Martin Hamilton-Smith

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Martin Hamilton-Smith
Minister for Investment, Trade, Defence Industries and Veterans Affairs
Assumed office
27 May 2014
Preceded by Susan Close (as Minister for Trade)
40th Leader of the Opposition (SA)
In office
12 April 2007 – 8 July 2009
Deputy Vickie Chapman (2007–2009),
Isobel Redmond (2009)
Preceded by Iain Evans
Succeeded by Isobel Redmond
Deputy Leader of the Opposition (SA)
In office
30 March 2010 – 6 April 2010
Preceded by Steven Griffiths
Succeeded by Mitch Williams
Minister for Tourism and Innovation
In office
4 December 2001 – 5 March 2002
Preceded by Rob Kerin (as Minister for Tourism)
Succeeded by Jane Lomax-Smith (as Minister for Tourism, Science and the Information Economy)
Member of the South Australian Parliament for Waite
Assumed office
11 October 1997
Preceded by Stephen Baker
Personal details
Born Martin Leslie James Hamilton-Smith
(1953-09-01) 1 September 1953 (age 61)
Nationality Australian
Political party Liberal Party (1997-2014)
Independent (2014-present)
Spouse(s) Stavroula Raptis
Alma mater Royal Military College, Duntroon
University of New South Wales
University of Adelaide

Martin Leslie James Hamilton-Smith (born 1 December 1953) is an Australian politician representing the South Australian House of Assembly seat of Waite for the Liberal Party of Australia since the 1997 election, and became an independent after the 2014 election. He is the Minister for Investment and Trade, Minister for Defence Industries and Minister for Veterans’ Affairs in the Weatherill Labor government.

Hamilton-Smith was the parliamentary leader of the South Australian division of the Liberal Party of Australia and the Leader of the Opposition in South Australia from 2007 to 2009, and a minister in the Kerin Liberal government from 2001 to 2002.


Graduated from Marion High School with a scholarship to attend the Royal Military College, Duntroon in 1971. Completed a Bachelor of Arts (University of NSW) while at Duntroon. Master of Arts (History) from the University of NSW in 1985 with a focus on Australia's relations with the United States of America and South East Asia. Graduated from Army Command and Staff College in 1988 (Graduate Diploma in Management Studies). Master of Business Administration (Advanced) at University of Adelaide in 2002 while serving as a Member of Parliament. Awarded the 1999 Baron Partner's Prize in Strategic Management.[1]

Military service[edit]

Graduated from Royal Military College as an officer in the Australian Army in 1975. Served in 6th Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment and the Australian Special Air Service Regiment (SASR). He commanded Australia's first counter-terrorist assault force in the SAS in 1980. He saw service in Malaysia on counter-terrorism and special recovery operations and as commanding officer of the 1st Commando Regiment based in Sydney. In 1993 he was posted as commanding officer of the Australian contingent in the 11 nation Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) in Sinai, Egypt, also serving as Assistant Chief of the 3,200 man force which monitors the peace agreement between Israel and Egypt from Gaza to the Gulf of Aqaba.[2][3]

Business career[edit]

Hamilton-Smith left the Army in 1994 to build a property development, investment and private child care centre business which had been first established in 1989. The family business employed around 125 staff at six business sites in two states, South Australia and New South Wales, and involved the construction of new facilities and the trading operation of the enterprises. Hamilton-Smith became President of an South Australian based childcare association and National Secretary of the Australian Confederation of Childcare and editor of the ACCC national magazine from 1995 to 1997. These bodies represented the small business sector of childcare before federal and state parliaments.[4]


Hamilton-Smith first won Waite in the 1997 election by six percent against the Democrats on a two-candidate basis. Running as independent non-aligned conservative, he won preselection in the state seat of Waite over Robert Lawson from the moderate faction and the conservative faction's candidate Hugh Martin. Previous Waite MP Stephen Baker, from the moderate faction, resigned two months prior to the election which was seen as a result of losing the deputy leadership after the coup of leader Dean Brown from the moderate faction, by John Olsen from the conservative faction. The preselection victory of Hamilton-Smith prompted Brown to complain of interference by federal conservative MPs Nick Minchin, Grant Chapman, and Andrew Southcott.[5][6]

At the 2002 election when Rann Labor came to power, Hamilton-Smith retained his seat by twelve percent against Labor on 2PP, and by four percent at the 2006 election. Hamilton-Smith was promoted by Premier John Olsen into the position of Cabinet Secretary on October 5th 2001 and was later elevated into Cabinet as the Innovation and Tourism minister in the Kerin Liberal government from December 2001 to March 2002.[7]

Liberal leader[edit]

In October 2005, he moved to challenge then Liberal leader Rob Kerin, but later withdrew his challenge.[8] On 11 April 2007, Hamilton-Smith formally challenged then Liberal leader Iain Evans, and was successful with 13 votes to 10 for the Liberal leadership.[9] On 19 April 2007, he announced a re-shuffle of the opposition front bench.[10]

Under his leadership, polling by Newspoll saw the Liberals go from 29 to 40 per cent on the primary vote, and from 39 to 50 per cent on the two party preferred vote. The Preferred Premier rating saw Hamilton-Smith start on 21 per cent, seven points higher than his predecessor, to a high of 30 per cent, with Rann falling from a high of 64, to 48 per cent. However, Newspoll saw Labor back in a winning position on 54 to 46 in late 2008, and then 56 to 44 in early 2009 along with a widening gap in the Preferred Premier rating. During the 50-50 polling, The Sunday Mail polling suggested that whilst there had been large swings away from the government in country areas, support was holding relatively firm at 2006 election levels in the metropolitan areas.[11] However, this did not play out at the 2009 Frome state by-election, which saw an independent take the seat with Labor preferences from the retiring former premier Rob Kerin.

2009 leadership spill[edit]

Hamilton-Smith accused Labor of accepting split donations from the Church of Scientology based on information sent to the Liberal Opposition that was subsequently found to have been forged.[12] This controversy coupled with the Frome by-election and continued poor polling, saw Liberal MPs openly talk of a leadership change, with a high chance of a leadership spill likely, prior to the 2010 state election.[13][14][15][16] Opposition Frontbencher Mitch Williams quit the Hamilton-Smith Shadow Cabinet in protest of his leadership on 28 July 2009, after The Sunday Mail revealed Labor was leading 64–36 in metropolitan Adelaide.[17][18][19][20] Two days later, Hamilton-Smith announced a spill of the leadership and deputy leadership, with a ballot taking place on Saturday 4 July 2009.[21][22] Williams, Isobel Redmond, and Iain Evans ruled out contesting the ballot, with Hamilton-Smith and his moderate deputy Vickie Chapman the only contenders.[23] Hamilton-Smith defeated Chapman in the leadership spill, 11 votes to 10, with one MP abstaining. At first, Hamilton-Smith immediately announced he would stand down, which would have delivered the leadership to Chapman. Hamilton-Smith announced a second leadership ballot to be held on Wednesday 8 July.

On Monday 6 July, Hamilton-Smith confirmed he would not be running for the leadership. Contenders for the leadership were Chapman, Redmond, and Williams. Hamilton-Smith and his supporters backed Redmond.[24][25] Redmond won the leadership spill on 8 July 2009, 13 votes to 9 against Chapman.[26]

Deputy Leader[edit]

On Tuesday 30 March 2010, Hamilton-Smith was elected deputy leader of SA Liberals to replace Steven Griffiths in a party-room vote, defeating Iain Evans 10 votes to 8. He once again defeated Evans in a leadership position in a rematch between the two former leaders. Hamilton-Smith got to be in the reverse position being deputy to Isobel Redmond as Redmond had briefly served as Hamilton-Smith's deputy before his leadership demise.[27] However Redmond had made it known that Hamilton-Smith was not her preferred deputy and he stood aside when a party room meeting was called for 6 April to reconsider the deputy's job and Mitch Williams was elected unopposed to replace Hamilton-Smith.

2012 leadership spill[edit]

Hamilton-Smith nominated for the position of South Australian Liberal Party parliamentary leader, with Steven Marshall as deputy leader after Hamilton-Smith declared a leadership spill against Isobel Redmond and Mitch Williams.[28] A partyroom ballot occurred on 23 October 2012, Redmond retained the leadership by one vote, however Marshall was elected to the deputy leadership. Hamilton-Smith moved to the backbench and would not rule out challenging again.[29]

Redmond resigned on 31 January 2013. Hamilton-Smith chose to support Steven Marshall who was elected leader unopposed. Hamilton-Smith was appointed Shadow Minister for Economic and Regional Development, Mineral Resources and Energy, Manufacturing, Industry and Trade, and Defence Industries in the subsequent reshuffle.[30]

Independent Liberal in a Labor cabinet[edit]

On 27 May 2014, more than two months after the 2014 election, Hamilton-Smith in a media conference with South Australian Labor Premier Jay Weatherill announced his decision to resign from the South Australian Liberal Party to become an "Independent Liberal" MP, and to join the Labor cabinet as the Minister for Trade, Defence Industries and Veterans' Affairs. He agreed to support the minority Labor government on confidence and supply while retaining the right to otherwise vote on conscience.[31][32]

An Advertiser poll of 350 Waite voters was conducted a few days after Hamilton-Smith became an independent. On the question of "should there be a by-election in Waite", 43 percent said no, 41 percent said yes. On the question of "do you feel betrayed by his decision", 46 percent said no, 42 percent said yes.[33]

Hamilton-Smith attacked his former party at the South Australian Press Club on 27 June 2014, stating "up until this point I have refrained from reflection on the state Liberals, even though I have been subject to the most extraordinary campaign of personal abuse from those who should know better". He claimed he knew the Liberals would lose the state election and blamed a small target strategy and big election spending in safe seats rather than key marginals, and claimed the Liberals had no policy platform. He also said the Liberals should have campaigned harder to save Holden, and claimed that several Liberal MPs had actively sought the car industry's demise. State Liberals boycotted the speech. Hamilton-Smith will contest Waite at the next election.[34][35][36][37]

Hamilton-Smith plans to back his own independent candidates at the 2014 Fisher and 2015 Davenport by-elections.[38]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Abraham, Matthew (10 September 1997). "Moderates pressure Olsen over seat snub". The Australian. p. 6. 
  3. ^ Why Martin Hamilton-Smith wanted to fight for the British Army: AdelaideNow 31 December 2011
  4. ^
  5. ^ Parkin, Andrew (June 1998). "Australian Political Chronicle: July–December 1997". Australian Journal of Politics and History 44 (2): 286–287. doi:10.1111/1467-8497.00019. ISSN 0004-9522. 
  6. ^ "The Poll Bludger – electoral district of Waite". Retrieved 2 December 2011. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ Simon Royal (14 October 2005), Has Rob Kerin saved his leadership but lost the election?,, retrieved 29 May 2007
  9. ^ 11 April 2007, SA Liberals elect new leader, ABC News Online, retrieved 29 May 2007
  10. ^ 19 April 2007, SA Opposition reshuffle 'matches' Govt portfolios, ABC News Online, retrieved 29 May 2007
  11. ^ "Poll boost for Rann in key seats:". The Advertiser. 31 October 2008. Retrieved 2 December 2011. 
  12. ^ Hamilton-Smith apologises for Scientology claims: ABC 30 April 2009
  13. ^ 5 Minutes 10 Minutes (20 June 2009). "'Lame duck' Lib leader Martin Hamilton-Smith to face spill". The Australian. Retrieved 2 December 2011. 
  14. ^ "SA Liberals in crisis". The Independent Weekly. 20 June 2009. Retrieved 2 December 2011. 
  15. ^ Libs fail to settle doubts on leader Martin Hamilton-Smith. The Australian 23 June 2009[dead link]
  16. ^ We're a team, but who will be leader. The Advertiser 23 June 2009[dead link]
  17. ^ Emmerson, Russell (28 June 2009). "Opposition Leader Martin Hamilton-Smith faces spill". The Advertiser. Retrieved 2 December 2011. 
  18. ^ Kelton, Greg (28 June 2009). "Mitch Williams quits cabinet in Liberal leadership chaos". The Advertiser. Retrieved 2 December 2011. 
  19. ^ 5 Minutes 10 Minutes (29 June 2009). "Spill looms as Lib quits front bench". The Australian. Retrieved 2 December 2011. 
  20. ^ Kelton, Greg (30 June 2009). "Martin Hamilton-Smith facing leadership challenge this week". The Advertiser. Retrieved 2 December 2011. 
  21. ^ Emmerson, Russell (3 July 2009). "Martin Hamilton-Smith refuses to quit Liberal leadership". The Advertiser. Retrieved 2 December 2011. 
  22. ^ 5 Minutes 10 Minutes (30 June 2009). "Martin Hamilton-Smith announces South Australian opposition leadership spill". The Australian. Retrieved 2 December 2011. 
  23. ^ "Leadership spill for SA Liberals". Australia: ABC. 30 June 2009. Retrieved 2 December 2011. 
  24. ^ Kelton, Greg (4 July 2009). "Martin Hamilton-Smith quits as SA Liberals leader". The Advertiser. Retrieved 2 December 2011. 
  25. ^ 5 Minutes 10 Minutes (6 July 2009). "Martin Hamilton-Smith to stand down after second leadership spill". The Australian. Retrieved 2 December 2011. 
  26. ^ Kelton, Greg (8 July 2009). "Redmond knocks off Chapman". The Advertiser. Retrieved 2 December 2011. 
  27. ^ Wills, Daniel (30 March 2010). "SA Liberals elect Martin Hamilton-Smith as new deputy-leade". The Advertiser. Retrieved 2 December 2011. 
  28. ^ Ex SA Liberal leader wants top job back: ABC 19 October 2012
  29. ^ Daniel Wills analysis - Isobel Redmond wins battle against Martin Hamilton-Smith, but at what price?: AdelaideNow 23 October 2012
  30. ^ "Marshall takes razor to shadow cabinet". The Australian. 9 February 2013. 
  31. ^ "Martin Hamilton-Smith quits Liberals to back South Australian Labor Government". ABC News. 2014-05-28. Retrieved 2014-05-28. 
  32. ^ Former Liberal leader Martin Hamilton-Smith attends first Labor Cabinet meeting in SA: ABC 2 June 2014
  33. ^ Survey of Martin Hamilton-Smith’s electorate reveals huge opposition to his defecting to Labor government: The Advertiser 30 May 2014
  34. ^ Martin Hamilton-Smith speech, 27 July 2014: SA Press Club
  35. ^ Martin Hamilton-Smith says Liberals cost themselves SA election: ABC 27 June 2014
  36. ^ South Australian Liberal Party has no vision, former leader Martin Hamilton-Smith says: The Advertiser 27 June 2014
  37. ^ Gloves off as defector explains: The Australian 28 June 2014
  38. ^ Former Liberal leader Martin Hamilton-Smith plans to back his own independent candidates in two looming state by-elections: Sunday Mail 18 October 2014

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Iain Evans
Leader of the Opposition in South Australia
Succeeded by
Isobel Redmond
Preceded by
Steven Griffiths
Deputy Leader of the Opposition in South Australia
Succeeded by
Mitch Williams
South Australian House of Assembly
Preceded by
Stephen Baker
Member for Waite
Party political offices
Preceded by
Iain Evans
Leader of the Liberal Party of Australia (SA division)
Succeeded by
Isobel Redmond