Seat of the week: Wakefield

Located on the northern fringe of Adelaide, Wakefield has a safe-looking double-digit Labor margin. But the Liberals have held the seat before, and indications of a strong statewide swing have given them hope they might do so again.

UPDATE: Essential Research has the Coalition lead up from 55-45 to 56-44, from primary votes of 48% for the Coalition (steady), 33% for Labor (down one) and 9% for the Greens (steady). There are also numerous questions on national debt, led off by the finding that 48% are aware that Australia’s is relatively low compared to other countries against 25% who believe otherwise. However, 46% believe the main reason for Australia’s debt is that the “government are poor economic managers”, against 26% for the world economy and 17% for the high dollar. Same-sex marriage has been gauged for the second time in a fortnight, showing 58% support (up four on last time) and 32% opposition (down one).

Extending from outer northern Adelaide into rural territory beyond, Wakefield has existed in name since South Australia was first divided into electorates in 1903, but its complexion changed dramatically when its southern neighbour Bonython was abolished when the state’s representation was cut from 12 seats to 11 at the 2004 election. Previously a conservative rural and urban fringe seat encompassing the Murray Valley and Yorke Peninsula, it came to absorb the heavily Labor-voting industrial centre of Elizabeth in the outer north of Adelaide while retaining the satellite town of Gawler, the Clare Valley wine-growing district, and the Gulf St Vincent coast from Two Wells north to Port Wakefield. Labor’s overwhelming strength in Elizabeth is balanced by strong support for the Liberals in Clare and the rural areas, along moderate support in Gawler.

The redistribution to take effect at the coming election has cut Labor’s margin from 12.0% to 10.3% by making two changes at the electorate’s southern end. The boundary with Port Adelaide has been redrawn, removing 8000 voters in the strongly Labor area around Salisbury North while adding around 700 west of Princes Highway. Immediately east of Gawler the boundaries have been made to conform with those of Barossa Valley District Council, adding 2600 voters around Lyndoch from Barker and 2100 around Williamstown from Mayo.

Prior to 2004, Wakefield was won by the prevailing major conservative party of the day at every election except 1938 and 1943, the only two occasions when it was won by Labor, and 1928, when it was by the Country Party. The seat was held for the Liberals from 1983 to 2004 by Neil Andrew, who served as Speaker from 1998 onwards. When the 2004 redistribution turned Wakefield’s 14.7% margin into a notional Labor margin of 1.5%, Andrew at first considered challenging Patrick Secker for preselection in Barker, but instead opted to retire. Wakefield was nonetheless retained for the Liberals at the ensuing election by David Fawcett, who picked up a 2.2% swing off a subdued Labor vote around Elizabeth to unseat Martyn Evans, who had held Bonython for Labor since 1994. Fawcett’s slender margin was demolished by a 7.3% swing in 2007, but he would return to parliament as a Senator after the 2010 election. As was the case with Labor’s other two South Australia gains at that election, Wakefield swung strongly to Labor in 2010, boosting the margin from 6.6% to 12.0%.

Labor’s member over the past two terms has been Nick Champion, a former state party president, Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association official and staffer for state Industrial Relations Minister Michael Wright. The SDA link identifies him with the potentate of the South Australian Right, Senator Don Farrell. Champion came out in support of Kevin Rudd in the days before his unsuccessful February 2012 leadership challenge, resigning as caucus secretary to do so. Champion’s Liberal opponent will be Tom Zorich, a local sports store retailer, former Gawler councillor and one-time player and club president of the Central Districts Football Club. Despite the size of the margin he faces, the Liberals are reportedly buoyed by weak polling for Labor in South Australia generally, and by Holden’s announcement in April that 400 jobs would be cut at its Elizabeth plant.

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.

2,287 comments on “Seat of the week: Wakefield”

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  1. [Mod Lib
    Posted Monday, May 6, 2013 at 10:44 pm | PERMALINK
    “I am not someone given to self doubt”

    What was that you were saying about hubris, confessions?]

    Yeah! ask kev.

  2. The PM usually does well in open type forums. She is very good on her feet. Pity she seems to have received so much poor advice over the past three years.

  3. one can
    understand why the lnp supporters and other
    dislike the pm so much

    it is because she is in a class all of her own,

    way above anything the others have to offer’===

  4. The PM is only disliked by many due to how she became leader but there is a saying in politics that if you are not hated then you haven done anything.

  5. [Paul J ‏@Paul_MJ 1m
    Well done #qanda been a while since I have watched one right through. Great effort from the PM as usual as well]

  6. davidwh:

    Actually, I think we got some valuable insights right at the end! She isn’t one to “self doubt” which fits with Crean saying she has a “tin ear” from his inside experience. She obviously thinks she knows what is best and pushes ahead…..if it doesn’t go well she blames others.

    Will be an interesting 100 days to go to the campaign! :devil:

  7. Mod Lib 2159

    “To say it is equivalent to someone on $100k having a mortgage of $10k is just wrong”

    Would you care to explain precisely why?

  8. I did think that decision was bizarre Dio. That said Uhlmann never mentions his missus on air as she is a backbencher. Penbo does not have the same profile he once had for that matter.
    But yes odd decision, all Juanita does is read an autocue.
    Combet has been married three times already I read somewhere.

  9. Rossmore:

    The reality is this:

    We owe $25k
    We earn $33k
    We spend $37k

    To say, as Gillard did early on in QandA, that our position is like someone on $100k having a $10k mortgage is just wrong.

  10. my say @2254

    So which firmware revision is the likeable one ?

    Anyhow, in the real world, I agree, GIllard presented herself well tonight on QandA. I can’t deny her that and she deserves credit for it.

  11. [Sean Tisme
    Posted Monday, May 6, 2013 at 10:49 pm | PERMALINK

    39 Minutes]

    Did they factor in that the M2 “motorway” is undergoing a 3 year widening which has dropped the speed from 100kph to 60kph?

  12. [Henry
    Posted Monday, May 6, 2013 at 10:53 pm | PERMALINK
    It’s called self belief ML. You might want to find some.]

    Im more of a self agnostic.

  13. [Yes but does that time include traffic and catching or missing lights and speed limits.]

    Yes it does.

    Google maps uses live data… that is all those hundreds of thousands of people in their cars right now moving along these roads. Based on that, Google can calculate average travel speed.

    The travel time therefore changes depending on the time of day(and would be much higher during peak hour).

    There is no doubt however that Gillard could have went from Kirribilli House to Rooty Hill by car every day, but instead she choose to waste taxpayers money on a stunt by staying at the Rooty Hill RSL.

  14. [Did they factor in that the M2 “motorway” is undergoing a 3 year widening which has dropped the speed from 100kph to 60kph?]

    Yes it factors in everything.. the data is live.

    Google know where you are and how fast you are going.

  15. Do you remember the last Newspoll in 2012?

    I think it was 53/47!

    So Julia Calls an election (not a bad decision) but Old Media propaganda it to “the longest campaign in history” so voters think – oh shit – next Newspoll it’s 56/44.

    So what happens?

    Fellow stupid idiotic imbeciles, Crean and Fitzgibbon take a gun into caucus and massacre the Party.

    Thank you from your supporters and Bludgers who go into bat for Labor virtually on a daily basis for this – :mrgreen: PM

    @rseholes 😡

  16. “According to the latest Newspoll survey, conducted exclusively for The Australian on the weekend, the Coalition’s primary vote is virtually unchanged from two weeks ago on 47 per cent as is Labor’s on 31 per cent. The Coalition’s lift of one point and Labor’s fall of one point were both within the margin of error and the Greens and “others” were unchanged on 10 and 12 per cent respectively. Based on preference flows at the 2010 election, the Coalition has kept a clear election-winning lead with 56 per cent to Labor’s 44 per cent. While voter satisfaction with the Prime Minister and Mr Abbott was virtually unchanged in the past two weeks, support for both leaders lifted on the question of who would make the better prime minister with Ms Gillard’s support rising from 35 to 37 per cent and Mr Abbott’s from 40 to 42 per cent, maintaining his five-point lead.”

  17. Mod Lib@2275

    Posted Monday, May 6, 2013 at 10:53 pm | PERMALINK
    It’s called self belief ML. You might want to find some.

    Im more of a self agnostic.

    What you do in the privacy of your home is your business.

  18. So ALP TPP is:
    56-44 Newspoll
    56-44 Morgan
    56-44 Essential
    58-42 Reachtel
    57-43 Neilsen
    54-46 Galaxy

    Last poll average result = 56.2

  19. ST

    Only if you were the only car on the road.

    I’ve followed a similar route – 75 minutes to North Sydney and I was flying when I could 😛

  20. Mod Lib @ 2267 – people who get their information from sources other than Talkback Radio and Murdoch tabloids, e.g. the IMF, Ratings Agencies and commentators (and readers) of the Business Spectator do not see Australia’s deficit as a problem. I suppose your solution would be to cut all government spending except that which goes on defence, that which supports private health funds and private schools and that which supports Abbott’s promised further spending to bring the budget back into balance. Instant recession.

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