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. poroti, we need you on the campaign trail.

    Anagrams like that are hilarious and killers at the same time.

    From now on to me, George Brandis will always be Raging Bedsore.

  2. Gecko – reckon a 54-46 Nielsen.

    It appears Essential is 55-45, rolling-average consolidation on the primaries from last week.

  3. or to paraphrase the Czech joke ” Why do russian soldiers go around in threes? One can read one can write and one likes hanging round with intellectuals

  4. gloryconsequence I think Essential would have been close to 55/45 last week based on the primary numbers. All it does is confirm a slight shift back to the Coalition since Nov/Dec.

  5. [Gecko
    Posted Monday, February 11, 2013 at 12:40 pm | PERMALINK
    Question is can they afford the polling now?

    What does a national poll cost?]

    No idea but it wouldn’t come cheap wouldn’t think, eg labour costs etc

  6. [ Fairfax lost its readership due to the crap reportage by their journos. ]


    Well, yes, but the real rot set in during the Kennett era. The Age was seen by that malignant regime as the enemy.

    It had to be destroyed. This was done by a tried-and-true method: The gentle application of a thousand cuts.

    Remember Young Wokka? Remember Conrad Black? Then came that Grand Prix mastermind, Kennett’s mate, Ron, appointed to the Fairfax board, then came the journo lackeys.

    The Age was infected by a super bug, from the top down, which proved to be resistant to old-fashioned notions like truth, integrity. That, and a series of weak editors.

    It’s now a withered cot case. The rellies have gathered to ponder the continuance of life support.

  7. FWIW on the West Wing TV series they mentioned it cost about $60,000 US to complete one poll during an election campaign.

    Of course, it’s a TV show, but a lot of the information on the West Wing was realistic.

  8. [Gecko
    Posted Monday, February 11, 2013 at 12:49 pm | PERMALINK

    They should just poll us… we’re national, very balanced and we’d be only too happy to help.]

    How can we get that message through to them, cheap too 😉

    Any more pithy remarks for me to post on Twitter???

  9. [Of course, it’s a TV show, but a lot of the information on the West Wing was realistic.]

    So realistic Martin Sheen still gets called Mr President in the street. Great show.

  10. 😆

    “@OakeyMP: Happy for Gotye, and aussie music.He played my birthday party a few years ago in Port Macquarie….well,…I went and saw him on my birthday”

  11. “@watermelon_man: Asking John Howard’s “opinion” on the Labor Party, and running it as “news”, sums up, in a nutshell, what’s wrong with Australian media.”

  12. “@BernardKeane: Next up: Robert Menzies slams Julia Gillard from beyond the grave – we talk exclusively with the deceased PM”

  13. [Essential

    ALP 45 (-1) L/NP 55 (+1)]

    ModLib will have got this as well – but with 3 more decimal points of accuracy and will have predicted it 12 months ago.

  14. [ALP 45 (-1) L/NP 55 (+1)

    Voting Intention: ALP 34 (0) L/NP 48 (0) Greens 9 (-1) Others/Independents 9 (+1)

    Julia Gillard: Approve 36 (-5), Disapprove 55 (+6)

    Tony Abbott: Approve 36 (+3), Disapprove 53 (-4)

    Better PM: Julia Gillard 39 (-3), Tony Abbott 37 (+4)]

    OK, why is JGs approval going backwards at this critical time. Obeid? The election date announcement?

  15. Mari

    [Any more pithy remarks for me to post on Twitter???]

    Goodness… hmmm let me see… pithy…

    Alert: Abbott had to repeal the MRRT because it destroyed mining. Now he has to repeal it because it isn’t.

    Or conversely insert ‘Carbon price’ and ‘Whyalla’ for something different.

    Probably already done but that’s all I can manage.

    Or maybe: ‘1950’ Coming to a ballot near you. Vote LNP Sep 14


  16. [OK, why is JGs approval going backwards at this critical time. Obeid? The election date announcement?]
    Maybe because the media want to turn everything she says and does into a negative.

  17. Sorry, wrong button
    Essential have a pool of regulars they poll and the pool was formed from people who signed up online. It’s not exactly representative. All polls have issues, Essential has more than the others.

  18. [ OK, why is JGs approval going backwards at this critical time. Obeid? The election date announcement? ]

    Just offhand, I’d say equal parts Obeid and the fact that Abbott has dropped off the radar in the past few weeks. He always polls better in his absence.

    Both of these effects should fade soon.

  19. [OK, why is JGs approval going backwards at this critical time.]

    Glasses, earlobes and she refuses to run away from pressers. Its obvious isn’t it?

  20. lefty e@1378

    OK, why is JGs approval going backwards at this critical time. Obeid? The election date announcement?

    Because people hear this question as “Who have you heard favourable coverage in the media about lately?”

    The weakness of polls this far out from an election IMHO is that they measure meta-opinion rather than opinion. In other words, people respond as to how they see the “vibe” (or opinion anout opinion) and that is heavily conditioned by the media.

  21. I’d say the PM’s approval rating has slipped because people don’t view some of the happenings over the past few weeks with the same enthusiasm as most people here. A lot has happened in a short period of time including the Peris appointment, the early election announcement, the retirements, the arrest of Thomson, ICAC and the MRRT collections confirmation. All these have likely feed into sentiment in one way or another.

  22. The reason the PM has gone backwards is simple.

    The way the OM reported the election date, the cabinet reshuffle and Nova Peris.

    A reaction to noise.


  23. When Mob-lib turns up, maybe we can get the names of the liberal shadow ministers and policies better than labor’s and an explanation why. I can make it easy with a tick box response.

    “I like the LNP because:

    – they make unfunded promises and lie about having had them fully costed and audited.

    – they repeatedly show themselves to be scientifically and economically illiterate, and I don’t want elitists smart people running the country.

    – they love to fan the flames of racism and xenophobia

    – their answer to improving productivity is to cut minimum wages and working conditions, and give tax more breaks to the wealthy

    – their answer to welfare is to make it really hard for those who need it most, and really easy for those who need it least

    – they are always high tax-and-spend governments, but speak beautiful rhetoric on being the low tax and small government party

    – they have no vision for the nation other than we turn into a the US – and the tea party’s vision of the US at that.

    – they are always prepared to divide the nation for short term political advantage

    – they don’t like public education, because most of their daddies were rich enough to send them to elite private schools

    – they don’t like public health because they can afford (government subsidised) private health insurance, even though that increases the cost of health services for all.

    – they do the bidding of the miners, fossil-fuel lobby,tobacco industry, private insurers who all donate massively the the LNP (nothing corrupt about that)

    – they have no policies, so what’s there not to like?

    – the media love them, so why shouldn’t I?

  24. Gecko
    Posted Monday, February 11, 2013 at 1:13 pm | PERMALINK

    Any more pithy remarks for me to post on Twitter???

    Goodness… hmmm let me see… pithy…

    Alert: Abbott had to repeal the MRRT because it destroyed mining. Now he has to repeal it because it isn’t.]

    OK done 2 retweets already, tell you you are famous even as an anonymous Poll Bludger OK see you off now for the afternoon

  25. [probably mentioned already, but the UK Guardian has been the leader in invetigative journalism leading to the outing of Rupert Murdoch’s organs as serial law breakers.]

    Only one thing wrong with this. The bloke who is setting up The Guardian here is a former FoxNews chief, isn’t he?

  26. K, why is JGs approval going backwards at this critical time. Obeid? The election date announcement?]

    3 weeks of wall to wall feel good stories about Tone and the girls, Peta and JulieB.

    3 weeks of rotten stories for PM on Thomson, Obeid and any policy decision the Libs trash, not to mention internal scuffles.

    Last week almost every journo wrote and spoke of the alternative PM looking so much the kinder, gentler stateman.

  27. [ … the IPA get even more free airtime on ABC. They and other conservative lobbyists now get about 60-70% of guest spots on the various ABC chat shows. ]

    Sustainable future,@1329

    Drives me crazy, too. Seems the ABC’s concept of “balance” is to wheel in a couple of comedians to counter the nut jobs.

    Nothing against comedians, but I find the present crop unfunny. The ABC seems to be besotted by comedians. Dunno, maybe they’re cheap.

    IPA types are presented on ABC programs as good, sane chaps. Hale fellow, well met.

    A hypothetical question – at the risk of lapsing into hyper bowl – if you had, say, Mugabe, on your TV chat show.

    Would you say, as an intro: G’day, mate. How they hangin’ …

    Or would you feel obliged to inform your audience of your guest’s history?

    At least, the ABC should have the common decency to point out to its shrinking audience that the IPA is an ultra-conservative think tank that believes the poor should die. And not litter the streets.

    Like The Age, the ABC, in its present form, is beyond hope.

    Balance? Mark Scott – I pass wind in your general direction.

  28. Mari @1184…

    With Graeme Wood being an investor in both The Global Mail & The Australian Guardian …there is an obvious linkage. How this translates to editorial policy/linkage of stories/campaigns etc. I don’t know.

    Interesting times though 🙂

  29. Poroti:

    [My fave saying about common sense is “Common sense is not so common.”]

    I often give a fuller version.

    That which is common, rarely amounts to sense and that which amounts to sense is most uncommon

    I can’t recall where I first heard this aphorism — I always assumed it was one of Mencken’s dicta — but oddly the only references to it on the internet (with some variations) are in my posts …

    I always like the sound of the antimetabolic, so perhaps I coined it. If someone can find a version of it that pre-dates one of my own, I’d love to be advised.

  30. Good that you’ve mentioned Makin, despite its large ALP margin, as the media have written it off as safe Labor.

    State ( & Fed ) Labor take the Adelaide northern suburbs for granted: ex Premier Rann (former northern suburbs MP though not resident)’ s government promised the earth, eg electrifying the Gawler railway.His ALP successor Mr Weatherill has broken this promise, though many locals will remember the shutdown of the line 3 times in the last 2 or so years (more than a year all up) twice for claimed (now redundant) pre-electrification works, the most recent to allow the groundwork for the southern suburbs rail electrification which, with the southern expressway road duplication, will deliver a huge infrastructure leg up to the south (& therefore another kick in the guts to the north).

    Do the Libs have the will (or the candidates) to draw attention to the broken promises and, if not win Makin, Wakefield and (perhaps) Port Adelaide, at least make inroads into Labor’s majorities and complacency?

  31. Anyone here who has anything to do with the ALP in terms of support should be utterly ashamed at the proceedings of the NSW ICAC enquiry at present.

    Ian MacDonald is yet another ex-Labor minister crooker than a dog’s hind leg. Nuttall in Queensland, Judy Spence, Craig Thomson and MacDonald levering his bloody mate into tens of millions of dollars through blatantly obvious conflict of interest. He makes a mockery of the inquiry by absurd assertions of innocence and statistically incalculable probabilities.

    I seem to recall the same absurd explanations arising from one Craig Thomson with regards to his wallet being stolen by ‘someone’ on a wild night of prostitute consumption, finished with Union credit cards and cabcharge slips signed with ‘forged’ signatures before sneaking into Craig’s house and safely returning his wallet by the next morning.

    Your people make a mockery of the law, tell lies as if they meant nothing and use their influence routinely and endemically to use other people’s money for personal pleasure, to unfairly influence the outcome of decisions made regarding government spending (as Nuttall did) and to make their friends insanely rich.

    Anyone in this room who ever whispers about Fitzgerald should be cautioned to heed the cliche about people in glass houses. Joh Bjelke-Petersen was a boy scout compared to you lot.

    How dare you justify your pathetic party. Morally bankrupt. Why doesn’t anyone here have the balls to admit you’ve lowered the bar on the conduct of politicians in this nation that used to be known for low levels of political corruption instead of spraying bile at the ‘team’ you hate.

    Get your own house in order you bastards.

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