Published by: The Border Watch
By: Peter Gandolfi
IF the major parties want Independent MP Troy Bell's support to form a minority government, they will have to strike a deal with the MP worth $100m for the seat of Mount Gambier and at this stage Labor is the only party to have made the pledges which could make it a front-runner to secure his support.
When the Mount Gambier MP was asked by The Border Watch this week if he had done any deals with any of the major parties, he said: "absolutely not - there's no deal." Dubbed as a possible 'Kingmaker' if reelected, Mr Bell may be called upon to decide which party will form government if neither of the major parties wins the majority of seats in Parliament after the State election tomorrow.
Mr Bell said while he has not spoken to any of the major parties about a deal to secure his support, the former Liberal has not ruled out supporting Labor.
On forming a possible alliance with Labor, Mr Bell said: "It will be difficult." CONTINUED PAGE 2
FROM PAGE 1 Admitting that it would be difficult for him to gain wide-spread community endorsement to anoint Peter Malinauskas as the next South Australian Premier, Mr Bell said he wants the best outcome for the electorate of Mount Gambier.
"My natural allegiance is perhaps towards the Liberal Party but what I will say is that I will deliver the best deal I possibly can for this community," Mr Bell said.
He said he was seeking commitments from both major parties in the lead-up to election day.
"I want to assure readers that I will negotiate the best deal I possibly can for my community before and after the election on Saturday." Mr Bell referred to his 'Future Mount Gambier' document which he released in August last year.
The document contains his wish list for the seat of Mount Gambier, seeking more than $100m to achieve aims outlined in the document.
During the election campaign, the Labor Party has committed almost $100m in funding to the seat of Mount Gambier while the Liberal Party has not announced any new future funding commitments for the seat.
Big ticket items promised by Labor include: a $35m technical college, $24m for health services and a further $24m for forestry.
Labor Leader Peter Malinauskas has visited Mount Gambier twice during the official election period while Premier Steven Marshall visited the neighbouring seat of MacKillop travelling to Coonawarra.
Last month, Primary Industries Minister David Basham visited the city and announced $2.7m for the Mount Gambier saleyards but said: "This is not an election promise, the funding is already in the budget to be spent so it is money that is there".
In an open letter to the Premier this week, Mr Bell said: "If you think a $2.7m election commitment is going to cut it for the State's second largest city, then I think you have underestimated the intelligence of my community.
"If you are hedging your bets and think that you can promise next to nothing and then come calling after the election to secure my support, then you have seriously underestimated my intelligence." He called on the Premier to at least match the Labor Party's commitment to Mount Gambier.
"In total, close to $100m [has been] promised to the seat of Mount Gambier [from Labor] versus your party [Liberal] $2.7m." He said: "Come on Steven the clock is ticking" and concluded the letter with "Tick, Tock".