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. Presumably this RC will need sub-commissioners as well. The breadth and size would be too much for just one commissioner.

  2. 1998 – The Finnigans

    I reckon he would scrap it at the first opportunity. All in the name of cutting expenditure of course. ;-(

  3. BBS,

    In an inquiry like this the terms of reference will need to be broad.

    But two areas that might come up are Government run institutions like Orphanges and severely disabled childrens institutions like Kew Cottages and Janefield in Melbourne.

    There’s also the question of forced/arrranged marriages amongst immigrant groups, female genital mutilation and other “traditional” practices that are a dark underside to our successful multi cultural Australia.

    Everyone is saying this is all being done for the victims which would contradict your last paragraph. I doubt there will be anything but heartache, reminders of atrocities of the past and a lot of breast beating. However, we will see.

  4. seems to be unravelling up north at a rapid pace

    [OUTSPOKEN billionaire Clive Palmer has called in his lawyers after he was suspended from the LNP last Friday for his very public attack on the Deputy Premier and Treasurer.

    The party executive will consider his membership when it meets next week but Mr Palmer has claimed his suspension is invalid.

    He said it was against the party’s constitution to notify a member of their suspension after the event.
    “I had no notice, I still don’t know what it was about,” Mr Palmer said.

    “I lodged an official complaint about Treasurer Tim Nicholls at 3pm; and they suspended me about 5pm. Clearly they didn’t want to deal with my allegation about the Treasurer.”

    Mr Palmer said he would “see them in court”.

    “I’d welcome going to court and highlighting the incompetence of the people running the Newman Government,” he said.

  5. Reggie ‏@ReggieManFelice

    @mirandadevine if any1 is playing politics it would be Abbott, in 2003 the LNP govt rejected a #royalcommission now suddenly Abbotts all 4 1
    Retweeted by George Bludger

  6. [Scarpat
    Posted Monday, November 12, 2012 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    Did Abbott speak out before or after the PM spoke to Pell. That is the question we need an answer for.

    From memory, the Premiers of NSW and Victoria happen to be Liberals as well…]

    For the Royal Commission to work it had to have bi-partisan support. Gillard has got that, how she got it doesn’t matter. The fact that she has got it speaks volumes about her ability.

    The Victorian effort was also general; where is it focused? Where the action is? There was no need to take the political heat for singling out a particular church.

    Peter Fox must be one happy camper at the moment.

  7. my say, I don’t normally post, but I wanted to offer some (qualified) support. I honestly think that the winners out of this Royal Commission will be the true grassroots Catholics like yourself (and my saintly Mum).

    My experience of the Catholic church is a million miles removed from the way it’s generally depicted by outsiders. I’m a devout atheist now, but the Church was the most influential institution in my childhood, and that influence was an overwhelmingly positive one.

    However, there are clearly rotten corners in the Church, as there are in many large institutions, and the faithful should welcome any opportunity to shine a light on them. Failing to do so just comes across as defending the indefensible.

    I think this will ultimately result in a lot more focus on what the Church is really concerned with (and I mean the grassroots faithful here), and that is looking out for ways to help those that are most in need.

  8. [Greensborough Growler
    Posted Monday, November 12, 2012 at 8:28 pm | Permalink
    A general bleat

    The Victorian Royal Commission was also general but it ended up focusing where the action is. To be brutally blunt, there is only one institution that tries to force males to be eunuchs without removing their balls.

  9. Lynchpin,
    When I was at school I thought they wouldn’t have believed me. After I left, they would have felt they’d let me down had I told them. They took my youngest brother out so I suppose they must have suspected something. But they never said so.

  10. Peter Fox ‏@Peter_Fox59

    How valuable is freedom of the press. Big ty to so many jurnos. Big ty to abc. Without freedom of press we have no democracy

  11. @geeksrulz: Wonder if Julie Bishop ever recommended to CSR to split and set up shop in the US to avoid asbestos victims liability. #DevilsDust

  12. So, from what I can tell Gillard was pressured into agreeing to an RC by Hockey arguing it wasn’t necessary and Abbott being lukewarm about it. That sound about right?

  13. [Miranda Devine ‏@mirandadevine
    I hope the government is not so cynical as to use child abuse royal commission for base political purposes… but I wouldn’t bet on it ]

    [Andrew Elder ‏@awelder
    @mirandadevine No, but you are and so is your employer.]

    What a ghastly individual Miranda Devine is!

  14. From Wikipedia – just so we know where Miranda Divine is coming from.
    [A devout Roman Catholic, Devine completed her high school education at Loreto Kirribilli, a Catholic girls’ private school in Sydney.]

  15. BK:

    The RC hasn’t even begun yet Ms DEvine can’t resist playing politics with it.

    And while accusing the govt of doing exactly what she’s doing!

  16. [BBS,

    In an inquiry like this the terms of reference will need to be broad.]
    I agree G.G., it should include ALL Catholic churches in Australia and Australia’s territories.

  17. Royal Commission….a very good idea that goes beyond politics. JG should be congratulated for answering the calls of the powerless and the afflicted. Because this involves the misuse of privilege and the persecution of children, we should all insist on learning the truth. Ultimately, justice, reconciliation and peace all require that the truth be told. While there is no doubt this will involve a lot of pain for those involved, an inquiry is still far better than continued denial and concealment.

    When all is said and done, who else can intervene on behalf of the victims of violence if not the State itself? JG has shown once again that she has the courage to do what is right. She just continues to climb in my estimation.

  18. Laocoon@2024

    OK I am persuaded…a liberal dosing tomorrow on the spare cake

    I’ll report back (assuming I am coherent)

    Oh, It’s the spare cake, eh? So no-one will notice it missing! 👿

  19. [
    Is it true that the Bolt blog’s unique visitor numbers have been on a significant downward crunch over the last 3 months?]

    He hasn’t been bragging about his numbers so they are probably down.

    He doesn’t have a moderator lots of the time esp on weekends so that may have dropped his numbers.

  20. Showsy,

    It’s a bit broader than your prejudiced mind can cope.

    “Prime Minister Julia Gillard has made the call for a royal commission to uncover the truth into child sexual abuse but its scope will move beyond the Catholic church and target all institutions.

    The royal commission will cover all religious institutions, state-based organisations, schools and not-for-profit groups such as scouts and sporting clubs, and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has said he would support such a broad-based inquiry”.

  21. Briefly,

    [JG has shown once again that she has the courage to do what is right. She just continues to climb in my estimation.]

    What’s more, she’s – just – 51, so has a helluva lot more time in which to do a helluva lot more.

    We are a seriously lucky country. I can only hope that we have the sense to realise it.

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