South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill says voters are fearful of wall-to-wall conservative governments, as Liberal leader Steven Marshall refused to rule out forming a minority government should Saturday’s election deliver a hung parliament.
With the latest Newspoll, published in The Australian newspaper on Friday, showing the Liberal party with a two-party preferred lead of 53 per cent to Labor’s 47 per cent, Mr Weatherill said it was possible Australia could have conservative governments in every state.
The ACT would be the only Labor government in the country should the Liberal party win in South Australia and Tasmania, with polls in that state also pointing to a Liberal victory on Saturday.
“What I’m seeing from people is that they are incredibly fearful about wall-to-wall Liberal governments around this whole nation,” Mr Weatherill said on Friday.
The warning came as the premier brushed off questions over his willingness to head a minority administration – a possibility should Labor retain a number of key marginal seats – while also refusing to speculate on his own future should Labor’s 12 years in office come to an end.
Labor was returned in the 2010 election despite losing the popular vote by successfully defending a handful of key marginals.
That will prove more difficult this time: six of the party’s seats are on a margin of less than three per cent, although the latest polling suggests Labor’s vote is holding up in at least two of those electorates.
Mr Weatherill said, however, he was focused on winning a majority of votes in a majority of seats.
“I want to lead a majority government,” he said.
Labor holds 26 seats in the SA’s 47-seat parliament. The Liberals have 18 and three are held by independents.
The opposition needs to gain six seats to govern in their own right, or as few as three if they can secure support from the cross benches and assuming all three are returned.
Mr Marshall, in his final pitch to voters, predicted the election would be “extraordinarily tight”, adding that he would consider forming a minority government despite also pointing to “dysfunction in Canberra” after the 2010 federal election.
“We’ve never ruled that out but quite clearly we would like to govern in our own right,” he said.
“That would be what we think would be great for South Australia, to have a clear decision on Saturday so we can get on with the important work of growing our economy.”
While the premier toured two of Labor’s signature projects, the construction site of the new Royal Adelaide Hospital and the redeveloped Adelaide Oval, on Friday, he declined to speculate on his own future if Labor lost on Saturday.
“I’m not contemplating what the voters might decide to do at the election,” Mr Weatherill said.
“I’m not going to disrespect them by making any presumptions.”