Seat of the week: Port Adelaide

Keeping things focused on South Australia as the state election looms into view, the latest instalment of Seat of the Week takes us to the state’s safest Labor seat.

Numbers indicate size of two-party preferred booth majority for Labor. Click for larger image. Map boundaries courtesy of Ben Raue at The Tally Room.

The electorate of Port Adelaide includes Port Adelaide itself and the adjacent Le Fevre Peninsula, including the suburbs around Sempahore and Largs Bay, along with Woodville and its surrounds to the north of the city and, some distance to the north-east, a stretch of suburbs from Parfield Gardens north to Salisbury North, which are separated from the rest of the electorate by the Dry Creek industrial area. A very safe seat for Labor, its margin after the 2013 election was 14.0%, pared back from a redistribution-adjusted 20.9% by a 6.9% swing to the Liberals.

Port Adelaide was created with the expansion of parliament in 1949 from an area that had previously made Hindmarsh a safe seat for Labor. Such was Labor’s strength that the Liberals did not field candidates in 1954 and 1955, when the only competition for Labor came from the Communist Party. Rod Sawford assumed the seat at a by-election in 1988 upon the resignation of the rather more high-profile Mick Young, who had been the member since 1974. With Sawford’s retirement at the 2007 election the seat passed on to Mark Butler, the state secretary of the Left faction Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union and a descendant of two conservative state premiers: his great- and great-great-grandfathers, both of whom were called Sir Richard Butler.

Butler quietly established himself as a rising star over Labor’s two terms in government, winning promotion to parliamentary secretary in June 2009 and then to the junior ministry portfolios of mental health and ageing after the 2010 election. The latter promotion came despite his noted hesitancy in jumping aboard the Julia Gillard bandwagon during the June 2010 leadership coup. Butler was elevated to cabinet in December 2011 when social inclusion was added to his existing responsibilities, and he further gained housing and homeless in the February 2013 reshuffle which followed the departure of Nicola Roxon and Chris Evans. He remained solidly behind Gillard when Kevin Rudd challenged her for the leadership in February 2012, but emerged among the decisive defectors to the Rudd camp ahead of his successful leadership bid in June 2013. The subsequent reshuffle saw him promoted to environment and climate change, which he retained in the shadow ministry following the election defeat.

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.

581 comments on “Seat of the week: Port Adelaide”

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  1. 546

    Correlation is not causation. Just because something looks like it could have caused something does not mean that it has and therefore no other cause should be looked for. Greater participation in the labour force does not explain the whole difference.

    There are other factors, mainly in economic policy, in the post oil crisis economy that have worked against higher employment. The whole economy has been changed to shift risk from governments and companies to people and the share of income that goes to profits has increased at the expense of wage income.

    Arguing that the higher unemployment figures are the result of increased female workforce participation not other economic policies decreases political pressure on economic policies and feeds the arguments of the “women would be better at home”

  2. Of course today, even if a woman (or a man) wanted to stay at home and look after the kids and the house, that’s no longer an option for most except for a short period. The cost of housing in our big cities effectively absorbs all or most of a second income in a typical two income family. Time was, a man on an average wage (like my father) could buy a modest house on the proverbial quarter acre block in an OK suburb and support a wife and 2.3 (or 3.2) children. Those days won’t come back.

  3. Surprise No 94. Despite repeatedly criticising the Labor Government about the level of government debt, and despite making repeated promises to deliver surpluses, and despite voting against having a debt limit in the current parliament, Hockey has set the Abbott Government has a debt limit of $500,000,000,000 billion – $200,000,0000,000 higher than Labor’s debt limit.

  4. himi, the main propositions of MMT are non-problematic for me. They describe what money and assets/liabilities are, how they are created and how monetary and fiscal policies can be deliberately, successfully managed to maintain full employment.

    The proposition that private sector surpluses (deficits) will have corresponding public sector deficits (surpluses) is particularly relevant to our experience, and to the rapid build up in private sector liabilities in the period prior to the GFC.

    In general, I don’t think it is possible to really understand the economy without grasping the propositions of MMT.

  5. [“medical condition” and “disability” are not synonymous terms.

    The demography which mainly uses the terms interchangeably, and thus to many persons with a disability insultingly, is medicos.]

    Whoever said they were synonymous.

    However every disability has a medical diagnosis.

  6. Took Labor 6 years and a GFC to get debt to $300b, took Abbott/Hockey only around 100 days to take a Triple A economy to nearly double that

  7. The following link includes a graph shows the participation rate in the USA since 1962. I can’t find one for Australia but I expect that our experience would be similar:–participation-rate-falls-to-its-lowest-level-in-31-years-2012-9

    Forty years ago, there would have been:
    1. More young people aged 15 to 23 in the workforce who would now be in full time education – which would increase participation
    2. Fewer retirees aged under 65 (although that looks like a passing phenomenon – an 80s, 90s and early 00s thing). That would also increase participation
    3. A younger population so more people of working age (as a proportion of the total population
    4. Fewer women in the work force, especially those then over 40 who would have mostly married before about 1960 and become traditional homemakers.

    I think that (4.) would be the biggest factor

  8. Diogenes /Bemused and other re WW2 reading
    I agree too re Anthony Beevor,,,,but his wife Artemis Cooper has written a splendid book called”Paris after the Liberation” a great story of those terrible days before and after Liberation and the slow revival of Franceunder De Gaulle…who comes out asa great man

    As well I re-read a classic”Is {Paris Burning?” the amazing story of how the German General Von Cholitz,defies Hitler’s orders to destroy all the historic heart of Paris…and wisely stays and is talen prisoner as the allies Liberate the city…He said “I don’t want to be remembered as the vandal who destroyed Paris”

    Year later he was thanked by De Gaulle and returned to Paris where he was thanked for his work there in saving the city
    Ywo books which compliment each other and are great reading

  9. Whilst it is true that every disability has a medical diagnosis but there is a subtle difference between having a disability and a medical condition.

    Many people seem to consider psychical disabilities the same as intellectual when they are very difference.

    Many seem to think having a disability equals being unable.

  10. Dio

    True, most medical conditions don’t but then this comes to the definition of a disability and also many modern medical treatments.

  11. confessions

    Although it causes problems you cannot blame the smaller states from inserting such a clause so as to try and stop them being steamrolled by the two big states.

  12. Fess

    Personally, I prefer the current s128 provision, though it’s still not good. I’d prefer a simple Australia votes as a single electoral division model. I’d also like it to be possible for voters to rank similar proposals much as preferential voting allows people to rank candidates.

    There should also be scope for voters to indicate why they made the choices they did in a simple multiple choice format. That would give those with a stake in the matter guidance on the outcome if it failed or passed with some reservations.

  13. Kevin B

    I saw this via Channel 7 twitter account

    [Exclusive Seven News/@ReachTEL poll tonight on @7NewsSydney and #7news around Oz. Some surprising results on economy and politics.]

  14. Apologies if already posted.

    [a message that International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde was hammering home in Davos.

    “Business and political leaders at the World Economic Forum should remember that in far too many countries the benefits of growth are being enjoyed by far too few people. This is not a recipe for stability and sustainability,” she said.

    It is telling to contrast this with comments by Prime Minister Tony Abbott at the same event. He avoided endorsing calls for a focus on inequality above and beyond economic growth, saying: ”As always, stronger economic growth is the key to addressing almost every global problem.”

    This is not some isolated quote; it reflects the government’s economic philosophy. His primary message for the leaders at Davos was to choose policies that made way for business and to avoid “government-knows-best action”.

    Read more:

  15. Tom

    [Arguing that the higher unemployment figures are the result of increased female workforce participation not other economic policies decreases political pressure on economic policies and feeds the arguments of the “women would be better at home”]

    Well, only if you can’t walk and chew gum at the same time.

    Recognising that something caused something is not the same as arguing that that something should be undone.

  16. ruawake

    6.15pm: Just rejoined the conversation, and saw your post.

    Jeez, mate, so sorry to hear you have lost your father in such sudden circumstances, but good to hear the airline/Aus staff have been so supportive of your mother.

    Thinking of you and yours. Take care.

    -Kerry Byrne & family.

  17. “@GhostWhoVotes: #ReachTEL Poll Primary Votes: L/NP 39.8 (-1.6) ALP 40.6 (+0.2) GRN 9.1 (+0.4) #auspol”

    “@GhostWhoVotes: #ReachTEL Poll Personal financial position after last 12 months: Better off 20.3 Worse off 39.3 #auspol”

    “@GhostWhoVotes: #ReachTEL Poll Aust economy heading in right or wrong direction: Right 34.9 Wrong 39.3 #auspol”

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