Seat of the week: Adelaide

Kate Ellis’s electorate of Adelaide is a one-time Labor stronghold which has generally been marginal since the late 1980s, although she has enjoyed a handy buffer in the wake of Labor’s strong statewide performances in 2007 and 2010.

The electorate of Adelaide has existed without fundamental change since South Australia was first divided into electorates in 1903, currently stretching from the city centre to the Labor strongholds of Prospect, Enfield and Brompton to the north and an electorally mixed bag of areas to the east and south. There are sources of Liberal strength in Walkerville to the north-east of the city, Toorak Gardens to the west and Malvern to the south. The areas south of the city include Unley, home to the high school which Julia Gillard attended.

Labor first won Adelaide in 1908, and it was usually held by them from then until 1988. It was lost in that year at a by-election caused by the resignation of Chris Hurford, falling to Liberal candidate Mike Pratt with an 8.4% swing. Labor recovered the seat at the 1990 election, but an unfavourable redistribution together with a swing fuelled by hostility to the state government delivered it to Liberal candidate Trish Worth in 1993. Worth’s margin never rose above 3.5% in her 11 years as member, and she survived by just 343 votes in 2001. Labor finally toppled her in 2004 when inner-city seats across the land bucked the national shift to the Coalition, a decisive 1.9% swing delivering Adelaide to Labor’s 27-year-old candidate, Kate Ellis.

In keeping with statewide trends, Adelaide swung solidly to Labor in 2007, by 7.2%, and recorded little change in 2010, swinging 0.8% to the Liberals. The latest redistribution has added 1600 voters in Vale Park to bring the electorate into line with a municipal boundary, which has garnished the Labor margin from 7.7% to 7.5%. The area covered by the electorate swung resoundingly to the Liberals at the 2010 state election, with Education Minister Jane Lomax-Smith losing the Adelaide electorate with a swing of 14.8%, and the eight neighbouring electorates (all of which are partly within the federal electorate) swinging by between 8.5% and 14.3%.

Kate Ellis is associated with the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association, the mainstay of the “Catholic Right”, and its powerful state figurehead, Senator Don Farrell. After serving her apprenticeship as an adviser to state Industry Minister Rory McEwen and Treasurer Kevin Foley, Ellis won preselection following a three-way factional deal that secured Hindmarsh for Steve Georganas of the “soft Left” and Makin for Dana Wortley of the “hard Left” (who nevertheless lost the preselection to Tony Zappia, but was compensated with a Senate seat).

Her elevation to the position of Youth and Sport Minister after the 2007 election victory made her Labor’s youngest ever minister, at the age of 30 – the previous record holder being Paul Keating at 31. After the 2010 election she was reassigned to employment participation, childcare and the status of women. In common with the rest of her faction, Ellis emerged as a strong supporter of Julia Gillard’s leadership. Shortly before Kevin Rudd’s challenge in February 2012, she told Adelaide radio that Rudd had approached her and other SDA figures at a hotel to ask how they could reconcile their “conservative brand of Catholicism” with “a childless, atheist ex-communist as Labor leader”.

The preselected Liberal candidate for the next election is Carmen Garcia, director of Multicultural Youth SA and a daughter of Filipino migrants.

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.

2,009 comments on “Seat of the week: Adelaide”

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  1. It certainly could. However, my strategy is to cover seats where preselections have been completed, to limit the amount of rewriting I have to do when I republish them in my election guide – and to the best of my knowledge, Labor have preselected very few candidates for Coalition-held seats. Otherwise this entry would have been Boothby rather than Adelaide (it being South Australia’s “turn”).

  2. [Ellis emerged as a strong supporter of Julia Gillard’s leadership. Shortly before Kevin Rudd’s challenge in February 2012, she told Adelaide radio that Rudd had approached her and other SDA figures at a hotel to ask how they could reconcile their “conservative brand of Catholicism” with “a childless, atheist ex-communist as Labor leader”.]

    William, Thanks for reminding me of that in your intro.

  3. This latest rudd thing has already blown over

    People are accepting Gillard and if it is status quo come election time

    Labor is likely to retain government with a majority

  4. Pardon my pedantry, but I would call Brompton in the “west” of the electorate, not north.

    It is most definitely included as west when one is talking about the western suburbs of Adelaide city.

  5. BTW, does anyone know whether Ellis actually is Catholic?

    I got the impression she wasn’t. Like many young people in Labor Unity these days, it is about political power bases, not ideology. That is how Farrell got rolled on the floor of State Convention on gay marriage.

    In the old days, that never would have happened.

  6. If the opinion polls are suppose to be a guide

    then the opinion polls should be conducted to meet reality more

    Questions like if an election was held now who would you vote for

    should not be counted , it is an hypothetical question which will never happen, because there is no election now.

    If the opinion polls want to have an idea in reality

    questions should be put , if there was an election within 6 months who would you vote for

  7. or
    Opinion polls should ask if there was an election within 1 year who would you vote for.

    Those questions would give more idea of what the intentions are and give a bit of indication of the trends

  8. The coalition is shooting itself in the foot, they believe the opinion polls saying they would win government if an election was held now.

  9. Brompton is part of the area known as the Western suburbs. It is not in the Northern suburbs, even if the GPS tells you different.

  10. Hartcher…

    [But whether McKew succeeds in challenging the official history of Labor’s regicide or not, it’s largely an argument conducted inside the Labor Party and among those in the front-row seats of politics.

    The rest of Australia saw what happened and acted accordingly. That’s why Labor lost its majority at the last election. That’s why, despite the Labor establishment’s best effort at destroying Rudd’s reputation, his standing as preferred Labor leader has only risen.

    The end of this story, one way or another, will be written by the voters of Australia.


    So why does Hartcher – in particular – keep writing about it?

  11. Morning all

    I believe this Article from Hartcher dated Nov 2010 was linked yesterday. In light of his reportage on McKew’s assertions, it is worth reposting today. Also relevant because of Richo’s comments on Sky yesterday

    [It had been a long time since Graham Richardson had schemed to bring down a prime minister of his own party. But 19 years after helping Paul Keating depose Bob Hawke, he came out of hitman retirement this year to get Kevin Rudd.
    In the third week of June, the week before Rudd fell, Richardson rang one of the infamous faceless men, the factional convener of Labor’s Victorian Right faction, David Feeney.
    The Rudd government and Labor were doing badly: “And what the f— are you doing about it?” Richardson demanded to know.]

    Read more:

  12. Mtbw

    Looks lke your concern about me possibily defaming NcClelland was unfounded. Mckew has confirmed that he was her main source. I am not shocked i tell you!

  13. ABC 24 had a replay of the NSW 7:30 report on earlier.

    Quentin Dempster hasn’t changed!

    Opening line to Labor’s Luke Foley re’ the proposed new casino:

    [‘So when Karl Bitar, Mark Abib and James Packer walk into the room you just assume the position?”]


  14. Dennis Atkins has confirmed in the Courier Mail this morning that Julia Gillard only decided to challenge 24 hours before the meeting with Rudd and in fact had said no to any challenge several times before that.

    Another journo confirming that McKew is talking crap.

    Who would have thought it !

  15. Puff,

    You and Danny are right. It’s definitely Western.

    However, as a onetime resident of Ridleyton (virtually a sub-branch of Brompton) I can tell you it is pretty close to the borders. The bus route from the city comes via North Adelaide. It is a pretty easy cross walk to Prospect.

    But culturally, it is western. Croydon is the key suburb and Arndale the prime shopping centre.

    When I joined the CES, they said they’d assign me close to home if possible. I was hoping for Croydon or even Mile end, but got Enfield in the North. Later, it was Salisbury (misery) and Elizabeth (very harmonious).

  16. Good morning, Bludgers (and especially Fiona, who apparently needs cheering up;-))!

    The sun is up.

    The birds are singing.

    Labor is still in government.

    Julia Gillard is still Prime Minister.

    Tony Abbott is still Prime Misogynist.

    Wayne Swan will always be the World’s Greatest Treasurer.

    Anthony Albanese will always be the World’s Greatest Infrastructure Minister.

    The polling trend is moving the right way.

    All is right with the world.

  17. Mtbw

    I said this


    One of the unnamed sources is another sourpuss McClelland. Seriously he and Rudd should just retire at next election

    I should have said I suspect one of the unnamed sources is….

    You said this

    Posted Friday, October 26, 2012 at 9:08 am | PERMALINK
    One of the unnamed sources is another sourpuss McClelland.

    Really? You knoe that how?

    You said this

    Posted Friday, October 26, 2012 at 9:12 am | PERMALINK
    I hope William can’t be done for defamation.

  18. An interesting but depressing story about the consequences of the Greek financial crisis on medical care in Greece. This is the sort if reason why I feel corrupt politicians and bankers (here and there) deserve long jail terms – their crimes have consequences for others.
    [Life in Greece has been turned on its head since the debt crisis took hold. But in few areas has the change been more striking than in healthcare. Until recently, Greece had a typical European health system, with employers and individuals contributing to a fund that, with government assistance, financed universal care. People who lost their jobs still received unlimited benefits.

    That changed in July 2011, when Greece signed a loan agreement with international lenders to ward off financial collapse. Now, as stipulated in the deal, Greeks who lose their jobs receive benefits for a maximum of a year. After that, if they are unable to foot the bill, they are on their own, paying all costs out of pocket.]

    The examples in the story of cancer patients not receiving drugs are quite moving.

  19. [Dennis Atkins has confirmed in the Courier Mail this morning that Julia Gillard only decided to challenge 24 hours before the meeting with Rudd and in fact had said no to any challenge several times before that.

    Another journo confirming that McKew is talking crap.]

    Odd that Hartcher, who knows better, has changed his tune so much. Good on Atkins.
    But I suppose people will believe what they want to believe. :sigh:

  20. I gather from comments, mtb must be references ing that book.

    I think putting parts of it here.Is put parts Here advertising, well i want be,
    We do nt have that hard copy publucatio here any way.

    Imop we should noteven discuss it butif its all available i n a newspaper
    Why buy the. Book im puzzled

  21. As well Atkins finishes his article with the following,

    “… not covered in McKew’s book is one of the big unanswered questions who leaked the damaging claims against Gillard that almost destroyed her election bid in July 2010?
    Perhaps that was a little too close to the Rudd camp for McKew to go near.

    Who would have thought it !

    But then that cannot be right, can it ? Everything NcKew writes is correct and everything anyone else says to the contrary is wrong !

  22. lizzie

    Hartcher’s piece from 2010 directly contradicts what he is reporting from McKew now. Richo basically reiterated on Sky yesterday what was reported back then as well. The fact that McKew’s source is McClelland is telling. He has been busy all year whiteanting the PM. What a rat

  23. Socratas.

    My. Oh and i wherediscussing. This last night i had heard about it months

    And hockey moanes about that 5000/3000
    I would willingly give to greece to spend on these patients.
    Aust, should get their thoughts in gear and grow up

  24. Good Morning Bludgers! 🙂
    Nice to see the McKew/Rudd/McClelland camp receiving the blow-back over the Political Trench Mouth book by Maxine, as opposed to her intended targets. 🙂

    Btw, have a look at the photo that goes with the Laurie Oakes article. Do you think the photo editor chose it with the idea in mind of allowing us to put a virtual hamburger in Joe’s hands? 😀

  25. victoria

    From some people’s comments about McKew’s statements I had begun to doubt my own memory (a little), so I’m really glad to read the old sources again and confirm that I had read the situation correctly.

    It’s difficult to believe that McKew has actually written her whole book without talking to anyone on Gillard’s “side”. That can’t make for a balanced view. Maybe she should have taken lessons from Mark Scott 😮 .

  26. You know one does wonder. Why many people shut doors behi d themselves
    When. Some adveristy is given us its our life path to try and make it a positive,
    That’s puts us on a high plane and. Gives. Peace a d healing.

    Off to. Little. A. S

  27. lizzie

    Mckew’s main source was McClelland and someone else unnamed. Easy to guess who that might have been. She has done her credibility no favours

  28. victoria

    Books take a long time to write and months to get published. I wonder how much effect Rudd’s last challenge and defeat had on McKew’s thinking. I shall read it, but from a library copy. 🙁

  29. victoria,
    I am now of the view that Rudd would lose any challenge by an even larger margin than last time.

    Deservedly so. Albo won’t be voting for him, if there ever is a next time.

  30. Atkins also writes that Albo did speak to Rudd in the weeks leading up to his removal but any “warning’ was just letting Rudd know there was general dis content within caucus and nothing specific re Julia Gillard.

    As well, Faulkner has been opposed to the use of polling by officials to stir up “trouble” for at least a decade and this is what he, Faulkner as referring to. Not any supposed use of polling by Gillard.

    In fact Faulkner has refused to even talk about the events of the evening and the meeting.

    Who would have thought it !

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