In Anti Liquor & Gaming by Clyde Mooney

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People and pubs across South Australia are celebrating a comfortable win by the Liberal party at the weekend’s State election, with a resounding “no” to Nick Xenophon’s anti-pokies SA Best party.

In the aftermath of the Tasmanian election, just two weeks earlier, South Australians voted on Saturday for a new State parliament, dogged by Xenophon’s newly-mustered SA Best party, vowing to leverage scaling back poker machines in pubs and clubs if results saw it holding the balance of power.

Jay Weatherill’s Labor party had held government in the State since 2002, winning a record fourth term in 2014, and pundits predicted a shift to the right.

Xenophon famously stepped down from Federal politics to pursue State issues, and chose the Liberal seat of Hartley in which to run himself, against the Lib’s Vincent Tarzia, who tweeted to the independent to “Bring it on”.

The Australian Hotels Association SA initiated a poignant campaign, highlighting the potential loss of jobs if hotels relying on gaming revenue were forced to relinquish machines, endangering part or all of the business.

Echoing former ally Andrew Wilkie, Xenophon publicly criticised the AHA’s involvement, suggesting big business and the gaming industry were behind the funding of the ‘My Job. My Pub’ message.

On Saturday the people chose to give Steven Marshall’s Liberals the opportunity, the opposition taking a comfortable majority.

The incidentally impotent SA Best party secured a lower than anticipated result, winning just two seats in the upper house of parliament, being Connie Bonaros and Frank Pangallo.

Marshall and Tarzia headlined a celebratory party for the faithful at the Hurley Group’s Hackney Hotel on Saturday night, welcoming the “Lion of Hartley” back for another term, and a new Premier.

Citing the views of political analysts crediting the AHA|SA campaign with key influence, Group CEO and AHA lifer Peter Hurley thanked industry and his staff for their concerted efforts.

“What a great result for our industry, with Mr X not getting a single seat in the Lower House.

“When workers and employers speak as one it becomes a very powerful message that can’t be ignored by voters or the political class.” – Peter Hurley AO

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