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. And from the Land of the Free –

    The unhingeing continues.
    Also from the mental giants of “Fox and Friends”.
    Some cartoons.

    Lawrence O’Donnell’s Last Word segment on the Repug reaction to their loss.

  2. I am one happy voter who has been hived off the electorate of Mayo,and added to Boothby. I helped on the Mary Brewerton campaign against Downer in the heady days of 2007 but was less enthusiatic in 2010 (which I now regret)
    Now with the federal political scene as it is!, I fully intend to be pounding the pavements for Annabel Digence hoping that we can help bring in one more seat for Julia Gillard and the Labor party

  3. Morning thought-bubble:

    1) A two-party system can work fine.
    2) A two-reality system will lead to bad government.

    I sincerely hope that conservative politicians and their supporters in Australia will take note of what just happened to their ideological brethren in the USA.

    I’m not referring to respectable conservatives who base their policies and public statements on reality.

    I’m talking about the head-in-sand denialists, the women-haters, the religious freaks and wingnuts…the ones who insist our public debt is crippling when we are one of the last economies left in the entire world with a AAA credit rating…the ones who insist we have “lost control” of our borders when our immigration woes aren’t even a pimple on the bum of what the USA, UK or Italy routinely deal with…the ones who will die in a ditch to ensure that Gina and Clive and Twiggy can rake in the entire mining boom without any public benefit resulting…they need a dose of reality.

    …the reason that conservative fantasists lost isn’t because the US electorate rejected their fantasies (a lot of the US electorate believe the plum-crazy shit that head-in-sand conservatives say)…it’s because they were trying to win a Presidency and a whole lot of Senate and House races based on those fantasies.

    A two-party or multi-party system, is a fine thing…but can we please get back to a one-reality system?

    For the sake of good government, we desperately need the head-in-sand conservative fantasists, paranoiacs and doom-sayers to STFU.

  4. Fiscal Cliff Fiscal Cliff Fiscal Cliff Fiscal Cliff Fiscal Cliff Fiscal Cliff Fiscal Cliff – Con Con Con Con Con Con Con Con Con Con

  5. Finns

    Yes, but a con President Obama seems to be using to get the Repugs to accept the need for tax increases. So for once a con I do not mind if it works.

  6. G, by con, i meanz the right wing #MSM trying to use that to scare people & thump Obama.

    The best thing Obama can do is to let Bush Tax Cut to quietly expire on 1 Jan 2013. And then turn to the Repugs: “Are you talkin’ to me”

  7. Finns

    Yes I get what you meant. I like that the fear generated is now backfiring on the Repugs as Obama uses that fear to pressure the Repugs into tax increases. If he succeeds he breaks Grover Norquists hold of no new taxes pledge on the Repugs.

  8. Oh… OK… that’s alright, then…

    [THE nation’s most powerful Catholic, George Pell, has revealed he is deeply ashamed at the child sex abuse committed within the church, but denied there was sufficient evidence to justify a royal commission into these assaults. ]

  9. Good morning, Bludgers. Good morning, Dawn Patrol.

    A couple of interesting articles @ HuffPost:

    From GOP’s Whackjob Conspiracy Theorists Central … ffs, “What part of The fault … is in ourselves … that we are underlings do you Repugs not understand?” Conservatives Struggle To Explain How Mitt Romney Lost 2012 Presidential Election Unbelievable!

    And, (bless all odd-ball squints :lol:) a fascinating, good-humoured, Scientific American article on (drum roll) Belly Button Bacteria: Biologists Seek Reason For Navel Flora Differences As informative as it is LOL!

  10. [Ever since a BBC current affairs program broadcast allegations by a former resident at the care home, speculation has been rife online as to the identity of the perpetrator … Steve Meesham, who made the allegations, says after seeing a photo of Lord McAlpine, he realises he had made a mistake and offered his apologies to him and his family.]

    How can the BBC bring the story to a head (days, even weeks of investigation) when the matter could have been dismissed simply by showing the victim a photograph of the alleged perpetrator?

  11. Can any of the RC advocates articulate a case for such an inquiry and what they honestly expect to achieve. Pay particular attention to monumental successes like the AWB and the various ICAC like commissions which have produced “bugger all” over many, many years.

    Is it really just a flight of whimsy by those who believe that catching hold of the latest passing fad is actually providing a long term solution?

  12. GG

    Your claims of failures is BS. Legal process is legal process. Not trial by media. The longer there is no RC the longer the stench over the Catholic Church will linger.

    The questions are already out there. Failing a RC investigation it will be trial by media. Lets avoid trial by media and the inevitable witch hunt that entails.

  13. Tom Hawkins

    In that piece in the NYT, a Repub who is rehearsing Romney for the debates “really gets into the role”.

    How? By asking his questions in the accent/style of a pretty uneducated southern black American.

    Showing the racial based contempt they feel for Obama.

  14. Guytaur,

    And you think a couple of hundred $mill of lawyers at 10 paces will do that?

    Everyone will lawyer up to protect the wicked and innocent from revelations of what is already known. Sensational revelations of what is already known will be revealed once again, A report will be written where sensational revelations of what is already known will be revealed. It will gain a bit of passing notoriety and then will gather dust for ever more like most of the previous RC reports until some journoalsit reveals what is already known again.

  15. GG

    Yeah the inquiries in the US and Ireland have been such abysmal failures.

    Are you worried you will come up for investigation? Why such opposition to a proper legal inquiry?
    Instead you prefer trial by media where the innocent and good can be falsely accused with bad consequences. See Tom’s example of what happens when it is trial by media with Lord McAlpine.

  16. Tom: that sounds awfully like the prossie who was paid for her “story” on Craig Thomson, only to then see the bloke and admit she might have got it wrong.

    On the Royal Commission: that so many people connected with the church are insisting it’s not needed tells me how worried they are about what will be found.

    We need a Royal Commission into why all these people don’t want a Royal Commission 😉

  17. “@CraigEmersonMP: Abbott tells Lisa Wilkinson “we did get taxes down, we did get productivity up.” False. Productivity slumped. Highest taxing govt in history”

  18. Good Morning Bludgers Nancy Sinatra Style! 🙂

    Thumper, your feets are made for walking, and that’s just what they’ll do… One of these days your feets are going to walk all over the political grave of Dr Andrew Southcott! 😀

  19. ROFLMAO @ GG

    The Leveson Inquiry report has not even been handed down yet. It has already helped to reveal that Murdoch Jr is not a fit and proper person to hold a television license.

  20. Is there some way a Commission of Inquiry can be set up with a panel of learned individuals, a la the Houston Inquiry, with a Judge, a Representative of the Catholic Church who is above reproach, and a Victim’s Representative from Broken Rites, who will do a thorough and thoughtful investigation into Priest/Child Abuse, without fear or favour or fireworks?

  21. Danny

    [Tom: that sounds awfully like the prossie who was paid for her “story” on Craig Thomson, only to then see the bloke and admit she might have got it wrong.]

    The difference between the two stories is that one was prosecuted by ACA (or was it TT?) whilst the UK story was prosecuted by the BBC. What a hammering the BBC’s once impeccable reputation has taken in recent days with this (false?) story and the apparent cover-up for years of the Savile child abuse.

  22. guytaur,

    It’s you that is basically advocating trial by media, comrade. Because, that is exactly what a RC will become. A massive circus, all funded by the public for your entertainment. You’ll definately find out what you already know, some airy platitudes will be waved around as certitudes, no one living will be convicted of anything and people will just get on with their lives.

  23. [The longer there is no RC the longer the stench over the Catholic Church will linger]

    No, exactly the opposite.

    The longer the delay in a royal commission that would expose the breadth and depth of the filth in the church the easier it is for the church to deny there is a problem.

    You only need to look a the reactions from our leaders and the church last time there was a call for a RC during the Hollingsworth/ Howard era.

    Then the responses were
    it is only a small proportion
    we must remember all the good the church has done
    most of these offences were committed a long time ago
    most of the perpetrators are now dead
    things were different back in those days.

    Every delay into a full and proper investigation is a win for the church.

    it means
    more victims have died, usually at their own hands
    more challenges to the memories of those that are left due to the time elapsed
    more guilty have died or fled
    more evidence has been “lost”

    But don’t look for a Royal Commission being called.

    The Catholic Church is the most powerful and influential organisation in Australia, it is largest employer and accounts for over 10% of GDP at around $130 billion a year.

    No-one takes it on, you can take on the media companies, the mining companies but not the church.

    many speak of the religous craziness of the USA, but they have their house in order and act on the separation of church and state.

    In the USA they take them on, hit them where it hurts and bankrupt the filth, getting billions in compensation for the victims and proper justice.

    here we know the place of the church and our place in the universe like good little souls we are.

  24. GG

    No you are totally wrong. A Royal Commission will prevent Trial by Media. No Royal Commission able to get answers and the media will take over until such a commission is forced. It will not go away.

  25. <blockquote@mashable: Nate Silver Gets All Kinds of NSFW [VIDEO]

    GLORIOUS!!! Ta, Guytaur. Nate Silver was the US Electoral Cycle 2012 voice of sanity among FoxLot TeaParty crazies and gutless I’m covering my arsk in case … pundits’ weasel words …

    Oh, and the ghost of an aged US female professor from a top uni (who’d also served in senior roles in national & international peak bodies) who, c1988-9, almost bored a planning conf/ workshop to death with endless lectures on demographics. Demographics, she insisted, were successful planning’s Alpha and Omega – and she extended that to rigorous mapping & constant updating of every part of and factor in the environment of the organisation for which we were planning. Endlessly, for 4 long days.

    On the long road home (from Canberra) her often rambling & repetitive lectures shook themselves into sense, then conversion & dogma, then into study booklets and accompanying volumes of readings, and students’ research projects.

    I can’t recall her name or which fine US uni; but I wouldn’t mind betting she/ those she taught, lurk somewhere in the backgrounds of key members of Obama’s re-election campaign’s planners and strategists. For this old Planning/Strat-management/ TQM/ WBP Tragic, US Election12, as it played out, was a dream ride on a magic carpet!

    Hard to believe GOP members, who studied management at top US Unis, didn’t “Do the demographics”!

    BTW, can’t recall which Bludger gave me the heads-up on Nate Silver (?BK), but thanks a zillion for it and to all Bludgers for all the links, esp to Blogs etc I wouldn’t have otherwise found.

  26. As the counting of votes in Washington State staggers on (due to the delay in receipt of postal votes postmarked up to and including Election Day) the popular vote majority for Barrack Obama passes the 3 million mark.

    This cuts the ground from under the conservative commentators (on Fox and even some on CNN) who on election night were rabbiting on about how, even though the socialist Obama had a majority of Electoral College votes he had NO mandate because he had lost/”only scraped in” the popular vote. Didn’t these highly-paid commentators realise that the Pacific Coast votes had to be counted and folded into the total and that the Pacific Coast States sort of vote Democratic (or Liberal or Socialist, or other pejorative word)?

  27. [Is there some way a Commission of Inquiry can be set up with a panel of learned individuals, a la the Houston Inquiry, with a Judge, a Representative of the Catholic Church who is above reproach …]

    The church rep I’d like to see on such a panel is Father Bob Maguire. Pell is the only other church rep with a national profile but Pell is thoroughly tainted. Father Bob was forced to retire (effectively the church gave him the flick despite him being 7 years younger than the current Pope) which would cancel him out as a church rep.

  28. Guytaur,

    I bet Rupert can hardly wait for the final Leveson Report to come out.

    All that free publicity, he’s shifted his focus further from dying newspapers and now he’s making more squillions.

  29. GG: How on earth can you know that no-one living will be convicted of anything?

    Priests are charged with sex offences all the time. STILL. Even though this matter has been in the public spotlight for years. They are still doing it. They are still getting caught. And, sometimes (depending on the circumstances) the church is still trying to cover it up.

    You may be right in that some of the very old cases will never be tried. But what will happen is that a fecking great big spotlight will be shone on the church LEADERSHIP and on their manifest failure in their duty of pastoral care.

    Just that – the public acknowledgement that people’s voices were ignored, that the fault lay with the church and not the victims – will be enough to make many, many people sleep better at night.

    In fact, dealing with this thoroughly and openly is actually the ONLY way many people will be able to “just get on with their lives”.

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