The former South Australian leader of the Liberal party Martin Hamilton-Smith has announced he is quitting his Labor Government ministry. He added that he would not enter the upcoming state election in March.
Mr Hamilton-Smith said that following a “long consideration” during the holiday break he would end his 21 years of service to the public. He said his political career “has been fulfilling” but that it was time to leave.
Mr Hamilton-Smith originally quit the Liberal party in order to assist Labor and reinforce its slim majority government in the SA State Parliament. He was rewarded with governance over ministries that covered defence, small business, trade and veteran’s affairs.
The ex-Liberal leader revealed he is going to be focusing his efforts to do all he can to assist Graham Davies, from Nick Xenophon’s SA Best party, win his empty seat of Waite this March.
Mr Hamilton-Smith had been elected to the SA Parliament in 1997 and revealed that as MP for Waite he was mirroring the choices made by a former member of the seat in Southern Adelaide, Robin Millhouse.
Mr Millhouse also changed sides in politics during his time in the seat until 1982. Mr Hamilton-Smith said of his own career that he had put his “service to the people ahead of party politics”.
Mr Hamilton-Smith praised Mr Millhouse’s “bold decision” to continue as member under a different party allegiance. He said that he was “proud” to have delivered meaningful outcomes for the seat as an independent Liberal.
SA Premier Jay Weatherill stated that Mr Hamilton-Smith would officially stand down from Cabinet after the year’s first meeting on January 18. Mr Weatherill praised the former Liberal for his “outstanding contribution to South Australia” over his four years of service.
He went on to say that Mr Hamilton-Smith had been a champion for war veterans and small businesses across South Australia.
At the March elections the seat of Waite will be contested by Liberal Sam Duluk, SA Best’s Graham Davies and a yet to be announced Labor candidate.
Steven Marshall, South Australia’s Liberal Opposition leader said that Mr Hamilton-Smith was clever to quit a seat he was unlikely to retain. He went on to say that he was not worried about Mr Hamilton-Smith backing the SA Best candidate as he did not think he had “much influence in that electorate”.
Mr Hamilton-Smith is one of many South Australians who have put their support behind Nick Xenophon’s SA Best party, which has beaten Liberal and Labor in recent polls.