The man who ushered in the past 16 years of Labor government in South Australia, former Liberal MP Peter Lewis, has died aged 75.
He was first elected in 1979 but the Liberals expelled him in 2000 after he spoke out against the party’s government.
He stood as an independent in 2002 and when the election result returned a hung parliament, Lewis held the balance of power and controversially installed the-then Labor opposition leader Mike Rann as the new premier.
Labor made Mr Lewis the Speaker and has held power ever since, winning the next three elections.
Attorney-General John Rau said Mr Lewis was a “very, very colourful character”,
“He certainly was a very interesting speaker,” Mr Rau told reporters on Thursday.
“To be in the parliament during his period, one never quite knew what was coming next.”
Mr Rau said while it was impossible to tell what would have happened had Mr Lewis not sided with Labor in 2002, his decision appeared vindicated at the 2006 poll when the government won with a significantly increased majority.
“As it turned out, when Labor was put into office by Peter, it was a stable government, it was a government which was successful and the community clearly endorsed that decision overwhelmingly at the 2006 election,” the attorney-general said.
“So, if you’re looking at it from the perspective of electoral consequences, electoral history and the verdict of the people, it would seem Peter made the right call.”
Mr Lewis resigned from parliament in 2005 before facing a no-confidence motion.
Both Premier Jay Weatherill and Opposition Leader Steven Marshall offered their condolences to the Lewis family.