'Giant of SA politics': Steele Hall dead at 95

The only Australian to serve as a state premier and in both houses of federal parliament, Steele Hall, has died aged 95.

Mr Hall served as South Australia's 36th premier for one term from 1968 to 1970 before spending three years in the Senate from 1974 to 1977 and then 15 years as the federal member for Boothby from 1981 to 1996.

He is best remembered for ending the so-called "Playmander" in SA politics, under which inequities in the electoral system favoured rural areas over those in Adelaide.

That system had heavily advantaged his own party, the Liberal and Country League and longstanding premier Sir Thomas Playford for the previous three decades.

"In one of the bravest political moves in the state’s history, Hall introduced legislation to reform the House of Assembly to provide a more equitable system of representation," Premier Peter Malinauskas said in a statement on Monday.

"He did so knowing it would be detrimental to himself and his own party."

Years later, Mr Hall told The Advertiser the previous system, where some Labor seats had 40,000 voters and some Liberal seats 5000, was "totally undemocratic, totally wrong".

"We could not continue with the boundaries the way they were," he said.

"The changes we made in the electoral boundaries were immense and we knew that we were sacrificing government at the following election, but it had to be done.”

Deputy Opposition Leader John Gardner said Mr Hall was a giant of South Australian politics and a leader of great courage and deep principle.

“While electoral reform may be the enduring legacy for which Steele Hall is most widely remembered, his term in office saw significant progress in other areas including women’s health, Aboriginal affairs, and the fluoridation of South Australia’s water supply," Mr Gardner said.

Born in Balaklava, north of Adelaide, in 1928, Mr Hall worked on the family wheat and sheep farm. 

He later secured LCL preselection for the seat of Gouger, which covered Balaklava and surrounds, and was elected to state parliament in 1959.

He was a member of the Playford government and ultimately succeeded Sir Thomas as leader of the LCL in 1966. 

In just two years, he returned the Liberals to government in 1968.

Mr Hall is survived by his wife Joan, six children and six grandchildren.

License this article

What is AAPNews?

For the first time, Australian Associated Press is delivering news straight to the consumer.

No ads. No spin. News straight-up.

Not only do you get to enjoy high-quality news delivered straight to your desktop or device, you do so in the knowledge you are supporting media diversity in Australia.

AAP Is Australia’s only independent newswire service, free from political and commercial influence, producing fact-based public interest journalism across a range of topics including politics, courts, sport, finance and entertainment.

What is AAPNews?
The Morning Wire

Wake up to AAPNews’ morning news bulletin delivered straight to your inbox or mobile device, bringing you up to speed with all that has happened overnight at home and abroad, as well as setting you up what the day has in store.

AAPNews Morning Wire
AAPNews Breaking News
Breaking News

Be the first to know when major breaking news happens.

Notifications will be sent to your device whenever a big story breaks, ensuring you are never in the dark when the talking points happen.

Focused Content

Enjoy the best of AAP’s specialised Topics in Focus. AAP has reporters dedicated to bringing you hard news and feature content across a range of specialised topics including Environment, Agriculture, Future Economies, Arts and Refugee Issues.

AAPNews Focussed Content
Subscription Plans

Choose the plan that best fits your needs. AAPNews offers two basic subscriptions, all billed monthly.

Once you sign up, you will have seven days to test out the service before being billed.

AAPNews Full Access Plan
Full Access
  • Enjoy all that AAPNews has to offer
  • Access to breaking news notifications and bulletins
  • Includes access to all AAPNews’ specialised topics
Join Now
AAPNews Student Access Plan
Student Access
  • Gain access via a verified student email account
  • Enjoy all the benefits of the ‘Full Access’ plan at a reduced rate
  • Subscription renews each month
Join Now
AAPNews Annual Access Plan
Annual Access
  • All the benefits of the 'Full Access' subscription at a discounted rate
  • Subscription automatically renews after 12 months
Join Now

AAPNews also offers enterprise deals for businesses so you can provide an AAPNews account for your team, organisation or customers. Click here to contact AAP to sign-up your business today.

Download the app
Download AAPNews on the App StoreDownload AAPNews on the Google Play Store