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. After all the air given here on Abbotts new tax etc etc & the article in Crikey today who really believes its all more than a fishing trip.

    [Prime Minister Tony Abbott may imply journalists are making it up — as he did on 3AW yesterday —  but the sideshow is mostly planned. Through a series of drops, a few unavoidable leaks, a studied refusal to rule things in or out, until the press conferences doing exactly that as we near the second Tuesday in May, governments control and shape the narrative around their books.]

  2. Tom so in other words you are saying to the workers on moderate income guess what you workers there spending your lives working with the hope of leaving your children better off are working for nothing as after you have paid off the mortgage we will make you take out a reverse mortgage which will see the benefits go to the banks rather than the workers children.

  3. Kennett now making the case on Lateline that you can promise anything, break the promise immediately after an election, and not have to cop anything at all as electoral punishment.

    After three years of vilifying Labor for minor promises broken (they WERE minor, just trumped up as major), these bastards have the hide to say electoral promises, not just made, but repeated ad nauseam before and after election, backed up with further promises that the original promises will never be broken, are now disposable, aspirational, vapourware.

    F**k me dead, these people have hides thicker than Jesse the Elephant.

  4. Raving about someone having a home that they live in being worth over a million dollars so their pension should be chopped.

    Yet some earning $100,000 a year in interest on their superannuation should pay less tax….to earn $100,000 on superannuation a person need between $1,5-2 million in their account

  5. “@swearyanthony: Look, with a Victorian election later this year, I think the Liberals need to get Kennett out and on TV more. Total vote winner.”

  6. Zoidy

    Its actually a terrible idea but the point i am trying to make is government could go off the deep end and cut spending to only the bare basics which would have many adverse impacts.

    Although those Lib students should pay their way.

  7. Tom you speak of pensioners as if they are cyphers or numbers and not people. Downsizing? Reverse mortgages? Many older people want to stay in their communities near their families and in places where they have access to good medical facilities. in Sydney this means staying in areas with houses worth around a million…because in Sydney almost every bloody house is worth around a million..

  8. Kennett now making the case on Lateline that you can promise anything, break the promise immediately after an election, and not have to cop anything at all as electoral punishment.

    Yeah Kennett wants politicians to act as if they made no promises before the election.

    Well, the politicians should stop making promises then.

    The point about the system we have of elections in this country is that the parties are supposed to give the voters information about what they are planning to do. If promises mean nothing, ever, then what are people voting on? The vibe?

    I understand Kennett’s frustration with the system. I think the system is broken too – politicians are scared of speaking plainly about their plans because of the over-the-top media/public feedback. But that’s the problem – politicians have to start being courageous enough to be honest up front. Promise what they’re willing to promise. Don’t promise what they’re not willing to deliver on.

    We shouldn’t stop holding parties to account for not honouring their promises. We should start being more tolerant and more open to what politicians say that may (in the current atmosphere) be risky for politicians.

  9. Jackol

    Agree we do put too much focus on election promises and should be more open to changing circumstances which do require changes in policies.

  10. 2853

    The reverse mortgage providers are not getting anything for free, they pay, then they get the home at the end.

    It is not the government`s job to make some people children better off than others, which is what inheritance subsidisation does. The government`s job it to make life better for everyone children, equally.

  11. There were no cast iron commitments about not reducing the diesel fuel rebate. I reckon the LNP made so many promises about not doing things that anything they didn’t promise not to do is ipso facto now on the table.

    Reducing the diesel fuel rebate would infuriate the Nats, miners and farmers but once the decision was made they’d make do and the voting public wouldn’t be much bothered.

    Kennett was right about going hard early. That was the problem with the mining tax. A weak compromise at the end of the day.

  12. @2860,

    Yes it was mearly a joke…. at Young Libs expense.

    In-regards to Bob Hoskins, best known for his roles in Super Mario Bros. and Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

  13. [In-regards to Bob Hoskins, best known for his roles in Super Mario Bros. and Who Framed Roger Rabbit.]

    And of course The Long Good Friday as well as his chilling portrayal of Kruschev at Stalingrad, in Enemy At The Gates

  14. So, a disabled, and now retired 61 year old, with a 55 year old wife, takes on a reverse mortgage over their $450000 family home (their only significant asset) for $120000.

    They use the money to pay off the balance of their existing mortgage, $75000, buy a $15000 car to see them through, give $20000 to their only son to help him with his deposit to buy his own home, and spend the rest of the money ($10000) together with a couple of thousand dollars of their meagre savings to renovate their dilapidated kitchen and bathroom (son helps, together with a couple of his tradie mates, with the labour).

    Sounds plausible? Good.

    Now the $120000 is all gone.

    At an interest rate of 9% pa (give or take) the debt doubles every 10 years approximately.

    Our disabled pensioner mate lives on another 25 years and then karks it, leaving his 80 year old wife still in excellent health, but in a dump of a house now worth land value only, no car, and a reverse mortgage over her head of $720000.

    She lives on another 5 years (Reverse mortgage debt now $935000) and needs hip and knee surgery, dentures, a pace maker and by the way, permanent care in a high care nursing facility for which a substantial up front payment is required.

    Son has by now pissed off with his third wife to somewhere in NZ.

    If it wasn’t for the reverse mortgage, from which she and her late partner benefited little, she could have sold her land for $700-900000 (at then market value) paid for her ongoing care and medicals, and have had a comfortable nest egg left in the bank for future emergencies and contingencies.

    As it is, she’s a pauper, having followed Tom’s excellent advice.

  15. 2862

    Reverse mortgages allow people to stay in their own homes, without moving, and still derive an income from it.

    Downsizing is not for everyone and smaller housing (those that do not want to downsize can get a reverse mortgage or take lodgers or some other means of turning their home into income) is usually cheaper than larger housing (of the same standard) in the same area.

  16. Whatever happens with the Budget, Abbott is very seriously diminished as PM. He looks weak, the narrative is all over the place. Its credibility as a no surprises Government that keeps its promises, shot to pieces. And the beauty of it, entirely self-inflicted.

  17. 2870

    Society benefits from having university educated people in it. If the government does not fund university education then the children of the rich get an even more disproportionate proportion of access to university.

  18. [2819…Tibor]

    Since this would rely on pooled, compulsory, universal contributions, it would resemble other forms of social insurance, like unemployment or sickness benefits or Super Guarantee Contributions. It may be administered through workplaces, but would be a social insurance scheme – or employment-related welfare, for want of another term.

    However, the result if tying such support to employment status is to ensure that different women – and their children – receive markedly different financial benefits.

    This would particularly disadvantage lone mothers when compared to partnered mothers.

    The employment rates of mothers vary considerably with the age of their children and according to whether they are coupled or lone mothers. Mothers are least likely to be in employment when they are lone and when their youngest child is aged 0-4. Such mothers were only about 35% likely to be in employment in 2008. By contrast partnered mothers whose youngest child is aged 0-4 were slightly more than 50% likely to be in employment. Partnered mothers whose youngest child was aged 10-14 in 2008 were nearly 80% likely to be in employment.‎

    This excellent study also observes…

    [Levels of human capital are an important factor here, as mothers with higher levels of human capital, measured in terms of education or work experience, are more competitive in the labour market, and therefore able to find employment in jobs with better paid and/or working conditions. Lone mothers are at a disadvantage in this respect, given their relatively low levels of human capital (Harding et al., 2005). This is evidenced by the finding that employed lone mothers of young children are more likely to be employed in casual jobs and jobs of lower occupational status, and less likely to have access to family-friendly work arrangements than couple mothers (Baxter, Gray, Alexander, Strazdins, & Bittman, 2007).

    These findings indicate that lone mothers are likely to face disproportionately higher rates of movement out of employment. However, if turnover in these jobs is relatively high, we can perhaps also expect that mothers seeking lower status or casual jobs may be able to move into these jobs more easily than mothers seeking higher status, permanent positions, for which turnover is lower. Of particular importance is whether higher turnover in casual or low-paid jobs is driven by employees or by employers. It is plausible that mothers with lower levels of human capital may be at greater risk of being subject to employer-driven turnover, and therefore being less able to leave or take up employment at a time that matches their needs.]

  19. Tom

    And with that you open a nice loophole as the old person will just transfer the house to the kids name, will only need to find about 5k for the conveyancing solicitor

  20. The usefulness of a reverse mortgage depends on your age and how long you are gonna live.

    I guess if you needed to go into a retirement home or nursing home at some stage, and you needed to get yourself hands on some lump some cash, you could reverse mortgage, rent the property when you went into a nursing/retirement home ….

  21. So we’ve had

    – leaks from within the highest levels of the LNP Gov,

    – threats of party room revolts,

    – senior elders of the party being vocal in their criticism (Kennet and Fraser),

    – u turns on Gonski and various other broken promises

    – corruption scandals in the NSW party that have tainted the fed LNP (Sinodinos)

    – goodies and baddies Foreign Policy

    – granted, no boats

    – and the LNP tanking in the polls

    One does wonder when the MSM will twig that sometimes their job is to join the dots

  22. 2869

    That is not the kind of reverse mortgage I am talking about. I am talking about a reverse mortgage where the reverse mortgage provider pays the reverse mortgagee a regular payment and then gets the house when they die.

  23. Thomas Paine, the last of you and your spouse vacating the property technically triggers an act of Default and the reverse mortgagee calls in the reverse mortgage and sells the property to recover its then debt.

    No possibility for the mortgagor to rent it out as a means of earning income.

  24. 2878


    People who inherit houses are generally better off than the rest of the population before they inherit them. Life expectancy is such these days that the rest of the population before they inherit the house.

  25. The social wage is not welfare. It includes welfare. Welfare to the social wage is as a pylon to a bridge. To interchange the two terms is a show of ignorance.

  26. 2884

    Depending on the terms of the reverse mortgage. It would be quite reasonable to regulate that all new reverse mortgages last until the recipients die.

  27. Tom

    This conversation is centered around you wanting would be pensioner to take out a reverse mortgage rather than take a pension which transfers the benefit to the banks rather than to the workers children.

    Ít reduces the benefit to society just as reducing access to university does.

    The rich will still be able to get around it by simply transferring title to the children before the older person reaches pension age.

    It only costs 5k to fill out the paperwork.

    For those who missed him aa Premier or were to young to remember this was the old Jeff many of us hated so much
    My wife said it gave her the creeps…like a time machine taking us back to the 90ies

    But Abbott is in trouble…big trouble…Kennett by his attack proves it …and he represents those Liberals who are sick of waiting for Abbott’s atttack on everything.. But they forget he has a hostile Senate and it will get no better…and then there’s Palmer…and it’s not the 90ies
    ..and all that Middle class welfare that Howard did so well will trouble Abbott when he comes to chop it down(which is what Kennett wants)

    But I repeat,,,Kennet shows that Abbott is in the poo…and so soon… great times ..and Vintage Kennett who seemed almost possessed by some spirit wild was he

  29. Banks don’t work that way, Tom. they are not charities or welfare providers.

    On an actuarial basis they must make a profit or they won’t be in it.

  30. Regarding Tone lets just hope these public attacks don’t allow him an excuse to go soft which all the media talking heads will celebrate as common sense prevailing.

  31. Love some of the rationalizations coming in tonight.

    Abbott makes it all seem so easy to “fix” everything… hundreds of policies ready to go, fully costed, adults about to take over, axe the tax, stop the boats, support health, education, care for the diasbled fully, “unity tickets” etc. etc.

    Then, when the shit hits the fan, his mates go into bat for him telling us how BAD it all turned out to be, how DIFFICULT the task ahead of us truly is, how “the national interest” demands that he ditch all his promises, it supercedes everything,… promises? What are promises? Just breaths of air, here today, gone tomorrow. As Abbott himself puts it, “That was then. This is now.”

    “It’s sometimes better to seek forgiveness than ask permission” is another one of his aphorisms, his little pearls of wisdom. So he invents the crazy, inverse eligibility PPL scheme. He brings back knighthoods. He dreams up levies. He tries to rob schools of what not only Gillard but HE himself promised them. Then he backflips.

    No poor sod know WHAT he’s doing. He’s had more policies than AMP. They are ditched, or reinforced, then ditched anyway, at his own whim.

    He’s running a rabble. TWO WEEKS before the Budget is due his big ace in the hole, the Deficit Levy, goes belly up. He’s now ditching his PPL scheme. He gets Mark Simkin to waffles about how Abbott is making sacrifices…. sacrifices only of pride, not of any substance whatsoever, if truth be told.

    He promised – there’s that word… “promised” – “No surprises. No excuses.” He’s been bloody-well making excuses, parsing his own words, playing games with the people who voted for him, since day bloody #1.

    He’s fouled his own, and his government’s nest with his maniacal promises, his hubris, his mistaken belief that Rupert Murdoch will save him every time and his outright lies.

    And no comes the “forgiveness”bit.

    He told us he wouldn’t seek it. There’d be no excuses. But he’s seeking it anyway. The man has no guts, no class and not a shred of decency or honesty left in him (and that’s if he ever had any).

    Any halfwit could have seen that he was a bullshit artist, right from the start. The punters were warned, but like mugs falling for a Nigerian scam, they convinced themselves that it was going to be the other poor, dumb bastard who got swindled by the slogans, the intimidation, the wrecking and the lies.

    Now we find his party rorted the system of political donations to get the money it needed to print those crappy brochures and make those false promises. The whole thing has been exposed as an empty shell of deceit, venality, cronyism and outright criminality.

    He – and his party who followed him – brought this precisely upon themselves. They deserve no credit or sympathy, no understanding or cutting of slack in their favour. Their biggest promise was that they would keep their promises, and they have delivered practically the opposite, making the excuses they said they would never make and springing the surprises they said they would never spring.

    It’s no good to talk about what’s good for the country when the people talking about it are a bunch of pimps and spivs, cynically using the people’s trust as their disposable plaything, then getting all noble and emotional, appealing to national pride and honour, when they are found out.

    THEY are the dishonourable ones. THEY took on the responsibility for running the country. And they’ve f**ked it, f**ked themselves and f**ked us all roundly and squarely.

    They asked for no sympathy by promising “no excuses”. So be it. Let them at least stick to THAT promise and take the consequences they tols us they would deserve if they broke it.

  32. Reverse mortgaging the family home to pay for the aged pension is a way of asset-stripping a person before they die. It is a form of death tax once favoured by the socialists/left to break up the fortunes of the upper classes, imo. It is now being used to take the resources of the middle-class and make sure their kids have nothing to inherit.

    It is funny how socialist ideas end up in the policies of the

  33. Re asset tests and primary residences. As with any inheritance tax it would make sense to include any value in the primary residence exceeding (say) $800k in the asset test. Then someone who’s lucked into owning a million dollar house in a former working class area won’t be pinged too much (assuming they haven’t also ‘lucked’ into owning a couple of investments too), but Mr and Mrs Cottesloe who’ve arranged their finances so the bulk of their assets are in a $5 million home aren’t going to receive the pension.

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

    As for tricky transfers to children, it would usually be pretty transparent and easily legislated around, and the prospect of trusting one’s children to do the right thing for the rest of one’s life would probably put a lot of people off the idea anyway.

  34. 2888

    The reverse mortgage provider pays for the home with the reverse mortgage, the children do not pay under pension exempting the family home from the means test. If the children, or anyone else, want to pay instead of a financial institution then I have no problem with that (there is a system like that in France).

    The greater rate of taxation of a non-owner-occupier home would significantly reduce the benefit of title transfer.

    The rich can be got at with inheritance and gift taxes.

  35. Bendigo Bank offers a different scheme I understand from a neighbour,in which you take a parcentage of the value of the ome…say 20% in cash and contract to pay the bank say 27% when you sell the house or it’s sold after death
    The residue is the owners or estates…no interest payments and as real estate rises generally it seems a better scheme tha the reverse mortages
    Called I think Home Sacings and =different from the reverse mortage schemes
    Has anyoine heard of it

  36. briefly, from Tibor’s post
    [… If the government wishes to add to this scheme, such as an extra payment to low income earners, then it can do so, but the benefit should be means tested.]

    Regarding your point, a properly implement PPL (not Abbott’s) will not magically add more money to the pot for mothers enjoying greater employment. What it will do is force businesses to *factor in an additional human cost of employment along with, for example, mental and physical health.

    In other words it forces forward planning. Businesses must account for the possibility that their employees will have children – just as they must account for the possibility of sickness or fatigue – they cannot leave it up to random chance.

    *or, if you like, force them to value an additional aspect of human life. Assuming, of course, that we *do* value that aspect.

  37. Tony Abbott has LIED!

    “Yearly expenditure on Australia’s pension payments to recipients of Australian income support payments living overseas amounts to $692 million (June 2012). At the same time, pensions from overseas being paid to Australian pensioners residing in Australia totalled $1,484 million (June 2012). This represents a significant inflow of funds into Australia, an increase in disposable income for pensioners and a saving for Australian taxpayers. This is shown in Figure 1.”

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