Liberal leader Steven Marshall has claimed victory in the South Australian election, declaring it a new dawn for the state after 16 years of a Labor government.
Mr Marshall will take over from Labor’s Jay Weatherill as premier with the Liberals likely to win at least 24 seats, enough to govern in their own right.
“It’s been way too long between drinks for the Liberal Party in South Australia,” a jubilant Mr Marshall, who fell short of winning the 2014 election, told the cheering crowd.
“Now, we have been given a wonderful opportunity by the people of South Australia.”
He acknowledged Mr Weatherill, who shortly before had called him to concede defeat.
“I would like to thank him for his service, to the people of South Australia, and for his six years as premier of this state,” he said.
“It is a tough job but I tell you what, I’m really looking forward to it.
“A massive thank you to the people of South Australia who have put their trust, their faith in me and the Liberal team for a new dawn, a new dawn for South Australia.”
He also thanked the voters for giving them a majority in the parliament.
“We specifically asked them to give us a majority government because we know that a majority government will be able to drive the reform agenda that we so desperately need here in South Australia,” he said.
“I absolutely guarantee, I give you my commitment that I and every single person in the team will be working diligently every day over the next four years so that we can build a brighter future, a better future for South Australia.”
The big losers were Nick Xenophon and his SA-BEST candidates who look unlikely to win a single lower-house seat.
Mr Xenophon was beaten in Hartley by sitting Liberal Vincent Tarzia who was given a hero’s welcome when he arrived at the function.
Mr Marshall applauded Mr Tarzia’s efforts in fending off the unexpected incursion of Mr Xenophon.
“I think most people at that point in time would have thought, this is not going to happen, I’m going to throw in the towel. Did he throw in the towel? No way! He redoubled his efforts and they have been rewarded.”
Mr Marshall also thanked former prime minister John Howard, who supported and mentored him after the 2014 loss.