Seat of the week: Boothby

Last held by Labor in 1949, the southern Adelaide suburbs seat of Boothby has been trending in the party’s direction since the early Howard years.

UPDATE (12/11/12): Essential Research has Labor gaining ground for the second week in a row to attain their best position since March last year. They now trail 52-48, down from 53-47, from primary votes of 37% for Labor (steady), 45% for the Coalition (down one) and 9% for the Greens (steady). Also featured are monthly personal approval ratings, which last time had both leaders up in the immediate aftermath of Julia Gillard’s sexism and misogyny speech. Whereas Gillard has maintained her gains, her approval steady at 41% approval and disapproval down two to 49%, Tony Abbott has fallen to his worst net result ever, his approval down four to 33% and disapproval up four to a new low of 58%. Gillard’s lead as preferred prime minister is up from 43-36 to 45-32, her best result since February 2011. Also canvassed are options on how the government might rein in the budget, with reducing or means testing the baby bonus and increasing tax for those on high incomes respectively coming on top.

The southern Adelaide electorate of Boothby covers coastal suburbs from Brighton south to Marino, extending inland to edge of the coastal plain at Myrtle Bank and the hills at Belair, Eden Hills, Bellevue Heights and Flagstaff Hill. The seat’s Liberal lean is softened by the area around the defunct Tonsley Park Mitsubishi plant, the only part of the electorate with below average incomes and above average ethnic diversity. The redistribution has shaved the Liberal margin from 0.8% to 0.3% by adding about 10,000 in Aberfolye Park from Mayo in the south, and removing 4000 voters at Myrtlebank to Sturt and 1500 at Edwardstown to Hindmarsh.

Boothby was created when South Australia was first divided into electorates in 1903, at which time it was landlocked and extended north into the eastern suburbs. Its coastal areas were acquired when the neighbouring electorate of Hawker was abolished in 1993. Labor held the seat for the first eight years of its existence, and remained competitive until the Menzies government was elected in 1949. This began a long-term trend to the Liberals which peaked in the 1970s, when margins were consistently in double digits. Former Premier and Liberal Movement figurehead Steele Hall held the seat from 1981 until he was succeeded by Andrew Southcott in 1996.

A positive swing in the difficult 2004 election had Labor hopeful of going one better in 2007, inspiring Right powerbrokers to recruit what they imagined to be a star candidate in Nicole Cornes, a minor Adelaide celebrity and wife of local football legend Graham Cornes. However, Cornes only managed a 2.4% swing against a statewide result of 6.8% after a series of disastrous campaign performances. Labor again had high hopes at the 2010 election, seeing in the seat a potential gain to balance anticipated losses in Queensland and New South Wales. However, while the Labor swing of 2.2% outperformed a statewide result of 0.8%, perhaps reflecting a suppressed vote in 2007, it fell 0.8% short of what was required.

Andrew Southcott came to the seat at the age of 26 after winning preselection at the expense of fellow moderate Robert Hill, the faction’s leading light in the Senate. Tony Wright of the Sydney Morning Herald wrote that the Right had built up strength in local branches with a view to unseating its hated rival Steele Hall, and when denied by his retirement turned its guns on Hill as a “surrogate”. Unlike Hill, who went on to become government leader in the Senate, Southcott has led an unremarkable parliamentary career, finally winning promotion after the 2007 election defeat to the Shadow Minister for Employment Participation, Apprenticeships and Training. However, he was demoted to parliamentary secretary when Tony Abbott became leader in December 2009, after backing Malcolm Turnbull in the leadership vote.

Southcott’s preselection for the coming election was challenged by former state party president Chris Moriarty, following disquiet in the party over his fundraising record. However, Moriarty was only able to manage 35 votes in the February 2012 party ballot against 195 for Southcott, support for his challenge reportedly evaporating as the Kevin Rudd leadership challenge came to a head. Southcott will again face his Labor opponent from 2010, Annabel Digance, a former nurse and SA Water Board member factionally aligned with the Right.

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.

2,169 comments on “Seat of the week: Boothby”

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  1. [ministers of religion (with the exception of disclosures made in the confessional)]
    There shouldn’t be an exemption for the confessional. That is just idiocy.

  2. Newspoll 51-49 2PP LNP PV LNP 43, ALP 36 Greens 10 PPM: Gillard 46, Abbott 32 – i will take that as BISONian, no prob at all

  3. Bushfire Bill@2113

    Very moving and scary program on asbestos.

    Most of us – whether we realise it or not – live under the threat of that devil’s dust.

    Who hasn’t renovated involving fibro? Or a thousand and one other things that rotten stuff was in?

    They say it takes up to 50 years in some cases.

    Yes, my father, brother and I were certainly exposed when I was in high school.
    A cousin worked at Hardies and when dad was going to put in a path, my cousin kindly supplied all this asbestos cement powder which we shovelled and transported by wheel barrow and used as a base for the path with a relatively thin layer of concrete on top.
    Probably other minor exposures as well as fibro was everywere and dad used a bit for various handyman tasks from time to time.
    Am I worried?
    Not particularly. Dad died from other causes and no signs of problems with either me or my brother.
    We were probably lucky.

  4. well i see the catholic bashing is still going on

    you know who your are,

    give a rest will you, it doesnt realy seem very educated

    to talk about one institution alone,

    no wonder state aid is an issue will that be next

    some people are addicted to finding fault wth the catholic

    church and chrstians as a whole

    but i bet all of you celebrate christmas

  5. shellbell@2120

    From another perspective the analysis of the effectiveness of recovered memory techniques would be useful as this informs a number of complaints made against accuseds.

    As I understand it, victims who have received such treatment do not have their complaints pursued by prosecuting authorities.

    I happen to know a bloke who went to gaol as a result of such ‘recovered memory’ allegations by female relative. Not a single relative believed any of it but no matter, off to gaol he went, and he and his wife were financially ruined.

    Such allegations need to be treated with great care.

  6. [but i bet all of you celebrate christmas]

    I have always understood that the most important event of the Christian year is Easter.

    But then, I’m just a little ignorant non-Catholic, aren’t I?

  7. My Say,
    It is not to do with Christmas. Christmas will be better for everybody with the paedophiles out of the church. And it is not just the CC, or any church, or just Christians. Just focus on the good which will come out of this. This is like the moneychangers being tossed out of the Temple. Only this time it is the people who abuse children.

  8. my say@2156

    well i see the catholic bashing is still going on

    you know who your are,

    give a rest will you, it doesnt realy seem very educated

    to talk about one institution alone,

    no wonder state aid is an issue will that be next

    some people are addicted to finding fault wth the catholic

    church and chrstians as a whole

    but i bet all of you celebrate christmas

    Please give specific examples of ‘Catholic bashing’ or if you can’t then please stop your whingeing.

  9. [my say
    Posted Monday, November 12, 2012 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

    but i bet all of you celebrate christmas]

    My say what has happened is indefensible. Lay Catholics should be encouraging the exposure of this evil.

  10. [2085

    …….one of the benefits that accrues with incumbency is that people begin to identify the characteristics of the individual as being “primeministerial”, that this was starting with Gillard, and that this was very bad news for Abbott]

    I agree. I think it is fairly understandable that people want to identify with and show loyalty for their leaders, whoever they might turn out to be. This is a more or less involuntary behaviour.

    In JG’s case, several things have happened that have freed up popular willingness to affiliate with her as “Leader”, though there was widespread refusal to accept her in this way until relatively recently. Partly, this has occurred just with the passage of time, with increasing familiarity and as the challenge from Rudd petered out. The stable performance of the economy and the sense of composure in the Government have also indubitably helped.

    But beyond this, my thesis is the public have also now seen her as a “real person” – as more than a political construct. The shift in sentiment followed the death of her father when Jones and the Liberals breached one of the few remaining taboos in our culture by mocking the whole notion of filial pride, loyalty, love and grief.

    The public identified with a woman-in-mourning and, in so doing, looked right past her political office. They saw, felt for and responded to a person feeling all the things they themselves feel and know. They then had the experience of seeing her in astonishing form in Parliament. She showed she was anything but demoralized. Rather she was highly energized, impassioned, indignant, acute and utterly authentic. She is becoming an “everywoman” and therefore signifies virtues that both invoke loyalty and are beyond politics at the same time.

    There is such as a thing as “feeling one’s heart go out” for another. I have experienced this occasionally in my life. It is quite palpable and involuntary. I expect this happens very rarely to politicians while they are in office. But I think something like this has happened between JG and many Australians. To take this even further, they feel “for” or “with” JG the person, not just “about” JG the politician. The whole popular vocabulary used to describe and relate to JG has changed in the last few months. As a consequence, she will not now be measured and defined purely by political theatrics and polemics.

    (By contrast, JG’s opponents are now mere game-players – just fakes, posers, hucksters and grizzling wannabes. They have specialized in fermenting and peddling contempt and now they must repeatedly swill their own noisome brew. Kanpai, I say, Kanpai!)

  11. FFS Lateline. Manages to get all the negative angles for the govt on the RC announcement it can. ‘Pressure’ on the government, then an interview with one priest who says the terms are too broad, and then this Brennan clown saying it’s a government ‘on the ropes’. Absolutely incredible.

    “No Heat,No Light No sign of any relief “>>>>>>>
    This article from :Counterpounch” looks at the real suffering of many people in parts of the USA where after 10 days there is no power and no sight of any real relief for Hurricane victims…and where there is a growing sense of alarm at the effects of climate change

  13. Cardinal Pedll and his statements on Climate Change
    If you want to condemn Pell read his stupid anti-climate change rhetoric.
    He is a shockling reactionary..even the Pope isn’t as bad on this matter

  14. Watching Lateline late.

    Gobsmacked that Brennan would offer, as I suppose he means that, a defence of abusers.

    That, released from the church, they would offend against their own children.

    Meaning what?

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