IN an embarrassing moment for embattledSouth Australian Premier Jay Weatherill, the Labor leader admitted while in in Crystal Brook on Saturdayhedidn’t know who the local Labor candidate was for theMarch 15 state election.
The seat, seen as crucial for Labor to retain office, is to becontested by candidate Marcus Connelly, the nephew of a late former Speaker inthe Don Dunstan era.
MrWeatherillwas visiting a command station for the Country FireService atCrystal Brook,near Port Pirie, when hewasasked by Fairfax Media aboutMrConnelly’s absence.
He replied: “Who isMarcus Connelly?”
After being told he was the local candidate MrWeatherillcontinuedthat hewas on a “flying visit so we’re justpopping in here”.
He praised the dedication and skill of firefighters involvedin the marathon Bangor blaze then inspected the incident control room.
When he emerged the said to the Premierhe was surprised he didn’tknow who the candidate was. MrWeatherillsmiled and said “yes”.
He said Mr Connelly was probably not available and reiterated thathe was “just coming through this big area”.
Later, talking to another reporter, MrWeatherillmentioned that theLabor Party was seeking to promote “our Labor Partycandidate” but did not mention Mr Connelly by name.
Earlier, when contacted by Fairfax Media, Mr Connelly said he wasunaware of the Premier’s visit.
This incident comes barely 24 hours after Mr Weatherill said he was prepared to do “whatever it takes” to present a unified government ahead of the March 15 state election.
The newly-created ‘faceless man’ in Port Pirie politics, Marcus Connelly said he was ‘disappointed’ that the Premier had not known who he was.
“I can understand that he is extremely busy and that there are a lot of new candidates, but that is disappointing,” he said.
“He has probably only met me once.
“Coming through my region, he should have some idea who the Labor candidate is.
South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill.
“I had a phone call about it later in the day. To be fair to them, there was a courtesy phone call.”
Labor candidate Marcus Connelly
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