SA campaign on as political foes face-off

·2-min read

South Australia's political leaders have faced off in a debate, Premier Steven Marshall spruiking his government's record and Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas calling for a major rebuilding of the state economy.

In an event marking one year until he next state election, both leaders touted SA's response to the coronavirus pandemic, praising the leadership and sacrifices by everyone across the community.

Mr Marshall said as South Australia emerged from the spectre of COVID-19, the state was at a "pivot point" with growing job opportunities and developing industry sectors.

"We are now the safest state in the safest continent and this is going to bring more investment into South Australia," he said.

"There are those who want to talk down this state but from my perspective, I've never felt more optimistic about the future."

But Mr Malinauskas said under the Liberal government, SA was grappling with increased debt, a crisis in health care and the worst unemployment rate in the country.

He said it was incumbent on the next government not to just take South Australia back to where it was before the pandemic struck, but to where it could be.

"An open, progressive and inclusive society with an expanding and increasingly affluent middle class that underpins a strong economy," he said.

"The decisions that are made in the next term of government are the ones that are going to set us up for the 2030s."

With the unofficial election campaign underway, both leaders recently announced major promises.

The government is proposing to build a new city sports and entertainment stadium at a cost of $700 million, and Labor a new hydrogen power plant at a cost of $590 million.

Mr Marshall said the stadium would help create jobs and would bring a new vibrancy to the city centre.

Mr Malinauskas said Labor's proposal was vital to drive down energy prices and ensure grid security.

Both leaders said they expected to win in March next year, dodging questions about what they would do if they lost.

Mr Marshall said any leader who didn't think he would win was "probably not going to do very well", as evidenced in the recent Western Australian election.

Mr Malinauskas pointed to his "fresh and united team".

"We're excited about what the future holds," he said.

Six marginal seats are likely to determine the outcome of the election, with four of them currently held by the government.

The ALP has also been bolstered by the most recent redistribution of electoral boundaries, which has shifted some seats nominally into Labor territory.