The Poll Bludger



Margin: Labor 9.7%
Region: Southern Adelaide, South Australia

In a nutshell: Held by the Liberals for much of the Howard era, the outer southern Adelaide seat of Kingston is now a prize exhibit of Labor’s recent dominance in South Australia.

Candidates in ballot paper order




Labor (top)


Family First

Nick Xenophon Team (bottom)

Liberal (centre)

A traditionally marginal seat that has strengthened considerably for Labor over the past decade, Kingston covers the outer southern coastal suburbs of Adelaide, from Hallett Cove through Port Noarlunga to Sellicks Beach, and extends inland at its northern end to Happy Valley and Morphett Vale. When created with the expansion of parliament in 1949 it was based around Glenelg and Brighton further to the north, its then southernmost suburb of Hallett Cove being the only area still in the electorate today. Glenelg was hived off to since-abolished Hawker in 1984, and Brighton was absorbed by Boothby in the rearrangement caused by Hawker’s abolition in 1993.

Kingston had a notional Labor margin of 6.8% upon its creation in 1949, but this proved insufficient in the face of the swing that brought Bob Menzies to power. However, it was back in the Labor fold in 1951, and remained there on variable margins through to 1966. It was then caught up in the statewide convulsions of 1966 and 1969, which produced double-digit swings first to Liberal and then to Labor in both Kingston specifically and South Australia as a whole. The Liberals thus held the seat for one term before it returned emphatically to Labor with Richard Gun’s victory in 1969. Kingston subsequently changed hands with the next three changes of government, being held during the Fraser years by Grant Chapman (later to return as a Senator in 1987), during the Hawke years by Gordon Bilney, and for the first term of the Howard government by Susan Jeanes. However, Jeanes did not emerge from the 1996 victory with enough fat on her margin to withstand the GST backlash of 1998, when Labor’s David Cox prevailed by 763 votes on the back of a 2.5% swing.

David Cox held the seat for Labor for two terms before suffering defeat in 2004 by a margin of 119 votes, having been handicapped by the electorate’s acquisition of the McLaren Vale area in the redistribution that reduced South Australia’s representation from twelve seats to eleven. There followed a swing to the Liberals of 1.4%, which was precisely what Liberal candidate Kym Richardson required to win the seat. However, Richardson’s narrow win gave him no buffer against the move to Labor at the 2007 election, which in Kingston took the form of a 4.5% swing.

The seat has since been held for Labor by Amanda Rishworth, who achieved the best result of any Labor member in 2010 in picking up a 9.5% swing. She was assisted in some degree when Kym Richardson’s comeback bid was scuttled after it emerged he was the subject of a police investigation into allegations he had impersonated a police officer as he sought to have an allegation of assault withdrawn against his son. Police did not proceed with a charge of impersonating a police officer as the statute of limitations had expired, and he was eventually acquitted on a charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice. Rishworth received a 0.9% boost when redistribution moved McLaren Vale back to Mayo at the 2013 election, at which she suffered a manageable swing of 4.9%, well in line with a statewide result of 5.5%.

Amanda Rishworth’s vocations before entering parliament were as a psychologist and an organiser for the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association, which dominates the state party’s Right faction. She won promotion to parliamentary secretary status in March 2013, and then to the outer shadow ministery as Assistant Minister for Education and Higher Education in July 2014. Her opponents at the election will include Liberal candidate Kelvin Binns, who until recently worked at the People’s Choice Credit Union, and Nick Xenophon Team candidate Damian Carey, a self-employed Chinese medicine practitioner and acupuncturist.

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

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