Electorate: Port Adelaide

Margin: Labor 21.0%
Location: Northern Adelaide, South Australia

In a nutshell: Labor’s safest seat in South Australia is held by cabinet minister Mark Butler, whose rapid climb through the party’s ranks further progressed after Kevin Rudd resumed the leadership.

The candidates (ballot paper order)


Family First

Palmer United Party

Australia First Party

Liberal (bottom)

Australian Greens

Labor (top)


The electorate of Port Adelaide includes Port Adelaide itself and the adjacent Le Fevre Peninsula, including the suburbs around Sempahore and Largs Bay, along with Woodville and its surrounds to the north of the city and, some distance to the north-east, a stretch of suburbs from Parfield Gardens north to Salisbury North, which are separated from the rest of the electorate by the Dry Creek industrial area. Over-quota enrolment required that the seat be pared back with the redistribution to take effect at the coming election, which has added 8000 voters around Salisbury North while removing 700 in the badlands west of Princes Highway. A little further south again, a projected 7,200 voters in a rapidly growing area from the University of South Australia campus at Mawson Lakes north to Salisbury Park have been transferred to Makin. At the southern end of the electorate, 3,300 voters around Seaton have been transferred to Hindmarsh. The changes have boosted the already handsome Labor margin from 20.0% to 21.4%.

Port Adelaide was created with the expansion of parliament in 1949 from an area that had previously made Hindmarsh a safe seat for Labor. Labor’s strength was such that the Liberals did not field candidates in 1954 and 1955, when it was opposed only by the Communist Party. Rod Sawford assumed the seat at a by-election in 1988 upon the resignation of the rather more high-profile Mick Young, member since 1974, and held it until his retirement in 2007. His successor has been Mark Butler, previously state secretary of the Left faction Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union and a descendant of two conservative state premiers: his great- and great-great-grandfathers, both of whom were called Sir Richard Butler.

Butler has quietly established himself as a rising star over his two terms in parliament, winning promotion to parliamentary secretary in June 2009 and then in the junior ministry portfolios of mental health and ageing after the 2010 election, despite his hesitancy in jumping aboard the Julia Gillard bandwagon for the June 2010 leadership coup. He was elevated to cabinet in December 2011 when social inclusion was added to his existing responsibilities, and was solidly behind Gillard when Kevin Rudd challenged her leadership two months later. Housing and homelessness were further added to his workload in the reshuffle which followed Nicola Roxon and Chris Evans’s departure in February 2013. He defected to the Rudd camp before his successful tilt at the leadership the following June, and was subsequently promoted to environment and climate change.

The Liberal candidate for the second successive election will be Nigel McKenna, a self-employed painter and decorator.

Analysis written by William Bowe. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.

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