South Australian election guide

My seat-by-seat guide to the March 20 South Australian election is open for business. If you’re a Crikey subscriber, you can read my general overview of the situation in today’s daily email, which I’ll republish here at a later time. In the meantime, enjoy the following charts showing the electoral progress of South Australia since it entered the modern world with the introduction of one-vote one-value in 1970, the first showing vote share and the second the proportion of seats one by each party (so where the red dips below the line in the middle Labor had a majority; where the blue rises above it, the Liberals had one). Note that I’ve lumped the Liberal Movement, a feature of the 1975 election, together with the Australian Democrats on the vote share chart, rightly or wrongly. I’m afraid I can’t for the life of me work out how to rearrange the seat share chart the way I want it in Excel, hence the lack of a title.



UPDATE (12/1/10)

I’ve calculated results for marginal electorates from the equivalent booths at the last two federal elections, to give some sense of where Labor over- and under-performed in 2006.

FED 2004 SA 2006 FED 2007
LIGHT (Wakefield) 44.0% 52.4% 51.6%
MAWSON (Kingston) 48.5% 53.1% 52.5%
NORWOOD (Adelaide/Sturt) 49.3% 53.5% 54.0%
NEWLAND (Makin/Sturt) 42.4% 55.1% 48.8%
HARTLEY (Sturt) 47.0% 54.8% 52.3%
MORIALTA (Sturt) 44.0% 57.4% 49.9%
BRIGHT (Boothby/Kingston) 43.7% 56.4% 46.7%
ADELAIDE (Adelaide) 49.5% 60.5% 55.3%

And here’s my piece in yesterday’s Crikey Daily Mail:

With one federal and three state elections in the offing, 2010 looms as the most event-packed year on the electoral front in recent history. As far as timing is concerned, the only wild card in the deck is the federal election. Kevin Rudd could use the emissions trading scheme trigger to call a double dissolution election at any time, although doing so in the first half of the year would commit the government to a highly problematic half-Senate election no later than mid-2012. Less troublesome would be a double dissolution later in the year, which would have to be held no later than October 16. A normal House of Representatives and half-Senate election could be held at any time from August 7, and could legally be delayed until as late as April 2011 next year – although it most assuredly won’t be.

Barring extraordinary circumstances, no such uncertainty surrounds the state elections. Victoria’s fixed term legislation sets the date for the last Saturday in November, which will be the 27th. South Australia likewise has a fixed election date of March 20. Tasmania does not have fixed terms, but Premier David Bartlett has announced the date well in advance – annoyingly also for March 20, setting up a repeat of the two states’ simultaneous elections in March 2006.

Today’s lesson concerns South Australia, for which I have just published my seat-by-seat election guide. Mike Rann’s rise to power after the February 2002 election completed Labor’s clean sweep of state and territory governments, which remained intact until the Carpenter government’s defeat in Western Australia in September 2008. The Rann government’s electoral fortunes since have followed a familiar pattern. It came to power as a minority government when conservative independent Peter Lewis made a shock post-election decision to throw his lot in with Labor, after saying during the campaign that any talk he might do so was “sleazy nonsense”. Faced by a fracturing opposition under the indecisive leadership of Rob Kerin, Rann brought home the bacon at the 2006 election, picking up a 7.7 per cent swing and winning six seats from the Liberals.

The trajectory of first-term minority government to landslide re-election had earlier been followed by Labor in Queensland (elected 1998, re-elected 2001) and Victoria (1999 and 2002), and was partly reflected by NSW Labor’s experience in winning a one-seat majority in 1995 followed by a resounding win in 1999. In each case Labor went on to win only slightly less emphatic third victories. While the polls suggest the Rann government will be re-elected (the most recent Newspoll gave it a 53-47 two-party lead), it seems unlikely it will do so in quite as fine style as Bob Carr in 2003, Peter Beattie in 2004 or Steve Bracks in 2006.

While poll respondents have strongly indicated they will not let the Michelle Chantelois allegations influence their vote, the issue is an electoral negative if only because the looming court cases threaten to distract Rann in the early part of the next term. The issue is also feeding into perceptions he will not see out the next term, taking some of the shine off his personal vote-pulling power. With no clear heir apparent in place, it also raises the prospect that ministers’ energies will be diverted into jockeying for the succession. Most importantly, Rann will not enjoy the electoral gift of a long-serving and increasingly unpopular Coalition government in Canberra.

The Liberals by contrast have stumbled almost by accident on a leader whose Newspoll approval rating for October-December was 51 per cent – the best result for a South Australian Opposition Leader in 17 years. As Antony Green demonstrates, voters don’t really get to know Opposition Leaders until an election campaign. If Isobel Redmond really is as saleable as her 33 per cent net positive rating makes her appear, and if she and her party can run a sufficiently tight ship, a lot of the 31 per cent who profess themselves undecided about her will break her way during the campaign – and many will jump on the Liberal bandwagon in doing so.

For all that, the odds remain stacked in Labor’s favour. It would take the loss of five seats to cost them their majority, and most likely six to cost them government given that one of the three cross-benchers is Labor-turned-Greens-turned-independent member Kris Hanna. In the context of South Australia’s compact 47-seat House of Assembly, that represents a considerable hurdle for the Liberals, who will need an overall swing of about 7 per cent.

The two pieces of low-hanging fruit are the seats of Light, based on Gawler just to the north of Adelaide, and Mawson, which consists of outer southern suburbs plus the McLaren Vale wine-growing area. Both are naturally conservative seats that are very likely to return to the fold.

Interestingly, the next four seats up the pendulum are the eastern suburbs neighbours of Norwood, Newland, Hartley and Morialta, which can brace themselves for some heavy duty pork-barrelling in the weeks to come. The 3.7 per cent margin in Norwood looks surmountable, but the seat recorded an unusually small swing to Labor in 2006 due to the popularity of the Liberal candidate, former Adelaide Crows star Nigel Smart. With a considerably lower profile entrant this time around, its natural margin would be at least 6 per cent.

Even more problematic is Newland (5.2 per cent), where the Liberals have scored an own goal by endorsing Trish Draper, the federal member for Makin from 1996 until her retirement in 2007. Draper continues to carry the baggage of an episode in 2004 when she was accompanied at taxpayers’ expense by her then boyfriend Derick Sands on a study trip to Europe. While she just managed to retain Makin at the 2004 election, she did so in the face of the biggest swing to Labor in the state – a woeful result for an electorate so heavily stacked with mortgage payers. Far from being forgotten, this episode made a return to the front pages last year, when Sands lost a defamation case he pursued against Channel Seven and the ABC over reports he had been identified as a suspect in a murder investigation.

In Hartley (5.6 per cent), the Liberals have made the less than inspiring decision to re-nominate Joe Scalzi, the long-term back-bencher who lost the seat to up-and-coming Labor member Grace Portolesi in 2006. Despite the relatively higher margin, the Liberals probably have more reason to be optimistic about Morialta (6.8 per cent), where incumbent Lindsay Simmons faces former Young Liberals president and Christopher Pyne staffer John Gardner. The only other seat with a margin that would normally be considered surmountable is Bright, located on the coast south of Glenelg around Brighton, where Labor member Chloe Fox has achieved an impressive electoral track record.

If the Liberals are to fall short in more than one of the seven aforementioned seats, they will need to make up for it with a freakish double-digit swing in Adelaide (10.5 per cent) or Florey (12.0 per cent). The government has been very mindful of the significance of the former seat in particular, making a number of contentious policy decisions relating to the city centre with a view to protecting its member, Jane Lomax-Smith.

Further up the pendulum are a number of Adelaide seats which normally lean moderately to Labor, where margins were engorged in 2006 by an Adelaide-wide swing of around 9 per cent. Even if the momentum the Liberals have been building in recent polling continues, they appear to be at considerable risk of achieving their biggest swings in these seats, where Labor can afford to take the hit.

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.

371 comments on “South Australian election guide”

Comments Page 7 of 8
1 6 7 8
  1. Got 2 things wrong….
    a. Fascism. I thought fascism was where the trains run on time. In NSW the trains now run on time under Labor – if only because they reducd the number of services and lengthened the period of the journeys – so I got a bit confused there equatting Labor and fascism.
    b. Looks. Yeah I agree Ron looks aren’t important, its what they do that is. But I was looking at it from Labor’s point of view and trying to be helpful with suggestions.

  2. NOT BLOGGING HERE after writ issues.

    I have made a personal decision not to post here after the writ issues, just in case I end up being charged with being a criminal.
    1. I don’t trust Rann’s statement that if he wins the election the law won’t be enforced.
    2. Even though the shadow A-G apparently suggested regulations could be instituted which would protect anonymous bloggers, until the anti-internet provisions could be changed after the election, and the A-G Atkinson has agreed to “use a section of the Electoral Act to immediately repeal the section”
    I can’t see how that can be done, after looking at the Act and the regulations. It seems to me both of them are wrong.

    SO until there is something in black and white I am not prepared to risk it.

  3. Atkinson never said he would repeal the laws immediately, he said he would ignore them, the only man in the state that considers himself above the law. Kind of expect that, under his SOCCA Legislation he becomes judge and jury………..what more can I say

  4. Chapman, my local member, was quick with her advice to Atkinson on how to resolve his dilemma, but stuck in the starting blocks when she purveyed the original legislation.

  5. That’s pretty much the point I’ve been making with my comments on this topic Toorak, but I’ve been gunned down by several people. I guess responsibility goes out the window when you can say the “nasty” government mislead us.

  6. Hear hear. It was deceitful. The entire parliament voted for the electoral laws with this but buried deep in there.

    Do you HONESTLY think that every MP would knowingly vote for this sort of thing? They were misled. The major parties I don’t expect anything less from, but do you expect the likes of Kris Hanna, Mark Parnell, and David Winderlich to knowingly support this?

    They voted for it out of ignorance. Atkinson voted for it out of intentional malice. Atkinson was also the one who introduced the legislation.

    It’s utterly disgraceful that you attempt to draw equal responsibility. A pox on both your houses.

  7. bob1234 I have not attempted to apportion responsibility in any metric fashion. You however accept no responsibility whatsoever for your party’s actions. That is the sad truth of the matter.

  8. [bob1234 I have not attempted to apportion responsibility in any metric fashion. You however accept no responsibility whatsoever for your party’s actions. That is the sad truth of the matter.]

    My party’s actions? I don’t have a party nor am I a member of one nor do I consistently vote for one, so please don’t refer to any party as “my party”.

    I do think it’s unfortunate that non-government MPs were deceived, and that the Liberals with all their lawyers and resources didn’t pick up on it. Yes all MPs voted for it as they were deceived, but it certainly does not warrant drawing any attention away from Atkinson who was the minister responsible, and implemented it knowing full well what the repercussions were.

    Your words are reprehensible.

  9. bob1234 you spout more Greens rhetoric on here than any other contributor and have made about 100 posts (probably more) citing the latest greens opinion poll voting percentage. I think that qualifies you as a Green enthusiast. To suggest otherwise is nonsense.

  10. [bob1234 you spout more Greens rhetoric on here than any other contributor and have made about 100 posts (probably more) citing the latest greens opinion poll voting percentage. I think that qualifies you as a Green enthusiast. To suggest otherwise is nonsense.]

    Not at all. I’m an enthusiast for electable socially progressive parties. I’d have done the same with the Democrats. Today it just happens to be the Greens. I like the idea of an electable socially progressive party keeping Labor on it’s toes.

    I pine for the days of Dunstan. He’d be turning in his grave if he saw the electoral freak of an abhorrent abomination modern Labor has turned in to. He was attacking Labor for it’s economic rationalism… he hadn’t seen anything yet at that point in time. The social conservatism in Labor is sickeningly pervasive.

  11. [A VICTORY for free speech, yes, but in South Australia’s internet censorship furore, the same can hardly be said for the normal conventions of cabinet government.

    If Attorney-General Mike Atkinson is taken at his word, these appear to have gone through the same mincer as his credibility.

    Atkinson says he alone decided the legislation cracking down on internet political comment should be repealed.

    Having reached that decision, he resolved that he would introduce the repeal bill in parliament after the March 20 election.

    Leaving aside the requirements that Labor first wins the election and Atkinson retains both his seat and his position, what happened to the cabinet process?

    Does cabinet no longer get a say when legislation it authorised – and passed through parliament with the support of the opposition – is to be repealed?

    Apparently not. Nor, it seems, does Premier Mike Rann. According to Atkinson, his decision to repeal (and go public with it) proceeded without any prior discussion with the leader. And Rann’s response to this cavalier disregard for the usual conventions?

    A Twitter posting saying: “A-G has listened. So no debate will be stifled.”]

    Get Atkinson out. Now.

  12. And I more or less have already said this:

    [Atkinson’s mea culpa contained various admissions that he doesn’t understand the blogging culture and the extent to which young people value its freedoms. Given that, it could be argued that he should be stripped of any role in promoting legislation dealing with the blogosphere, be it a repeal bill or anything else.]

  13. Here’s another reason to vote against Rann, they have approved the “Buckland Park” development site north of Adelaide.

    This will just be another Monarto or Multi-Function Polis. There are no jobs, no services, no transport. The land is flood prone. This land was way outside the urban growth boundary for Adelaide. Why? What is the point of having a plan if you throw it away every time a developer mate puts up a worthless block of land to develop? They have already approved heaps of new land for housing blocks in the Gawler corridor.

    Does anyone know if the Walker Corp. has donated money to Labor?

  14. I am less enthusiastic for the Buckland park development than the Gawler one – I do worry about public transport provision. The location has good road connections but is a little isolated. Not my cup of tea. The gawler one makes more sense with better facilities and public transport. Yes, the Walker Corporation have previously donated to state labor. But then a number of developers have.

  15. Diogenes
    [The Greens and Libs were misled by Labor about what this would cover. Holloway said one thing and then Atkinson did a completely different thing. ]
    Not just the Greens and Libs but all opposition MP’s. When the non-ALP pollies voted it was under advice that the legislation would be interpreted differently. Can’t blame opposition MP’s for ALP lies.

    PS “Atkinson, you don’t know my address and I think you are a total douche-bag, so take that!”.

  16. sykesie

    Agreed but in fact the road connections for Buckland Park aren’t that great either. The Northern Expressway project currently under construction will put a lot of traffic onto Port Wakefield Road. So they will be stuck at the end of the queue. As you say, at least Gawler has trains (now being electrified) and local jobs. Buckland Park is like another Seaford, but without the nice beach or any prospect of trains.

    This is quite a bit worse than other developer’s projects being approved, because at least they were within the Greater Adelaide boundary and consistent with state policy, even if Council’s had knocked them back. But Buckland Park seems to conflict with most of the relevant state policies, on sustainability, access and land use. Plus there is nothing there, so the taxpayer will probably cop the bill for building schools, trunk power, water etc.

  17. Socrates

    [Does anyone know if the Walker Corp. has donated money to Labor?]

    Yes they have. $25,000 a few years ago when they made the application.

  18. DIO -325

    If you want to know about donations, the first place you should visit is the democracy4sale website. May not give you the information (as I am not sure if it covers SA based – not federal based – donations).

    It has been in operation for numerous years. It is operated by Dr Norman Thompson of the Greens. A hell of a lot of hard work has gone into it.

    It is the Greens gift to the community – to provide the community with a one stop shop re donations, information the 2 major partys would prefer was buried away and too hard to find forr the average joe blow.

    There may be a SA version of democracy4sale –

  19. skysie

    [ “After backing down late last night to say the laws would not be put into effect, Mr Atkinson told reporters he would follow the advice of Opposition legal affairs spokeswoman Vickie Chapman and use a section of the Electoral Act to immediately repeal the section.” ]

    I am aware of all that. My wuestion is how he is going to repeal the law before the election. Having looked over the Act – I don’t think he can.

    Which then brings us to the point which Mark Aldridge makes:-
    [ Atkinson never said he would repeal the laws immediately, he said he would ignore them, the only man in the state that considers himself above the law. ]

    The A-G is not the only person who can bring a prosecution. Any one can. If the law remains in place any busy body can bring a prosecution immediately (I leave aside the ethical question for the A-G in failing in his duty to uphold the law by ignoring it).

    Therefore, I am not prepared to take the risk of posting whilstever the law remains on the books. You maybe, and thats your choice.

    I am not being party political. To me it seems both the A-G and the Shadow A-G have stuffed up big time. Pretty sad state of affairs.

  20. Oh nice to see the AdelaideNews published my comment:-
    I call on Premier Rann to give a guarantee that Atkinson will not be the Attorney General if Labor wins the election. Rann should make this commitment now. If he doesn’t give the guarantee immediately, believers in free speech should consider putting Labor last on their ballot papers.

  21. #328

    Since I posted, I came across this old article which included:-
    The Premier said Mr Atkinson had his full, unconditional support as Attorney-General and that “after the election, the caucus votes on who will be in cabinet”.
    As the parliamentary leader of the powerful Right faction, Mr Atkinson remains well protected by Senator Farrell, who wields enormous influence with the factionally unaligned Mr Rann.
    Senator Farrell said yesterday Mr Atkinson was “as safe as houses” despite the controversy.
    It was the latest in a series of embarrassing episodes involving him since Labor took power in South Australia in 2002. “Michael is viewed by most in the party as an asset rather than a liability,” Senator Farrell said. “He does have a propensity to occasionally make mistakes, but on balance he wins more than he loses.”

    Now of course I accept that caucus appoints the members of the ministry, however it is the Premier who decides which ministers appointed by caucus get which portfolios.

    My calls for a guarantee from Rann that Atkinson will not be appointed A-G does not interfere with the right of caucus to select the ministry. I am not calling for Atkinson to be kept out of the ministry. I am simply calling for a guarantee that Atkinson not be appointed A-G, should Labor win the election and should Atkinson be selected by cucus to serve as a Minister.

    Rann can appoint him any ministry he chooses, but a safe ministry would be something like the Arts or Parks & Gardens, areas where he could do little damage.

    However, the position of A-G is far too important a role, that goes to the very heart of governance in the state. Atkinson has demonstrated he is not up to the job of A-G, and indeed is potentially dangerous – an accident waiting to happen again…and again.
    For that reason I renew the calls that Rann guarantee Atkinson will not be A-G in the next Labor government.

  22. Actually the most remarkable thing about this poll is that both Rann and Redmond have 75% approval ratings – I wonder when the last opinion poll of any jurisdiction in Australia had a result like that?

  23. Approval includes both good and fair. Both leaders both overwhelmingly received fair.

    [52-48 2PP in favour of Labor.]

    From 57-43 in the previous poll…

    [How reliable is the poll conducted by AdelaideNews?]

    They sample 500, Newspoll samples 1000.

  24. skysie – #331

    [ You’ll get your answer on election day ]I

    I should have known that someone would provide a smart rrrrs comment like that.

    I was hoping that someone would provide an answer that added to the political debate, discussing the methodology, sample size, margin of error etc.

    However, your smart rss comment is wRONg.

    The election result will not prove whether this poll result was right or wrong. Why? The election result will only prove wht the support for the parties was on the day of the election.

    This poll is measuring a different thing…support for the parties on whatever dates it was conducted.

  25. For me this smell like WA, a Labor stuff up to start the election campaign…. a government based more on spin then actually doing anything

    The lead vanish after calling the election

  26. dovif

    I have told Rann what to do – namely guarantee that Atkinson will not be A-G if Labor wins. It will take some of the heat off regarding the internet censorship.

    He stubbornly refuses to do so – apparently because Don Randall is calling the shots.
    The power to claw back support lies in Rann’s hands.

  27. Dovif – I really don’t think so. WA Labor in my opinion deserved to go because they hadn’t vanished the ghost of Brian Burke from the influence in their state branch and more importantly their ministers. It was only the antics of the liberal leaders in WA that stopped it from being a whitewash in my opinion. You can say what you like about Atkinson and a few other incidents, but I think its not controversial to say the Rann government has been relatively crisis free. To compare it to WA labor is to draw a pretty long bow.

  28. The last Tiser poll figures didn’t even add up so these polls lack credibility and I’m not talking about a rounding error.

    The approval ratings only use good, fair, poor and fair is counted as “approve” so they also lack credibility.

    Rann losing to Redmond on trustworthiness is somewhat predictable given recent events.

  29. skysie – #340

    [ You mean Don Farrell ]

    You are absolutely correct. My apologies. Replace Randall with Farrell in post #338.

  30. Advertiser polls have a good track record over many years. This particular poll will be sending shivers up the spines of Labor MPs in many seats. The election is on a knife edge.

  31. [He stubbornly refuses to do so – apparently because Don Randall is calling the shots.
    The power to claw back support lies in Rann’s hands.]

    Don Farrell IS the SA Labor Party. Rann is his puppet. This is undeniable truth.

  32. Eh… Randall, Farrell, they’re both the same kind of creature. Both deserve to be defeated by enemies of Labor’s factional system. Carn Alannah.

  33. [The election is on a knife edge.]

    Not really. If there’s one thing that’s been consistent through any poll, it’s that the Liberal primary vote continues to flatline.,_2010#Polling

    The Libs need to get their primary vote up to above 40% according to Antony Green – the Libs cannot rely on preferences like Labor can. This is not happening. The movement away from Labor is not transferring to the Libs.

  34. [Eh… Randall, Farrell, they’re both the same kind of creature. Both deserve to be defeated by enemies of Labor’s factional system.]

    Except for the fact that one’s Liberal and the other’s Labor…

  35. [It will certainly be interesting to see how Lady Invisible handles the blowtorch of an election campaign.]

    I think you’re in for disappointment. She’ll do a small-target Howard-style win-from-opposition election campaign.

  36. When anyone mentions the name Randall, I immediately think of Bob Randall, a rather nasty piece of work with some very unfortunate views on various social issues who has previously worked for Nick Minchin. The one time liberal MP for Henley is now a candidate for Family First in the LC at this election.

Comments are closed.

Comments Page 7 of 8
1 6 7 8