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”

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  1. And from the Land of the Free –

    The owner of the NBA’s LA Clippers seems a nice sort of fellow!
    I’ve heard of weak excuses . . .
    Another Repug set to bite the dust.
    Just look at and listen to this Repug bible basher!
    Bill Maher’s “New Rules”. How Republicans keep managing to win elections despite the fact that most Americans don’t agree with their policies.
    The time bomb that is US infrastructure.
    Mike Malloy piles into the disgusting Sean Hannity. Warning – severe language.

  2. Went to a 21st last night. One of Mirabella’s former staffers was there and introduced herself to me. Very interesting conversation — I didn’t have to say anything nasty at all….

  3. Good Morning

    Bernard Salt is on 24 talking about increased taxation and increased migration to have more taxpayers.

    Not exactly a leftie

  4. @eatatjoe2: LNP public relations arm Newscorp leaks that Govt considering temporary tax levy on rich, obviously to try & help image of callous bastards.

  5. “@SwannyQLD: How bizarre Hockey wants a big new tax to pay for his $68b increase in deficit inc $9b to the Reserve Bank #twistedpriorities”

  6. Just watching the intro of Insiders with grabs of Hockey and Abbott. There is no confidence there, they’re total flakes!

  7. c
    The juxtaposition of the Age of Austerity and $12 billion already having been put aside (magically) for the JSF is not a good look.

  8. c
    That money is ‘future money’. It does not yet exist. It was a normal Hockey/Abbott lie about budgetary issues.

  9. Hockey: Everyone has to pay except foreign owners of Australia’s mining industry, US defence contractors and finance industry spivs.

  10. c
    The ‘future money’ that has magically already been ‘set aside’ before it even exists is political play money.

  11. Boerwar:

    Yes it was a transparent attempt to pull the wool over people. Hockey’s been doing this since the election.

  12. “@SamCD01: The three defected CLP members of the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly will be joining the PUP. #auspol”

  13. You don’t see women associated with the federal govt anymore, just men. Clearly women are faceless in the LNP.

  14. I see that Bundey, darling of people like Paul Rand, has set the (overt) racist cat amongst the US Ignoranti.

    They were all for him when it was alleged that he was just defrauding taxpayers (he has not paid the rent, allegedly, since 1993) and (allegedly) threatening to shoot only federal officials.

    Bundey has upped the ante by announcing that slavery would be good for the ‘Negro’.

    Rand et al having got in bed with a democracy thief are running for cover.


  15. g

    I am not sure there is a shared ideological basis for the shift, but hey, why not?

    The Liberals are all set to screw Indigenous voters not just like everyone else but differentially, so that Indigenous people will lose more, proportionately, than other Australians.

    Abbott cares, he really does.

    Remember the flimflam of Abbott’s noble sacrifice of spending a week in remote Indigenous communities doing ‘volunteer’ work on the taxpayer?

    Haven’t heard from the Pearsons lately.

    They wuz warned. Abbott speaks with a forked tongue.

  16. Clive reckons that Abbott can’t count. He reckons that all Abbott has to do is take something to the Senate. That will tell whether he has a mandate or not.

  17. Palmer is threatening to vote against the carbon ‘tax’ repeal? DIdn’t he run a campaign on getting rid of it?

    I’m not liking this flip flopping and all over the shopness from him.

  18. RD

    No softening from Palmer. He sad the same last time. It was the media reports as Canberra Press Gallery got their heads around repeal of Labor legislation not the fait accompli they had thought

  19. The whole ‘death caps in the Woolies mushrooms’ thing doesn’t ring true.

    For a start, there is no way that supermarket mushrooms – grown in commercial conditions, from spore – could include death caps.

    Death caps are confused with field mushrooms but field mushrooms aren’t the kind you find in the supermarket. They consist of multiple edible species, which all look slightly different. Given these differences, a death cap can look like part of the spectrum (but no experienced mushroomer would mistake one for the other).

    But supermarket mushrooms don’t have a spectrum – they’re flat topped, white capped, dark brown underneath, and are relatively ‘meaty’ – and a deathcap amongst a batch of supermarket mushrooms would look noticeably different.

    The kindest interpretations of what happened are that either someone deliberately put deathcaps in amongst the supermarket mushrooms or that there’s another cause for the illnesses.

    (It would also be very unlucky for one shopper to get all the death caps in the first scenario. Possible. Just unlikely).

    The other possibility is some kind of scam.

  20. Re Palmer and DA. From a couple of days back.

    [Direct action could fail even without Palmer United Party

    Tony Abbott’s “direct action” climate change policy is almost certain not to pass the Senate in its present form – even if the Palmer United Party were to change its position and vote for the plan]

  21. z

    Your views on the death caps are interesting.

    I believe the last batch of death cap poisonings in Canberra involved an amateur collecting some and using them in his restaurant. He is now less at least one customer, who died of renal failure.

    The temptation to avoid paying for ‘mushrooms’ when you can collect them for ‘free’ must overwhelm some people.

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