Menu lock

South Australian election guide: March 15

Introducing the Poll Bludger's comprehensive seat-by-seat guide to South Australia's March 15 state election.

The Poll Bludger’s guide to the South Australian state election is open for business, offering comprehensive overviews of each of the state’s 47 lower house electoral districts including, in most cases, booth result maps (with an upper house guide to follow when I can find time). Labor goes into the election with 26 seats against 18 for the Liberals, with three independents. The numbers are unchanged from the 2010 election, there having been no party resignations or defeats for incumbent parties at by-elections.

Labor did remarkably well to secure the above score line at the 2010 election, given that they were outpolled 51.6-48.4 on two-party preferred. The margins listed on the election guide entry page tell the story, with Labor holding 11 of their 26 seats by 5% or less compared with only three for the Liberals, and the Liberals holding five seats on margins equal to or greater than Labor’s safest seat. This may point to a difficulty for a one-vote one-value regime in delivering balanced party representation when conservative support is strongly concentrated outside the city, Labor’s only substantial basis of support outside Adelaide being in the declining “iron triangle” cities. Of these, only Whyalla continues to furnish Labor with a reliable seat in Giles, with Port Augusta and Port Pirie respectively subsumed in the conservative seats of Stuart and Frome. By contrast, Adelaide is home to swathe of marginal seats which appear, on the basis of the 2010 result, to have a slight natural lean to Labor.

A provision in the state’s constitution requiring that an effort be made to achieve “electoral fairness” has for most of the past two decades resulted in redistributions after each election which have specifically aimed to even up any biases, the target being to guarantee victory to the party that exceeds 50% in the event of a uniform swing. That assumption was seriously confounded by the 2010 result, at which the only two swings to Labor in the whole state happened to be in their two most marginal seats (Light and Mawson, at Adelaide’s northern top and southern tail). Elsewhere, a combined 9.4% swing in Adelaide deflated Labor margins in a brace of seats where blowouts had occurred in their favour in 2010, but only Adelaide, Morialta and Norwood switched to the Liberal column (Norwood, its name now changed to Dunstan, was won from Labor by none other than Steven Marshall, who took less than three years to rise from marginal seat challenger to Opposition Leader).

As I wrote in Crikey last week, this caused the boundaries commissioners to put the uniform swing objective into the too-hard basket, and they proceeded with an unambitious redistribution that contented itself with clipping Labor’s wings in marginal seats where the opportunity presented itself. Consequently, a Liberal Party that starts from a 2010 election base of 51.6% needs to gain still more to win office, so long as the uniform swing assumption holds. Three pieces of low-hanging fruit are available in the form of Hartley (0.1%), Bright (0.5%) and Ashford (0.6%), but beyond that point the Liberals run into the problem of the three independents, all from naturally conservative seats – Don Pegler in Mount Gambier, which was last held by Labor in 1975; Geoff Brock in Frome, where Labor’s base of support in Port Pirie is more outweighed by surrounding country territory; and the naturally conservative seat of Fisher in foothills suburbs in southern Adelaide, which former Liberal MP Bob Such has held as an independent since quitting the party in 2000.

The Liberals have talked up their chances in all three, but Bob Such in particular will surely be very hard to shake loose, having won by 16.6% in 2010. However, a trend against independents around the country over recent years suggests Geoff Brock can take nothing for granted in Frome, which he won narrowly at a by-election in 2009 and retained by 7.5% at the general election the following year. Mount Gambier is hard to predict, as sitting member Don Pegler won by a hair’s breadth in 2010 upon the retirement of another independent, Rory McEwen. Independents generally perform well after they have had a term to entrench themselves, but a mood for majority government might make this time an exception. There appears an outside prospect of independents poaching metropolitan seats from Labor in Lee, where popular local mayor Gary Johanson is targeting a seat where the Labor member is retiring, and Mitchell, where Labor-turned-independent MP Kris Hanna is trying again after retaining the seat as an independent in 2006, then falling short in 2010. There are no major independent threats in Liberal seats that I am aware of; the Nationals lost their only seat to the Liberals in 2010, and do not seem likely to make a comeback this time.

Should Pegler, Brock and Such remain where they are, that leaves the Liberals needing another three seats if they are to go all the way, which the pendulum suggests is likely if they achieve a swing of 3%. That doesn’t seem a particularly high mountain to climb for an opposition facing a 12-year-old government, but it requires a two-party preferred win of beyond 54-46, which is not something the polls have been crediting them with with any consistency. Failing that though, as the 2010 result makes clear, it’s by no means impossible that a smaller swing can give them what they need provided it’s fortuitously distributed.

If one South Australian election guide isn’t enough for you, Ben Raue’s typically thorough effort is available here, and I gather Antony Green’s should be along any day now.

UPDATE (31/1): A fairly comprehensive update to my entry for the seat of Napier will shortly be required following gobsmacking developments, in which a) member Michael O’Brien announced he would make way in the seat for Don Farrell, the principal powerbroker of his Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association faction and a soon-to-be former Senator and powerbroker, b) Jay Weatherill threatened in an ABC Radio to quit politics if this proceeded, invoking Farrell’s involvement in the 2010 coup against Kevin Rudd and agreeing voters might perceive a possibility that Farrell would move against him after the election, and and c) Farrell backed down and announced he would make no further efforts to pursue a career in politics when his Senate term expires in the middle of the year.

We recommend

From around the web

Powered by Taboola

94 comments

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Socrates
Guest

A less good news story – a valuable piece of government owned land sold off without tender, and Renewal SA directors resigning as a result. Tom Koutsantonis is the Liberal’s best friend.
http://indaily.com.au/news/2014/02/11/renewal-sa-board-rejected-gillman-land-deal/

Socrates
Guest

A good news story here – Hewlett Packard to relocate over 400 jobs to Adelaide. Tis is exactly what we should compete for – skilled jobs attracted by pleasant lifestyle and affordable housing.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-02-11/hewlett-packard-expansion-promises-430-adelaide-jobs/5251204?section=sa

Rational Leftist
Guest

Some more SA polling (from a polling company; not the Ragvertiser) would be nice, considering the writs for the election will be issued this Saturday…

Unitary  State
Guest

The Liberal attack ads on Don Farrell won’t hold any weight. Farrell withdrew his nomination and it is old news. By election day everyone will forget about it.

Toorak Toff
Guest

Jon Gee seems a good fit for Napier. He’s from the Right but not, it seems, the core Right of his predecessor, Michael O’Brien.

The other announced candidate for Napier, factionally unaligned Dave Garland of the National Union of Workers, would have been a great choice IMHO.

Toorak Toff
Guest

Right candidate Jon Gee was chosen by Labor’s State Executive yesterday as the party’s candidate for Napier.

Gee, 54, is the secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union’s vehicle division. ‘The Advertiser’ reports that the married father of three adult children was a key figure in negotiations for a new pay deal for Holden workers, lives in Craigmore (in Napier) and drives a Commodore.

Rational Leftist
Guest

Also, one thing I’ve noticed about the ad is the line about “while the state loses jobs, they only care about theirs”. While, on the surface, it looks just like an attack on their priorities, it actually is a sneaky way of implying that the two are actually linked. Therefore, if the ad sinks in, all job losses will be seen as Labor’s fault (including the Olympic Dam related ones and those caused by the Abbott Government’s cuts.)

Rational Leftist
Guest

I saw the Liberal attack ads. You can pretty much guess the formula. It’s the same formula ad that the Libs have been running since time immemorial. The black background with black and white photos and headlines, and splashes of red, with the voice actor who does the blokey bogan voice growling about “Labor turmoil” etc.

Oh well, it’s effective, so why change?

ShowsOn
Guest

[I saw Liberal attack adds tonight linking Farrell’s unsuccessful tilt with Labor leadership turmoil.]
What about the 5AA advert with the new breakfast team Penberthy, Jane Reily and Mark Aiston?

In that advert Penerthy cites the Adelaide Oval upgrade as an example of “all South Australians coming together”. Well what about the Liberal party of Australia – S.A. Division that opposed it every step of the way including during the 2010 election campaign?

Socrates
Guest
I saw Liberal attack adds tonight linking Farrell’s unsuccessful tilt with Labor leadership turmoil. I agree that the Liberal leadrship is at least as unstable, with Chapman or others likely to challenge the second Mrshall makes his first slip. But that is not what the voters will hear. They are hearing about Labor leadership turmoil. As I said, Farrell’s crazily timed stunt is at best a distraction, at worst damaging to Labor. As for those who said it would be quickly forgotten… Dream on. In a state where the Advertiser is the only metro newspaper, with no Fairfax press, what… Read more »
Independently Thinking
Guest
Independently Thinking
Interesting Dave Garland has put his hand up for Napier. For those form outside SA who are unsure of what Napier is like demographically – bit like in Sydney mainly Cabramatta (without the multicultural influence) with a bit of Blue Mountains thrown in; or in Melbourne a bit like Werribee with a bit of Trentham thrown in. Dave Garland is a long time ALP member and though unaligned himself he has strong connections to the Left. He is also, unusually for the ALP, a resident of the electorate. He is an outstanding candidate and ticks all the boxes apart from… Read more »
Rational Leftist
Guest
Can I just ask: Where the hell have the Libs been? I’ve barely heard a word from them. I mean I know that if the other side is shooting themselves in the foot, you don’t get in the way but the SA ALP are notorious for being able to bounce back from this stuff. I’d be all over the media, putting the foot on Labor – finishing them off. I don’t even mean go negative. They could be out there saying “While Labor are fighting themselves, we’re ready to fight for you by (insert policy)!” Bloody hopeless! (Unless they are… Read more »
Unitary  State
Guest

spur212 @81

To be honest, Labor’s tram proposal is an idea worth liking if you ask me

spur212
Guest
The problem for the ALP in regards to all the factional stuff is people saw what happened federally which is much louder than what’s happened with the Liberals in this state which has been out of view for around a year or so. Of course if Marshall wins (it’s still an if at this point purely because it’s very difficult to win elections in this state from opposition) you can assume all the Liberals factional stuff will come to a head pretty quickly after a brief honeymoon period. It’s sort of a lose/lose for voters in this state. It’s like… Read more »
1934pc
Guest

“Everything” has the smell of TISME folks!.

Socrates
Guest

TT 74

Your point about leadership stability in SA is valid – the Libs have been far worse than Labor, not even counting those like Chapman who would like to try. Nevertheless, as I said on friday, conservative forces will use the Farrell gambit against Labor, and it is at best an unnecessary distraction.

Incidentally, as much as I criticise Farrell, O’Brien also deserves blame. The seat is not his to “give” to a mate. If he was going to retire, he should have said so earlier than six weeks out, in time for a proper preselection.

Socrates
Guest
US HSR costs at least $20 milion per km to build as a system cost, and is built between cities with populations in the millions. From Adelaide to Broken Hill is over 500km, so over $10 billion to build HSR not counting the cost of a land corridor. Broken Hill has a population of 18,000, equating to about $600,000 per resident to build HSR. Also meaning it would be cheaper to buy every resident of Broken Hill a house on the coast instead of HSR. Sorry it will never happen to Broken Hill in anyone’s lifetime. Maybe Adelaide to Melbourne… Read more »
Kevin Bonham
Guest

Unitary State@64

Honestly, post election, the “fairness criteria” for electoral redistributions needs to be scrapped. It is a complete joke.

My impression from afar is the same – that the concept is naive, unworkable and potentially unfair and should be scrapped.

Unitary  State
Guest

Socrates @71

Well, the railway line from Broken Hill to Sydney can mostly be converted to HSR if you ask me. It is a shame to know it won’t happen in our lifetime as HSR from Adelaide to Sydney would completely reinvigorate places such as Broken Hill which are on the verge of being wiped of the map in 10 years or so.

Diogenes
Guest

Interesting stuff on the Labor factions and their history. The journo predicts that the end of the Farrell Era and the Machine will lead to smaller factions with less power.

http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/inside-labors-fractious-factions/story-fni6uo1m-1226815405629

wpDiscuz