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. I wonder how many DLP-trained operators there are in the ranks of the LNP?

    The NDIS has worked out well for PMJG. But I think it has also worked for Abbott too, in a couple of ways. First, it takes some sting from the widespread fear that he is going to automatically cut social spending. He has visibly associated himself with a popular Labor initiative. That’s a first.

    There are plenty in the IPA wing of the LNP who oppose the NDIS on both ideological and budgetary grounds. They will be feeling that Abbott has sold them out on this as he has on PPL. Secondly, he still gets to associate himself with budgetary restraint. Somehow, he gets to walk both sides of the street.

    Maybe this issue tells us quite a lot about the coming ideological contest inside the LNP. I wonder where Hockey fits in to all this? And Barnaby. Are they DLP’s-er too? And Morrison for that matter? Or are they from the IPA brigade? Even Minchin this week was calling for (very large) increases in tax rather than spending cuts. Admittedly, he was calling for increases in indirect tax, but that is an interesting development, considering the expectations that have built for program cuts.

    The reality, of course, is that cuts are going to be very difficult to institute. What is far, far more likely is the LNP will behave in the same way next time as they have in the past. They will eschew spending cuts and find ways to increase taxes, with the result that the Government share of the economy will increase, as occurred under both Fraser and Howard.

    The last LNP Government sowed all kinds of mines and booby-traps in the direct tax system. Maybe an Abbott Government will try to clear some of the these. Clearly, Labor is not going to do the job for them. On the contrary, they have added other political incendiary devices of their own – new social programs – into the policy landscape.

    Will Abbott try to fix the budget by a) borrowing, b) raising indirect tax, c) changes to the direct tax system or d) canceling programs and tax expenditures?

    He must choose some or all of these. He is going to have to spend his likely majority on his choices. None of them will be popular. So far he has gone for a), c) PPL, the tax threshold and low-income Super, and d) Gonski and the schoolkids cash payment

    Considering Gonski hardly exists as yet, this is not much more than a token cut in a financial sense, though it is a political statement that cuts both ways.

    What this also shows is that Abbott appears likely to come to power by promising to do almost nothing specific other than abolishing the carbon tax and the zero-revenue part of the MRRT, in contrast to Rudd who had to promise nearly everything in order to defeat John Howard.

    By the way, the iron ore price has started falling again. It is highly likely the MRRT will never raise more than a pittance from Pilbara iron. There is some talk that the iron price will soon be low enough to put Twiggy out of the iron business and maybe Gina too.

  2. The groupers split the ALP 60 years ago. I wonder if their political offspring, in a contest with the IPA, will split the LNP in the coming few years?

    The ideological right can see opportunity ahead and are openly campaigning to get Abbott to commit to their program. They will almost certainly fail, though not if Janet Albrechtson has anything to do with it.

  3. [ briefly
    Posted Saturday, May 4, 2013 at 6:16 am | Permalink

    There is an interesting chart on the homepage here. What it illustrates to me is how difficult it is to generate economic growth in the absence of inflation.

    As inflation is related to the economies ability to supply the goods and services in demand, and as sane people don’t increase production unless there is demand, what do you expect?

  4. frednk….and the risk of deflation inhibits demand for credit…inflation is one of those things that is good in moderation…interesting pic, I thought

  5. Angry Anderson has won National Party selection – (against Jason Clare?) ABC actually used the words “he vilified Julia Gillard at a rally against the carbon tax”.

    Thanks for confirming it at last, ABC.

    the first phase of the resources boom, spending too much of it and saving too little.

    Not only did John Howard allow government spending to grow at Labor-like rates in the noughties, but Costello responded to the temporary boost in collections from company tax by cutting income tax eight years in a row..

    Read more:


    read more please do,


    well how many times did I have to tell the likes of rummel
    it would just not be,…

    of course they believed their dear leader,, was it a few weeks ago now something about a conscious vote,

    what next the pill off the pbs.

    who knows
    there some other juicey bits to read also



    Tony Abbott has made an important shift in the Liberal position on gay marriage.

    In another step on the road to a likely eventual change in the Australian law, Abbott now says the policy on the issue will be decided by the party room after the election.

    Up until this week the policy has been against gay marriage, with Liberal MPs denied a free vote. The move by Abbott opens the prospect of the party room allowing a conscience vote.

    Abbott signalled the shift at a community forum in his electorate

    how will we ever know when he says what he means

    how can this person run the country

    no conviction at all

  9. post 20

    the article came from april this year yes april

    shows you how quickly he changes his mind

    the country would not know

    if they coming or going with him.

    most I would suspect its things that would GO

  10. Morning Mysay

    Abbott looks to be moving to wards SMS unlike Gillard.

    But don’t worry Mysay, you only have five months left to worry about what Gillard thinks.

  11. Morning all.

    [Andrew Elder ‏@awelder 9h
    Hockey and Abbott had better distance themselves from Sloan or we can call the election for Labor right now]

    Sloan must’ve been a shocker on LL last night.

  12. attempt number 2 to post – this is happening every morning now, William is it being looked at???

    Morning All

    It seems Abbott has shown his true colours on SSM – those who were relying on a change in his, and the Liberal’s, position on the matter were always going to be disappointed. Windsor’s willingness to support a plebiscite must surely be back on the table now??? Yes it will be divisive but it’s always going to be.

    If Abbott wins the election, and I sincerely hope he doesn’t, we are looking at years more of this base inequality remaining in place. If the politicians won’t represent the true feelings of the public, the public must be given a say.



    The numbers are lining up for Tony Abbott to fulfil his pledge to repeal the carbon tax. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

    Opposition Leader Tony Abbott is looking more likely to be able to make good on his oft-repeated assertions to scrap the carbon tax should the Coalition win government in September.

    Analysis of voting trends shows that should the present pattern continue to the election, the Coalition would effectively control both houses of parliament, making it powerful enough to repeal the carbon tax.

    Read more:


    my god no one in their right mind would want them to control both houses


    imagine, some ones war to fight,

    no medi care, no pbs ,,

    all I can think of is
    may the universe save us

  14. good bye


    I am off now to junior soccer

    u would have little boy about 5 bye now

    does he go off to sport with his dad each morning

    wait till workchoices come in

    NO sport for you

    ive left my messages for reading
    I have no time to chat,

    you shoud be enjoying life while you can

    for next year its to the salt mines
    our pension will be cut nearly in half

    thanks to voters like
    the country with no one spending will
    end up like Europe

    20 percent unemployed over there.

    at the moment 5 percent

  15. confessions

    It is worth watching. She was up against the Kouk.

    The slam dunk that woke a lot of people up was her saying that yes she welcomed a recession to get a surplus.

  16. Thos’ Paine….I get the feeling that you sit before your keyboard, head empty save for one word which you repeat over and over like some sort of mantra, looking for inspiration..”Gillard,Gillard,Gillard…dododododod…lalalalala..Gillard, Gillard…GOT IT!”
    Then, with great insight and inspiration you write…: “Julia Gillard is hopeless!”

    Man, contrary to most medical advice, I’d suggest you smoke the dope!

  17. I’ve said all along that Abbott was never going to support marriage equality. Those in his partyroom who keep him in the leadership would never allow it.

    The most you could ever hope for from today’s Liberal party is for a conscience vote, and Abbott wouldn’t even let them have one of those.

  18. Troy Bramston on Labors prospects

    AS Labor MPs file into the opposition partyroom after the September 14 federal election, there will be plenty of vacant seats. Just how bad Labor’s likely rout will be is impossible to predict precisely this far out.

    But a range of senior Labor Party officials – those who know the mood in the nation’s 150 electorates better than anyone – are in no doubt about the scale of the electoral tsunami that is headed for Labor.

    “It’s going to be far, far worse than most people think it will be,” says one of several party officials who spoke to Inquirer this week.

    “It’s going to be a bloodbath,” says another.

    “On the party’s polling and the published polling, we are looking at the loss of 35-40 seats,” says a third party official. “But when you look deeper, we’re facing a wipeout in some of our safest seats.”

    The consensus is if an election were held today, Labor would lose 35 to 40 seats – more than half its 72 seats (including Craig Thomson’s seat of Dobell). This would leave Labor with just 32 to 37 seats in the House of Representatives.

  19. rummel has twigged that Abbott is lying again. So he just accepts that Abbott’s policy is the reverse of anything he actually says.

    In rummels world it all makes sense.

  20. guytaur:

    I’ve been reading the transcript. Am absolutely gob-smacked at this:

    [JUDITH SLOAN: Of course, you know, they were just all over the place. The building education revolution, which was I think a very unfortunate name, we were spending way too much. The value for money was appalling. The home insulation program was a disaster and they had to cut that off. They had to kill that off.

    You know let me be upfront. I’m not much of a Keynesian. I’m a great believer that this needed to get sorted out. I don’t believe in this that a government should do whatever it can to keep an economy out of recession. David, one of the executive directors of the Treasury made the point and I think he’s completely wrong. There comes a point when a recession, hopefully a mild one, actually can be quite useful and that’s what should have been allowed to be done.]

    She obviously forgets (or perhaps doesn’t care) what happens to people and families and households when the economy goes into recession. The knock-on effects can be far-reaching, as the Kouk points out with the Lancet study.

  21. It was certainly an eye opener last night.

    Says it all about Austerity advocates. No heart. Let the people eat cake.

  22. The interview just got worse for Sloan as she was unable to set out a coherent argument against the govt’s actions during the GFC.

  23. Confessions – seeing what Abbott has now said about SSM has your view on Windsor’s support of a plebiscite on the issue, if the public demands it, changed???

  24. all these fantasies of abbotts

    indicates s sm perhaps makes people think it s on


    turning back boats, another thought

    that’s imposible for the many reasons stated here
    over time,

    bet he says soon something

    that will indicate that may be that’s not possible either

    why do rusted on liberal s believe stuff
    after al none of its written down

    as he mentioned one in a 7.30 report

    and if it written in a news paper
    similar to the one posted about s s m

    well he can wriggle out of that to,

    so what else in our lives

    we not pawns on a chess board we are real


    we……deserve better


    well that’s one he want wriggle out of
    taking back pensions, that’s easy to
    just sign a bit of paper,

    send the country to wall
    that easy do nothing

  25. Following on from last night’s discussion- for many years, I had a cartoon on the fridge of Jesus delivering the Sermon on the Mount, whilst the well dressed members of the crowd yelled out: “Bleeding heart!” “Do gooder!” “Wet!”

  26. Not much talk here about Brendan O’.Conner’s cynical manipulation of the 457 visa program for political purposes that many numbskulls on this site bought hook, line and sinker. Even he has had to admit that he basically made the figures up. Mark at LP nails it, and the overall failure of Gillard and her government:

    “It simply astonishes me that some progressive folks can’t see that ideology is at stake in Julia Gillard’s troubled ascendancy. We are living through the “lurch to the right” Kevin Rudd warned of the night before he lost the leadership.

    Chris Bowen must be very pleased not to be Immigration Minister any more. Despite the appalling Malaysia Solution, something no doubt imposed on him, he was strong in championing multiculturalism and human rights as the fundamentals of immigration policy. We don’t see that from Brendan O’Connor, who it must be said, is one of Julia Gillard’s closest lieutenants of longest standing. What we see is a contempt for truth and a willingness to articulate inflammatory and thinly veiled racist rubbish at the drop of a hat.

    Chris Bowen, of course, resigned as a minister because of his support for Kevin Rudd.

    No doubt, some will accuse me of sour grapes, and of not Uniting Behind the Leader. All I will say in response is that we are now seeing what a cabinet purged of any residual Ruddism looks like. Perhaps some think all this disgraceful stuff is some regrettable blip. I don’t. I think it’s core policy for the cynical, manipulative and politically stupid crew of acolytes, “faction leaders” and right wing reactionaries now running the federal Labor show.”

  27. Why newsltd and pro coalition media is worried

    The more Abbott gets exposed the more unhingement they have to do

  28. Diog

    have you poked around yet?

    It provides access to millions of out of copyright books (and other forms of media) which are available for free download.

    Saved me lots already – I was able to access a couple of books I had been planning to buy.

    And it’s also great for research, as each book has a search function, so instead of reading the whole thing you can just plug in the key words and it bookmarks them all for you.

  29. womble:

    No. Legislating for human rights should never be decided by popular vote.

    There is no logical argument against legalised same sex marriage. Polling or plebiscites or referendums don’t change that.

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