Seat of the week: Makin

Labor enjoyed blowout majorities in traditionally marginal Adelaide seats at the 2010 election, but the Liberals are expressing optimism that what went up might be about to come down.

The north-eastern Adelaide seat of Makin extends from Pooraka near the city to Tea Tree Gully and Greenwith at the limits of the metropolitan area. Labor is especially strong in the areas nearer the city, from Walkley Heights north to Salibsury East, beyond which are generally newer suburbs with more mortgage payers and families, who have helped keep the Liberals competitive or better for most of the seat’s history. The redistribution has added around 6000 voters from Port Adelaide in the west, including a newly developed Liberal-leaning area around the University of South Australia campus at Mawson Lakes along with strongly Labor Salisbury further north. The combined effect has been to shave the Labor margin from 12.2% to 11.8%.

Makin is one of three seats which went from being Liberal seats in the final term of the Howard government to Labor seats with double-digit margins after the 2010 election, together with Kingston in the south of the city and Wakefield in its outer north. It was created with the expansion of parliament in 1984 from an area that had mostly formed the southern end of safe Labor Bonython, the majority of which was in turn absorbed by Wakefield when it was abolished in 2004. Makin was held for Labor by uncomfortable margins from 1984 to 1996 by Peter Duncan, a former Attorney-General in Don Dunstan’s state government. A 4.8% swing put Duncan on the Keating government casualty list in 1996, and he returned to the headlines in 2007 after being charged with fraudulently obtaining government grants for his plastics recycling company.

Duncan’s Liberal successor was former nurse Trish Draper, who emerged as a prime ministerial favourite after strong performances at the next two elections. The swing against Draper at the 1998 election was just 0.2% compared with a statewide swing to Labor of 4.2%, and in 2001 she bettered her 1996 margin after picking up a swing of 3.0%. Draper went on to hit serious trouble in the lead-up to the 2004 election when it emerged she had taken a boyfriend on a study trip to Europe at taxpayers’ expense, in breach of rules limiting the benefit to spouses. She nonetheless survived by 0.9% at the 2004 election, despite suffering a swing which was not reflected in neighbouring seats. Draper retired at the 2007 election citing an illness in the family, before unsuccessfully attempting a comeback in the state seat of Newland at the March 2010 election.

Tony Zappia won Makin for Labor on his second attempt in 2007, and handsomely increased his margin to 12.2% in 2010. He had been the mayor of Salisbury since 1997, a councillor for many years beforehand, and at one time a weightlifting champion. Zappia was widely reckoned to have been victim of his own factional non-alignment when the Right’s Julie Woodman defeated him for preselection in 2001, and a repeat performance appeared on the cards when a factional deal ahead of the 2004 election reserved the seat for Dana Wortley of the “hard Left”. The arrangement displeased local branches as well as party hard-heads concerned that a crucial marginal seat should be contested by the most appealing candidate, and Premier Mike Rann prevailed upon Wortley’s backers to throw their weight behind Zappia.

The move appeared a dead end for Zappia in the short term, as he was unable to win the seat in 2004 whereas Wortley was elected from the Senate position she was offered as consolation. However, he performed considerably better with the electoral breeze at his back in 2007, demolishing the 0.9% Liberal margin with a swing of 8.6%. This was achieved in the face of a high-impact publicity campaign by Liberal candidate Bob Day, housing tycoon and national president of the Housing Industry Association who has since run for election with Family First.

The once non-aligned Zappia is now a member of the Left, and is believed to have backed Kevin Rudd during his February 2012 leadership challenge. His Liberal opponent is Sue Lawrie, who has variously run flower sales businesses and worked on the staff of various Liberal MPs. Lawrie has run several times at state level, most recently as an independent Liberal at the Port Adelaide by-election of February 2012.

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.

1,401 comments on “Seat of the week: Makin”

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  1. Will be hard for us to gain, but you never know. Lyons, Franklin and Chifley are all on 60+ 2PPs, and are said to be in contention, so why not?

  2. Matty, unless we’ve all missed some reason why Adelaidians are as anti-Labor as Tasmanians (owing to a massively unpopular Labor Government in that State) or Western Sydney, Makin is unlikely to go anywhere.

  3. Good morning Dawn Patrollers.
    It’s slim pickings Sunday so not much to link.

    Oh the COURAGE of the man!
    Yes, these Liberal voting small business types are all class!
    So much for the push back.

  4. This is GOLD. Abbott is obviously sick of being given the rounds of the kitchen by Lisa Wilkinson.

    He can’t handle breakfast TV. ROFL. Yeah I really want this guy to go into bat to negotiate for our national interests against the US, China, Liechtenstein…

  5. BK,

    What teams are involved? I really think Clare, Lundy, the ACC and co are feeling the heat over this. If they are so evil then who cares about their privacy? It’s outrageous that every single sports man and woman should be regarded as cheats.

    A question – Who is more corrupt, the ALP or the AFL?

  6. Jackol (from last page of last major topic)

    [Of course politicians should keep commitments they make if they can, ]

    and if the commitments are not contrary to equity and/or good sense upon close examination.

    In the event Tony Abbott were to win this year, and had a series of epiphanies in which he realised that

    a) paying parental leave to people at their salary of up to $150K was very poor policy
    b) “direct action” on climate change was ineffective and decided to keep the basic structure of carbon pricing while amending it to eliminate inefficient subsidies to industry and buttressing the development of renewables (thus casting aside his “blood oath” to repeal
    c) rewrote MRRT to ensure a more robust way of catching windfall resource profits
    d) xenophobia was contrary to Australia’s best nterests and repudiated his earlier views, abandoned his “turn back the boats” mantra and “picked up the phone” to advise the governments of PNG and Nauru that henceforth Australia would be taking an appropriate share of asylum seekers and leading an international effort to deal with displaced people with humanity and equity
    e) decided that the NBN was actually an excellent infrastructure initiative and committed to fully funding it
    f) surplus fetishism was stupid and abandoned it in favour of an approach to fiscal policy that met the needs of the community
    g) realised that raising defence spending in real terms was poor policy, as was buying joint strike fighters and submarines and scrapped these ideas in favour of a scaled down defence department with a much more modest set of commitments to civil defence, and a coast guard
    h) committed to the basic Gonski reforms and moved Commonwealth funding out of wealthy private schoools in favour of non-wealthy public schools

    These would all be very serious breaches of his commitments, but I’d welcome them with very considerable relief. His popularity on the right would plummet, but you wouldn’t hear me crying “lie” or complaining.

    Abandoning unwise commitments in favour of reasonable ones is by far the less reprehensible course for a politician to take.

  7. Oh … and I’d also like him to abandon his commitment to “traditional marriage”. Again, if he did that and instead supported same sex marriage, but as stunned as I’d be, I’d also be delighted and I would be giving him very considerable plaudits.

  8. South Australia has really swung to Labor in the past 3 cycles. If you look Kingston, Mankin, Adelaide on the post election pendulum you would not put too much hope in winning them. However they should still be considered marginal since they have been liberal in the past and include a large middle of the road swing population. Labor’s two party preferred in Melbourne Ports is 6 points less then in Kingston yet no one actually expects the Labor party to win it because it has been won by the Labor party for the past 100 years. We simply assume that they have a larger rusted on labor vote. It was the same with the electorate of Brisbane, during the last election it had a 4 point margin but no one expected it to fall to the LNP because they had last won it in 1975. Unless there is proof that these electorates have seen a large scale demographic swift it is in danger. We can assume that it is easier convincing someone to vote for you again then it is getting them to change there vote for the first time.

  9. I think no one in the ALP should be throwing stones. What a joke! O’Farrell should mimic Clare/Lundy and hold a press conference and solemnly announce that many ALP figures are being investigated about corruption but will not name names ala Clare/Lundy.

    Imagine the squeals!

  10. For them #Ruddstoration Pussycats – OK, KRudd “look at moi” in love with himself, then leaked against himself & now it appears he also stabbed himself as PM. Sad really

  11. BK

    [You have just perfectly described parasitic behaviour]

    Yes … it would be seen as political cheating and opportunism. It’s hard to imagine how anyone could undergo such a sea-change in good faith.

    Still, in the end, public benefit trumps ethical consistency IMO.

  12. Rupert tabloids have Ladies Day today. Julie Bishop, Peta Credlin and Margy all trotted out in the ongoing effort to soften Tony Abbott’s image.

    Looking over the Daily TelaLie campaign edition today, we have a lengthy puff piece on Julie Bishop, including an endorsement of her by Kevin Rudd, more Kevin Rudd being upset by his potty mouthed outtake video being leaked, and a set of instructions to Liberal MPs and staffers from Peta Credlin.

    But hubris must be avoided …….

    [Coalition insiders are deeply concerned that a media stumble by Mr Abbott remains one of the greatest threats to him ruining what many believe to be an unloseable election.

    Paranoia has reached such heights that at a briefing of Coalition chiefs of staff in Canberra this week, Mr Abbott’s chief of staff Peta Credlin told staff to stay off Twitter and watch out for waiters with recording devices, citing the covert recording of US Presidential candidate Mitt Romeny at a fundraiser.

    And for something quiet alarming, check this Margy photo and caption out.

  13. The Daily TelaLie campaign edition gets even more wacky

    We now have Miranda Devine spruiking Kevin Rudd!

    [@mirandadevine: Well hello, Kevin! RT @sundayteleed: @KRuddMP exclusive column in today’s Sunday Tele. It will surprise you #auspol

  14. Fran, in a way, spells out Abbott’s campaign.

    I don’tknow whether she really does think Abbott might break the promises she lists. Probably not.

    But there are a bunch of punters out there, maybe just a few, but ENOUGH, who think he might.

    The thing about Abbott is that, like all clever con men, he ACTS shifty. It’s like he’s challenging the mugs to figure out the scam.

    Abbott spruiks so many policy contradictions and ambiguities that enough suckers (he only needs a couple of per cent of them) think they’ve worked him out and they think they can outsmart him. These punters think they can use Abbott to get rid of Labor but keep Labor’s goodies like the NBN, tax cuts, family benefits and so on.

    I’m starting to hear this a lot lately: “Abbott won’t kill the NBN. He’s not that crazy. He’s just saying that to sound tough.” Same goes for a lot of policy areas.

    They use the figures not adding up to prove it to themselves he has no intention of cutting very much at all.

    Come in spinner.

  15. BK:

    [The Repugs are just so forward thinking!]

    Ordinarily, I’d not have thought so, but if they succeed in forcing even a temporary closure of the meat industry in the US, I will give them credit.

    Sure, that might not have been their intent, but in the end, a good thing remains a good thing even if it is the result of perverse conduct.

  16. The PM looks to be in friendly territory. This from NZ’s equivalent of the OO. As in nationally distributed.

    [Prime Ministers make a perfect picture

    The trip that Julia Gillard’s partner Tim Mathieson took to Arrowtown 12 years ago with a couple of mates was so memorable that he took her back there yesterday……….It was a picture-book walkabout in a picture-perfect town. Even the local Harley Davidson chapter were welcoming, and offered Key a go on one of their machines
    ….The ceremony was watched by a couple of hundred people, and both Prime Ministers were warmly welcomed and applauded when they drove away]

  17. BB

    [I don’tknow whether she really does think Abbott might break the promises she lists. Probably not.]

    Certainly, I don’t see him affirming gay marriage or about facing on asylum seekers or defence spending. He might well deep six the “blood oath” on carbon pricing since that would be quite hard to get done against a hostile senate and would be extremely costly. Ditto the NBN. He could plead that he needed to win in 2016 and by then he may well have been rolled/defeated at the election. MRRT might be in the same category — especially if commodity prices rise sharply.

    PPL might become ‘aspirational’. Fiscal surplus fetishism is likely to remain for cultural reasons and because to abandon it would create an obvious opportunity for an political atomic wedgie.

  18. Speaking about last night’s topic re lies, I make one point:

    The only known and deliberate lies told in the 2010 election were from the Coalition telling Australians that their costings had been properly audited (proven untrue) and that their promises were fully funded (also proven untrue).

    They lie, they cheat, and they mislead at every opportunity.

  19. The DT hubris edition is unlikely to work in Abbott’s favour. People really dislike arrogance.

    Maybe Rupert really has dumped him and this is a roundabout way of doing him some damage.

  20. [Ms Bishop said she agrees with a US academic who argues it’s impossible for women to have top careers and be mothers unless they are rich, self-employed or super human.]

    Notice that men can be fathers and do all those things without having super powers, though.

    Why isn’t this discussion ever couched in terms of ‘people’?

    If Bishop – or the academic she hides behind – said, “It’s not possible for humans to have top careers and be effective parents” then that’s a whole different conversation.

    And notice, too, that their three options – ‘rich, self employed or superhuman’ – don’t include others, such as ‘have a supportive spouse’.

    So I’d prefer that Bishop – and her unnamed academic – said something more nuanced, such as “To be effective parents and have a successful career, both partners need to find a way to balance their work and family obligations’.

    Then we’d know whether or not women truly can’t have it all because of some mysterious sex-linked trait which no one seems to be able to identify or whether they can’t have it all because the patriachal nature of our society still expects them to take all the responsibility for raising their children.

    Note also: Roxon resigns to spend more time with her family, and the conversation is all about whether women can have it all. You don’t get the same conversation when a male politician resigns for the same reasons.

  21. Insiders… starts with its multiple 5 sec sound bite compilation… with background pop music…

    Might have to start watching it around five minutes into the show so that I don’t have to put up with this crud.

  22. Good morning all.

    I do hope you are not objectifying, confessions,

    Men can make a contribution to debate separate to being eye-candy you know 🙂

  23. I did like Matty D’s little piece of hypocrisy last night (well, there was more than one…)

    Gillard said she would do something and then she didn’t and that meant that she lied.

    Abbott said he’d support something and then he didn’t, but that was OK because he changed his mind.

    On that:

    BB, it’s a curious thing – when you challenge conservatives here on why they’re voting Liberal in September, the answer is always either “I don’t believe Abbott will be leader then” or “I believe Abbott will change his policies before then”.

    Basically, even people who say they support Abbott don’t believe him.

  24. Insiders noting that Abbott only does ‘soft’ media. Why isn’t more made of this if he wants to become the nation’s leader? Surely OM should be asking why he’s incapable of stumping up for serious interviews, and can only do faff type media like shockjocks and commercial breakfast TV (which he has apparently bailed out of now).

  25. Cassidy is hogging substantial parts of Insiders with his extended interview, same same as last week. The result appears to be that panel members have less time to discuss discursively policy issues.

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