Seat du jour: Makin

The north-eastern Adelaide electorate of Makin was created in 1984 from an area that had mostly formed the southern end of Bonython, a seat made safe for Labor by Elizabeth to the north-east (until its abolition at the 2004 election). Makin currently extends from Para Hills and Walkley Heights near the city to Tea Tree Gully and Greenwith at the limits of the metropolitan area. As my swing and vote result maps for Crikey demonstrate, Labor rules the roost as far east as Salisbury East and Modbury North, beyond which are suburbs with somewhat higher incomes. Census data prepared by George Megalogenis of The Australian shows the seat to be highly sensitive to interest rates, coming nineteenth on the ranking of electorates with the most mortgage payers and ninth on “couple families with dependent children paying off home”. However, it also ranks in the lowest quarter on mortgage burden (“median repayment divided by median income”) and the lowest third on “median household income for those paying off their homes”.

Makin was narrowly held for Labor from 1984 to 1996 by Peter Duncan, a former Attorney-General in Don Dunstan’s state government. A 4.8 per cent swing put Duncan on the Keating government casualty list at the 1996 election, and he was recently back in the news after being charged with fraudulently obtaining government grants for his plastics recycling company. His Liberal successor was former nurse Trish Draper, who emerged as a prime ministerial favourite after strong performances at the next two elections. The swing to Labor in 1998 was just 0.2 per cent, and she bettered her 1996 margin when she picked up a 3.0 per cent swing in 2001. Draper hit serious trouble in the lead-up to the 2004 election when it emerged she had taken a boyfriend on a study trip to Europe at taxpayers’ expense. This was in breach of rules limiting the benefit to spouses, and she was required to pay back nearly $10,000. Draper subsequently suffered a swing in every booth in the electorate, a trend that failed to carry over into neighbouring seats (with the exception of Adelaide, where Trish Worth was defeated by a 1.9 per cent swing). She nonetheless retained the seat with her margin cut from 3.8 per cent to 0.9 per cent, compared with a small statewide swing to the Liberals.

When Draper announced her intention to retire in July 2006, citing an illness in the family, Housing Industry Association national president Bob Day (right) immediately emerged as the preselection front-runner. Described in The Australian as a multi-millionaire housing tycoon, Day’s Home Australia owns brand names including “Homestead Homes in SA, Collier Homes in WA, Ashford Homes in Victoria, Newstart Homes in Qld and Huxley Homes in NSW”. No alternative candidates to Day were mentioned in the media, and he was unopposed when nominations closed in August 2006. Kim Wheatley of The Advertiser reported in March that Day had already spent no less than $100,000 on his own campaign, which encompassed “mini-rulers, notepads, calendars, newsletters and eight-page glossy brochures” along with half-page advertisements in local newspapers. Later reports spoke of thousands of personalised postage stamps produced for Day by Australia Post at 90 cents a pop, as well as dog jackets labelled “Bob Day for Makin”. He would thus have particular cause to have felt miffed by this week’s reports that the Liberal hierarchy has begged Draper to reverse her decision to retire, believing a sitting member would be better placed to retain the seat.

Labor has again nominated its candidate from 2004, former weightlifting champion Tony Zappia (left), who has been mayor of Salisbury since 1997 and was a councillor for many years beforehand. Zappia was widely reckoned to have been hard done by when he lost the 2001 preselection to the Right’s Julie Woodman, essentially due to his factional non-alignment. A repeat performance appeared to be on the cards at the 2004 election, when the factions cut a three-way deal that was to deliver Hindmarsh to Steve Georganas of the “soft Left”, Adelaide to Kate Ellis of the Right and Makin to Dana Wortley of the “hard Left”. The nomination of Wortley was to serve the purposes of soft Left warlord Nick Bolkus, as it would allow the party’s affirmative action target to be met without costing him his seat in the Senate. However, the arrangement displeased local branches as well as party hard-heads who were concerned that the crucial marginal seat should be contested by the most appealing candidate. Premier Mike Rann prevailed upon Wortley’s backers to throw their weight behind Zappia, and Bolkus shifted his focus to having the party loosely interpret its affirmative action requirement. His problem appeared solved when another Senator, Geoff Buckland, announced his retirement and backed former state deputy leader Annette Hurley to replace him. Perversely, Bolkus then decided that he too would call it a day, leading to suggestions he had only been holding on to thwart the ambitions of state minister Patrick Conlon (the member for Elder).

Although he failed to win the seat, Zappia’s creditable performance in 2004 prompted ongoing speculation that a parliamentary career still awaited him. It was suggested that state front-benchers Lea Stevens and Trish White might be persuaded to retire at last year’s election so their seats of Little Para or Taylor could be made available, but both stood firm. Zappia then emerged as the logical candidate for the looming Makin preselection, but The Australian’s Michelle Wiese Brockman reported that he was again “battling to win backing to stand from factional leaders”. Writing in the City Messenger newspaper, Christian Kerr noted talk that the Left and the Right might reach a deal to back Zappia, in which he would “vote with the Left in party forums in SA and with the Right in Canberra”. If that fell through, the nomination might instead go to his Salisbury Council colleague Chad Buchanan. Subsequent reports suggested that Zappia indeed secured cross-factional backing, and he has since aligned himself with the Left. Zappia suffered an embarrassment in March when it emerged he had provided a reference for Hells Angels bikie Terry John McKelliff, a client at his fitness centre who was later convicted of drug trafficking. There were some suggestions Zappia might have to stand aside in light of the precedent of Kelvin Thomson, who had recently quit the front bench for providing a reference to Melbourne gangland figure Tony Mokbel.

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.

78 comments on “Seat du jour: Makin”

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  1. i doubt very much any other Salisbury councillors would have been selected over Tony, none have the local well known profile he has— everyone knows Tony, Nick Champion who’s standing for Wakefield isnt leaving anything to chance even though he’s a shoo in, our letterbox has been well filled with his material and ive just recieved a letter about his street meets, i’ll go along to one its just around the corner from me, he’s having Michael Atkinson with him, i know Mike quite well, Nick has a bit of humour he has this cute little cartoon charactor in a listening pose with Nick Champion listening to you written under it.

  2. Kev,

    Tony Zappia is a fantastic candidate that did an excellent job in 2004 and has very strong support as mayor.

    A strong swing to him in 2004 when this seat should have demographically swung to the Liberals.

    The draper travel issue certainly would have hurt her, however i think a large part of the swing to Labor was due to Tony.

  3. I would expect Makin to fall to the ALP on Primaries.

    I don’t think there a problem with a polly or would be one spending there own money on a campaign, I think the way it is spent is what counts.

    ALP 58 – Liberal 42

  4. This electorate contains one of the most notable wealth gradients in Adelaide. Look at Adam’s booth map and you’ll see. There are only two council areas – Salisbury, which is fairly poor; and Tea Tree Gully, which is more middle-class. The voting follows that pattern – even more so because the Labor candidate is the Salisbury mayor, and maybe even more again this time because the Liberal candidate is well-known on the TTG side.

  5. Actually William the “H” word was hubris, my poor attempt at humour, and I thought my post was on track in pointing out the article showing a 20% swing in liberal mortgage holders to now voting labor was relevant to Makin in regards to the swing.

    But your call which I accept and perhaps the ***’s weren’t a good idea either.

  6. One thing to consider is that this seat is the home of a very large (and well funded) evangelical religious group. I’ve forgotten which one – Assemblies of God?

  7. Yes, that was the point of my earlier post. I appreciate what Kev said about the swing against Draper last time, but that was because of the travel rorts affair, not because of Tony I don’t think. This fundie group is growing and believe me, they strongly supported Draper, even after the travel thing (yes, I know a large proportion of them voted Family First, but the preferences flowed back to Draper very strongly – 85/15 or something phenomenal).

    Another thing I heard lately was that Draper has apparently taken Bob Day aroudn to “introduce” him to the oldies groups and has been organising lots of things on his behalf, like stakeholder meetings etc, many of which are on state issues and he, arguably, has no business being there as a candidate in a Federal election. But I suppose it would be easy to put the “Bob Day of Homestead Homes” label on it to obviate the problem 😉
    Mind you, I’m not entirely sure that it’s necessary to invite a builder to a meeting to discuss local youth issues anyway…

  8. And that is in excess of the National preference flows which split FFP vote two thirds to the coalition.
    This implied there is a substantial left leaning that defied the HTV. Their will not be a carte blanche deal with the coalition this year. So much for Howard’s committment to Family impact statements.

    I expect the preferencing to be far more balanced this year. In fact I believe that Labor may well be aided to win some crucial seats.

    As for Makin, if Labor need FFP preferences to win this seat, then there will be insufficient swing for them to win the election.

  9. Lurker – it must have just been the booth I was scrutineering at then 😉 But then again, I’ve seen some awfully strange things in all my years of scrutineering.

  10. All I have to say on this one is you have Bob Day who has quietly delivered so much for his area against a man who ran for Mayor knowing he was planning on resigning.

    I don’t live in Makin and I don’t vote for either of the major parties but if I were in Makin it would be hard not to vote for Bob given all he has done for the area – most of which will never be publically known because he did it for the right reasons not for media headlines… unlike his Labor opposition.

  11. Spazz – regardless of what Bobby Day has ‘done for the area’, his fervent support of the unpopular IR policies of the government will be his undoing.

  12. AK – Paradise Community Church is in Sturt, although most of the northeastern bible belt is in Makin.

    Labor holds all the state seats that make up Makin. Newland is the only one that used to be Liberal, and Labor won it with a 12% swing last year. The others are now held by large margins. I think Salisbury might as well have their mayoral by-election now.

  13. Of the three SA marginals, this is the hardest for Labor. Eric has summed up the demograhics with the fault line between the Salisbury end and the Tea Tree Gully end. For that reason, this seat will by and large remain a marginal whilst covering this territory.

    Under the current political climate in SA, it is most probable that Labor will win Makin whereas Kingston & Wakefield are “near certs”. It will be interesting to see the swing in this seat.

  14. If people only knew what Bob Day has done for others over 30 years they’d be astounded – the unemployed, the homeless, refugees, former prisoners, you name it – all without blowing his own trumpet. He might be spending a lot of money to get elected but at least it’s his own money, not taxpayers money like John Howard and his crew spend. You can buy the medium to communicate a message which Bob Day is doing but you can’t buy a message – you have to earn that and Bob Day has.

  15. Aslan – I dont dispute some of the good things you claim, but he is well known in the local building industry as a shameless self promoter! His uncompromising love of WorkChoices has annoyed many in SA.

    Makin will fall in this election – but it will mainly be due to the anti Government sentiment (based squarely on WorkChoices) that is growing in Middle Australia.

  16. 11
    Phil Robins Says:
    September 27th, 2007 at 10:41 am

    Day hires people to drive around the electorate every day in a vehicle displaying a big sign: BOB DAY FOR MAKIN. I reckon Makin, Wakefield and possibly even Kingston will be very close.

    Thats what i have been saying all along and they will still need Green Prefs as will seats like Boothby and Sturt. It would be sad for the Ruddites if their alleged FF pref deal causes them to loose a couple of seats they need for government

  17. If Day truly was a “shameless self promoter” (as BrissyRod claims) why would he waste energy and resources supporting all manner of humanitarian causes beyond the bounds of Makin, South Australia and even Australia and then tell no-one about it. There are no votes for Day in quarry villages in the back blocks of India or among refugees or homeless youth in our cities.

    As for being a “lover of Work Choices” (another claim) – I think that Day, as someone who has provided thousands of people with jobs over the past thirty years, has a much more credible view of what creates jobs and sustains employment than those who sit on the sidelines and criticise.

    Anyone who thinks that Makin going to Labor is a foregone conclusion knows nothing about Day’s determination and tenacity.

  18. BrissyRod, Makin is full of small businesses that benefit from WorkChoices, which has enabled them to employ more people and in full-time positions. This also benefits those employed of course. The unemployment rate in Makin went down from 9% to 4%.

    These thousands of small businesses started out much like Bob Day did–with very little–and have grown as a result of their own hard work. ie. they aspire to do what Bob Day has done.

    I doubt very much whether WorkChoices will play that big a role in this seat.

  19. In Kingston small business is suffering to the multinationals. These same multinationals are now moving into small townships splitting the community. Workchoices makes it so much easier for the big companies to compete and destroy the small business. Take a stroll down one of the shopping streets near the beach and those owners will tell you. It seems both major parties have let these people down both state and federal and interestingly the Greens seem to be slowing picking up small business membership. I think the real fear the major parties have with the Greens is that they are no longer the “Hippie club ” but a real alternative that is attracting a broad membership. When the Greens start to win lower house seats will we see a uniting of the major parties to fight this similar to what happen to Pauline Hanson? It makes you think what is this Greenswatch website and who is behind it. I have never seen such an immature and weakly based site with the so called public comments very sad.

  20. Aslan – I guess you have different information to me as to the so-called ‘benefits’ of Workchoices in South Australia.

    As to the effects overall, as judged by the good voters of Makin, I guess we will see on election night.

  21. Aslan – People talk about Rudd having a glass jaw: Bob Day is so sensitive to criticism that he even tries to justify his motives for entering politics to people he knows work for the local Labor Members of Parliament! Interestingly, his years of good works for charity always get a mention; not bad for someone you claim is too modest to talk about it. If he’s saying that to the enemy, what’s he saying to people he wants to vote for him?

  22. Work Choices is falling apart each day and Bob Day is one of its big supporters.

    Besides the forgotten 350,000, those who were forced onto Work Choices before Howard’s so-called fairness test, and are not subject to any review there are also over 25,000 agreements refused because they could not pass the test.

    I don’t see how Makin could be any different for the number of employees ripped off under Work Choices or the number of employers totally confuused and dismayed with the extra paperwork and confusion it has brought.

  23. If Arbie Jay is correct then one would think that IR would be a hot topic of conversaiton in Makin. It isn’t. In fact, when a public meeting was called to discuss Work Choices it only a handful of “Your Rights at Work” faithful turned up. Perhaps the community at large recognises that unemployment is at a historic low in the area (3.8%) down from 9% in 1995 and that cumulative real wages growth in Australia has been 15% over the same period. (OECD figures) That doesn’t sound like widespread exploitation to me.

  24. Charitable fellow is our Bob. Even started up his own Union. The Independant Contractors Association. Wonder why a big builder would do that! There is bucket’s of Merde coming young Bob’s way. Its not where you start that counts, its where you have been and what you have done. Unfortunately for Bob, many people know where Bob has been and what he has done. I am sure when the good elector’s of Makin get to know of Bob’s privatise the profits, socialise the losses approach to life, his votes will be few.

  25. 1. SA Seat Predictions Part 2: Makin
    This is a seat that labor people in south australia will enjoy watching out for on election night, hoping that the liberal candidate Bob Day doesn’t win. Bob Day, as William points out in his analysis is a veteran of the industrial relations wars, and is closely associated with the HR Nicholls Society, and has written some controversial papers on minmum wage (or lack thereof) policy.
    The Labor candidate Tony Zappia, stood at the 2004 election, and is the mayor of the city of Salisbury, and thus has a strong recognition factor, particularly with the retirement of the sitting member, Trish Draper. This gives Zappia an added edge in this seat. Labor has been stressing Zappia’s efforts with water recycling programs as Mayor.
    I think the anti-workchoices feeling in Makin, coupled with the recognition factor of Zappia, and his environmental credentials point to a hefty swing to labor.
    So, a labor gain, with a predicted swing of 8%.

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