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Liberals' not quite fresh start

Monday, 4 February 2013
Author: Kevin Naughton, Indaily

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NEW Liberal Leader Steven Marshall promised a "fresh start" - but day one of his leadership was business as usual with ancient party divisions playing out in the battle for deputy.

Marshall was endorsed today as Liberal Party leader while veteran MP Vickie Chapman won the deputy leadership 10 votes to 8 after a weekend war between the party's factions.

Chapman will now serve as deputy for the third time, having backed or engineered challenges against the previous two she served - Iain Evans in 2007 and Martin Hamilton-Smith in 2009.

Frustrated unaligned MPs were annoyed when Chapman announced last Friday her intention to nominate for deputy and then became dismayed on Sunday when Iain Evans started sounding out his levels of support.

The move cut out the chances of unaligned MPs Dan van Holst Pellekaan and Martin Hamilton-Smith who both decided to pull out of the race.

The 40-year war that has dogged the State Liberals began in 1973 when Liberal Country League premier Steele Hall led a breakaway of moderate conservatives to form a new political party, the Liberal Movement.

After Hall moved to federal parliament in 1974 to take up a Senate seat, remaining Liberal Movement MPs moved back into the Liberal fold and the LCL became the Liberal Party - but the divisions remained.

Two war horses in that period were Ted Chapman and Stan Evans - fathers of Vickie and Iain.

The younger generation were major players in the mid-1990s when divisions remerged.

The conservatives took to the moderates in an ugly spat that ended in the deposing of Premier Dean Brown in favour of Premier John Olsen in 1996.

The disunity saw 14 Liberal MPs lose their seats in a 10 per cent swing against the Liberals in the 1997 state election and the Olsen Government reduced from a massive majority to governing with the support of independents.

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