Margin: Liberal 3.6%
Location: Eastern Adelaide, South Australia
The candidates (ballot paper order)
GABRIELLA ALEXANDRA SCALI
Christopher Pyne’s electorate of Sturt covers the inner eastern suburbs of Adelaide, including Payneham, Kensington, Tranmere and Skye east of the city, Klemzig, Campbelltown, Paradise and Highbury to the north, and Glenunga, Glen Osmond and Beaumont to the south. When created in 1949 it also covered northern Adelaide, which after 1955 formed the basis of the new electorate of Bonython (eventually to be abolished in 2004). The loss of this territory made Sturt notionally Liberal, prompting Labor member Norman Makin – who had gained Sturt from the Liberals at the 1954 election – to contest the new seat, which was very safe for Labor. Sturt has since been won by Labor only at the 1969 election, when a 15.0% swing secured a narrow victory for Norman Foster. South Australia bucked the national trend of the 1972 election in swinging slightly to the Liberals, enabling Ian Wilson to recover the seat he had lost at the previous election.
Wilson thereafter retained the seat by margins of between 2.0% and 10.3% until the 1993 election, when he was defeated for preselection by Christopher Pyne, a 25-year-old former staffer to Senator Amanda Vanstone. Pyne was already emerging as a powerbroker in the party’s moderate faction, and won promotion to shadow parliamentary secretary a year after entering parliament. However, he would have to wait until the Howard government’s final year in office to achieve ministerial rank, which was widely put down to his closeness to Peter Costello. Following the November 2007 election defeat he ran for the deputy leadership, finishing in third place with 18 votes behind Julie Bishop on 44 and Andrew Robb on 25.
Pyne has served in high-profile positions in opposition, first in justice and border protection under Brendan Nelson, then in education, apprenticeships and training under Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott. In February 2009 he further gained the important role of manager of opposition business, to the chagrin of the party’s Right. Meanwhile, his hold on Sturt has come under threat with the tide to Labor at the past two elections, his margin in 2007 being cut from 6.8% to 0.9%. He did well in 2010 to secure the seat with a swing of 2.5%, prevailing against the trend of a 0.8% statewide swing to Labor.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.