Seat of the week: Kingston

Seat of the week continues mopping up South Australia in the wake of the recent state election, this week visiting Amanda Rishworth’s southern suburbs seat of Kingston.

Red and blue numbers respectively indicate booths with two-party majorities for Labor and Liberal. Click for larger image. Map boundaries courtesy of Ben Raue at The Tally Room.

A traditionally marginal seat that has strengthened considerably for Labor over the past decade, Kingston covers the outer southern coastal suburbs of Adelaide, from Hallett Cove through Port Noarlunga to Sellicks Beach, and extends inland at its northern end to Happy Valley and Morphett Vale. When created with the expansion of parliament in 1949 it was based further north around Glenelg and Brighton, its then southernmost suburb of Hallett Cove being the only area still in the electorate today. Glenelg was hived off to since-abolished Hawker in 1984, and Brighton was absorbed by Boothby in the rearrangement caused by Hawker’s abolition in 1993.

Kingston had a notional Labor margin of 6.8% upon its creation, but the landslide that ejected the Chifley government from office saw the defeat of their candidate Thomas Sheehy, who had been the member for Boothby since 1943. Pat Galvin won the seat for Labor in 1951, and retained it on variable margins until 1966. It was then caught up in the statewide convulsions of 1966 and 1969, which produced double-digit swings first to Liberal and then to Labor in both Kingston specifically and South Australia as a whole. The Liberals thus held the seat for one term before it returned emphatically to Labor with Richard Gun’s victory in 1969. Kingston subsequently changed hands with the next three changes of government, being held during the Fraser years by Grant Chapman (later to return as a Senator in 1987), during the Hawke years by Gordon Bilney, and for the first term of the Howard government by Susan Jeanes. However, Jeanes did not emerge from the 1996 victory with enough fat on her margin to withstand the GST backlash of 1998, when Labor’s David Cox prevailed by 763 votes on the back of a 2.5% swing.

David Cox held the seat for Labor for two terms in opposition before suffering defeat in 2004 by a margin of 119 votes, having been handicapped by the electorate’s acquisition of the McLaren Vale area in the redistribution caused by the reduction in South Australia’s representation from 12 seats to 11. There followed a swing to the Liberals of 1.4%, which was precisely what Liberal candidate Kym Richardson required to win the seat. However, Richardson’s narrow win gave him no buffer to protect himself against the move to Labor at the 2007 election, although the 4.5% swing was below the South Australian average.

The seat has since been held for Labor by Amanda Rishworth, who achieved the best result of any Labor member at the 2010 election in picking up a 9.5% swing. She was assisted in some degree when Kym Richardson’s comeback bid was scuttled after it emerged he was the subject of a police investigation into allegations he had impersonated a police officer as he sought to have a hotel manager withdraw an allegation of assault against his son. Police did not proceed with a charge of impersonating a police officer as the statute of limitations had expired, and he was eventually acquitted on a charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice. Going into the 2013 election she received a 0.9% boost when the redistribution caused McLaren Vale to be moved back into Mayo, a consequence of the electorate’s population growth. The subsequent swing against her was 4.9%, well in line with a statewide result of 5.5% and leaving her with a secure margin of 9.7%.

Prior to entering parliament, Rishworth was a psychologist and an organiser for the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association, which dominates the state party’s Right faction. She won promotion in March 2013 to parliamentary secretary for sustainability and disabilities, and was reassigned to the health portfolio following the September 2013 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.

382 comments on “Seat of the week: Kingston”

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  1. Yes fredk and now the libs should remove Abbott, the public will be very impressed by rolling a first term pm and the political savvy and ruthlessness that would demonstrate.

  2. First alp community preselection completed in Newtown, penny sharpe wins both community vote and branch vote.

  3. [
    Edwina StJohn
    Posted Sunday, March 30, 2014 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    Yes fredk and now the libs should remove Abbott, the public will be very impressed by rolling a first term pm and the political savvy and ruthlessness that would demonstrate.
    The Lib’s are caught between a rock and a hard place; the karma of the whole situation is they created the rock by promoting Abbott well beyond his ability, and the hard place by carrying on as they did over the Labor leadership tensions. The hard place fair enough, it’s politics, the rock, the Liberals only have themselves to blame.

  4. It’s early days yet, but if the hard-heads in the Libs believe that they will lose the next election under Abbott and win with someone else, they won’t hesitate to roll Abbott, and Murdoch will provide support and cover.

  5. There’s a disconnect between the push for more emphasis on the local vote for preselections and the tendency to slate home to the respective leader the faults of MPs.

    Having a local vote which can be overruled by another party body provides the kind of checks and balances our system abounds with.

    One of the most common reactions to a political scandal is to question why X party ever allowed the MP to be preselected in the first place.

    That holds water if the prospective MP had undergone scrutiny by the party organisation before hand.

    It doesn’t if they’ve simply won a local ballot, and yet the respective party is still going to be blamed for the fact they’re in Parliament.

  6. There is no way I can bring myself to watch that impostor Boxhead Cormann on Insiders this morning. Instead, I’ll be sinking a fencepost hole and then hanging a gate.

  7. Well you would have to say the libs have succeeded on boats apparently and the economy we’ll see there cards with the budget. I don’t know if it’s slash and burn in the budget but the budget will be crucial in shaping the economic management question. Too early to tell on that score.

    I think those more than anything will determine 2016 not dopey things like knighthoods, obviously the libs will be a relatively unpopular government but it remains to be seen whether they will be a defeated government in 29 months time.

  8. ESJ

    if a government is making poor economic decisions prior to the budget, then you can safely say they’ll make poor economic decisions in the budget.

    A government which sees Direct Action, Abbott’s PPL and Turnbull’s NBN as the best alternatives obviously doesn’t have a clue about economics.

  9. [
    Edwina StJohn
    Posted Sunday, March 30, 2014 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    Well you would have to say the libs have succeeded on boats apparently and the economy we’ll see there cards with the budget. I don’t know if it’s slash and burn in the budget but the budget will be crucial in shaping the economic management question. Too early to tell on that score.
    Last time around Labor stepped away from their very successful reforms introduced by Keating. This time the Liberals are not receiving such a gift. It’s a clear race between the undergraduate ideas being offered by the IPA, and Adult economic management; it’s hard to see the undergraduates winning.

  10. Shouting for Abbott’s removal is useless. It takes quite a while before the effects of poor decision-making seeps down to enough voters to make a change. Kennett was apparently poison to many Victorians, yet unbelievably he won a second term. As long as the Libs think they can hang on to power, they are unlikely to rock their boat. Inside the party room, however, there may be “chaos”.

  11. Good Morning


    I agree regarding Abbott. Especially as the LNP will not want to do leadership soap opera. Only extremely continuos low polling will do that.

    I actually hope for progressives that unpopularity will lead to a Senate that is hard for Abbott to work with. This probably will not stop repeal of the carbon price. It may however save the Renewable Energy corporation and the carbon target.

    The more Abbott is blocked in the Senate the more ineffective his government is. The stronger the Gillard government will look in hindsight to voters.

    All this could lead to a one term government. Some more clangers like bigots and knights and danes will help immensely

  12. lizzie

    And the polls had Kennett leading all along, which is why the 1999 result was a surprise to everyone, including the Labor party.

    What unseats leaders is not the advice of the party strategists, but panic amongst marginal seat holders (and the more MPs a party has in parliament, the higher the proportion of marginal seats).

    Six months ago, I would have said Abbott was safe from challenge, because the marginal seat holders would feel that they owe their seats to him, and would also be more likely to have run because they supported Abbott.

    But six months ago I wouldn’t have predicted the consistent polls favouring Labor that we’ve been seeing, or this level of incompetence from the government.

    Given a choice between being loyal to the leader and retaining their seat, backbenchers will go with the latter.

    At present, they’ll be getting soothing noises along the lines of the first year is when all the hard stuff happens and when governments take a hit in the polls. But there’s only so much poor polling a nervous backbencher can be soothed about..

  13. Morning all. I think we need to quash any sugestion that Tony Abbott is arrogant or suffers from a born to rule attitude.

    He has decided himself to reintroduce a forty year old honor system without any cabinet or electoral consultation, or mandate to do so. And he will decide who gets a gong. But that is OK – he is PM and can do as he pleases with his power. Besides the honors are for others, not himself. No arrogance here.

    Likewise as reported on Seven TV news last night he is moving his family into Kirribilli, not the. Lodge, being only the second PM ever to do so, after Howard was the first. But that is OK too – it is a national assett, therefore Abbott can do as he pleases with it as PM. Besides, who would have known that as PM you would be expected to live in Canberra? How unreasonable. Lousy view of Sydney harbour too. And this eliminates the “security concern” with the Lodge – he is doing it for the sake of the security people, not himself. No arrogance here either.

    He doesn’t take questions at most interviews, but why should he? He is not obliged to explain himself. And this talk of gay marriage must be quashed. Abbott dislikes the idea, and shows integrity opposing it. So what if the majority of the population support it? He is entitled to enforce his views on the majority, because he is prime minister. Absolutely no arrogance here at all.

    There is no pattern of behaviour whatsoever in evidence. Tony Abbott is just a simple bloke, who is entitled to do as he pleases because he is prime minister. He is a credit to democracy.

  14. zoomster

    [they’ll be getting soothing noises along the lines of the first year is when all the hard stuff happens]

    Yes, we’ve heard snippets of Abbott in the party room saying just that. It will be very interesting to see how it all works out, but I worry about the damage to the country before we’re through.

  15. A few months of good polling a we’re now discussing Abbott getting rolled and how much will we win by?

    Shorter memories than a goldfish.

  16. If the boats really have “stopped”, then so has the issue. In 2016 if boats are a distant memory, all Labor has to say is “we won’t change the current successful policies”. Those who think those policies are too harsh (and vote on that issue, not many at that stage I would guess) will not vote Liberal-National or ALP but probably would preference ALP over LNP on their ballot (because they must number every square!). Net result is positive for Labor.

  17. docantk

    You may be right, but Howard “stopped the boats” and there was a groundswell of anger against the treatment of refugees, which eventually led to Rudd introducing “softer” rules. Yes, it took a long time, but the problem didn’t really go away. Seems to go in cycles.

  18. Regarding the boats, it is a little early to say they have stopped. The numbers always drop dramatically at this time of year due to the tropical monsoon season. Let us wait till June.

    That being said, I was one of those in favor of the Rudd policy change on no visa for boat arrivals. It is the only way to solve the problem. And no, an architect from Iran is not a refugee, and should be applying for a skilled entry visa, except that we are already oversupplied with architects. His killers should face justice, but that is a different issue.

  19. socrates

    Where in the refugee convention does it mention economic refugee? You are either a refugee or you are not.

    The only measure of this we have is those who came by boat and have been accepted or rejected. Pretty much most are accepted. Meaning the are refugees. Architects, doctors, bottle washer. Whatever the profession or sought after profession once refugee status accepted.

  20. As well as not being arrogant, Abbott is also proving a very skilled administrator, much like in his stellar days as health minister under Howard. He is going to cut jobs in his own PMC department. I wonder if these 1700 jobs count towards those he says he will create?
    [The department’s boss, Ian Watt, the nation’s most senior public servant, told his staff this week that the department was battling to balance its budget and deliver its programs and that staff would be cut and service delivery reviewed.
    Dr Watt did not say how many jobs would go, but said cuts would be significant and would fall across the massively expanded department.]

    Who would have thought that you needed to increase a department’s budget when you transfer 1700 new staff in? Impossible to predict. Nobody can blame Tony for this one.

  21. Guytaur

    In my view the fact that most who come here by boat are accepted does not prove that most are refugees. That is my point – in my opinion the definition used to decide who is a refugee is wrong, and too generous, encouraging gaming of our system. Someone who can fly by commercial airliner from Tehran to Indonesia is not “escaping”. They are migrating.

    The refugee convention is an old document, and I think quite out of date. There are millions of people now seeking new lives within its framework. This makes those who administer it reluctant to change it – what would become of those millions now in limbo? But the system is broken.

  22. Very good article that makes some very good general points:

    Former Saudi oil minister Sheikh Ahmed Zaki Yamani once warned his OPEC colleagues of something Putin should remember: ”The Stone Age didn’t end because we ran out of stones.” It ended because we invented bronze tools, which were more productive. The hydrocarbon age will also have to end with a lot of oil, coal and gas left in the ground, replaced by cleaner forms of power generation, or Mother Nature will have her way with us. Putin is betting otherwise.

    Read more:

  23. Socrates

    Well your point is wrong. You want to change the definition say so. Say why doctors, architects etc cannot be valid refugees. People in fear of persecution. Its not an economic definition for a reason.

    We know Iranians no matter their profession have a well founded fear of persecution.

    That is the issue you address. Not that people have qualifications. Using economic refugees is dog whistling. There is no such thing.

  24. Concern over ‘boats’ does go in cycles. The first boat arrivals commenced following the end of the Vietnam War, averaging about 30 to 40 people per month. There was some concern and racist mumblings but no moral panic. There was a bipartisan policy of regional processing.

    The boats stopped in the 1980s and the issue went completely off the radar. They resumed at the end of the 80’s, most likely driven by international events. The usual suspects started muttering and in 1992 the Keating Government introduced mandatory detention. This seemed to have led to a temporary slowdown but the boats kept coming, ramping up significantly towards the end of the 1990s to several thousand people per annum. This seemed to have been the result of international developments, especially the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. Talkback radio and right wing commentators started going ballistic over the boats issue.

    In 1999 TPVs were introduced, which had no effect on arrivals. In 2001 John Howard faced a difficult election, with One Nation (through preferencing against sitting members) a real loose cannon, siphoning off coalition votes.

    The Tampa hove over the horizon. John Howard saw an opportunity to use the asylum seeker issue as a wedge. Then came 9/11 and the issue became conflated with terrorism. ‘Boats’ became a big winner for the Coalition.

    The rest, as they say, is (pretty sorry) history.

  25. Guytaur

    I think you have put the problem in a nutshell. The convention defines just about anyone who asks can be defined as refugee.

    What we need to do (and MAKE our courts accept) is a narrower definition of refugee.

    Now just about EVERYONE applying for refugee status will do so from mixed motives which include political persecution, fear of life, economic betterment or just thirst for adventure.

    Our problem is that we do not have a system that allows for discrimination amongst applicants. Now a Kurdish architect from Iran may have grounds for claiming some level of persecution, but probably his dominant motive was economic betterment. A somalian from a camp faces real threat if they return home, but may still make the choice to come to Australia heavily influenced by economic factors.

    it seems to me as if the ONLY way forward is a points sytem, such that even if you ARE found to be a refugee your ability to get asylum in Australia will depend upon the degree of persecution.

    Now I have little doubt that the persecution of Assylum seekers by Australia will deter all those who face a lesser level of persecution at home. Job discrimination on the grounds of race, while unpleasant is a little better than being murdered while incarcerated in a mosquito infected jungle prison.

  26. Socrates

    A random Jet crashes, two people on board are found to be travelling on false passports; comments made that statistically this is about right; seekinf refugee status in Europe, yet we spend billions on the assumption refugees arrive by boat.

  27. Guytaur

    I think the problem is that it is rational for people to claim a fear of persecution, and difficult to disprove. Persecution is far too vague a term. When we think of refugees fleeing at the end of world war two, when the convention was drafted, those people were fleeing risk of death. There are some cases now where that threat may exist, and in those cases I would agree the refugee status was justified, such as Sri Lankan Tamils fleeing camps at the end of the Sri Lankan civil war.

    But many others, such as the Barati case, are seeking a better case. They were not at risk at home. This quote from a family friend of Barati sums up the motivation directly:
    [“We want justice and we want human rights organisations to follow this killing,” the 46-year-old teacher said in a phone interview that was facilitated by a translator. “All he wanted was to have a better life – he was an intelligent young man with productive years ahead of him and he would have been good for the Australian economy.”]
    The question of financial motivation was dealt with directly.
    [Asked if they were political refugees or, as Canberra insists, economic refugees, Mr Far opted for a third adjective, offering this explanation of family needs and youthful aspirations in rural Iran: “Reza was not a political refugee – he was a social refugee.”
    Explaining that Reza was the eldest of his siblings, Mr Far said that the young mad who had trained as an architect had particular responsibilities to his family. “He had a duty to look after them and this was why he went to Australia – to get a job to help them financially,” he said.]

    Here is the Oxford dictionary definition of refugee:
    [A person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster:]
    The UN convention, and Australian tribunal decisions, need to be amended to reflect that reality. Specifically, you are not being persecuted if you are unable to find a job in a country with high unemployment. Otherwise, 30% of the population of Greece and Spain will soon be boarding planes for Australia.

  28. FredK

    Thomas Friedman as always is pretty shallow. Obviously you could say exactly the same about Australia – putting all its resources into mining etc.

    Obviously all those who depend on oil, gas or coal for a living are on borrowed time, but this may well be 75 years not 7.5.

    Solar and wind and tidal power will replace coal and gas over time but we are still talking 30-50 years, the life span of exiting facilities. Moreover any country with a large land area (Russia, China, Australia, USA and Canada) are likely to have goodly shares of whatever mineral resources are the next big thing.

  29. Socrates

    I an objecting to the term economic refugee. Not argument about how to properly and practically put policy in place to address limiting assessment so only people that fit the definition of refugee as the Oxford Dictionary defines get accepted.

    If they are seeking better a better economic life they are economic migrants. Illegal or not

  30. Frednk

    I agree that many people who arrive here by plane might in practice have the same circumstances as some people who arrive by boat. The difference is that one lot gets cleared through customs and the other does not.

    The UNHCR estimates that there are some 45 million displaced people in the world looking for homes. It is a massive problem and I do not pretend to have a solution. Barati was not one of them – he had a home. Nevertheless, I do not see any point feeling good about helping some people in that situation unless it is via a process that we can fairly apply to the rest of the 45 million. We are a long way from that.

    So I am in favor of Australia having a refugee quota, and a skilled migration quota, and a fair process to decide who gets the places. I see no basis in claims of fairness for permitting people who might not qualify for places on either grounds to come here because they can afford to, when millions just as deserving sit in refugee camps all over Africa but have no means to make the trip.

  31. [
    Posted Sunday, March 30, 2014 at 9:26 am | Permalink


    Thomas Friedman as always is pretty shallow. Obviously you could say exactly the same about Australia – putting all its resources into mining etc.
    Yes the same thing can be said about Australian, and Saudi; it would seem Saudi can see the writing on the wall.

  32. People arriving by boat are probably a sort of ‘middle class’. They are in a position to afford airfares to Indonesia and can scrape together $10,000 for a boat passage, but are not in any position of power and certainly likely to be subject to persecution if they are in the wrong religious, language or ethnic group. Just because they have a bit of money doesn’t make them ‘economic refugees’.

    The other broad groups are the wealthy, who can pretty much live anywhere they like and don’t need to get on leaky boats; and the poor, who have no chance of accumulating several thousand dollars and have to take their chances at home or walk to the nearest border.

  33. [ Socrates
    Posted Sunday, March 30, 2014 at 9:30 am | Permalink


    I agree that many people who arrive here by plane might in practice have the same circumstances as some people who arrive by boat. The difference is that one lot gets cleared through customs and the other does not.
    Few arrive on Austrlaian soil without visiting customs. The difference is a false passport is not likely to be picked up; boat arrival is.

  34. [The Lib’s are caught between a rock and a hard place; the karma of the whole situation is they created the rock by promoting Abbott well beyond his ability, and the hard place by carrying on as they did over the Labor leadership tensions. The hard place fair enough, it’s politics, the rock, the Liberals only have themselves to blame.]

    Wedged themselves?

    Rabbott and his backers are very clever!

    The broo ha, the crocodile tears from the Coalition over the axing of a first term PM has effectively guaranteed his Rabbott’s position.

  35. As I am allowed to be a bogit:
    Mikes005 AndyTAUS

    28 March 2014 5:49am

    George Brandis is an anagram of Raging Bedsore. Just thought I’d share that.

  36. socrates

    I am sorry. No you did not use economic refugee.

    However you did say an architect from Iran cannot be a refugee. I dispute that assertion.

  37. Are we still seeing conservative cheerleaders claiming the ALPs no-visa-policy-for-asylum-seekers-by-boat as their own ?

    How pathetically desperate.

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