Centre of attention

Hills MP Dan Cregan has announced he will not be contesting the March election and will walk away from his safe seat after just one term.

Dan Cregan’s brave move to defect from the Liberal Party and stand as an independent at the next State election is a sure sign the MP is putting the needs of his community first.
But his acceptance of the Speaker’s role may have been a step too far in what was one of the most tumultuous days seen in State politics in decades.
The resulting backlash in accepting the important role has no doubt prompted the MP to distance himself from ‘greedy’ and ‘ambitious’ accusations leveled at him by announcing he will donate the substantial increase in salary ($150,000 per year, taking his total package to $350,000) to local organisations.
Mr Cregan has said the plan had been in the works since he took the Speaker’s role but it seems more like pure politics at play.
History suggests the tactics will only become grubbier as the election nears with the Liberals attempting to nullify Mr Cregan’s significant local support.
Irrespective of which side of the political fence people occupy, there can be no doubt Kavel is now the centre of attention for the Government.
Premier Steven Marshall, with political spot fires seemingly breaking out all over the place, will not want to see a safe Liberal seat fall to an independent as the Federal Liberal Party did in Mayo.
Mr Cregan has been unhappy with the level of commitment from his senior colleagues when considering the many infrastructure needs required by this rapidly expanding region.
His exasperation is understandable as complaints about the growing pains being experienced by the local community continue to fall on deaf ears.
The newly independent MP is correct in saying there needs to be a whole-of-region approach for Mt Barker and the wider Hills community as the pace of growth continues unabated and the compound effects of that rampant development have a negative impact on its residents.
Voters may well face the choice between a re-focussed Liberal Party at the March election promising to invest heavily in the region or risk an independent who needs to hold the balance of power in a minority government to be truly influential.
But the basic political reality is that seats in the balance are better served than most, meaning the people of Kavel have Mr Cregan to thank for shifting the focus onto their electorate.