Independent Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell has ruled out rejoining the SA Liberal Party, despite the party’s new leader extending an offer.
New Liberal Leader David Speirs has left the door open for former Liberal MPs, including Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell, to rejoin the party.
Mr Speirs has told Adelaide radio he would “love to create a pathway back” to the parliamentary Liberal party for Independents Mr Bell, Fraser Ellis and Dan Cregan.
Mr Bell and Mr Ellis are facing criminal charges and have denied any wrongdoing.
Mr Speirs travelled to Mount Gambier last week where he met with Mr Bell.
“If it works for them I would love to create a pathway back to the parliamentary Liberal party for those guys, that would boost our numbers back straight away,” Mr Speirs told FIVEaa radio.
“Clearly they were strongly endorsed by their communities … and so I will certainly be extending the hand of friendship and the hand of collegiality to these people and already have done.”
However, Mr Bell said while he wanted to have a good working relationship with the Liberal party, he ruled out rejoining.
“I’m hoping it’s a better Liberal party than the government that we had which was very city-centric and very much driven by the bureaucrats,” he said.
“I want to work on policies that are going to improve our area and work on commitments before the next election.
“But the reality is I was elected an independent and I will be remaining an independent for the entire term with this parliament.”
Mr Bell said he would now focus on “working closely with the current government”.
“The current government has committed $100m to the seat of Mount Gambier which will see major spending in our emergency department for our hospital, for drug and alcohol rehab, mental health, $25m for the forestry industry, $35m for trade training, a cross border commissioner and also the saleyards redevelopment and support for our rock lobster industry,” he said.
“As an independent I will be working with all sides to better our community.
“I honestly believe it would be disrespectful to be voted in as an independent and then join one of the major parties.
“The time to do that would be at an election if you are going to run as a party endorsed candidate.
“Whilst I welcome the comments and I am sure it will lead to a good working relationship over the next four years particularly around policy development, I am firmly committed to remaining an independent for the four years.”
Mr Bell said new Premier Peter Malinauskas had committed to bringing the entire Cabinet to Mount Gambier for a Country Cabinet “straight after the June budget”.
“We are the first region in SA that will host it and that will be to explain how they are going to roll out the $100m to our community,” he said.
“We are the state’s second largest city and we have been starved of genuine investment from State Government and finally we are seeing I think the biggest spend from a State Government in my lifetime and memory, I cannot remember when we have had this much money going in to the budget.”