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”

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  1. 47
    bill weller Says:
    August 15th, 2007 at 6:53 pm
    Adam, Strop et al dont get me started on the SDA, FF, Candidates living in electorates etc again. I thought we had passed that! LOL

    Bill I promise not to mention the dreaded FF again before the correction election: you will have enough to trouble you re FF in your electorate without me teasing you about it.

  2. Adam, I remember the Cleary thing too. Yeah, Hawke spent next to no time there and there was a general feeling around the place that Hawke/Labor arrogantly assumed that his legend would win with ‘a drovers dog’ as a candidate. You get what you pay for sometimes.

  3. [Does anyone know why “the nice lass” has got the gong for this seat? Being a psychologist can mean many things (believe me, I know), anything from the most basic degree ,which, depending on the undergraduate curriculum, means they can speak to another person, to extremely sophisticated diagnostic, analytical skills, including stats., and treatment modalities.]

    The ALP webpage says she has a Masters degree in psychology. So I guess that means at the upper end of what you describe.

  4. Maybe her masters degree in psychology will help her communication skills but it depends. Could be a masters in Organisational Psychology or Criminology or … could mean nothing except that she is capable of learning and thinking in a particular way.

  5. PS: Hawke was up here a few weeks ago spruiking votes for a Labor candidate, can’t remember which seat it was. He looked pretty dapper still, God love him. My favourite character in Australian political history.

  6. As a resident of this electorate I feel that a comment from another local besides Bill Weller is warranted. Firstly, it is my belief that Richardson only scrapped in by about 100 votes in the last election due to Family First preferences but he has been very active in the local community ever since. Will that be enough for him to scrape home again; I doubt it. However, I believe it will be closer than most people think as I have had the opportunity to listen to Rishworth regurgitate the rhetoric of Kevin07 and listen to some answers to questions put to her which caused me to chuckle at the lack of knowledge about the seriousness of the threat of climate change and the less than adequate responses that both the ALP and the Liberals are prepared to implement to address this problem. However, as the majority of voters will vote according to their hip-pocket nerve this will probably cause them a lot of confusion i.e. what is more important their job remuneration or their house repayment either way they are likely to be losers. As Barnby Joyce said “If Kevin gets any closer to Howard he will have to ask Jeannette”. Many commentators have said it is mathematically impossible for the ALP to win a majority in the Senate so I urge you all to vote Green and “Rescue the Senate” so once again the Senate is the house of review it is meant to be. P.S. Please vote for Bill as well because we really need the electoral funding as we don’t get many donations from big business, unions or TAX FREE religious enterprises.

  7. Adam (August 15th, 2007 at 7:01 pm),

    Thank you. Frank Anstey’s niece joined the DLP. She was probably left-wing too. I suppose that is about as relevant as some other posts here.

    bill weller (August 15th, 2007 at 6:53 pm),

    I was hoping not to get you started on the SDA yet again, or I’ll have to respond yet again.

  8. I think there is probably a few libs on here – since when has the location of the candidate ever affected the outcome of a seat (labor or liberal) and from all accounts she now lives down south.

    Richardson has done squat all for Kingston and all the word is that the Libs have given up on this seat and moved the resources to save Andrew Southcott in Boothby. The polls put Labor at $1.10 in this seat and is way ahead in the polls – maybe we should look at the other SA seats for seat of the week?

  9. Now Bill we know that Maslin Beach has by far the highest green vote of any booth in the electorate.

    It’s wonderful to see everyone celebrating our wonderful electorate. Has anyone been down to Southport and Port Noarlunga beaches since the storm? The coastline has been given a thumping …

    Now to other matters … there’s little likelihood of Rishworth doing a Kate Ellis in the style over substance ranks. Kate’s a good looking lady, while Amanda … it’s just not the same league I’m afraid.

    Also, in polls carried out a few weeks before the 2004 election David Cox was leading 54 – 46 so this is a seat where it’s all still to play for. It’s also a seat that’s ripe for a bit of pork barrelling … the southern suburbs have exploded in size in recent years, but a corresponding increase in amenities has not been able to happen. The Adelaide-Noarlunga Centre train line desperately needs to be extended down the coast to Sellicks Beach to take hundreds of cars off the road and make the rush hour trip into the city take an hour, instead of 2 … or 3! Bill, an environmentally sound move that you’d support I presume? It’s been scoped by state governments time and time again, but needs a hundred million or so to do it, maybe more … but it would buy the seat?

  10. My parents got doorknocked by Rishworth the other week so she is certainly out there campaigning. THey are normally Liberal voters and live in Morphett Vale and found her to be a really strong young woman. If she can win over my parents then she must be doing something right.

  11. In answer to your question Bill – yes it appears Kym Richardson did live in Kingston well prior to his election (well according to Google!).

    I for one hate the idea of someone who isn’t from down our way running, I can’t speak for other voters but if she was from Flagstaff Hill or Seacliff or something even remotely close I could probably get over it – but to literally be from the other side of Adelaide, maybe its a woman thing, I just believe we had decent women from down South who could have run. Maybe I am just being too South proud:)

    Also, I have quite a bit to do with the Council and couldn’t let it pass me by without pointing out that the City of Onk is actually declared a nuclear free council.

  12. Robert – quick question – if the location of the candidate doesn’t matter why did Amanda feel the need to move in to the elctiorate five minutes out from the elction?

    I am not a Lib, I genuinely decide each election and for the record really like what Bill (a local) has to say, I just object to people trying to play me as a voter for a fool…

  13. There is absolutely NO WAY a nuclear Powersation would be built in the South, it’s an obscene suggestion cooked up by Bill Weller and the ALP. There’s no place to put it! And don’t say Port Stanvac because that’s rubbish. There’s nothing worse than propaganda and that’s exactly what that is!

  14. Firstly, can anyone clarify exactly where Amanda Rishworth lives currently?

    Secondly, why don’t we ask Bill (who is a local) what the community opinion is about the relative strength of Amanda Rishworth, and Kym Richardson in the local area?

  15. The Liberals would have a grand total of zero federal seats if they tried to force that one on us. Also, Port Stanvac would be a crazy location for a nuclear plant being only about 20 kms from the city centre. If there was ever in any hypothetical instance to be a nuclear plant in south australia, it would almost certainly be built somewhere like Port Augusta.

  16. Matthew Flinders – I am a local, Kym Richardson is seen as a hard working MP. There is however anger about Workchoices and it appears likely that Richardson will struggle in such an environment (especially when there’s only 119 votes at stake). However, incumbency does strange things and the 1996 election saw MPs hang on in some places where they’d worked hard. The South of Adelaide is almost regional in that it acts independently is vocal about southern rights.

    Also, Amanda Rishworth lives in a unit in Hallett Cove, the northernmost section of the electorate. I could give you the street name but I doubt that’s appropriate.

    Finally, I live within 5 minutes WALK of the boundary fences of Port Stanvac. There is NO WAY a nuclear powerstation would EVER be built here. The coastline is pristine, only mired by Stanvac, and this isn’t even on the radar. It’s vicious ALP spin!

    Matthew Sykes is spot on, it’d be Port Augusta, Port Pirie or Whyalla. Areas where there is existing heavy industry, but it’s not going to happen.

  17. Im an ALP member, but a nuclear power station in Kingston is just silly. Not even Howard on a bad day would conjur that one up.

  18. John Howard told Parliament today that the market, not government, would decide the sites for nuclear power stations. Port Stanvac, in the electorate of Kingston, would appear to be an ideal site, but the market might prefer to have the station a little closer to population centre of Adelaide by moving up the coast a little to the electorate of Boothby.

  19. Matthew Flinders Says:
    August 16th, 2007 at 1:55 pm

    Secondly, why don’t we ask Bill (who is a local) what the community opinion is about the relative strength of Amanda Rishworth, and Kym Richardson in the local area?

    Amanda at this point of time is well ahead in peoples minds in the working areas. Kym has support in the higher economic areas and has been working the electorate well. Like Adam ( i think ) said that the candidates will win on which leader is doing the best in the polls and at this time it is Amanda. But the biggest thing that has helped the ALP in Kingston is the YR@W campaign.

  20. Matthew Sykes Says:
    August 16th, 2007 at 5:29 pm

    Im an ALP member, but a nuclear power station in Kingston is just silly. Not even Howard on a bad day would conjur that one up.

    Where do you think A nuke power station will go in SA Matthew?

  21. Dave C Said

    Finally, I live within 5 minutes WALK of the boundary fences of Port Stanvac. There is NO WAY a nuclear powerstation would EVER be built here. The coastline is pristine, only mired by Stanvac, and this isn’t even on the radar. It’s vicious ALP spin!

    Pristine except for the beautiful oil slick that goes into the gulf every high tide. The cost to clean up the site is uneconomical for the owners so what do you think will be put there?

  22. Howard plans to build 25 Nuclear Power stations, surely that would put SA in line for two or three.

    One at Port Stanvac, the other maybe Port Augusta. Nuclear power stations need a steady reliable supply of water, so in SA they would have to be built on the coast.

    I read that there is nude bathing there also, I suppose that would be a bonus for Tony Abbott in that the Nuclear plant would stop that practise.

  23. Arbie Jay Says: I read that there is nude bathing there also, I suppose that would be a bonus for Tony Abbott in that the Nuclear plant would stop that practise.

    No the nudist beach is further south.

  24. Bill: Heaven forbid that any nuclear reactor would ever be built in SA, but it would almost certainly be in Port Augusta, as per my comment # 70.

  25. Bill I used to respect your views, you seemed sensible and almost apolitical, it was a breath of fresh air when compared to other candidates, but you’re being childish with this nonsense about the Power Station. Stanvac would never be one.

  26. Enemy Combatant Says:
    August 16th, 2007 at 9:34 pm
    Pardon me, all you stoners. On the Sir Humphrey Appleby scale of “courageous announcements”, this could be a ten.

    “Prime Minister John Howard has named a location in his own federal electorate as a potential site for a nuclear reactor.”

    Over to you, Maxine…..

    From Road to Surfdom?????

  27. You could run the proposed Epping rail line beneath the nuclear reactor. Then no resident would be whinging about the location of the rail line.

  28. My sources say this is what John Howard said during a recent speech to big business.

    “If the government is returned, then I confidently predict that the reforms that have been made over the past few years will never be dismantled …because by the time of the next and subsequent elections, they will have become so much part of the economic and industrial fabric of this country, that would be impossible.”

    He went on the say that if Labor won, a future government of his ilk would never be able reintroduce such “reform.”

    I find this chilling. He’s saying: “My legacy will never be dismantled.”

  29. I agree with Matthew it is highly unlikely that a nuclear power plant will be built at Port Stanvac as Exxon Mobil has until 30/6/09 to decide what they will do with THEIR land and have another 10 years i.e. until 30/6/19 to clean up the site if they decide not to re-open it as a refinery. By then there probably won’t be any any oil left but the value of the land which currently is said to be about $40 million might equal the cost of the alleged $100 million clean-up to industrial standards. Whilst Exxon Mobil is paying around $180-200k annually in council rates under the agreement they have with the State government there is little incentive for them to do anything with this site and any acquistion by either the State or Federal government as the developer of the site would I believe required them to pay for the clean up of the site. Therefore, I believe that we will be stuck with the monumental eyesore that the Port Stanvac site is until all of the alleged contamination in the soil is leached out into the gulf. Perhaps it would be a good site for a wind farm or a solar energy project in 2019.

  30. Bob

    Would you have to clean up a site to put a Nuclear reactor there?
    Maybe for housing, but not a reactor, this would be an plus for Stanvac as a site.

  31. They’re not gonna do it! Don’t listen to Phil Robins’ and Bill Weller’s propaganda. Bill wants there to be a nuclear reactor proposal so a backlash will carry him into parliament! What a sad sad situation.

  32. #
    Dave S Says:
    August 16th, 2007 at 8:36 pm

    Bill I used to respect your views, you seemed sensible and almost apolitical, it was a breath of fresh air when compared to other candidates, but you’re being childish with this nonsense about the Power Station. Stanvac would never be one.

    Dave i am expressing the electorates fears which is what a candidate should do

  33. Many people i have spoken too wish Richardson had repented supporting Howard’s IR ditched the Libs and had become a independent. The thing is he should have done that two years ago.

  34. It may appear to be insane to suggest a nuclear power plant for Port Stanvac, but the site does have great credentials – close to the wateri, on ndustrial land and near major population. Market forces will decide, according to the Prime Minister.

  35. On the Kingston thread Dave S (?) suggests that i am trying to ride the nuclear for Stanvac issue to get a free ride into parliament. If it was only that simple. What people need to know is that the community fears what will replace the oil refinery. Two which have been touted by people are 1. nuclear power plant 2. De-salination plant. The first would have the whole of Kingston demonstrating. The second is very interesting as it would be an environmental disaster for the marine inhabitants on the coast and it has been discovered that shell fish of Stanvac are high in cadmium. could a de-sal plant be able to remove the chemicals that are in the area? Oh its great to be a community activist!

  36. The agreement with the State government indicates that the site is only to be cleaned up to industrial standards not residential standards so there is no way that houses will ever be built on the site. Apart from the various petro-carbon chemicals that are alleged to be contaminating the soil of the site a witness to the Select Committee on Pricing, Refining, Storage and Supply of Fuel in South Australia stated that there was various incidents of loose asbestos being in placed into the ground on the site. If this is true then it would pose a serious health threat to any workers on the site regardless of its industrial use. What I find intriguing is the fact that any surveys of the marine environment in the marine exclusion zone have never to my knowledge been released to the public. You can make up your own minds on this okay.

  37. Happy International Peace Day for yesterday!

    G’day my name is Matthew Fowler & I’m the preselected Australian Democrats Kingston Candidate.

    I draw people’s awareness to the Objectives, balloted Policies and current Issues the Australian Democrats have developed over the last 30 years for Kingston and beyond.

    The current Kingston issues I’m passionate & consulting community on are:

    – water
    – infrastructure & transport – strategic community development
    – climate change & environmental management
    (including public transport for young people, seniors and after dark commuters)
    – mental health & wellbeing

    Sam Rossi is our Campaign Manager and can be reached on 0411 572 344

    Cheers, Matthew
    Australian Democrats’ Party Office
    711 South Road BLACK FOREST SA 5035
    Tel: 8371 1441 Fax: 8293 4254

  38. Dear Kingston Moderator

    I understand the preference for the major parties however as Kingston is the most marginal Liberal seat in Australia & you’ve acknowledged the past Democrats Leader Janine Haines 1990 “audacious” run [which btw I currently understand she lost because the major parties exchanged preferences so she did a really good job to get 26%!]

    On that basis would it be good to acknowledge the impact of the minor parties on this “heterogenous” electorate division not just the Greens?

    Kind regards

    Matthew Fowler

  39. Matthew, Bill Weller is mentioned not because of his likely impact, but because he’s a regular commenter here. For reasons of time management and consistency, my major-candidates-only policy will have to remain.

    Regarding Janine Haines, you can see the full preference count at our friend Adam Carr’s indispensible Psephos website. Haines was eliminated before both the Labor and Liberal candidates, so their preferences with respect to Haines did not matter (Haines’s preferences instead decided the outcome between Labor and Liberal). It may also be that the major parties had agreed to put her last, though I would very much doubt it. Can any of our historians adjudicate?

    William Bowe

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