Former South Australian deputy premier John Rau quits Parliament
Jay Weatherill’s deputy premier John Rau will join the former premier in quitting State Parliament.
- John Rau has announced his retirement from state politics
- He entered SA Parliament in 2002
- By-elections for his seat of Enfield and Mr Weatherill’s seat of Cheltenham will be held next year
The former attorney-general told Labor Party members he would be retiring in the coming weeks, ending his 16-year political career.
Mr Rau, 59, was first elected in 2002 — the same year as Mr Weatherill — and became attorney-general in 2010.
The former barrister was elevated to deputy premier in 2011, when Mr Weatherill took over as leader from Mike Rann.
Mr Weatherill announced he would quit on Thursday, nine months after Labor lost the March state election.
In a statement, Mr Rau said the decision was not made lightly.
“But I feel it is the right one,” he said.
“With the retirement of Jay Weatherill as the Member for Cheltenham, now is the right time for me to leave Parliament and give the Labor Party an opportunity for further renewal.
“I am proud to have played my part in the former Labor government, including reforming the return to work scheme and making community safety the number one priority for criminal law.”
Mr Rau had a strong focus on law and order, and introduced legislation to create the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).
He helped loosen liquor licence regulations to allow small bars to flourish in the Adelaide CBD.
In 2016, he successfully nominated himself to be a Senior Counsel, sparking suggestions he wanted to become a judge after leaving politics.
John Rau, former lord mayor Martin Haese and restaurant owner Peter Vukic in Peel Street. (ABC News: Nick Harmsen)
SA Labor leader Peter Malinauskas said Mr Rau was a faithful and loyal politician.
“John was always very interested in law reform,” Mr Malinauskas said.
“His legal expertise and intellect allowed him to home in on specific issues regarding the law in a way that was often unheralded but very important reform.”
By-elections for Mr Rau’s seat of Enfield and Mr Weatherill’s seat of Cheltenham are expected to take place early next year.
Mr Malinauskas said the party would be looking for “great talented people” to run for the safe Labor seats.
SA Unions secretary Joe Szakacs has been touted as a contender for the seat of Cheltenham, which Labor holds with a 15.9 per cent margin.
Last week, Mr Malinauskas said he would be a “great candidate”.
“I hope that someone of Joe’s calibre and intellect has a think about the opportunity,” Mr Malinaukas told reporters.
“I think there’s a large number of people that are likely to be interested in an opportunity like this.”
The party’s executive have met today to open nominations for both seats.
Nominations will close at midday on Friday.
“Both Jay and John’s retirements present an opportunity for us to get fresh faces into our party to make sure we’re renewing as the public expects we should,” Mr Malinauskas said.
Speaker Vincent Tarzia is yet to specify a date for the by-elections, but they are unlikely to be held before February.