South Australian election minus three weeks

An assortment of electorate-level news snippets as the March 15 South Australian state election moves closer into view.

There are now less than three weeks to go until polling day in South Australia (and indeed in Tasmania, which I’ll get around to eventually), which is around the time I start to take state election campaigns seriously. The all-important television advertisements can be viewed here for Labor and here for the Liberals. As is usually the case when a party has been in government for over a decade, it’s the opposition’s advertisements that pack the greater punch.

What follows is a quick review of noteworthy local developments, which have been drawn upon to update the relevant entries in the Poll Bludger election guide:

Napier (Labor 16.1%): Labor’s candidate to replace Michael O’Brien in its second safest seat is Jon Gee, secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union’s vehicle division. Gee prevailed in a vote of the party’s state executive over Dave Garland, a factionally unaligned official with the National Union of Workers. Following the collapse of O’Brien’s plan to relinquish his seat to Senator Don Farrell, Gee’s endorsement was described by David Washington of InDaily as “another assertion of Premier Jay Weatherill’s authority over the party’s dominant Right faction”. While Gee’s union is aligned with the Right in South Australia, it is not part of the bloc associated with Farrell and the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association. Lauren Novak of The Advertiser reported that Weatherill was keen to see the seat go to Gee due to his “close connections with the northern suburbs and Holden”.

Wright (Labor 4.6%): Danyse Soester, who has gained a high media profile as a parent concerned with the school sex abuse scandal and its handling by the government and the Education Department, has announced she will run as an independent against Education Minister Jennifer Rankine. Soester has won backing from Nick Xenophon, and has ruled out directing preferences to Labor or supporting them in government in the event of a hung parliament. Her announcement scored her a front page photo story in The Advertiser, although it was soon followed by a column in which the paper’s Amanda Blair dismissed Soester as “a poster girl for the conspiracy theorists”, and “a blow-up doll inflated at every media opportunity by the likes of Nick Xenophon and shadow education minister David Pisoni”.

Ramsay (Labor 17.8%): Anthony Antoniadis, the Liberal candidate for Labor’s safest seat, has gone to ground following the emergence of Facebook posts in which he made unflattering reflections on residents in the area he aspires to represent. The comments generally related to his experiences as manager of a news agency at the Parabanks Shopping Centre, a typical example reading: “Welcome to Salisbury. A mother speaking to her 6-year-old son: ‘Get out of my f*@%ing way and sit down. I want to play Keno.’”

Reynell (Labor 10.5%): Daniel Wills of The Advertiser reported on Thursday that multiple local residents had been left with “sorry I missed you” messages in very different styles of handwriting, all purporting to be from Labor candidate Katrine Hildyard.

Legislative Council: Liam Mannix of InDaily reports that the man who made preference harvesting a household name, Glenn Druery, is on a retainer from the state branch of the Shooters & Fishers Party. However, his endeavours might be complicated by a rival alliance based around the Liberal Democratic Party, with which Druery was once associated. The latter grouping has dubbed itself the Fair Minor Party Alliance, with Liberal Democrat principal Michael Noack claiming it encompasses five of the 11 small parties planning to run. Druery accuses it of running “front groups in the form of Smokers Rights and Hemp”. The distinction between the rival groups appears to be fairly loose, with most if not all micro-parties likely to preference each other ahead of the major and established minor parties.

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.

30 comments on “South Australian election minus three weeks”

  1. Repeating, correcting and expanding a previous post:

    This election was decided four years ago when Labor retained office with only 48% of then 2PP vote. The people wanted Labor out then and will make no mistake this time, especially as the Libs have a bit of a cleanskin as leader.

    Something similar happened in both NSW and Queensland after Labor won unlikely victories before being wiped out at subsequent elections. In contrast, Labor narrowly lost in Victoria in 2010 and is poised to come back laterm this year.

    Labor’s tragedy in SA is that the dominant factions have placed their favourite sons and daughters in safe seats, sacrificing talented candidates in marginal seats which they are unlikely to win in the present political climate.

    Prospect mayor David O’Loughlin was good enough to MC the Labor launch but has a thankless task trying to take Adelaide back for Labor. Jo Chapley, charismatic businesswoman/lawyer, is pitted against the Opposition Leader in Dunstan. Stephen Mullighan, mooted as a future premier, not only has to counter the Libs in Lee but has the Port Adelaide Enfield mayor running an as independent.

    These three people would add great strength to Labor in opposition and future government.

  2. It is striking that the SA Libs have not had a successful government since Playford lost office in 1965. Hall and Tonkin each lasted only one term. Brown won a huge majority in 1993, but was then knifed by Olsen, who proceeded to throw away their majority in 1997, leading to their inevitable defeat in 2002. Assuming Marshall wins, will he do any better? SA’s electoral geography favours Labor. The SA Libs have a shallow talent pool and are seem to be more ideologically divided than any other state Liberal party. If Labor can can find a credible new leader (ie, one from from the Right), their chances of coming back after one term seem, on the precedents, pretty good.

  3. [If the ALP hold 20 seats (which I’d say is very optimistic at this point), they should be back in four years one would think]

    After winning only 10 seats in 1993, the ALP fell just short in the following election. So anything is possible.

  4. The ALP has absolutely no hope of winning any seats back from the Libs for a start.

    The Libs are unlikely to win back any of the conservative Independent held seats.

    That means it is all won and lost, as usual for SA, in the marginal suburban seats. I believe the swings will not be uniform so the pendulums are of little value, other than to point to the margins.

    Labor will lose the election outright, but I believe will retain some of their marginals against the tide.

    I believe they will lose Hartley, Bright, Ashford, Elder, Mitchell, Newland, Colton and Wright (the latter may be a surprise) but will retain some of the more marginal ones such as Light, Florey and Mawson where there are stronger incumbents and weaker Liberal candidates.

    Expect John Rau and Katrine Hildyard to get frights in their seats but survive, and if Gary Johansen, the Port Adelaide Mayor can overtake the Libs, may score an unlikely win in the western seat of Lee.

    In the Upper House, I expect it go 4 Lib, 3 ALP, 2 X-Team, 1 Green, 1 Family First.

  5. An additional problem for Stephen Mullighan is that former ALP member and unionist Mel Calone is standing against him as another independent unhappy with the handling of sex abuse in schools. She will direct preferences to Gary Johanson and put Labor last.

    There’s irony in this as Stephen Mullighan’s father Ted was the highly respected QC whose report on sex abuse of children in state care shone a bright light in this murky area.

    These critics say they they are not Liberal stooges but they walk and talk like them.

  6. Independently Thinking is around the mark IMHO. Jennifer Rankine could hang on to Wright and Mitchell is complicated by the presence of former ALP and independent member Kris Hanna.

  7. One other thing. Nick Xenophon is backing some of these pest candidates but it’s not clear how much punch he will pack as a simple senator. His Legislative Council team is underwhelming.

  8. TT

    Although the handling of the sex abuse stuff was pretty poor (basically Education did as little as possible), it didn’t seem as bad some people are making out. It’s not like anyone actually suffered abuse as a result of the slack management.

  9. I think Lee will go Lib, TBH. I think Johanson will have a presence but not enough. His preferences will decide things and I predict they’ll favour the Libs.

    The problem with the sex abuse activists is their cases are actually valid and serious, and no politician is going to call them a stooge or an idiot for obvious reasons. However, it does muddy the issue right up when it’s turned into a partisan one. And the problem is, once the election is passed, many of these candidates will suddenly find that a lot of their backers suddenly stop caring because they were only using them for political reasons.

    Still, I fully endorse people running as independents on issues to hold governments accountable, even if it means that they might be enabling wins of the candidates I don’t want to win.

  10. IT 5. There is no way X group will elect 2 LC members – they will be lucky to elect 1. There just wont be people handing out leaflets when X is not a candidate. Not sure what sort of arm twisting might occur with other independents re HTV cards – wait and see.

    ALP has done very well on HA ballot draw. It will get donkey vote (probably worth around 1% of vote in elections with a bit of disillusionment around) in Ashford, Colton, Elder, Florey, Light, Mawson, Newland, Reynell, Torrens and Wright. Libs in Adelaide, Bright, Giles, Hartley, Lee, Mitchell (but behind Hanna)- but Giles and Adelaide probably not likely to be close.

    Independents – Pegler in Mt Gambier gets donkey v Libs, Brock in Frome does not v Libs.

    Thats a lot of luck for ALP.

    Kooks like 63 candidates for Leg Council

  11. Just adding to Wakefield’s reporting: Johanson is above Labor in Lee but below the Liberals. So a donkey vote would help him in a v. Labor 2CP race but not a v. Liberal one.

    Also, Bob Such got top draw in Fisher but he’s not really under threat at all.

  12. Wakefield @ 13. I agree with you now, the draw is very bad for the Xenophones and I think 1 it will be.

    Until the preference deals come out I am not willing to have another guess!

    I thought your comment @14 [Kooks like 63 candidates for Leg Council] was a fair comment on some of the candidates.

    In Lee, Johanson is doing a double sided HTV card – or so he tweeted. Johanson will get more Liberal leaners to him than Labor leaners and I suspect the preferences will go back whence they came, if it comes to that so that the Libs have no hope at all there.

    My sources in Giles are not indicating any significant traction up there with the Libs gaining more than the expected swing.

    I live in Wright and am sensing a bigger mood for change in my neighbourhood than the polls are showing – but I could be wrong as my psephological mind is clouded by anecdotal evidence (ie gossip).

  13. The media coverage has been pretty mixed for the government this week.

    InDaily has been running a series of stories on the dodgy Gillman land deal (I do not know for sure if there is corruption but cronyism is alive and well in Adelaide politics and business). It smells bad.

    The rail line to Seaford opened on time. Some media bagged the “slow” trains. This is quite ignorant – a new more frequent train timetable will start mid year when all the new trains have arrived. Meanwhile most of the user comments seemed very polsitive. I attended the opening and the train I caught was full (standing room only on a Sunday morning) of enthusiastic passengers.

    Of course, Chloe Fox, in full panic mode, had to promise to bring back express services, despite years of analysis proving they only benefit a tiny minority in her seat, and make everyone else worse off.

    At this point I am not sure I care who wins. A tired government without the spine to reform a bloated bureaucracy, or a business friendly opposition with no actual plan to create jobs? Meh.

  14. IT 20 The Leg Council draw is amazing – 4 of the 6 parties with MLCs currently in the top 5 spots – FF and X left down the line. And good to see none of the preference harvesters got top spot – thats one of the major advantages of the mulriple tiny groups – bigger chance of harvesting donkey 1% as well which is 1/8 of a quota. And ALP getting No 1 spot just carries on their luck.

  15. On another rare occasion when Labor drew first position for the Legislative Council, the artful Peter Duncan remarked: “What happened to God?”

    One good thing this time is that Ann Bressington is not standing for re-election. She came in on Nick Xenophon’s coat-tails but quite soon fell out with him and demonstrated that he is not too good at picking quality running mates.

    As for Giles, at least one Labor guru has expressed unease because the party’s new candidate has been unwilling to visit Roxby Downs where there’s a bundle of votes to be won.

  16. Hopefully the other micros are alert to Druery working for Shooters – guarantees fiddling of preferences to try and suit Shooters. I’d be sitting in the room with Druery helping fill out the forms if I was a micro rep!

    With X in the Senate – voters had no problem finding him well down the list – but when the candidates are Darley etc not X then many will have other priorities.

  17. My favourite candidate name is Terina Monteagle, who sounds like she would have been accidentally engaged to Bertie Wooster in a previous life.

  18. [Pretty sure I just heard Ch 9 saying there was internal ALP polling showing Labor retaining Elder, which would be quite a surprise.]

    Yeah, I tend to take that “internal polling” kind of reportage with a grain of salt – similar as I do the reports that Liberal internal polling shows them winning all but a couple of seats, or whatever it is…

  19. Elder is possible for Labor as:

    1. There was a big swing against Conlon last time.

    2. Labor has a strong candidate who has run for Boothby at the past two federal elections.

    3. The Liberal candidate is a local councillor who, some say, is not that popular.

  20. This a pretty dead site considering the election is only a couple of weeks away. Guess one side has given up and the other is flat chat on the hustings.

    IMHO Labor has no hope in Bright, Hartley, Ashford, Colton and Newland. It will be lucky to hang on to Lee, Elder and Mitchell. It is seriously at risk in Wright, Giles and Reynell. It cannot be complacent about Florey, Light, Torrens or Mawson.

    Given that it will certainly lose five seats, it needs to hang on to every one of its slightly less vulnerable seats (and hope that independents do likewise) to entertain any chance of clinging to government.

    Ain’t goin’ to happen, folks.

  21. Just been looking at the Party tickets for the Legislative Council. Most are pretty much what you’d expect. Xenophon group give their first preferences to D4D and then an independent group and the multicultural party. After that, it’s a split ticket with one favouring the Libs then Family First and another doing so for the ALP then the Greens.

    While I haven’t really seen any polling to suggest how people might vote for the Legislative Council, I decided to do an estimation of what the result would be if the state voted more or less like they did for the Senate last year. Note: this is not a prediction, just a calculation based on hypothetical numbers:

    ALP 3

    Liberal 3

    Xenophon Team 2

    Dignity for Disability 1

    Family First 1

    Greens 1

    (In the above scenario, the Xenophon team would fall just short of having 3 quotas on primaries and, if they had a third candidate, they would most certainly be elected but, as they don’t, they would immediately flow to D4D which receives the group’s immediate preferences on both tickets)

    If these results occured, we’d see a Legislative Council that looks like this:

    Liberal 7

    ALP 6 (7 if ever Finnigan finally goes*)

    Dignity for Disability 2

    Family First 2

    Greens 2

    Xenophon Team 2

    Independent 1* (Finnigan)

    With 8-9 cross-benchers occuring in this scenario, it would mean that this would probably be the first time since the 2 party system came in when the total number of cross-benchers was greater than either one of the major parties.

    Of course, once again, THIS IS NOT A PREDICTION, just an interesting calculation based on recent statewide numbers for another upper house ballot.

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