FIVEaa News Director
Matthew Pantelis Reports
It is with some sadness I write of the impending departure from state politics of the very colourful former Deputy Premier and Treasurer, Kevin Foley.
Mr Foley’s been holidaying in Bali and has confirmed he will resign from Parliament on his return to Adelaide.
Those of us with an interest in reporting the events of state politics have come to see Mr Foley as extremely good fodder for filling radio and television airtime and column inches in newspapers.
For lovers of political theatre, Mr Foley ranks amongst the best who’ve trod the ageless green carpet in South Australia’s House of Assembly and some on his side will also miss the cut and flourish he provided to question time and debate.
For some years, I, and I know certainly at least some of the journos on the political round, were hoping the long serving Deputy would take the next step and replace a gracious Mike Rann as Premier, whenever the time came.
Sadly for us, our collective dream of endless sound bites (who can forget “rack ‘em, stack ‘em and pack ‘em”?) and on-going interviews with bar owners wasn’t to be.
But not all will be commiserating the loss of this parliamentary giant.
You can bet one will be new Premier Jay Weatherill.
The pair are polarised opposites in Labor’s factional system and won’t be exchanging Christmas cards. After earlier this year telling Mr Weatherill to keep his hands off the Rann/Foley legacy, the Premier will no doubt be pleased the outspoken, nightclubbing, Kevin Foley will no longer be Labor’s problem.
But on the flip side for the Government is Mr Foley’s seat of Port Adelaide will all but certainly be contested by a strong independent candidate, local Mayor Gary Johannsen.
There’s no love lost between those lads from the Port either with Mr Foley taking legal action against Mr Johannsen over comments directed at the former minister.
The long-term danger for the Government is Port Adelaide has a history of electing independents.
Prior to Mr Foley’s election, the electorate of Port Adelaide (then called Semaphore) was held by Independent MP Norm Peterson, who represented the area for four terms between 1979 and 1993.
Port Adelaide swinging back to an Independent won’t trouble the scorers in this parliament. But if the 2014 election is as tight as the latest polls predict, Mr Weatherill may be wishing he sent Mr Foley his Christmas best and Port Adelaide remained in the Labor camp all the way through and beyond 2014.