Seat of the week: Wakefield

Seat of the week visits South Australia one last time to cover Wakefield on the northern fringe of Adelaide, held for Labor since 2007 by Nick Champion.

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.

Wakefield extends from outer northern Adelaide to rural territory as far as Clare 100 kilometres to the north, with overwhelming Labor strength around Elizabeth and Salisbury partly balanced by support for the Liberals in the Clare Valley. It 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 reduced from 12 seats to 11 in 2004. Previously a conservative rural and outskirts seat encompassing the Murray Valley and Yorke Peninsula, it came to absorb the outer suburban industrial centre of Elizabeth 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.

Prior to 2004, Wakefield was won by the major conservative party of the day at every election except 1938 and 1943, when it was won by Labor, and 1928, when it was won by the Country Party. The Liberal member from 1983 to 2004 was Neil Andrew, who spent the last six years of his parliamentary career serving as Speaker. Andrew at first considered challenging Patrick Secker for preselection in Barker after the 2004 redistribution turned Wakefield’s 14.7% margin into a notional Labor margin of 1.5%, 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.

Wakefield has since been held for Labor by 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, outgoing Senator Don Farrell. He nonetheless went against Farrell by coming out in support of Kevin Rudd in the days before his unsuccessful February 2012 leadership challenge, resigning as caucus secretary to do so. As with Labor’s other South Australian newcomers from the 2007 election, Champion had no trouble retaining his seat at the 2010 election, a 5.4% swing boosting his margin to 12.0%. However, the seat has since returned to the marginal zone following a redistribution in which it traded an area around Salisbury for Lydoch and Williamstown east of Gawler, reducing the margin to 10.3%, and a 7.1% swing to the Liberals at the 2013 election, which has left it at 3.4%.

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.

2,933 comments on “Seat of the week: Wakefield”

  1. 2890

    It is not charity or welfare. A reverse mortgage provider takes money it has for investing, gives a payment to the homeowners based on the value of their home and their life expectancy (on an actuarial basis so the risk is spread, like with insurance) and then gets and sells the home when the owners die. 100% business.

  2. Tom

    There are easily ways of taxing the rich than trying to limit property transfer

    The more you try all you do is make it harder for the workers while the rich will continue to carry on.

    Changes to the treatment of investment income in the asset test will bring far better results.

    The government is not on struggle street and if it really was then there are a number of ways of correcting that, AA has identified something like 25-30 billion.

  3. Kennett doesn’t believe in policies or promises

    He is a real neo-Lib-economnist…our only true-Thatcherite
    and showed it in office…and when he says people came to appreciate his work in office…he fails to mention that he was defeated in a major swing AGAINST THOSE POLICES ….WHEN PEOPLE REALLY GOT TERRIBLY PISSED OF AND REVOLTED

  4. But Tom, if it’s done universally on a Bank-must-win-in-the-end basis, the amount the bank will pay periodically to each of it’s “superannuants” will be less than an income capable of adequately supporting them.

    Oh, never mind.


    [The U.S. economy barely grew in the first quarter as harsh winter weather chilled investment and exports dropped. The expansion stalled even as consumer spending on services rose by the most in 14 years.

    Gross domestic product grew at a 0.1 percent annualized rate from January through March, compared with a 2.6 percent gain in the prior quarter, figures from the Commerce Department showed today in Washington….

    Business investment dropped at a 2.8 percent annualized rate, the weakest print since the fourth quarter of 2009. Part of that reflected a smaller gain in inventories that cut 0.6 percentage point from growth.

    Exports declined 7.6 percent, exceeding the decrease in imports and pushing the trade gap up to $414.4 billion from $382.8 billion in the fourth quarter. Trade subtracted another 0.8 percentage point from GDP.

    Government expenditures also decreased, led by cuts in federal military outlays and by state and local agencies.]

  6. Tom L at 2895:
    Good post.

    We’re looking at the extremes here; the idea is to treat both ends fairly and still have a sensible rule for the middle.

    I absolutely agree.

  7. 2903

    Taxing inheritance and gifts (of significant financial value) is one of the best ways of getting at the rich, along with wealth tax. Its biggest hole is tax havens (a reason why a world government is needed). It should also be part of income tax so that people on higher incomes who inherit pay more tax on the inheritance than those on low incomes who inherit.

  8. Further to 2899.

    They will most likely to this, of course, by reflecting that value in the price of their products, and so force those additional considerations onto their customers. Which, assuming those customers voted in favour of formalising those values, is the desired effect. They should be happy to take into consideration those things they themselves voted for.

    Abbott’s PPL does this not at all, or poorly at best.

  9. 2906

    The more valuable the home, the more that the reverse mortgage will pay and the more the means test will cut the pension. It the reverse mortgage and the super are not enough there will be a part pension.

  10. Tom

    People pay enough income tax, the only people that work for government are public servants, everyone else is not working for the government but themselves and their families and that includes those that do actually work for the government.

  11. Under your philosophy Tom it would be far simpler for a Government to sequestrate all private property and provide subsistence payments to all its citizens in equal measure.

    I believe the experiment has been tried before.

  12. 2913

    You are thinking about inheritance from the point of view of those providing the inheritance. That sort of attitude is favorable to the very rich because not taxing inheritance, which is a form of mainly unearned income for the inheritor, spread their wealth across the generations.

  13. 2915

    I am talking about taxing inheritance, not banning it.

    I am not talking about requiring all incomes to be equal. If you work more, or more valuably, you should get paid more.

  14. Tom

    I invite you to tell the average tradie or office worker that they work for the government.

    I wonder what their response will be.

    If you want to tax the rich then charge them 100% of their children’s university place.

    By doing that you are hitting the source of their employability hence the key to their high income potential

  15. Tom if it is okay to tax based on postcode then charging for university by postcode is surely fair enough as well.

  16. 2919

    Inheritance taxation is not “working for the Government”. With inheritance taxation, they still get the money, they just have to pay tax on it. Workers pay tax on the income they get from working, it is thus unreasonable to workers not to make inheritors pay tax on money they inherit.

    University education is not a service to the parent, but a service to the student. If the parent(s) or other wealthy relative or friend, charge gift tax.

  17. 2920

    Means-testing owner-occupier housing is not tax based on postcode, it is a means-test based on actual realisable asset value.

  18. Tom

    Your reverse mortgage idea is aimed at pensioners yet you are not willing to have the same treatment for university places.

    The children of the rich pretty much always go to university, if you survey people in white collar jobs above 80k a year they pretty much all have at least one bachelor degree, some industries require a lower level qualification but even so most will have at least one bachelor.

    You are arguing that a pensioner should have their home included in the asset test which will discriminate against working class people who have seen their once working class suburb become expensive.

    So on one hand you are happy to limit the opportunities for working class families to pass their family home onto their children but allow rich kids to go to uni which leads to them enjoying higher incomes.

  19. 2925 & 2926

    Means-testing students against their own assets and income is an idea with merit as is applying a gift tax when someone else (like their parents or grandparents) pay. That will effect the rich.

  20. Tom

    Nice but students can take out a loan and the rest is sent off to the government while its possible for a kid to be living with his/her rich parents and still receive heavily subsides university place which leads to them obtaining high paying job.

    While you will still be slugging the children of the working class who have benefited from years of hard work.

  21. Parents do not have to be rich to let their children live with them, just not more than a bit poor. Gift tax should also be applied to parents who send their children to private schools. If the student takes out a loan, they have to pay it back. The wealthy get the advantage by the parents paying and thus not leaving them with the debt.

    Parents are children are separate people with separate identities and tax and means-test liabilities. You need to remember that.

  22. A university education offers social and economic benefits to society, as well as to the individual. In the vast majority of cases the subsidy an individual receives in obtaining a tertiary education will be paid back many times over in increased tax payments due to their higher post-graduation income. Then there are the other potential gains to society and the economy in having a better educated workforce.
    While it makes some sense for there to be some form of copayment (e.g. HECS), it should not be at such a level as to discourage tertiary education.

  23. B.C

    There is no disputing that and that isn’t the issue, we have Tom wanting to include the family home in the pension asset test and recommends would be pensioners take out a reverse mortgage.

    Tom has the view that the rich should pay more tax, now this brings us to university, if we want to tax the rich then one of the easiest ways is too increase university fees for kids of rich people remembering as you point out the benefits that come from a degree.

    Of course i don’t agree with Tom in regards to placing the family home in the pension asset test as the pensioner as in my view learn the right to benefit from that property.

    Just as i think the first bachelor degree should be covered by the government for the reasons you mentioned.

    As i know Tom has previously been to uni i am trying to explain to Tom in a language that as a student he would understand as i don’t think Tom understands what it would do to a person to be told after working all their lives that they no longer could benefit from their hard work because the government viewed them as rich.

  24. mb –

    to be told after working all their lives that they no longer could benefit from their hard work because the government viewed them as rich.

    So why do we have an asset test at all? Some people ‘benefit from their hard work’ with the result that they have a big share investment portfolio, or large term deposits. But if they have these things and they exceed the asset test thresholds then ‘the government views them as rich’.

    Strangely that is ok for other assets, but not the family home, and you have never explained why that makes sense.

    Of course there are particular issues specific to the family home, but you’re not arguing those issues, you’re arguing this spurious “they worked hard all their lives” crapola.

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