South Australian draft federal redistribution

Port Adelaide nominated for the chop in draft federal boundaries for South Australia, which bring the state down from 11 seats to 10.

The Australian Electoral Commission has published draft boundaries for the South Australian redistribution, which brings the state’s representation down from 11 seats to 10. The seat mooted for abolition is Port Adelaide; Wakefield is to be renamed Spence. At the bottom is a table featuring my estimates of party vote shares and two-party margins (Labor versus Liberal only).

Adelaide. Drifts westwards into the void created by the abolition of Port Adelaide, turning a tight Labor seat into a reasonably safe one.

Barker. Gains Barossa Valley territory around Kapunda.

Boothby. Drawn northwards into Glenelg through knock-on effects from Port Adelaide abolition, without much change to the margin.

Grey. Expends to the northern edge of Adelaide, gaining Clare Valley, with next to no impact on the margin.

Hindmarsh. Takes the bulk of Port Adelaide, turning the seat from marginal to safe Labor.

Kingston. Loses coast at southern end around Aldinga Beach, gains suburbia at northern end around Aberfoyle Park. Slightly advantageous to Liberal, but not enough to make them competitive on recent form.

Makin. Expands west to take over some Port Adelaide territory, notably Parafield Gardens.

Mayo. Not abolished, as some expected; gains the Aldinga Beach coastal area lost by Kingston.

Spence (Wakefield). Greatly strengthened for Labor through loss of Clare Valley and Barossa Valley to Grey and Barker respectively, and gain of suburbs around Paralowie from Port Adelaide.

Sturt. Gains Norwood at western end from Adelaide, with little impact on margin.

LIB change ALP change XEN change LIB 2pp vs ALP change
Adelaide 34.4% -2.1% 42.8% 6.9% 12.5% -0.3% 41.1% -4.3%
Barker 47.3% 0.8% 15.9% 0.7% 29.0% -0.1% 64.4% -0.8%
Boothby 44.4% 3.2% 27.7% 3.2% 18.3% -2.4% 52.8% -0.7%
Grey 44.7% 1.9% 22.4% 0.8% 27.2% -0.6% 58.6% -0.1%
Hindmarsh 33.5% -6.8% 43.4% 9.4% 16.4% 1.4% 41.8% -7.6%
Kingston 27.2% 3.9% 50.0% 0.6% 17.7% 0.5% 36.5% 3.5%
Makin 28.6% 0.0% 46.3% 4.5% 16.2% -0.4% 39.2% -1.2%
Mayo 37.7% -0.1% 16.4% 2.9% 33.8% -1.1% 53.3% -2.1%
Port Adelaide Abolished
Spence/Wakefield 20.4% -6.0% 49.4% 9.6% 20.1% -0.4% 32.1% -6.9%
Sturt 47.4% 3.0% 23.5% 1.3% 19.7% -1.4% 55.7% -0.1%

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.

43 comments on “South Australian draft federal redistribution”

  1. My comment from the other thread on this topic:

    So, initially, it seems like it is -1 for Labor in SA. I’m not sure how Mayo looks SAB v. Lib right now.

    However, on the flipside for Labor, with the exception of Kingston, their seats have strengthened in margin. With Hindmarsh still being the most marginal Labor seat with a margin of 8.2%.

    On the other end of the spectrum, Boothby has become a bit more marginal but still at 2.8%. The other Lib seats have their margins slightly weakened but not really by enough to really create worry for them. Sturt barely changed.

    Of course, the problem for South Australians here is this has created a situation where, unless there’s a lopsided election, it will be hard for either side to flip seats which makes the state less important to national leaders (who will see more value in focusing resources and policies in the much more fruitful marginal areas interstate.)

    The upside though is, if you wanted to seed a leader in the House to be PM one day from a SA seat, now is the time to do it.

  2. That looks bad for Labor on last election numbers, or applying BT’s SA swing

    1 Labor seat abolished, in exchange for Boothby being less safe for the Liberals and Hindmarsh now safe Labor rather than marginal. Net change, under last election or BT swing is still -1 to Labor, Lib unchanged.

    Considering it was the Rural (Liberal) electorates under quota, I was expecting this to be better for Labor.

  3. Who will be the ALP candidate for Spence. Mark Butler or Nick Champion?

    Unless there is a surprise retirement, I’d say Champion would get that one.

  4. I’d say Butler will take over Hindmarsh and Champion will stay in Wakefield. The current Hindmarsh MP has been contesting elections for a good two decades. It is pretty likely he might retire anyway, but if he doesn’t I imagine he’d be a good candidate for Boothby where I am assuming a good chunk of his current electorate will land in.

  5. I’ve plotted the redistribution and there’s a big difference between Hindmarsh and Boothby, 11%.

    So if this stands, on 2PP either Party needs more than 55.5% to break a 5-5 split.

    I can’t see how this can be seen as good for democracy!!!

  6. Thanks William. Looks like I may have to think about my name!
    If this stands all the hard fighting will be in the Liberal held seats of Boothby and Sturt and Mayo (NXT CA).

  7. Christopher Pyne will have a sigh of relief, considering his seat has not had any major changes.

    However the Coalition only has 75 seats on the new boundaries. They will need to gain seats in order to win the election.

  8. Mayo will return to the LNP, I’m sure of it.

    Maybe not. They have an MP who doesn’t hail from either of the major parties. Voters like when that happens and, unless the MP does a poor job or does something to offend them, they will back the “viable independent” because they see that as making a “real” choice.

    It’s not ironclad, sure, but incumbent indies/3rd party MPs do have that under their belt.

  9. kakuru @ #17 Friday, April 13th, 2018 – 11:21 am

    Mayo will return to the LNP, I’m sure of it. As long as Jamie Briggs or Georgina Downer are not the candidates.

    As long as I remember Mayo has had centralist edge.

    The Democrates did well there a number of times threatening Downer’s hold on it, most notably when John Schumann the Redgun singer ran against him.

    In 1998 Schumann accepted an appointment as the chief of staff for the then leader of the Australian Democrats, Meg Lees. He stood against Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer for the Division of Mayo in Adelaide, winning 22.4% of the primary vote to Downer’s 45.6%, taking the vote to preferences. After the distribution of preferences, Downer held the seat 51.7% to Schumann’s 48.3%. Despite coming close to winning the seat, Schumann decided not to contest the seat in the 2001 election, citing a number of reasons including family commitments and the Democrats’ decision to elect Senator Natasha Stott Despoja as leader in April 2001.

  10. Mayo strikes me me as a seat where people will for anyone reasonable that is not Labor.

    I suspect it will stay Independent.

  11. There are a lot more anti-Labor, rather than pro-Lib seats that they hold than people realise.

    I dare say many of the urban Liberal seats, like Wentworth, Warringah, North Sydney, Higgins, Kooyong etc, from my experience are far more driven by a cultural dislike of Labor.

  12. Seems reasonable. Butler can now run in Hindmarsh and Georganas can try to win Boothby which is very achievable given current polling. If NXT lose Mayo in a byelection, the net outcome could be ALP 6, LNP 4.

    The bigger issue for any rep. in SA is how long will your seat last? SA has reduced from 13 seats in 1992 to just 10 in 2018 (Hawked 93, Wakefield 04). Given relative rapid pop. growth elsewhere SA will lose another seat in the next decade & could be down to 8 seats by the early 30s!

  13. If the Libs were to recruit Rebekah Sharkie which I think is quite likely, then I’d say they’d win Mayo. If she does decide to stay on with Xenophon (or whatever they call themselves now)with the new boundaries it could be a very interesting three party contest.

  14. I commented earlier on how the margin between Boothby and Hindmarsh was very large in comparison with the others.

    Spence/Wakefield-Kingston 4.4%
    Kingston-Makin 2.7%
    Makin-Adelaide 1.9%
    Adelaide-Hindmarsh 0.7%
    Hindmarsh-Boothby 11.0%
    Boothby-Mayo 0.5%
    Mayo-Sturt 2.4%
    Sturt-Grey 2.9%
    Grey-Barker 5.8%

    It doesn’t make sense to have such a big gap.

    Labor need a 2PP > 55.1% to win Boothby and

    Liberal need a 2PP > 55.9% to win Hindmarsh.

    Why would they have it like this, seats will rarely if ever change*?

    * discounting minor parties and independents. 🙂

  15. Yes, rarely criticise the boundary drawing as there’s usually sensible reasoning behind it, but in this case it seems rather like they’ve come very close to drawing 5 safe ALP seats and 5 safe conservative seats, requiring a big landslide to alter it. If (on a uniform swing) you can go from 55-45 ALP to 55-45 Coalition and not change a single seat, they’ve messed it up.

    The issue is not abolishing an ALP seat, the issue is drawing the boundaries so that the result isn’t sensitive to pretty big changes in the way SA votes.

  16. /Pictures/0d6029545c2fe3fab7c265e6262b5d93f54a53c6.webp


    Don’t know if the above helps, but it’s what comes up in the URL field when I click on the icon in my pictures file.

  17. “Why would they have it like this, seats will rarely if ever change?” (Barney in GD)

    Because, Barney, creating seats that fall in a nice linear pattern of swinginess is not one of the criteria for doing redistributions. The way voter populations are distributed, it usually ends up that way, but not necessarily. The parties’ submissions don’t always help – they sometimes concentrate on defending their existing seats so much that they ignore the bigger picture. Purely geographically, I must say that this looks like a very rational distribution. It’s only when you apply voting patterns to it that the awkwardness becomes apparent.

  18. Jack,

    Creating seats that never change is hardly serving it’s purpose of providing representatives in numbers that reflect the electorate.

  19. The difficulties that the ECSA had in making the now-abolished “fairness” clause work show that it’s not a good idea to require that redistributions have any regard to voting patterns. All we need is that the boundaries are drawn by a body independent of partisan politics to create coherent – not contrived – seats that are within the numerical tolerances. The AEC’s draft does that. The fact that, on the last election’s results, it happens to produce a lot of safe seats is neither here nor there.

  20. SA is a pretty partisan State geographically, so I would expect that boundaries which take account of communities of interest, are going frequently to produce a lot of very safe seats. I agree that this distribution is unusual in producing such a large gap of 11% between the two electorates on either side of the midpoint of the pendulum, but such things are going to happen sometimes by chance in a geographically partisan State.
    Whether it is more democratic to have a good proportion of the seats being marginal is an interesting question. I would be worried if there were very few marginal seats at the national level, but I am not concerned if it happens by chance in a particular State. Its probably true that having no very marginal seats will mean SA has less influence, but is that undemocratic given SA has 7% of the national population? It could be argued that in the past SA (and Tasmania) have had influence on national decisions out of proportion to their size. (I say that as someone born in SA who wants SA to do well).

  21. Barney:

    Creating seats that never change is hardly serving it’s purpose of providing representatives in numbers that reflect the electorate.

    That’s not the purpose of single-member electorates. Single-member electorates are supposed to be contiguous communities that each choose a representative that reflects them, independently of the other electorates. If you want representatives in numbers that reflect the overall electorate, you want proportional representation.

    But note that even were you to use proportional representation to allocate 10 seats between two parties, the Droop quota for 5 seats would be 45.5% so you’d still have almost exactly the same electoral ‘dead zone’ in the middle.

  22. Under the proposed changes, I’ve scraped into Hindmarsh by a couple of hundred metres. I feel for both Georganas, and Butler. Georganas is from the inner west and that is where his core support is from, whereas Butler is well and truly a Port Adelaide figure. Getting Georganas to run in Boothby, may sound feasible but in reality, The Boothby Liberal margin will actually be much higher than the alleged figure being mooted. The areas of Somerton Park, Glenelg and Glenelg East are blue ribbon Liberal blue rinse set, and even a fantastic and well known MP like Georganas will not shift their votes.

  23. I’ve just examined the maps again, and unfortunately I’ve been Shoehorned into Boothby. Given the new makeup of Adelaide, I’d suggest Georganas would be a good show contesting there. As for me, I’ll be handing out how to vote cards in ultra Liberal polling booths next election… shudder. The member for for Boothby Nicole Flint is an ultra conservative member of the Monash Forum, BTW and was parachuted into the electorate in 2016, regrettably having to leave her cape Jaffa property behind.

  24. William,

    Is there possibly a mistake in the table? It looks to me like the LIB change cell in the Barker row has a missing minus sign. Or is it just that ‘Others’ voters have shifted?

  25. So if my maths is correct, combined with Victoria and the ACT redistributions we’re heading into the next election 74 Libs, 72 Labor and 5 others? You’d think that still makes a workable minority Liberal government on no swing, supported by Katter and McGowan at least. (Maybe Bandt would even accept the Speakership if the Greens controlled the balance of power in the Senate?) Conversely, Labor corralling 76 votes for a majority, plus an extra number for a speaker, would be practically impossible. It’s definitely still the opposition who need to flip seats at the next election, not the government.

  26. I heard Fiefield saying that anti siphoning laws only provided for free to air being able to bid – not a guarantee of coverage on free to air

    Murdoch strikes

  27. @calumniousfox

    I have my doubts on a hung parliament occurring, because the Coalition would have to win seats in NSW and Victoria to offset losses in Western Australia and maybe Queensland. There is a reason why the new army vehicle contract went to Queensland not Victoria. I believe Liberal internal polling to showing they are going to lose a few seats there.

    Firstly; the opinion polls for a while have been pointing to a comfortable Labor win. Right now Labor is predicted to win more seats than they did in 2007 with Kevin Rudd at the helm. If an election was held today.

    Secondly; I am not sure the government can close the gap between now and the election. If say the government was willing to cut immigration by 100,000 a year and/or find a way to reduce electricity prices. If those were to occur, then the Coalition would win with a sizeable swing (about 3-4%) to it. The best I believe they will achieve is lose only a few seats and Labor win a small majority.

  28. I don’t think no swing is very likely either, at this point probably more likely is a record swing, but not all is lost for the government if they can pull off a miracle and get back to par.

  29. There are really only so many options here.
    (1) One of the Left MPs retires.
    (2) One of the Left MPs takes the (vacant) #2 Senate spot.
    (3) One of the Left MPs takes the (Alex Gallacher’s – Right) #1 Senate spot.
    (4) One of the Left MPs takes Adelaide (Right seat).
    (5) One of the Left MPs runs in Boothby (or another Liberal-held seat).

    One way or another, Butler will be accommodated, imo.

  30. There is another solution – and rather elegant, in my opinion.

    Georganas (Left) stays where he is in Hindmarsh.

    Champion (Right) stays where he is in Wakefield (Spence).

    Zappia (Left) stays where he is in Makin.

    Adelaide (Right, but vacant possession) goes to Jo Chapley, who fought hard and only just lost the State seat of Adelaide.

    Jay Weatherill retires (he’s already gone to the backbench anyway), just as the next Federal Election is called.

    Mark Butler nominates for the State seat of Cheltenham at the by-election, wins, and subsequently – because it is becoming apparent to all those close to the action that Malinauskis is as useful as a one-legged man at an arse-kicking party – takes over as Leader of the Opposition and soon to be next Labor Premier of SA.

    You know it makes sense 😉

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