Seat of the week: Kingston

Today’s episode of Seat of the Week brings us to the second-most marginal electorate in the country, the southern Adelaide seat of Kingston. Kingston was created when parliament when enlarged in 1949, and has consistently covered the outer coastal reaches of the metropolitan area. This meant Glenelg and Brighton in the early days, the 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 went to Boothby in 1993. It now extends from Hallett Cove and industrial Lonsdale south to the outermost beachside suburbs of Moana and Port Willunga, and to the McLaren Vale wine-growing district further inland. Most of the population is in the north of the electorate, around Noarlunga, Reynella and Morphett Vale. As my maps at Crikey demonstrate, this area is divided between a Liberal-leaning north-east and a Labor-leaning south-west. Labor is also strong in the thin strip of coastal suburbs further south, which also record strong support for the Greens, while the McLaren Vale area provides the Liberals with their two strongest booths.

As befits a seat that has moved with the mortgage belt, Kingston has been extremely sensitive to the tides of electoral fortune. Despite having a notional Labor margin of 6.8 per cent upon its creation, it was swept up with the landslide that put the Menzies government in power in 1949. Pat Galvin gained the seat for Labor in 1951, and was re-elected with varying 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 and South Australia as a whole. The Liberals thus held the seat for one term before it returned emphatically to Labor. Kingston subsequently changed hands with the next three changes of government, being held by Grant Chapman during the Fraser years (he returned as a Senator in 1987) and Gordon Bilney thereafter. A former Democrats leader, the late Janine Haines, made an audacious bid for the seat in 1990 but failed to beat the Liberal candidate into second place, recording 26.4 per cent to the Liberals’ 33.0 per cent and Labor’s 37.1 per cent. Bilney was edged out in 1996 by a relatively mild 3.4 per cent swing to Liberal candidate Susan Jeanes, who had too little fat on her margin to withstand the GST backlash of 1998. Labor’s David Cox recovered the seat for Labor with a 2.5 per cent swing, prevailing by 763 votes.

A Labor-friendly redistribution followed by a small swing increased the margin from 0.5 per cent to 2.4 per cent in 2001, but the next redistribution went the other way. With South Australia’s representation cut from 12 seats to 11 at the 2004 election, Kingston was made to absorb the McLaren Vale area, giving the Liberals what proved to be a decisive 1.1 per cent boost. Requiring a further 1.4 per cent swing to topple Cox, the Liberals picked up roughly 2 per cent in the northern part of the electorate. However, this was very nearly balanced out by a sharp swing to Labor in wealthy McLaren Vale, consistent with the much-touted “doctors’ wives” effect. Another notable feature of the vote was a strong 5.6 per cent for Family First, who outpolled the Greens and delivered the Liberals a better-than-usual preference flow. Cox held a narrow lead on election night, but this was whittled down and eventually overturned as pre-poll and postal votes gave the Liberals a 119-vote victory.

The incoming Liberal member was Kym Richardson (left), a police officer, former SANFL player and sports manager whose clients included AFL star Byron Pickett and test cricketer Jason Gillespie. The party had initially approached another football identity, Adelaide Crows player Nigel Smart, but he remained committed to playing out the 2004 AFL season (Smart went on to unsuccessfully contest the state seat of Norwood at last year’s state election). According to The Advertiser’s Tom Richardson (presumably no relation), Richardson’s backers included Susan Jeanes and two locally based state members, Bright MP Wayne Matthew (since retired) and Mawson MP Robert Brokenshire (since defeated). Labor’s candidate for the coming election is Amanda Rishworth (right), a psychologist and former organiser for the Right faction Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association. Rishworth was Labor’s candidate for Fisher at the state election, and was preselected unopposed in Kingston as part of a factional arrangement. Contrary to my normal practice, I should also make mention of Greens candidate Bill Weller, Australian Manufacturing Workers Union activist and prolific commenter on this website.

At this stage of the game, the portents for Kym Richardson are not good. In his assessment of the electorate’s demographics, Adam Carr notes a high proportion of manufacturing workers, a relatively low average income and a high proportion of dwellings being purchased, making it prime territory for a backlash over WorkChoices and interest rates. Two electorate-level polls conducted by The Advertiser bear this out: Labor recorded leads of 56-44 in January, before Kevin Rudd had established the national polling ascendancy he has enjoyed since March, and 57-43 late last month.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

131 comments on “Seat of the week: Kingston”

Comments Page 3 of 3
1 2 3
  1. Well, I don’t know how alive this forum is, but I would have thought the announcement that Robert Brokenshire (former Government Minister and Liberal member for the State seat of Mawson – which is within Kingston) has jumped ship to Family First and will contest the seat was worthy of some discussion.

  2. Knock, Knock, I wonder if Dave S, Bill Weller and the rest of the contributors to this forum are still about?

    I am a constituent, of many years standing, of Kingston and have just come across this cosy little conversation.

    Here we have the Greens candidate struggling to make any significant impression on informed discussion and a number of others (one who has difficulty with his spell checker) who write like second rate Liberal party hacks, contributing drivel. Surely there are residents of this wonderful area out there who could have lifted this conversation to some relevance.

    Dave S has tried hard to make Kym Richardson appear to be an effective member, respected by all. Bad luck Dave, I’ve had a number of dealing with Mr Richardson and have found him extremely unhelpful in all of them. I think he just could not intellectually grasp the issues I asked him to address. He is probably fine when someone approaches him looking for advice on how to complete an application for the pension. Unfortunately Federal Members are required to grapple with complex issues.

    I want to vote Greens in this election but I cannot consider Bill as a serious option given his input here, (this forum is the first I have heard from him) he has not once addressed any serious proposal for this electorate.

    Let’s have a conversation about big tax cuts verses big spending on encouraging the development of technology that may help slow climate change. Why is there no real serious proposal available for voters to choose from being debated by the two parties who may form government? What is the likely impact on our lifestyles in Kingston? How do we want Noarlunga Hospital run? Gee I forgot it is more important to compare how good two female candidates look. What a disappointment and waste of time your comments were.

    But to Robert White, you at least made sense.

    My personal opinion is that Amanda Rishworth will win this seat by about 2.5% 2PP. Which probably puts the seat back to where it was prior to the 2004 election.

  3. Colin,

    Maybe a few locals *can* have a conversation here….

    I’ll declare my hand as rusted-on Labor living in the State seat of Kaurna. Unfortunately, voters don’t vote objectively – they vote subjectively. I couldn’t believe it in 2004 when I was queuing up at Seaford polling station to send David Cox back to Canberra, that there were so many people (those mortgage-owning, lowly paid, manufacturing workers noted by Adam Carr) giving Kym Richardson the nod.

    I think there are a couple of presentation problems for Amanda Rishworth first of all. 1) Those photographs which make her eyes look decidely wonky – how did they get past scrutiny ? and 2) Rolling out the old “Standing Up For the South” line that John Hill (State Member) used to death. Sorry, I don’t think the South is getting any better deal than it ever has – and is still forgotten.

    Someone should be conducting some polls pronto about Brokenshire’s impact as a Family First candidate. His own personal following built as one of the hardest working local ex-members (for the State seat of Mawson); plus the evangelic vote will cause havoc for the number cruchers. Anyone observant enough who cares to take the Noarlunga – Adelaide express in the morning should note how much Bible reading happens on that train. Only Jodi Picoult has more fans !

    Dave S – there is no nudist “colony” at Maslins – there is a free beach, Australia’s first official beach for unclad bathing as it happens. There is however at Aldinga an ‘arts eco village’ – surely that’s full of Green voters. Also – I think you’re wrong on the rail extension – the alignment set aside to cross the Onkaparinga River requires a bridge the size of Sydney Harbour Bridge, and $100m to construct. That won’t be happening. (There is no other crossing option on the books).

    Colin – to respond to a couple of your points. I don’t want another layer of bureaucracy running Noarlunga hospital which is what Howard and Abbot are offering. As for climate change and the liquid fuels crisis – I want the fastest possible transport into the City where so many of us work – or a job up the road.

  4. So – the call of the card for Kingston:

    2 BECKER, Barry J IND – Pensioner
    3 WELLER, Bill GRN – Working Supervisor
    4 FOWLER, Matthew DEM – Community Development
    5 RISHWORTH, Amanda ALP – Psychologist
    6 BROKENSHIRE, Robert FFP – Dairy Farmer
    7 KUSZNIR, Alex IND – Truck Driver
    8 SMITH, Lachlan Peter LDP – Software Developer

    How-to-vote cards should be fun.

  5. FF will favour the libs (despite Brokenshires pretence of not knowing), the Greens will favour Labor.

    The rest are pretty irrelevent, unless somebody has heard something I have not? (with all due respect, Matthew, if you still read this blog section – I haven’t heard a peep from the dems apart from seeing a few Ruth Russell signs (I still cannot comprehend that selection… but that’s another story altogether!))

    Brokenshire has been in the local news hear and there, but nothing substantial. Anybody want to predict his primary? I’ll stick with 10%.

  6. Dear Max
    I made comment previously but now lost that I did not think Brokenshire will make a difference.
    My prediction is he may take at best 6%, I would not be surprised at less than 5%. He will be taking and giving back to Richardson so his impact will be minimal.
    As I said before he is probably more interested in a future Legislate Council position with FF.
    Dear Ian
    I sit on the Noarlunga train each day and see plenty of Jodi but only a select few of the Holy Gospel.
    I think Howard and Richardson have made a mistake with the expressway. They should have promised to pay for the train line to Aldinga, twice the cost but who cares when you are buying votes.

  7. Hello All,

    For those who can get there – Matthew Abraham and David Bevan who have the morning program on ABC 891 will be presenting their show from the Port Noarlunga Arts Centre tomorrow Friday 9 November from 8.30 – 10.00. All candidates are anticipated to be in attendance.

  8. Well I have to say after listening to all the candidates on 891 you came off the best Bill, overwhelming though I thought my wifes comment comment summed it up “Is this really he standard of people who want to represent us in Parliament, god help us” I like Amanda’s “I’ll ask people in the electorate about abortion” perhaps she should have a chat to Linda Kirk and/or Joe De Bruyn about that I am sure they could enlighten her

  9. Speaking of 891, so Richo’s favourite song – that he relates to so much – is “Working Class Man”. Spare me. Does no one get the irony at work here? Richo – I don’t think you know anything about the working class, pal.

    Risho happily chose ‘From Big Things Little Things Grow’ by Paul Kelly.

  10. 103
    Colin Says:
    October 25th, 2007 at 1:10 am
    Knock, Knock, I wonder if Dave S, Bill Weller and the rest of the contributors to this forum are still about?
    Here we have the Greens candidate struggling to make any significant impression on informed discussion
    I want to vote Greens in this election but I cannot consider Bill as a serious option given his input here, (this forum is the first I have heard from him) he has not once addressed any serious proposal for this electorate.

    Colin i am sorry you feel that way but lets look at what you said
    1. I havent been about much as i have been letterboxing , radio interviews. forums, surveys, replying to emails, putting up signs, writing speeches as well as work 12 hours a day
    2. I say it how i see it people either like it or dont but it seems when you talk from the heart people remember and relate to it
    3. I don’t spout party policy as it does not make a difference to the average person
    4. Budgets ALP (400000+) Libs (300000+) FF (?) Greens (1500) so i have been spending more time doing the basic things as above. That is why you havent heard from me
    5. Media blackout on Greens in the south. This happened in the state election as well
    6. Spent last 2 years involved in YR@W and it predecessor for them to tell me that they will be running a split ticket between my self and Rishworth then shafting me.
    7. proposals for this electorate. read the 20 question survey that the council produced and my response to it ( should be released soon)
    8. spent all day at various stalls.
    9. On election day i will be putting up Green signs at polling booths and taking them down myself as well as coordinating a quarter of the booths.
    10 My child has hard to control seizures and had to spend a week looking after her.
    Would you like me to go on? or do you get the picture? Instead of attacking me why don’t you get involved in our campaign, join? make a difference!

  11. 1. SA Seat Predictions Part 1: Kingston
    You only need to look at the last dozen or so election results in this seat to see that it swings back and forth all the time, and I expect this election to be no different. The mix of candidates here is interesting, particularly with the lateish arrival of the former state liberal minister, Robert Brokenshire standing as the family first candidate. Because of this, I have revised down my expectation of the swing to labor in Kingston. No offence to Bill Weller, a regular contributor to this site, but I think the green vote will drop below the 5% they polled in 2004, with some green voters returning to Rudd labor. I expect the booths around Hallett Cove to swing most heavily towards labor, as they did at the state election in 2006.
    So, a labor gain, with predicted 2PP swing of 6%.

  12. Matthew if the ACTU had followed what they had said they would do regarding a split ticket between Rishworth and myself i would be well into double figures but the gutless lot decided to suck the ALP so im expecting between 7 and 9%

  13. I do wish you all the best Bill, I’ll buy you a beer if you poll higher than Robert Brokenshire. If you do, you’ll have done a good job. Good luck mate.

  14. All,

    The Onkaparinga Council q and a that Bill refers to has been published to the Council website at:

    Bill – unfortunately they have neglected to name you as the Greens candidate. I’m confident it will make no difference to the outcome – but you might want to get them to fix that.

    Responses also from Amanda Rishworth, Robert Brokenshire, and Craig Bossie who is the Dems candidate in Boothby.

  15. To Bill Weller

    I think you missed my point.

    I was commenting on your input to this thread and my personal contact from a candidate in my electorate.

    I express my heart felt support regarding your child, as a parent I recognise the absolute priority we all feel when our children’s health is at risk. I sincerely hope all is well.

    I really want to vote Green. as I said, but the problem when I wrote my comment and still now is I have no reason to do it.

    The thread I read, and I am not going back to check, was talking about nuclear reactors at Pt Stanvac. Today it could be a desalination plant.

    I felt that you could have used the blog, considering there were a number o people active at the time to take the discussion beyond the inane into the real.

    I still have not received any literature from the Greens, this may not be your fault, nor have you knocked on my door. I wish you would so I could meet you.

    We have had an opportunity to meet the Labor candidate at a corner meeting on a Sunday morning, that we went to, we would have met you as well if you had offered the same opportunity.

    I also objected to your assessment of Kym Richardson. I have found him totally ignorant of green issues when I have raised them with him. It seemed to me you were supporting him as a local member. I find him ignorant and obnoxious. His responses to my concerns on environmental issues have been totally inadequate.
    If he had run as an independent he would be slaughtered, as hopefully he will be now.

    I thank you for your response to my concerns and I recognise you are working hard, I just would have preferred you use the opportunity on this thread to discuss issues that are real. Perhaps this bolg is the best chace you have.

    That said if there are other blogs you contribute to let me know and I will follow them up.

  16. Colin Thank you for your feedback. This blog makes little difference to how people will vote as everyone on here in general are rusted on. I would love to have been able to door knock but with a small group of volunteers it was impossible. Maybe the next Green candidate will have better resources to do that. My opinion of Richardson is similar to my opinion of Rishworth they seem nice but sprout party spiel rather than either knowing local problems or actually fixing them. I also found Brokenshire a nice bloke but find his parties policies just plain wrong. All three do not understand the pain that allot of residence are suffering. One just moved to the area due to some right wing faction deal. The other 2 are fairly wealthy. There are constant reports on climate change and how both major parties policies will not be able to tackle this. This is not a game anymore this is serious. Failing now will destroy our children’s future and its the kids and the elderly that are promoting and supporting us. I am constantly getting emails and phone calls from both ends of the age spectrum telling me thank god we care!

    PS over $400000 for say 40 % of the vote
    $1500 for say up to 10 %
    seems you cant buy vote when it come to children’s future. more and more people are voting with their heads rather than their wallets so why waste money on dozens of leaflets, thousands of corfutes or hundreds of commercials? money would be better spent fixing hospitals etc

  17. Dear Bill

    Passion at last on the blog.

    That’s what I wanted.

    I understand the audience here and it is very late for this particular thread but I agree with you.

    I just wish you had said this one page one in August and not indulged in the liberal crap.

    I feel better now.

    I am more comfortable giving you my vote than any other candidate.

  18. Dear Ian

    I have experienced totally unacceptable behaviour from Richardson particularly when he is trying to deflect serious questions. I am also aware I am not the only one.

    But he must be a nice guy because he says so!

    I wonder if you have experienced the same side of him.

    I must admit I am not a member of any local football club.

    The interesting thing about his CV is that I have a friend who is a lifetime member of the Eagles Football Club, from a West Torrens history, and a current member of their board and he cannot remember him!

  19. Thanks colin the good thing is that FF with brokenshire didn’t get a big vote that was expected. getting only 134 votes than myself. As i sated before i got conned into believing that the YR@W would promote me and on polling day they said to vote the ALP only in the senate. That only changed when i was close enough for them to think i could hear. This has shown me that my future lies in the center not with unions who promote union bosses and screw the rest of us. We weathered the ALP/ YR@W con job rather well and i can see us bouncing in the next state election as the ALP will be totally on the nose by then

  20. All due respect Bill, I don’t think the ALP will be on the nose anytime soon. You did well though, congratulations (I preferenced you above the ALP if that means anything to you 🙂 )

    I think this is a decent result. Kym actually did well, he was a 1.5% better than the national 2PP. Not that this will mean much to him.

    The seat is now held by Labor by 4.5%, which means it will be one to watch in 2010. A competent Liberal Party will get a couple of percentage points back nationally without a whole lot of difficulty, which could ensure that this seat is very much in play. It doesn’t matter which side of the political arena you fall down, the fact is that a marginal seat is good for everyone involved.

    Ms Rishworth got into office on the coattails of Mr Rudd. Let’s hope she uses that well. Good luck to her.

    On a sidenote, as Bill mentioned, FF didn’t to _that_ well, so Brokenshire wasn’t really a factor. Having said that, the national FF vote was 2%, he managed to get 5.7%. The 2010 election is make or break for FF. I think either way it’s going to be a fascinating one to watch, and for a variety of reasons

    It’s been good fun commenting in this thread, people managed to look past the boring partisan politics of the other threads. Thanks to all those who pitched in.

  21. Oh, STATE Labor. Sorry, wasn’t paying attention, yes I can agree with that – I thought you were talking federally. The state Labor party is cracking at the edges.

    2010 is going to be an absolutely corker of a year, a few state elections (including SA) at the start of the year and a federal one at the end. Will be a make or break election. If Rann stays on, he will be battling a lot of issues (including this proposal to abolish the legislative council, which will have more than a few people nervous) plus voter fatigue, if he leaves then his replacement will have barely two years to convince the public he/she is the real deal. So I agree with you.

    Having said that… I’m looking forward to a few months without an incoming election… before the US presidential gets in full swing.

    It never ends

Comments are closed.

Comments Page 3 of 3
1 2 3