The South Australian leaders have debated the main issues ahead of the March 15 state poll.

Neither verbal fireworks or even a harsh word got a look-in at the televised pre-election debate between South Australia’s premier and opposition leader, with jobs being a predictable issue.

Jay Weatherill listed what he said were Labor’s achievements over its 12 years of government, while Steven Marshall criticised what he said was the state’s failing economy.

“We have lost 25,000 full time jobs in the last eight months,” he said during their civilised ABC TV debate on Monday night in front of 120 voters ahead of the March 15 poll.

But Mr Weatherill cited his comprehensive jobs plan, acknowledging the work would have to be accellerated in light of the upcoming closure of Holden, but contending it would be much worse if the Liberals won the March 15 election.

SA would go down the paths of the Queensland and Federal governments in cutting jobs and services.

But Mr Marshall repeated his pledge of putting a cap of 5170 on cuts to public service jobs, while helping encourage entrepreneurs and start-up businesses so young people would stop leaving the state.

Liberals would help small business by cutting payroll tax to help the small business sector grow, while the premier said businesses would save $180 million with his planned WorkCover reforms.

The premier was asked about Senator Don Farrell’s plan for a SA safe Labor seat, which was abandoned when Mr Weatherill threatened to resign.

“I am prepared to put everything on the line for what I believe,” he said, telling the audience he would be standing up for SA in his dealings with the Prime Minister, not making excuses for him.

But Mr Marshall said that instead of fighting the federal government – which had a “big wallet” , a government run by him would work with them in a respectful way.

Asked why they became politicians, Mr Marshall said he was motivated by his two children, aged 16 and 14, and his desire for them to grow up and remain in a growing and vibrant State.

The premier said he was inspired by visionary leaders like Don Dunstan and wanted to make a difference to people’s lives and fight for justice.

Both leaders told the audience that for most of the time their MPs all worked together diligently with an extraordinary amount of co-operation, but this didn’t come across in the media.

The premier ended by saying his government would continue to build and modernise the state, to help people achieve their dreams, and to fight Tony Abbott’s cuts.

His opponent told the audience Labor was a tired government and had run out of ideas, while his united Liberal team was ready to help business, keep the next generation in SA and work with Mr Abbott.