The Poll Bludger
Margin: Liberal 1.9%
Region: Western Adelaide, South Australia
In a nutshell: Labor’s only South Australian casualty of the 2013 election was Steve Georganas, who now seeks to recover the inner western Adelaide seat he lost to Matt Williams of the Liberals.
Candidates in ballot paper order
Covering coastal Adelaide directly to the west of the city centre, Hindmarsh was the Liberals’ only gain in South Australia at the 2013 election, when the Labor member of nine years, Steve Georganas, was unseated by Matt Williams. It was one of seven seats created when South Australian electoral boundaries were first drawn in 1903, and was a Labor stronghold for much of its early history due to its orientation around the working-class suburbs of north-western Adelaide. The creation of the electorate of Port Adelaide in 1949 made it somewhat less secure, pushing it southwards into more conservative Henley Beach, but it remained in Labor hands until the abolition of Hawker in 1993 drew it still further into Liberal-voting Glenelg. The electorate now covers the coast from Semaphore Park south to Glenelg South, extending inland to mostly Labor-voting suburbs including Kidman Park and Torrensville in the north, and Morphettville and Ascot Park in the south. The northern end of the electorate, around Kidman Park, is noted for its concentration of Italian and Greek migrants, and the electorate as a whole is distinguished for its lack of mortgage payers and young families.
The Liberals’ first win in the seat followed the aforementioned redistribution in 1993, which cut the Labor margin by 1.2% concurrently with the retirement of John Scott, the member since 1980. The successful 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. This was achieved through a 2.8% swing against Labor’s John Rau, who has since emerged as a senior figure in the state government. Liberal hard-heads rated Gallus’s vote-pulling power very highly, and were duly dismayed when she decided to retire at the 2004 election. Her departure created an expectation that the seat would fall to Labor’s Steve Georganas, a former taxi driver who won preselection for the 2004 election with backing from the “soft Left” faction. So it proved, but the 1.2% swing to Labor was only enough to secure the deal by 108 votes. The unsuccessful Liberal candidate was Simon Birmingham, who went on to enter the Senate in 2007.
Georganas’s margin increased by 5.0% in 2007 and 0.7% in 2010, but these were modest gains by the standards of Labor’s performance in South Australia, leaving him on a weaker margin than Labor colleagues in Makin, Kingston and Wakefield, which unlike Hindmarsh had stayed with the Liberals in 2004. Nonetheless, he had a 6.1% buffer going into the 2013 election, with some assistance from a redistribution, but this was accounted for by a forceful swing to the Liberals of 8.0%, the largest in the state. The seat has since been held by Matt Williams, previously been national business development manager with law firm Piper Alderman. Williams refused to divulge how he voted in the September 2015 leadership ballot, although The Australian identified him as having supported Malcolm Turnbull. Williams will again face Steve Georganas at the coming election, who won preselection unopposed after the withdrawal of party activitist Delia Brennan. The Nick Xenophon Team candidate is Daniel Kirk, a former SANFL footballer and owner of a strength and conditioning business.
A poll conducted earlier in the campaign for environmental groups showed Matt Williams in a commanding position with 41% of the primary vote compared with 25% for Steve Georganas, 14% for the Nick Xenophon Team and 8% for the Greens, with 7% undecided. The poll was conducted by ReachTEL from a sample of 651.
Analysis by William Bowe. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.