Margin: Labor 3.6%
Region: North-Eastern Suburbs
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Florey covers suburbs in the foothills of the Adelaide Hills, centred around Modbury 15 kilometres to the north-east of the city centre. Created with the redistribution that followed the electoral reform of 1970, it has only ever been won by the Liberals in 1993 landslide, when Sam Bass ousted Labor’s Bob Gregory. Bass was dumped by a 12.3% swing in 1997 after a lively contest that led to him being awarded $100,000 in defamation damages from two Labor campaigners, which was eventually overturned by the High Court. Incoming Labor member Frances Bedford achieved fairly typical results at the next three elections, the seat moving from marginal to safe territory with respective swings of 0.9% and 8.5% in 2002 and 2006, before swinging back to the Liberals by 8.4% in 2010. The electorate has been unchanged by the redistribution.
Frances Bedford came to parliament through what was then known as the Duncan Left faction, so named after leading figure Peter Duncan, a Dunstan government Attorney-General and later a minister in the Hawke/Keating government. Distinct from that dominated by former Senator Nick Bolkus, this grouping of Left elements reasserted itself as the Progressive Labor Alliance after Duncan fled to Indonesia in 2002 to escape creditors. The often fluid nature of factional alignments was illustrated in 2004 when Bedford nominated in the preselection for Duncan’s old federal seat of Makin against factional colleague Dana Wortley, who is contesting the current election in neighbouring Torrens. This was reportedly a “tactical move” to assist the eventual victor, Salisbury mayor Tony Zappia.
Bedford has made good on her Left credentials throughout her career, having successfully introduced a bill to extend superannuation benefits to same-sex couples, raised concerns in parliament about her government’s workers compensation regime, campaigned for the release of Guantanamo Bay inmate David Hicks, and threatened to follow former Mitchell MP Kris Hanna’s example in quitting the ALP in protest against the government’s law-and-order policies. In March 2013 she joined a protest rally against the government’s awarding of stationery contracts to multinational rather than local companies, prompting talk of a push to have her dumped for preselection in favour of Justin Hanson, industrial officer for the Right faction Australian Workers Union and the son of its state secretary, Wayne Hanson. However, Daniel Wills of The Advertiser reported that party insiders were “fearful Ms Bedford would run as an independent”.
The Liberal candidate is Damian Wyld, state president of the National Civic Council, state secretary of the Australian Family Association, and associate editor of a religious affairs magazine. Wyld won preselection ahead of Paul Barbaro, a Tea Tree Gully councillor.
All post-redistribution margins are as calculated by Jenni Newton-Farrelly of the South Australian Parliamentary Library. Corrections, complaints and feedback to William Bowe at pollbludger-at-bigpond-dot-com. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.