Strike: Tony Abbott and South Australia Liberals leader Steven Marshall. Photo: AAP
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has inserted a new fleet of large surveillance drones worth up to $3 billion into the last days of the South Australian election, declaring they will operate from an air force base on the outskirts of Adelaide.
Standing beside rookie state election leader Steven Marshall, Mr Abbott announced on Thursday about $100 million would be spent in the state to build new infrastructure to support the drones, creating 100 new jobs.
South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill, of the Labor Party, was not invited to the ceremony at the Edinburgh air base.
The base for the new drones is in Adelaide's northern suburbs, a Labor stronghold that will be hit hard by Holden's recent decision to end car manufacturing.
Mr Weatherill, who said Defence SA had been working hard to win the drone contract, was left at the other side of Adelaide announcing a new road link to ease congestion in the city.
With Saturday's election appearing likely to herald a change of government to the Liberals, Mr Weatherill accused the Opposition Leader of planning to turn South Australia into a ''branch office for Tony Abbott''. He said Mr Marshall had been dodging the media and the public since the start of the election campaign. If Mr Marshall won the election, he would work with Mr Abbott to dismantle Medicare, cut funding for education and reduce award rates for workers, he said.
Mr Abbott returned fire on Mr Marshall's behalf. He said the whole basis for Mr Weatherill's campaign was ''to have a fight with the Commonwealth''.
''I want someone as premier who wants to work co-operatively with the Commonwealth,'' he said.
It is the second time in a week Mr Abbott has visited Adelaide to support Mr Marshall, a first-term Liberal MP who has been the leader for only 13 months.
At last weekend's Liberal campaign launch, Mr Abbott reached for a grand historical reference to portray Mr Marshall as South Australia's saviour in the making.
''Let me say that the Marshall Plan will do at least as much for this state of South Australia as a different Marshall Plan did for post-war Europe,'' he said, referring to the massive four-year effort by the US to rebuild Europe after World War II.
The latest Australia-wide unemployment figure was stable at 6 per cent on Thursday, but South Australia's unemployment rate rose from 6.6 per cent to 6.7 per cent.
However, Mr Weatherill said the state had created 6000 jobs last month alone - more than during the entire period of the previous Liberal government. Labor has been in power in South Australia for 12 years.
The number of Triton surveillance drones to be bought for the air force - and expected to be used to detect asylum seeker boats among other defence tasks - has not been announced.
Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten is not expected to visit the state before the election.