continued its rise, polling almost 6 per cent, the Greens topped 6 per cent while the Democrats' support plummeted to around 3 per cent.

In the Upper House, No Pokies independent Nick Xenophon recorded a stunning triumph.

He was on track to be re-elected along with No Pokies colleague Ann Marie Bressington.

The gain prompted federal Liberal MP Christopher Pyne to dub him the "third force" in SA politics.

Minor parties will hold the balance of power in the Upper House.

However, Mr Rann has said he will hold a referendum giving voters a choice to abolish the Upper House.

Business SA chief executive Peter Vaughan praised Labor's economic management and welcomed the decisive mandate, telling ABC TV a majority government will give the state stability for the next four years.

SA Unions state secretary Janet Giles attributed part of the swing to workers' fears about federal industrial relations laws being driven by the Federal Government.

Earlier in the day Mr Rann cast an absentee vote near his home at Norwood then campaigned in the marginal seats of Hartley and Adelaide before heading to his own Salisbury-based electorate of Ramsay – Labor's safest seat.

Atchison's view, Page 78

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