Margin: Labor 2.5%
Region: Southern Suburbs
Click here for electoral boundaries map
Mitchell consists of two distinct parts of Adelaide’s southern suburbs separated by the unpopulated O’Halloran Hill in the centre: Seacombe Gardens and its surrounds in the north, and Sheidow Park, Trott Park and Old Reynella in the south. The redistribution has transferred 1500 voters in the southern half of Marion to Elder, adding 0.3% to the Labor margin. The seat was created with the redistribution that gave effect to the electoral reform of 1970, and while often marginal, it has only ever been held by the Liberals for a term after the 1993 landslide. Kris Hanna unseated Liberal member Colin Caudell to recover the seat for Labor in 1997 by a margin of 0.9%, which he boosted to 4.7% in 2002. Hanna quit the Labor Party in January 2003 to become South Australia’s first ever Greens MP, complaining of Rann government policies on law and order and workers’ compensation and the broader party’s positions on Iraq and refugees. However, he was unsuccessful in his bid to lead the Greens’ Legislative Council ticket.
Five weeks before the 2006 election, Hanna parted company with a political party for the second time in a single term, and ended up contesting Mitchell as an independent. In this he received invaluable support from Nick Xenophon, pooling resources and appearing with him at press conferences. Hanna appeared to be swept along in Xenophon’s success, polling 24.6% of the primary vote to Labor’s 38.1% and 20.7% for the Liberals. Having finished ahead of the Liberal candidate, he edged ahead of Labor on Liberal preferences to win by 228 votes, a margin of 0.6%. However, he was unable to repeat the coup in 2010 due to an increase in the Liberal vote to 28.7%, an increase in his own vote to 28.0% being insufficient due to a strong flow of Family First preferences to the Liberals. With Hanna finishing 213 votes behind the Liberals at the second last exclusion, his own preferences split evenly between Labor and Liberal, the former emerging victorious by a 2.1% margin. Hanna launched an unsuccessful legal challenge against the result, complaining of misleading Labor advertising.
The seat has since been held for Labor by Alan Sibbons, previously an employee at Mitsubishi’s defunct Tonsley Park plant and an organiser for the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, which aligns nationally with the hard Left but has an arrangement in South Australia with the Right. His Liberal opponent is Corey Wingard, former presenter of a football program on Channel Ten. Kris Hanna, who has since returned to his old career as a lawyer, announced in November that he would run again.
Labor has promised to spend $2.5 million turning Seaview High School into a specialist manufacturing school with a view to preparing students for employment at the manufacturing hub being developed at the site of the old Mitsubishi plant at Tonsley Park, located in the neighbouring seat of Elder.
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.