Friday, February 27, 2009


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Exit McEwen?
Email: sandra@tbw.com.au


INDEPENDENT Member for Mount Gambier Rory McEwen yesterday did not deny that he could lose his Cabinet position as part of a looming reshuffle. Speculation has emerged Mr McEwen, who has been Agriculture Minister for more than five years, will lose his Cabinet post in a move by Premier Mike Rann to introduce new faces to the frontbench. According to political sources, it is understood Mr McEwen has already agreed to quietly step aside in the lead up to the 2010 state election. Speaking to The Border Watch yesterday, Mr McEwen would not be drawn into making specific comments about the reshuffle or his contribution to Cabinet. “I will answer that at another time,” Mr McEwen said. But in a candid conservation with this newspaper, Mr McEwen conceded it was inevitable a new person would move into the Cabinet position because he was retiring from politics next year. “No one is irreplaceable,” Mr McEwen said. But he said he would remain committed as the Member for Mount Gambier until he completed his third term. “What else I do is up to me,” Mr McEwen said.

He vowed to finish the 20 items on his priority list and claimed he would present a report card to the Mount Gambier community at the end of his term. Mr McEwen said there were a small number of these priorities which still needed more work. “I’m going to finish what I have started,” Mr McEwen said. He said he had a dealt with a number of difficult issues through the complex agriculture portfolio. “I have tried to deal with these issues in a non-political way,” he said. Mr McEwen, who suffered a heart attack in 2007, conceded he had been in politics long enough. “John Howard was in politics for 22 years and that was probably too long,” he said. Meanwhile, Liberal Member for MacKillop Mitch Williams said the Cabinet reshuffle had been looming for some time. “I suspect Rory won’t be a member of Cabinet in the lead up to the election,” Mr Williams said. The South East Liberal heavyweight claimed Mr McEwen’s position had been causing unrest among the backbench for some time. “There have been large rumblings on the backbench and Mike Rann will try and quell that,” he said. But in a highly critical account of Mr McEwen’s political career, he claimed Mr McEwen “had been bought out by the government” and had failed to be a true independent for his

electorate. He claimed Mr McEwen had not been willing to speak out over issues affecting Mount Gambier, but instead had fallen silent. Mr Williams argued Mr McEwen had failed to stand up for professional fishermen over marine parks and had supported shared services despite vowing at the start of his political career that he would fight for local jobs. “Mount Gambier has been the biggest loser because Mr McEwen has had to compromise his electorate,” he said. Mr Williams claimed Mr McEwen’s influence in State Cabinet had been eroded because he was not part of the Labor caucus. “Decisions are made in the caucus and Mr McEwen has had to walk into Cabinet and just wear it — he is on his own,” Mr Williams said. He claimed the Mount Gambier community had not won any more funding or services than it would have received if Mr McEwen had not sat in Cabinet. A source within the Labor Party said yesterday there were a number of backbenchers who had been waiting to be elevated to the frontbench for some time. But the source denied Mr McEwen’s position in Cabinet had caused ill feeling among some backbenchers. “There is certainly not a lack of talent in the Labor ranks,” the source said.


Mount Gambier today - Fine. Early change. 27o – full report page 37


Pages 18-19


Page 23


Pages 24-29

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