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Federal Election 2016

Dec 15, 2013

Seat of the week: Grey

The seat which covers most of the geographical area of South Australia has typified Labor's decline in regional areas by transforming from safe Labor to safe Liberal status since the early 1990s.

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Red and blue numbers respectively indicate booths with two-party majorities for Liberal and Labor. Click for larger image. Map boundaries courtesy of Ben Raue at The Tally Room.

The electorate of Grey has covered the bulk of South Australia’s land mass since the state was first divided into electorates in 1903, and it currently encompasses much the same territory as it did on its creation. The state’s eastern regions north of the Riverland were at times accommodated by Wakefield, but Grey has at all times accommodated the state’s west together with the “iron triangle” cities of Whyalla, Port Augusta and Port Pirie. Labor-voting Whyalla is the electorate’s largest centre with a population of around 22,000, while increasingly marginal Port Augusta and Port Pirie together with strongly conservative Port Lincoln on the lower Eyre Peninsula each have populations of slightly over 13,000. About 60 per cent of the electorate’s population is scattered through the remainder, the strongest concentration being in the rural conservative Yorke Peninsula. The latter area was added to the electorate from Wakefield when South Australia’s representation was reduced from 12 seats to 11 in 2004.

Grey’s industrial centres once made it a reliable seat for Labor, but their decline over recent decades has effected a decisive shift to the Liberals. Labor held the seat for all but one term between 1943 and 1993, the exception being after the landslide defeat of 1966. Laurie Wallis recovered the seat for Labor in 1969 and retained it by margins of 563 votes in 1975 and 65 votes in 1977, surviving on the latter occasion in the face of an unfavourable redistribution, and bequeathed the seat to Lloyd O’Neil in 1983. The turning point arrived in 1993, when the addition of the Clare Valley (since transferred to Wakefield) and the retirement of O’Neil opened the way for Barry Wakelin to win the seat for the Liberals on the back of a 4.3% swing. The Liberals’ position has been strengthening ever since, helping Wakelin to achieve swings of 6.4% in 1996, 1.9% in 2001 and 3.2% in 2004, with a correction of only 0.5% to Labor in 1998. Wakelin’s retirement in 2007 combined with the overall swing to Labor cut the margin that year from 13.8% to 4.4%, but the Liberal ascendancy has since been firmly re-established by successive swings of 6.7% and 2.4% in 2010 and 2013. The member since 2007 has been Rowan Ramsey, who runs a farming property at Buckleboo on the Eyre Peninsula.

William Bowe — Editor of The Poll Bludger

William Bowe

Editor of The Poll Bludger

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, is one of the most heavily trafficked forums for online discussion of Australian politics, and joined the Crikey stable in 2008.

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1234 comments

1,234 thoughts on “Seat of the week: Grey

  1. mikehilliard

    Abbott is nasty, full stop.

  2. Darren Laver

    But does Crikey seriously believe its readers even need a lame “report card” on Abbott’s political skills from a self-appointent savant in Canberra? Does Crikey really believe its audience cannot make its own assessment on how well Abbott has done this year? They know the election results. They know how their lives are travelling since the result, for better or worse.

    Why does Keane resort to this lame analysis crap that the press gallery spew out and any old fool can and does do?

    I’d be more interested in Keane’s views on the actual outlook for 2014 and what might be the economic and societal challenges on the horizon and how the government and opposition might skillfully respond to those. Or better yet, some anaylsis on policies and implementation challenges in a tighter budgetary environments?

    But no, we just get smart-guy-at-the-uni-pub telling us who has “won” the week and how he is so clever that he can put his dislike of a politician aside to “anaylse and respect his skills”.

    Spare us.

  3. slothy

    guytaur
    My condolences to you and the family on your loss.

  4. Tom the first and best

    The Senate will become more complicated from July because Abbott will have to heard enough crossbenchers to get bills past on anything the ALP and Greens oppose and the post-2010 election period shows that Abbott is not the best negotiator. Palmer will want a disproportionately large slice of decision-making for his votes and there will be the DLP, FF, LibDem Senators and Senator Xenophon to also get the vote of all but one or two (WA Senate rerun may increase the ALP and Green representation by 1) of.

  5. William Bowe

    Morgan’s sidebar has a new poll result with Labor ahead 52.5-47.5, Kevin Bonham has tweeted primary votes, but I can’t see any info on it on the Morgan site. The sample is nearly 3000, suggesting they’ve changed methodology on us again.

  6. ruawake

    The Poms are rooted

  7. Kevin Bonham

    Poll spans last weekend and this.

  8. fredex

    Abbott as a skilled politician?
    -the comatose interview on Ch. 7 re ‘shit happens’
    -the death stares after being exposed by Lisa Williamson [?], Leigh Sales and BHP, O’Brien and ‘it ain’t true unless its written’, on 4 Corners after the belated discovery of the black hole
    -run rabbott run in parliament [and then begging Thomson for his vote]
    -and from press interviews

    -fluro pointless stunts around the country duly put on teev, mistaking motion for action
    -Margy and the girls fiasco
    -suppository
    -making stuff up and being allowed to get away with it
    -as Tony Jones said to some COALition person [I forget who. maybe someone here has the memory for the detail] “It must help to have Rupert Murdoch on your side”
    -and Gina and the ABC
    -all supporting his blatant long term misogyny

    Blimey there are dozens of examples like this.

    A drover’s brown dog could have won that election.

  9. ruawake

    Morgan Poll – December 7/8 & 14/15, 2013. 2,879 electors on sidebar.

  10. Carey Moore

    [But does Crikey seriously believe its readers even need a lame “report card” on Abbott’s political skills from a self-appointent savant in Canberra?]

    Well, nobody needs it, but I daresay many readers would like to hear what somebody who knows what they’re talking about has to say about politics in 2013.

    Well, more so than, say, hearing a rusted-on Labor supporter declaring Abbott a failure who’ll likely be toppled by Turnbull in the next few months, for the umpteen-millionth time.

  11. zoidlord

    Morgan is also saying both Business and Consumer confidence is also down, what a shocker.

    The blame game & cuts must stop, time for abbott and hockey do real work.

  12. Carey Moore

    Also, Root’s out! Three down!

    And what a wasted review that was! That ball clearly hit the edge of the bat. No way he didn’t feel that!

  13. ruawake

    Primaries ALP 38.5 LNP 40.5 GRN 10

  14. Darren Laver

    [Well, nobody needs it, but I daresay many readers would like to hear what somebody who knows what they’re talking about has to say about politics in 2013.

    Well, more so than, say, hearing a rusted-on Labor supporter declaring Abbott a failure who’ll likely be toppled by Turnbull in the next few months, for the umpteen-millionth time.]

    The latter does not have the nerve to charge for their services! ;-
    )

  15. zoidlord

    Ghost is late lately.

    GhostWhoVotes ‏@GhostWhoVotes 44s

    #Morgan Poll 2 Party Preferred: L/NP 47.5 (-1) ALP 52.5 (+1) #auspol

    GhostWhoVotes ‏@GhostWhoVotes 4s

    #Morgan Poll Primary Votes: L/NP 40.5 (-1) ALP 38.5 (0) GRN 10 (+1.5) PUP 3.5 (0) #auspol

  16. Carey Moore

    [The latter does not have the nerve to charge for their services! 😉 ]

    And one would say you get what you pay for 😉

  17. ruawake

    PUP 3.5 Other 7.5

  18. mari

    eveyAus ‏@eveyaus 9h
    @randlight @smh I’m stuck at that point, can’t make a happy ending where @MargaretAbbot10 and him drive off in a BMW to live happily E after
    Reply Retweet Favorite More Collapse
    8:22 AM – 16 Dec 13 · Details
    Margie Abbott ‏@MargaretAbbot10 1m
    .@eveyaus @randlight @smh it would be a much happier ending if he went off alone. Just saying.

    Love the humour of some of these tweeters

  19. ruawake

    [Ghost is late lately.]

    The Ghost gets newspaper polls before mortals, others he is mortal.

  20. sohar

    Women seem to be Tony’s big problem according to Morgan (don’t laugh) – women 58% to ALP, men 53% to Tories.

  21. Bushfire Bill

    [Just remember: acknowledging somebody’s political skills does not necessarily mean you actually think they’re doing a good job governing.]

    The Thousand Faces Of Tony Abbott were actually 998 until he was sworn in. Now we have “Prime Minister” and “Statesman” to add to the check list that starts with “Boofhead” and “Wall-puncher”.

    Surely there can’t be any more to come. Abbott would have to be one of the best known politicians in the country, even in Australian political history.

    Is there anything he hasn’t tried?

    OK, so he was a good LOTO, getting rid of Rudd first, then Gillard, then Rudd again. Score 10/10 for being a wrecker and running destructive interference.

    Along the way he got Pauline Hansen jailed, dudded Peter Reith, betrayed Malcolm Turnbull and – arguably his greatest triumph – scammed the Australian public into thinking he was dumb con man they could easily outwit and manipulate for their own purposes.

    The internet and the newspapers are full of journalists and commentators who thought that – no matter what else Abbott discarded or reneged upon – their pet project would go ahead, because no-one could be so stupid as to, say, ditch the NBN, go back on a “Unity Ticket” promise, claw back wages and salaries from the nation’s lowest paid workers, withdraw funds from indigenous education foundations, sack the Salvation Army from humanitarian work, insult the Indonesian President (an ongoing hobby of his), actually persist with his crazy Direct Action plan, kill off the Maritime National Parks, de-list the Tasmanian protected areas, abandon the Murray-Darling wetlands, get rid of General Motors before his own productivity Commission hearings had even finished taking evidence, tell Toyota to piss off without a Productivity Commission hearing, stop trades training centers, dredge the Great Barrier Reef, de-fund the Pacific highway infrastructure works, or only appoint one woman to his cabinet (when he was so obviously pro-women, being clearly fond of his daughters and in love with his wife, and they of him).

    All the men and women who supported the above issues and voted for Abbott believing he wouldn’t – couldn’t – be so stupid as to abandon their hopes and dreams for their pet projects, did so because they equally couldn’t believe he’d have the effrontery to look straight into the camera’s eye on Day #100 and say he was pleased to have been able to keep every one of his election promises and to have run an ordered, professional government that brought hope for all Australians back onto the agenda.

    The low-wage forkie from Western Sydney (on ABC TV news a few months back, before the election) summed up all their thoughts on the matter by saying, on air, “Hey, we can always vote him out in three years. What harm can he do in the meantime?”

    “How much harm can he do in three months?” is a better question, and appropriate for Day #100.

    Abbott told us all that what we thought we voted for was a completely different thing to what he thought we voted for. And, he told us, what he thought we voted for was what counted. It didn’t bear much relation to our own views on these matters.

    And that’s where the last two Faces Of Abbott come in – PM and statesman.

    The polls tell us that, in the considered opinion of the public, as tabulated by Bludger Track, that maybe if they’d known then what they know now, they mightn’t have voted for him. The indications are that all the people, and then some, who left Labor after 2010 and defected to the Abbott Circus, have come back.

    So when you weigh up the evidence and consider the Thousand Faces If Tony Abbott, you have to think that the last two – PM and Statesman – haven’t stood him in good stead, and that the Australian public’s opinion is trending towards them thinking Tony Abbott, as a politician, has finally reached his Peter Principle-type level of incompetence.

    In short, he’s a great wrecker, but a lousy builder, because he’s too big a hater.

  22. AussieAchmed

    eveyAus ‏@eveyaus 9h
    @randlight @smh I’m stuck at that point, can’t make a happy ending where @MargaretAbbot10 and him drive off in a BMW to live happily E after
    —————————————-

    Abbott is more likely to drive off into the sunset with Credlin?

  23. slothy

    [Latika Bourke ‏@latikambourke 3m
    PM Abbott takes just one other question then walks off…..!]

    So why not call him on it as he walks off? Ask him what he has to hide.

    I seem to recall a former PM, can’t remember who, refusing to turn up for a Kerry O’Brien (I think) grilling and the empty chair being given prominence during the show. Said PM was never a non show after that.

  24. don

    Darren Laver@1193

    Mr Abbott has had a few minor misteps, but his new government shows competence, savy and a steady hand after the turblent Labor years……..

    That is irony in its entirety, right?

  25. leone

    don
    Irony or a piece from the Burdekin Herald.

  26. lizzie

    Obviously Abbott is a “brilliant politician” because he won the election.

    But how long will it take for him to realise that there are many voters who don’t agree with what he’s doing now? He seems to think he has a “mandate” to do whatever he likes.

  27. Lynchpin

    Abbott is a political thug backed by the owner of 70% of the media in Australia.

    Drover’s dog, and all that.

    Now, I consider Keating to be a brilliant politician.

  28. slothy

    Boerwar @ 1188
    [Abbott is as cunning as a shithouse rat.

    The problem is that shithouse rats do not make great prime ministers.]

    I’m not so sure about the latter. I’d like to test it by replacing Abbott with one to test your hypothesis. My money would be on the rat being better than the incumbent.

  29. Sean Tisme

    I think after 6 Years of Labor Chaos the media are trying to continue the same meme.. unsuccessfully with Abbott.

    The only bit that hasn’t worked to plan so far is the Goneski stuff, the rest has been perfectly scripted.

  30. leone

    Brong on the shithouse rat PM, it couldn’t be any worse than the PM we have now.

  31. Psephos

    [The only bit that hasn’t worked to plan so far is the Goneski stuff, the rest has been perfectly scripted.]

    I laughed so hard I needed to go and have a cup of tea after reading that.

  32. MTBW

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zIEIvi2MuEk&feature=em-hot

    Have a look at this – a bit of Christmas cheer among all the doom and gloom.