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South Australian Deputy Premier Vickie Chapman stands aside pending inquiry into Kangaroo Island decision

One premier’s leadership has been dubbed ‘weak’ after the latest twist in a saga engulfing his deputy.

South Australia’s Premier has come under fire over his “weak leadership” following his deputy standing down, pending the outcome of an Ombudsman inquiry.

Vickie Chapman on Monday announced she would step aside from her roles as Deputy Premier, Attorney-General and Planning and Local Government Minister while her decision to reject a project in her home town was under investigation.

A parliamentary inquiry found she had a conflict of interest and misled parliament over her decision to dismiss a timber port development on Kangaroo Island — where she grew up and owned property.

A historic vote of no confidence against Ms Chapman was made last week, demanding her resignation.

But, she maintained she made the right decision and would not resign from Cabinet.

The Liberals also unsuccessfully tried to stop all parliament sittings until after the next state election following the vote.

Premier Steven Marshall is continuing to back his deputy, prompting the opposition to lash “weak leadership” throughout his four-year term leading the state.

During Mr Marshall’s time in power, four Liberal MPs have left the party to sit on the cross bench.

Three ministers, the Legislative Council President and Whip have also resigned.

Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas reiterated calls for Ms Chapman’s resignation, saying she “fell on her sword” despite repeatedly denying there was any reason to stand down.

“First, (Mr Marshall) refused to act in the face of overwhelming evidence against Vickie Chapman,” he said.

“Now, he has so little control over his own party, Chapman has been forced to stand down in a bid to avoid a party room revolt.

“This is how Steven Marshall reacts to every scandal engulfing his government: repeatedly refuse to act then finally get dragged into doing something when it is way too late.”

Ms Chapman advised the premier of her decision on Sunday night, and said it was “entirely appropriate” because the Ombudsman reported to the Attorney-General.

“I welcome the independent Ombudsman’s inquiry but it is important that I step aside to ensure there is no impediment to this process being undertaken,” she said.

“I do not wish in any way to compromise the Ombudsman or his delegate to be able to undertake this inquiry.

“I maintain that I have made the right decision in respect of the KI seaport proposal and that I had no conflict of interest, actual or perceived.”

Mr Marshall said he reluctantly but respectfully accepted Ms Chapman’s decision to stand aside and thanked her for her “hard work, dedication and unwavering support.”

He has defended his deputy throughout the inquiry and beyond, saying he had “100 per cent” confidence in her and would not sack her.

Read related topics:Adelaide


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