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. It seems that South Australia has a big Labor swing with less than outstanding candidates in many marginals (Rishworth, Champion, Cornes, and Zappia). That said, national issues should prevail over parochial issues in a federal election in an urban area like Adelaide, and Makin should go with the swing.

    This is slightly off topic, but does anyone have any insider information about Sturt and Mia Handshin?

  2. Zappia will win this seat. He’s a great candidate, he already has a profile and Bob Day has SERIOUSLY overreached himself in the spending stakes. It has just turned people off, particularly those who are struggling to make ends meet themselves – and there are a LOT of them in Makin.

    Mia Handshin is a great candidate as well and is working hard in Sturt. She does have a much larger swing to make up than Zappia, but from all accounts Pyne himself is so worried he’s actually been forced to work his electorate for a change. I notice also that he’s got his campaign team in “Christopher Pyne for Sturt” polo shirts. Mia also has personalised shirts for her team, evidently, so this seat may be the battle of the t-shirts 😉

  3. I’m not sure what makes you think Tony Zappia is a less than outstanding candidate. I’ll have to disagree. To give you one example, Tony Zappia has been pivotal in the creation of a wetlands system in Salisbury. This involves aquifer storage of water, and currently recycles or reuses more than 2,500 megalitres of water per annum. I’m told by state government sources that South Australia recycles about 45% of its stormwater. Zappia’s project in Salisbury is responsible for about 15% of that on its own. That along with his work as Mayor of Salisbury makes him a very good candidate indeed.

  4. Seems enough of the electors of Makin have overlooked Muscle Tony’s mistake of carelessly referencing an iron-pumping Angel. I base this on Mr.Zappia’s current CBet quote of $1.20.
    Bobby Day will have to defend himself against a bloke wielding a double-edged broadsword of SerfChoices and multiple interest rate hikes in a seat top-heavy with scrabbling mortgagees and economically disabled punters nursing wallets full of maxed-out plastic.

    William observes re Liberal candidate, Bob Day: “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.”

    Viewed another way: ” C’mon, darling, I really, really love you but I have to swing by to visit my mistress on the way home so’s I don’t selfishly burden you with my unbridled lust. Can’t you understand that I’m doing what’s best for YOU!?”

    “soft Left warlord Nick Bolkus”.
    Now nominated for this electoral season’s Classic Clayton’s Oxymorons.

  5. This will be an interesting contest between democracy and money. Not Liberal versus Labor. I would suspect that Bob Day would be spending more money to buy his seat than did Malcolm Turnbull. I can’t go anywhere in Makin or read any local literature without seing his face or name plastered on it. And the campaign hasn’t even started !

    With a swing to Labor of its current proportions, there is no way in the world that he should retain this seat for the Liberals. I will be interested only to see how much of the swing his money will buy back.

  6. I suspect his money won’t buy ANY votes back, if people I have spoken with are any indication. They are quite outraged at the amount of money he is spending; comments along the line of, “if he’s got more money than he knows what to do with, he can give it to me” are not uncommon.

    Also, there seems to be a growing sentiment that, despite his “I’m just an ordinary bloke” rhetoric he is in fact a bit of an up-himself megalomaniac who is desperate for a seat in parliament because he believes himself to be a future PM.

    The mind boggles.

  7. Oh, and re Mia Handshin; from all reports she is going swimmingly. Lots of meets and greets at bus and train interchanges, pub evenings etc. Getting lots of positive feedback along lines that indicate Pyne might be in trouble. Don’t have any specifics, just a bit of goss gleaned from a friend working in the campaign.

  8. I have family and an 18 year old nephew uni student in Para Hills and he is up in arms about WorkChoices though he doesn’t work. I am encouraging him to do the things usefull in preparation for polictical paricipation one day in his future (especially avoiding scandal) should he want to travel that path.

  9. 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.

    Mike Rann was pushed into supporting Tony Zappia when Zappia supporter Frances Bedford made noises about vacating her slightly marginal state seat of Florey and creating an unwelcome by-election. Dana Wortley was given as a consolation prize the “unwinnable” third spot on the Senate ticket – and won! She has moved from the “hard Left” to the Right (as has her husband Russell, a member of the Legislative Council).

  10. Apropos of the discussion on the previous thread re the Climate Change Coalition, this from the SMH this morning:

    Dr Karl in run for Senate

    HIGH-profile science commentator Dr Karl Kruszelnicki is turning his attention to politics, with tilt at the Senate.

    Dr Karl, as he is best known, said today he would run for the Senate as a candidate with the Climate Change Coalition after becoming “more and more concerned” with the way big issues were being tackled.

    “I’m in the business of communicating important ideas,” he said.

    “I’ve dedicated my life to it. This is another way to continue that dedication. I’ll be No.2 on the Climate Change Coalition’s NSW Senate ticket.”

    Dr Kruszelnicki has degrees in physics and mathematics, biomedical engineering, medicine and surgery.

    He has become a household name after regular spots on radio and television, including a series of government-funded road safety advertisements warning against the hazards of the “micro-sleep”.,23599,22490484-29277,00.html?from=public_rss

  11. first i should clarify this by saying i know Tony quite well, BUT without bias i can honestly say he’s an enormously popular person in the district, along with the wetlands he done some good things in the Sailisbury area, the Italian vote will flood to him for starters, he grew up in the area and has lived here all his life and people know him and what they’ll get, unfortunately where i am is part of Wakefield and i dont know my candidate, i could only wish it was Tony.

  12. As both Day and Howard are discovering (and maybe Turnbull too) it is not in fact possible to buy an election in a marginal seat. There are only so many electoral techniques available, and only so much of any of them that can be deployed before they become counter-productive. Suppose Day were rich enough to put a full-colour glossy brochure in every voter’s letterbox every day of the week, and two on Sundays. Would this help him? No, because as noted above, people start to resent the amount of money being thus wasted. A marginal seat by definition contains many low and middle income people, and such an extravagant display of wealth and ambition alienates more of them than it attracts. Of course name recognition helps a candidate, but beyond that this is just money being poured down a drain. Day may have bought himself a percent or two, but if the swing across Adelaide is more than 2%, he will lose regardless. (And if the swing is more than 6%, Labor will win Boothby too, regardless of yesterday’s excitations.)

    This is the same problem Howard is having with his WorkChoices ads. He could run them back-to-back 24/7 until the election, and they wouldn’t change any more minds than they’ve changed already – ie, not many. I don’t watch TV, but I’m told they are now so ubiquitous as to have become counter-productive. There’s a maxim in advertising – “you can only sell a dud product once.”

  13. I forgot to add: we sawthis exact same phenomenon in the state seat of Prahran at last year’s Victorian election. Rich boy candidate Clem “Olivia” Newton-Brown soaked the electorate with glossy brochures, balloons, t-shirts, billboards and every gimmick he could think of. I spent election day on a booth in East St Kilda, and all day people said to me: “does this guy think we are idiots to fall for this kind of stuff?” The result was that Tony Lupton, the rather dull but worthy ALP member, held the seat (which includes Toorak and South Yarra).

  14. I can see why Kingston and Wakefield are foregone conclusions as they will definately fall to the ALP, but I really don’t see why everyone is throwing Makin into the same basket. I don’t care what anybody says about local candidates not being a factor, at the last election there was definately a negative swing against Draper. The 2.8% personal swing disguised what may have even been a swing in the Libs favour, and a more accurate margin could be anywhere between 3-6%. This reminds me of the 1998 election (back then I was an LP stalwalt- scary!!!) If you look back then Makin was held by approximately the same margin as it is now, and everybody was saying it would be the first seat to fall. If I remember correctly the other SA marginals were Kingston by about 2%, Adelaide by about 4% and Hindmarsh by about 9%. Out of all those seats Kingston fell to the ALP, Adelaide had about a 3% swing, Hindmarsh had about an 8% swing, but Makin didn’t even move. Again at the 2001 election Makin had by far the biggest swing to the govt out of all the marginals.

    I still think this seat will fall, but if I were a betting man I would place a few bob on Bob Day, because it is going to be a tight contest and his odds are rediculously long.

  15. Adam @13, 14

    Agree, but shush. Perhaps not best to give good advice to libs.

    Tony Lupton? Any relation to the old shell-back Hurtle Lupton, who haunted Bayswater – or was it La Trobe – for too many years?

  16. Derek,
    Hurtle L. finished up being defeated in Ferntree Gully, but was throughout the Kennett years Member for Knox, succeeding Steve Crabb. Bayswater was Gordoon Ashley.

  17. Peter

    Ah, right. Knox. Been out of that neck of the woods for several years. Hope Steve is still enjoying Tuscany. But is Tony Lupton related to Hurtle?

  18. Ok, thanks for that, gents. Spent many long hours in the campaigns against Hurtle and it would have been great to see maybe a son crossing to the forces of light. Never mind.

  19. Bolkus was knocked off. Pure and simple. McEwan seems to be doing a fine job. Zappia is an excellent canditate, and Day’s HR Nichol’s connection are not off much assistance in what will be a WorkChoices election.

  20. Adam: I still have (somewhere at home) my “Vote Clem” CDROM. They maildropped everyone a CD with his awful awful youtube video on it. I figure it’ll make a nice booby prize for something at some point.

  21. Yes, and the more he spent the worse he looked. It gave Labor the opening to tag Baillieu and Newton-Brown “the two toffs from Toorak” and N-B as a rich dilletante, which he was. Don’t let anyone tell you that class doesn’t cut deep in Australian politics anymore. It does – the good folks in Prahran, Windsor and East St Kilda really resented being condescended to like that.

    Now I don’t think Day suffers from that problem, since I gather he is a self-made zillionaire rather than a toff, but he will still find that no amount of money will buy him a seat. The comparison with Turnbull in 2004 is a bit shaky – he spent most his money buying his preselection, not the election itself. I’m sure he is spending big now, but he has the same problem. If he spends too extravagantly that will become an issue itself.

  22. Wasn’t Bob day a H.R. Nichols society advocate? I certainly hope this is being used against him, showing that he would push for even further de-regulation of wages.

  23. He basically wants there to be no award for junior wages. If that means juniors end up working 30 hours a week, and are earning below the poverty line, he wants the government to hand them transfer payments!

    So basically he wants “the government” to subsidise the wage obligations of business. This is also known as corporate socialism.

    Why is it that our so called business leaders are so risk averse? Why do they think government hand outs are fine, as long as it makes it cheaper to run their businesses?

  24. Tony has attempted to hold some community forums to discuss IR – Bob Day has refused to turn up, citing the old “it’s a union conspiracy!” argument.

    One letter to the local paper the next week nailed him, though: if the Government is on such a winner with Workchoices Mark II then he should be out there taking every opportunity to spruik it; as is his job as a candidate. He’s not, though. His campaign is all about state government issues; water, the local hospital and, ironically, housing affordability (although that’s all the State Government’s fault, apparently).

    At one point he was saying that IR isn’t on people’s radar and that it wasn’t something they raise when he talks to them: a concept that’s so laughable I don’t know where to start with it. Maybe he’s talking at them so much he doesn’t let them get a word in edgewise, I don’t know. If he did, they would certainly be talking about IR, like they are in every other electorate.

    Actually, come to think of it, I don’t think Alexander Downer talks about IR in his electorate newsletter either. Do any of the other Liberal candidates?

    Maybe it’s a deliberate strategy. “If we ignore it, maybe everyone will forget and it will magically go away…”

  25. [Actually, come to think of it, I don’t think Alexander Downer talks about IR in his electorate newsletter either. Do any of the other Liberal candidates?

    Maybe it’s a deliberate strategy. “If we ignore it, maybe everyone will forget and it will magically go away…”]

    Stuart Henry in Hasluck said very much the same thing re Community Forums etc and is running on local Hoons and Graffiti Vandals.

    Must be part of the Crosby/Textor Script to attack the states on local issues.

  26. Take away Trish Draper’s personal vote, and Labor should win Makin with a decent swing(5-6%?). I’m much more confident about Rudd gaining Makin, Wakefield and Kingston. Sturt could be a prospect, perhaps Boothby too, despite Ms Corne’s problems.

  27. I noted here the other day the Liberal candidate YouTubes which bang on about “hoons” and other local council issues, as if they are going to do anything about these issues from Canberra. It’s obviously a deliberate tactic fed to them by head office, and a typically dishonest one.

  28. Adam but isn’t it a tactic that will get largely lost in the big presidential campaign coming up (assuming it gets some traction before then).

  29. [He’s not, though. His campaign is all about state government issues; water, the local hospital and, ironically,]

    The local hospital! That would be the one that the previous Liberal state government tried to privatise! The Libs constantly had to re-negotiate contracts with HealthScope to poor in more public funds. Rann acheived big swings in the area by promising to put the hospital back into the public system.

  30. Howard Hater, as I said earlier based on 2004 results if you take away Draper’s personal vote, I suspect the seat would have been much safer Liberal territory. It still probably won’t stand the general state swing in 2007, but the retirement of Draper is not a bad thing for the Liberals.

  31. Kev – Draper is ADORED by all the oldies in the local nursing homes and the fundies. I’ve often wondered whether she would have won the past 2 elections if they had been taken out of the equation. I suspect not.

  32. Chinster that maybe so, but if you look at interstate seats with similar demographics to Makin, all had large swings to the government on the back of the interest rates campaign. Also the swing in Makin was the biggest ever against Draper, and the biggest in the state. I don’t doubt she has support in some communities but on the whole she definately copped a backlash at the last election.

  33. William, local member Julie Woodman was the candidate in 2001, fromer ANF President Gail Gago was the candidate in 1998.

    Not sure about your sources re other Sailsbury Councillors, I think that would have been a very unlikely preselection.

  34. Bob Day is a huge WorkChoices supporter (naturally), as is the organisation he was president of (Housing Industry Association).

    It will be hard for him in this seat given the animosity many feel towards the Coalition’s IR policies.

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