Margin: Labor 6.1%
Location: Western Adelaide, South Australia
In a nutshell: Despite falling an election early in 2004, Hindmarsh is thought to be less secure for Labor than other traditionally marginal seats in Adelaide that stayed with the Liberals until 2007.
The candidates (ballot paper order)
GEORGE PETER MELISSOURGOS
Created when South Australia was first divided into electorates in 1903, Hindmarsh was traditionally a safe Labor seat covering the working-class suburbs of north-western Adelaide. The creation of Port Adelaide as a separate electorate in 1949 made it somewhat less secure, pushing the electorate southwards into more conservative Henley Beach, but only with the 1966 election debacle was long-term Labor member Clyde Cameron seriously threatened. The watershed in its progress from safe Labor to marginal came with the abolition of Hawker in 1993, which drew Hindmarsh further south into Liberal-voting Glenelg. Hindmarsh currently extends along the coast from Glenelg South north to Semaphore Park, from which it extends inland to mostly Labor-voting suburbs including Kidman Park and Torrensville in the north and Morphettville and Ascot Park in the south. The redistribution to take effect at the coming election has effected two minor gains, both to Labor’s slight advantage: 3300 voters at Seaton in the north from Port Adelaide, and 1500 voters at Edwardstown in the south from Boothby. Labor’s notional margin is now 6.1%, compared with 5.7% at the 2010 election.
The Liberals’ first ever win in the seat followed the aforementioned redistribution at the 1993 election, when a cut in the margin to 1.2% coincided with the retirement of John Scott, who had held the seat since 1980. The Liberal candidate was Christine Gallus, who had become the first Liberal ever to win Hawker in 1990, a feat she duly followed by becoming the first Liberal ever to win Hindmarsh three years later on the back of a 2.8% swing (her unsuccessful Labor opponent, John Rau, has since emerged as a senior figure in the state government). Party hard-heads rated Gallus’s vote-pulling power very highly, and were duly dismayed when she decided to retire at the 2004 election.
Gallus’s departure created an expectation that the seat would fall at the 2004 election to Labor candidate Steve Georganas, a former taxi driver backed by the “soft Left” faction in a deal that saw the Right’s Kate Ellis take Adelaide. So it proved, but Georganas was given a run for his money by Liberal candidate Simon Birmingham, who limited the swing to 1.2% to come within 108 votes of victory (he would later enter the Senate in 2007). Georganas’s margin increased by 5.0% in 2007 and 0.7% in 2010, but this represented modest growth by the standards of Labor’s performance in South Australia, such that his margin is now substantially lower than in three seats Labor had been unable to win in 2004 (those being Makin, Kingston and Wakefield). While this partly reflects the area’s low proportion of electorally volatile mortgage-paying young families, reports of party internal polling suggest the seat is the most likely Liberal gain in South Australia at the coming election. Their candidate is Matthew Williams, national business development manager with law firm Piper Alderman.
Two weeks into the campaign, Samantha Maiden of News Limited reported that strategists from both parties expected Hindmarsh to fall to the Liberals. The report quoted a Labor strategist saying of South Australia: “If any seat is likely to fall it is Hindmarsh. The older voters and the Greeks don’t like the same-sex marriage stuff.” Two weeks out from the election, a Galaxy automated phone poll of 586 respondents had the result at 50-50, a swing to the Liberals of 6%. The primary votes were 41% for Labor (44.7% at the 2010 election), 44% for the Liberals (38.6%) and 10% for the Greens (12.2%).
Analysis written by William Bowe. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.