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Federal Election 2016

Mar 30, 2014

Seat of the week: Kingston

Seat of the week continues mopping up South Australia in the wake of the recent state election, this week visiting Amanda Rishworth's southern suburbs seat of Kingston.


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

A traditionally marginal seat that has strengthened considerably for Labor over the past decade, Kingston covers the outer southern coastal suburbs of Adelaide, from Hallett Cove through Port Noarlunga to Sellicks Beach, and extends inland at its northern end to Happy Valley and Morphett Vale. When created with the expansion of parliament in 1949 it was based further north around Glenelg and Brighton, its then southernmost suburb of Hallett Cove being the only area still in the electorate today. Glenelg was hived off to since-abolished Hawker in 1984, and Brighton was absorbed by Boothby in the rearrangement caused by Hawker’s abolition in 1993.

Kingston had a notional Labor margin of 6.8% upon its creation, but the landslide that ejected the Chifley government from office saw the defeat of their candidate Thomas Sheehy, who had been the member for Boothby since 1943. Pat Galvin won the seat for Labor in 1951, and retained it on variable margins until 1966. It was then caught up in the statewide convulsions of 1966 and 1969, which produced double-digit swings first to Liberal and then to Labor in both Kingston specifically and South Australia as a whole. The Liberals thus held the seat for one term before it returned emphatically to Labor with Richard Gun’s victory in 1969. Kingston subsequently changed hands with the next three changes of government, being held during the Fraser years by Grant Chapman (later to return as a Senator in 1987), during the Hawke years by Gordon Bilney, and for the first term of the Howard government by Susan Jeanes. However, Jeanes did not emerge from the 1996 victory with enough fat on her margin to withstand the GST backlash of 1998, when Labor’s David Cox prevailed by 763 votes on the back of a 2.5% swing.

David Cox held the seat for Labor for two terms in opposition before suffering defeat in 2004 by a margin of 119 votes, having been handicapped by the electorate’s acquisition of the McLaren Vale area in the redistribution caused by the reduction in South Australia’s representation from 12 seats to 11. There followed a swing to the Liberals of 1.4%, which was precisely what Liberal candidate Kym Richardson required to win the seat. However, Richardson’s narrow win gave him no buffer to protect himself against the move to Labor at the 2007 election, although the 4.5% swing was below the South Australian average.

The seat has since been held for Labor by Amanda Rishworth, who achieved the best result of any Labor member at the 2010 election in picking up a 9.5% swing. She was assisted in some degree when Kym Richardson’s comeback bid was scuttled after it emerged he was the subject of a police investigation into allegations he had impersonated a police officer as he sought to have a hotel manager withdraw an allegation of assault against his son. Police did not proceed with a charge of impersonating a police officer as the statute of limitations had expired, and he was eventually acquitted on a charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice. Going into the 2013 election she received a 0.9% boost when the redistribution caused McLaren Vale to be moved back into Mayo, a consequence of the electorate’s population growth. The subsequent swing against her was 4.9%, well in line with a statewide result of 5.5% and leaving her with a secure margin of 9.7%.

Prior to entering parliament, Rishworth was a psychologist and an organiser for the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association, which dominates the state party’s Right faction. She won promotion in March 2013 to parliamentary secretary for sustainability and disabilities, and was reassigned to the health portfolio following the September 2013 election defeat.


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