Port Adelaide and Ramsay by-elections: February 11

Nominations closed today for South Australia’s Port Adelaide and Ramsay by-elections (UPDATE: Apologies – Antony Green points out nominations for Ramsay are in fact open for another week), which will be held on February 11 to fill the respective vacancies of Deputy Premier Kevin Foley and Premier Mike Rann. The Liberals are not fielding candidates in either seat. It doesn’t say much for the Libs’ confidence if they won’t back themselves in Port Adelaide, where the margin of 12.8 per cent is half what the Liberals were getting in by-elections in NSW and even in the ballpark of the Victorian Liberals’ 12.3 per cent swing in Altona. Sitting out Ramsay is a lot more understandable, as the margin there is 18.0 per cent.

Port Adelaide appears the more interesting of the two constests by virtue of the candidacy of Port Adelaide-Enfield mayor Gary Johanson, who according to a poll published by The Advertiser today has 23 per cent support compared with 48 per cent for the Labor candidate, 14 per cent for a LDP that clearly stands to gain from homeless or just confused Liberals, and 9 per cent for Sue Lawrie (the sample was a small 475 and the margin of error a high 4.5 per cent; a larger sample poll in September which included the Liberals as an option had Labor leading 55-45 on two-party preferred). Port Adelaide has attracted a hefty nine candidates, who are in ballot paper order:

Sue Lawrie (Independent): The Liberal candidate from 2010.

Colin Thomas (Independent Ban Live Animal Exports): Beneficiary of SA’s law allowing indepenents five words to explain themselves on the ballot paper.

Bob Briton (Independent Communist Australia): Un-independent communism no longer being enough of a concern to achieve registration.

Elizabeth Pistor (Democratic Labor Party).

Grant Carlin (One Nation).

Susan Close (Labor). Department for Environment and Natural Resources executive and Left faction convenor.

Justin McArthur (Greens).

Gary Johanson (Independent): See above.

Stephen Humble (Liberal Democratic Party).

Ramsay has attracted only four candidates, with not only Liberal but also the Greens declining to enter the fray (UPDATE: As noted above, nominations hadn’t closed when I wrote this – but they have now, on January 26, so the following list is complete and in ballot paper order).

Mark Aldridge (Independent Voice of the Community): You can learn more about him in this post’s comments thread.

Ruth Beach (Greens).

Trevor Grace (Independent Trevor Grace Save the Unborn): Anti-abortion, would be my guess.

Zoe Bettison (Labor): Former state director for Labor’s public affairs firm (some prefer “spin doctors”) of choice Hawker Britton. Antony Green relates she has also been party secretary in the Northern Territory and a ministerial adviser in the NT government, government relations manager at Great Southern Rail, and that she got her start with the Right faction Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association.

Chris Walsh (One Nation).

Mark Lena (Free Australia).

Christopher Steele (Liberal Democrats).

More detail available from Antony Green.

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.

30 comments on “Port Adelaide and Ramsay by-elections: February 11”

  1. Not even a Green in Ramsay? Between the SDA Right, One Nation, ex-One Nation, and Mr “I hate speed cameras”, there are no left-wing candidates on the ballot. I’d tip a huge informal vote and low turnout rate, Labor vote probably somewhere north of 70%. This’ll be boring. (Is the SA Electoral Commission trying to balance the by-election boundaries for fairness, after having such an interesting one in Frome?)

    Also, where’s Family First? They’re the main minor right-wing party in SA, so in the absence of the Libs they could’ve turned it into a Catholic vs the speaking-in-tongues-folk contest, and gotten at least 30% of the vote. If you think that sounds stupid, the CDP (WA’s main god-bothering party) got over 20% in the Armadale by-election last year, coming second well ahead of the Greens on 13%. This would’ve been a good opportunity for FF.

  2. I assume at least part of the reason the Liberals are sitting out Port Adelaide is tactical, to give the Independent a clear run.

    Plus the margin of 12.3% is off the back of a massive 13.4% Liberal swing last time, so I don’t know how much more it can swing even at a by-election.

    Pretty clear what sort of seat Ramsay is if neither the Libs nor the Greens can be bothered.

  3. I don’t live in the electorates and can’t comment on local sentiment, but I have been struck by how little interest there has been expressed in these by-elections. Both have hardly rated a mention in Adelaide media in recent days. Considering there are two seats up for grabs, and the government only has a two seat majority, I would have expected more attention.

    I presume both sides have internal polling that shows the seats will be retained by Labor. If there was any chance of a change, you would think the Libs would chase these a lot harder.

  4. Socrates, the Tiser letters pages have been seething with criticism of Mike Rann’s retirement package. Certainly the usual suspects have been trying to whip up an issue.

    Most interesting feature of the Tiser poll is that 53% percent of women but only 42% of men support Labor candidate Sue Close in Port Adelaide.

    Close’s main threat, local mayor Gary Johanson (independent but a a former Liberal), is floundering somewhat because a lot of stupid Liberal voters are backing the Liberal Democratic Party (which the Tiser describes as “a hardline libertarian party that demands abolition of government welfare, as well as the minimum wage, seatbelts and bike helmets. It backs legalisation of marijuana and increased freedom to access pornography”). Another independent, last time Liberal candidate Sue Lawrie, also is leaching votes from Johanson.

  5. I know this blog is a bit of a Labor love-in so I post on something actually happening in my home town with some trepidation, but there is more excitement out there than is apparent in Adelaide’s Murdoch Media.

    There is no doubt the Liberal Democratic Party are going to do well off the back of the fact there is no real Liberal candidate so the so-called stupid Liberal voters may well vote for them, but my suspicion is that the Independent Liberal calling herself True Blue Voice (how quaint) will gain more support when she actually starts to campaign and word leaks out she is the ‘real’ Liberal.

    Also, the Democratic Labor Party standing will mean some similarly stupid Labor voters will vote for them (happened at the last two elections in SA) where the younger and ethnic voters can be easily confused, but I doubt they will do anywhere near as well.

    My guess is as the campaign drags on and the non-Labor candidates do some more campaigning that the percentages of the non-Labor candidate will change a lot from what was published today.

    Also, Family First have a policy of not running at By-Elections, for reasons I don’t know, can someone ask them?

    In SA there are compulsory preferencing unless a candidate lodges a voting ticket in which case that ‘ticket’ which most candidates lodge with the electoral commission is then followed for the (very few) voters who just put ‘1’. However, candidates or anyone else cannot advocate doing this…weird.

    I am assuming the ALP primary will suffer a small setback but they will get over the line on Green prefs etc without too much trouble.

    I will be first for a final primary vote call:

    Close: 47% Johanson 22% Ind Lib 12% Lib Dem 9% DLP 4% Grn 3% The other 3: 1% ea


  6. Port Adelaide by-election should be interesting. Being a by-election, Johanson has a very decent chance.

    Despite PA being within an optimistic, yet feasible 2PP swing to switch hands, I think the Liberals’ choice to sit out the by-election is a sound strategy. They know, by splitting the primary vote, they risk getting into second place and possibly giving Labor a 2PP win, whereas if they stay out and throw their endorsement behind Johanson, they know that he will get into second and there will be a strong possibility of him drawing enough preferences to get over the line from the other candidates. Also, the Liberals know that, if they win this seat, they will lose it again in 2014, whereas an independent could retain the seat, an independent who is sympathetic to their ideology and who may support them if there is a hung parliament – a problem the Liberal Party has currently with several seats which traditionally favour them.

    As for Ramsay, until the nominations close, I won’t comment too much on the field. But, being the safest Labor seat in the state, it would be hard to imagine it being anything but a Labor win. With the current announced field of candidates, the ALP should win it on primaries alone. I think, despite being harder to win, the Liberals should’ve definitely fielded a candidate here, just to demonstrate they are doing something. As was previously mentioned, this makes them seem like they lack any confidence. It would also help with narrowing the ALPs vote as the ALP is the only really strongly recognisible label in that list so far. I would think that, with the Liberals not competing, the Greens and Family First would both be rushing into this race to compete for the bragging rights of making it to the final 2CP count. Oh well.

    Prediction: Labor to retain both. In Port Adelaide, somewhat narrowly in the 2CP vote and in Ramsay, rather easily but, despite the lack of strong opposing candidates (so far), with a swing against them.

    In the aftermath, every side will brag about being the winner. (Aldridge’s head will inflate to the size of the Sun if anybody votes for him) and Liberals will claim that, had they nominated candidates, they would’ve taken the seats. But bragging’s really all by-elections are good for when one side has a comfortable enough majority in parliament.

    As for how Weatherill will be after it, if either or both seats fall, it will be an embarrassing slap in the face for his government but, judging by their actions recently, they’re probably confident of winning both and really just want to get them out of the way, so they may look to the future.

  7. [As for how Weatherill will be after it, if either or both seats fall, it will be an embarrassing slap in the face for his government but, judging by their actions recently, they’re probably confident of winning both and really just want to get them out of the way, so they may look to the future.]

    Oops, that reads more optimistic than I had intended. What I meant by that was the government have not gone out of their way to present themselves as fresh and full of new ideas and thus deserving of a second chance, in time for the by-elections and thus they’re somewhat confident of local gravity getting their candidates over the line. Weatherill’s attitude is just to get it over with and pray it’s not too painful and hopefully keeps the status quo, seat number-wise.

  8. [Nominations for Port Adelaide may have closed but nominations for Ramsay don’t close until Friday 27 January.]

    Whoops. Corrections added. So presumably we will still get a Greens candidate in Ramsay yet.

  9. Hmm, interesting to hear from ALP mate this arvo that Greens’ odd strategy of lumping seat with lacklustre candidate is to help ALP candidate who is also formerly involved in groups such as Greenpeace, Wilderness Society and Conservation Council.

    The Ban Live Exports candidate is a former Greens member who is also, by coincidence, a vegan like the ALP candidate. Also lives in the same suburb.

    Maybe not such a coincidence after the ALP was caught on Tuesday by Gary Johansen ringing around in the Port area trying to find a stooge candidate. Maybe they succeeded. Whether it will help or not is another matter.

  10. Never dismiss all the candidates, at such an early stage in the campaign, with the Aldridge name well known in the area and a true grass roots campaign starting this Monday, and a genuine local, with just a little experience hmmmmm…on the ground I will give Labor a run, so lets wee what the electorate do when given a choice 🙂

  11. These two by-elections are clearly going to be won by the Labor party. Gary Johansson’s candidature makes the Port Adelaide by-election slightly more interesting, but I think the choice of a female candidate in Port Adelaide is a politically astute move. It enables a very clear break from the previous member Kevin Foley whose brash style had long since worn thin. This is a government who had a bit of an image problem with the antics of Kevin Foley and the Chantelois saga didn’t do much for Rann in the eyes of female voters. The advent of the even-tempered and more charming approach of Jay Weatherill is also a good antidote to Rann and Foley (who I think the comrades should show a little more respect towards incidentally).

    A good independent labor candidate (possibly like Rod Sawford) may have been able to do some damage in Port Adelaide, but the Liberal-lite Gary Johannson is not such a candidate. The Liberal vote will just split across Lawrie, Johannson, and Humble. I expect Susan Close to win with a very similar margin to Kevin Foley at the 2010 election (or possibly slightly better). She may even win on primaries.

    I think the Advertiser opinion poll plus the other evidence we have should help to convince people like Mumble that SA labor is NOT going the way of NSW or (probably) QLD labor. As William points out, its hardly encouraging that the Libs aren’t even running a candidate in Port Adelaide. As most people in SA know, Isobel isn’t going to be the leader in 2014. Scandal-wise SA Labor is really in the D-grade compared to NSW and QLD.

    As for Ramsay, it’s so dull that it isn’t worth worrying about (sorry Mark).

  12. sykesie

    The anger is no longer there in the electorate with Rann and Foley gone. We’re back to our usual apathy. Two easy wins for Labor.

  13. If i was in Ramsay area i would defintley be voting for Mark Aldridge he knows what he is talking about .he wants to hear what the people want not what the government wants which is a good thing.Pity more pollys ain’t like Mark we could do with some descent one’s Good luck Mark.

  14. No Need for a sorry mate, SA is a 2 party state, 2 party preferred politics, 2 party preferred electoral system and 2 party media, The Media will back Labor with all their polls, with the exception of Crikey and maybe Indaily, in the absence of the Liberals, they will to some degree remain silent, and as we can clearly see with the ADV dodgy polls that include the option of the Liberals in the port, division and diversion are on the table.

    After well over a decade in the game more so as a lobbiest (not much chance as an upper house come senate candidate I would expect to have the ability to ensure 1 million voters know I exist) I seriously doubt Labor would want to go head to head with me, I would know their own crappy legislation better than them.

    I will match them on the ground, vote one posters, polling booth staff ect, and also wiill have all the local shopping centres covered for the next few weeks, I am well known, my Mother is well received as Salisbury’s mayor, and my father is very well known in the community as am I.

    I have stood up holding some of the states largest rallies on topics of interest, have several Today Tonight exposes on local issues, and my actions in the courts including CODR and therefore information relating to past dodgy election practices by Labor have them worried, should the media slip up and cover me live, let alone the live debates we will be promoting through the Alliance, so nothing is set in concrete.

    The only boring thing about this by election will be the media coverage, well any of substance.

    Let the Games begin 🙂

  15. Mark the game is just starting mate and your right the media is nearly as crupted as labor and liberal.Bring in the independence and throw out labor and liberal .Vote 1 for Mark Aldridge in Ramsay and vote 1 for Gary Johansson in Port Adelaide

  16. Independently Thinking, I don’t know the Greens candidate for Port Adelaide, but his CV doesn’t sound “lackluster” to me. One might not run an 18 year old for a seat a party expected to win, but I’m excited at the idea that someone who is doing things well ahead of schedule might learn a lot as the candidate this time, and prove major long term asset to the party.

    By-elections in seats where we got 6% last time are a great chance for the Greens to build the party and develop for the long term. Running a young, enthusiastic and apparently very intelligent candidate seems like a great idea to me.

  17. The Advertiser Poll for the Port Adelaide by election, has the Liberals winning, yet they are not running, the last poll was based on which gender people preferred as a candidate, they never conduct a poll that asks which candidate would you prefer that lists them all……over the past few years who would you prefer, was followed by Labor or Liberal in the main, which empowers the two party system, seems they dare not mention any opposition, and all this with out knowing if the results are even genuine.

    Over the years they never have included Independent as a choice in polls until now, so they included Liberal, how bizzare

  18. My expertise for what it is worth is electoral conduct, as dodgy practices have become the norm, so after this election, I will continue to lobby for reform, the last state election in SA was the dodgiest in out countries history, with some where around 100,000 missing names and ballot papers, not the worst issue either, so 10% plus is always up in the air 🙁

  19. Mark – I think you have misinterpreted the Advertiser poll from Friday 20th Jan. This poll clearly shows the Labor party in front (probably by a similar margin to the last election). No Liberal candidate is mentioned (as there isn’t one) – just the Liberal Democratic Party. Historically, all Advertiser polls breakdown the voting patterns into male and female – so nothing new there. The difficulty with the seat-based polls outside of the election cycle is the candidates are generally not preselected which makes it difficult to measure independents and the like. “Others” can be chosen, however.

    I am sure your name will be a choice when they do their Ramsay opinion poll which I would expect the week after next.

  20. Candidates for Ramsay in ballot paper order:

    ALDRIDGE, Mark (Independent Voice of the Community)
    BEACH, Ruth Susan (The Greens)
    GRACE, Trevor (Independent Trevor Grace Save the Unborn)
    BETTISON, Zoe (Australian Labor Party)
    WALSH, Chris (One Nation)
    LENA, Mark (F.R.E.E. Australia Party)
    STEELE, Christopher (Liberal Democrats)

  21. Ahh, so there is a Green now. In that case I’ll guess about 65% ALP, 15% Green, 15% LDP, 5% for the other bug-eyed crazies.

    Here’s the results some of the dross got in the SA upper house in 2010:

    One Nation: 0.52%
    FREE Australia: 0.39%
    Trevor Grace: 0.28%
    Mark Aldridge: 0.13%

    Also, Christopher Steele was the LDP candidate in Adelaide last federal election, and came last with 0.8%.

    Another measure of the quality of minor candidates is their websites. Trevor Grace’s is more offensive than anything else, Aldridge’s is very poorly designed, but nothing comes close to the eye-watering crime against HTML that is One Nation SA’s website. I’m not linking it, but have a look if you dare. It’s spectacularly shithouse.

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