Margin: Independent 7.5% versus Liberal
Region: Port Pirie/Clare Valley
Click to download SA Electoral Commission boundaries map
Held by independent Geoff Brock since a 2009 by-election, Frome covers a 30 kilometre stretch of the eastern Spencer Gulf coastline that includes its dominant population centre of Port Pirie. It was created in 1993 with the abolition of Stuart, which had previously accommodated both Port Pirie and Port Augusta, and which would be recreated in much-changed form minus Port Pirie in 1997. As an industrial town whose principal attraction is Pasminco’s lead and zinc smelter, Port Pirie provided Labor with a safe seat in the days when it formed an electorate in its own right, which ended with the electoral reform of 1970. Port Pirie’s decline was well advanced by the time Frome was created, with slightly more than half of the new electorate’s voters in small country towns such as Gladstone, Crystal Brook and Clare, who have consistently kept the seat in Liberal hands. The electorate currently extends south-eastwards through Clare Valley wine country to Tarlee, about 50 kilometres north of Adelaide. The redistribution has added 1600 voters in and around Balaklava at the southern end of the electorate, previously in Goyder.
Frome was held for the Liberals from 1993 to January 2009 by Rob Kerin, who served as Premier for four months between John Olsen’s resignation in October 2001 and the March 2002 election defeat, and as Opposition Leader from then until the 2006 election. Kerin’s mid-term resignation initiated a by-election held in January 2009, at which Liberal candidate Terry Boylan suffered a surprise defeat at the hands of Geoff Brock, who had been mayor of Port Pirie Regional Council mayor for six years, a councillor for 20, and a worker at Port Pirie’s Nyrstar smelter for 31. Brock polled 23.6%, including 39.2% in Port Pirie, compared with 39.2% for Boylan and 26.1% for the Labor candidate. This led to an expectation that Brock would finish third behind Labor, prompting the Liberals to issue a press release congratulating Boylan on his victory. However, Brock was able to emerge 30 votes ahead of Labor at the second last exclusion thanks to unexpectedly strong preferences from the Nationals and the Greens. After the distribution of Labor preferences, Brock emerged the winner with a 1.7% margin. Boylan tried again at the 2010 election, but Brock’s primary vote rose to 37.7% and he prevailed by 8.2% after preferences.
The Liberal candidate this time around is Kendall Jackson, a former ABC rural reporter and more recently manager of the Flinders Rest Hotel in Warnertown.
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.