SA election 2014

Electorate: Adelaide

Margin: Liberal 4.2%
Region: Central Adelaide
Federal: Adelaide
Click to download SA Electoral Commission boundaries map

The candidates


Dignity for Disability

Liberal (top)

Labor (bottom)


Adelaide produced one of the most striking results of the 2010 election with Liberal candidate Rachel Sanderson’s victory over Education Minister Jane Lomax-Smith, a 14.5% swing delivering the Liberals one of only three Liberal gains from Labor in the context of a statewide swing of 8.4%. While double-digit swings were recorded in many metropolitan seats, it was only in Adelaide that a large margin was overturned, with similar swings elsewhere tending to occur in safe seats. The electorate covers the central business district, North Adelaide and the surrounding parklands, together with an area to the north from Prospect east to Walkerville. Incomes are above average throughout the electorate, particularly in North Adelaide and Walkerville. Walkerville and neighbouring Collinswood provide the Liberals with their greatest source of strength, such that they won the booths there even amid the debacle of 2006. The redistribution has left the electorate unchanged.

The seat’s modern history began with the abolition of multi-member electorates at the 1938 election, when it was won by independent Labor member Douglas Bardolph. Labor held the seat for 45 years after Bardolph’s retirement in 1944, until it finally fell to the Liberals with the near-defeat of the Bannon government in 1989. Michael Armitage then held the seat until he bowed out at the 2002 election, redistribution having cut the Liberal margin from 5.5% to 2.3% by adding part of Prospect and removing part of Collinswood. Armitage instead sought preselection in the safe seat of Bragg but was defeated by its present incumbent Vickie Chapman, in part due to resistance from then Premier John Olsen who was understandably felt that Armitage should have defended his crucial marginal seat.

With Armitage’s departure, Adelaide emerged at the 2002 election as a contest between the lord mayor of Adelaide, Jane Lomax-Smith, and the deputy lord mayor, Michael Harbison, who ran for the Liberals. Lomax-Smith prevailed after picking up a 4.0% swing compared with a statewide result of 0.6%, which proved crucial in enabling Mike Rann to form a minority government. She was immediately elevated to cabinet and became Education Minister in March 2004, picking up a 9.1% swing at the 2006 election. In this she may have been assisted by the withdrawal of Liberal candidate Mark Brindal, who had originally been defeated for preselection in his existing seat of Unley. Brindal had admitted to having an affair with a 24-year-old man who was reported to have had a “mental incapacity”, and alleged the man’s foster father was attempting to blackmail him.

Lomax-Smith’s surprise defeat in 2010 followed an intensive Liberal campaign which Labor failed to match, having devoted its energies to a notably successful endeavour to defend more marginal seats. This was despite government concessions to the electorate in abandoning a planned permanent grandstand at the Victoria Park racecourse and pursuing the extension of the city’s tram line, which the opposition had decried as a waste of money. The winning Liberal candidate was Rachel Sanderson, owner of a North Adelaide modelling agency. Labor’s new candidate is David O’Louglin, the mayor of Prospect and president of the Local Government Association.

cuA Galaxy automated phone poll of 587 respondents conducted 11 days out from polling day had Labor trailing 54-46 in the one seat which they had entertained hopes of poaching from the Liberals. The primary votes were 49% for Rachel Sanderson, 39% for David O’Louglin, 8% for the Greens and 4% for Dignity for Disability. Sanderson had an approval rating of 51% and a disapproval rating of 26%, closely reflecting the ratings for Labor’s Paul Caica at a similar poll conducted last week in Colton.

Labor has proposed that the site of the soon-to-be-relocated Royal Adelaide Hospital be converted into a second city high school specialising in health and sciences, with construction to begin in 2017 at a cost of $46.5 million over forward estimates. The Liberals want to keep the site as a privately run medical facility and meet demand for city schooling by spending $75 million on a second Adelaide High School campus on West Terrace, to be linked to the existing campus by a foot bridge. The aforementioned Galaxy poll found 38% favouring Labor’s idea against 35% for the Liberals’.

All post-redistribution margins are as calculated by Jenni Newton-Farrelly of the South Australian Parliamentary Library. Corrections, complaints and feedback to William Bowe at pollbludger-at-bigpond-dot-com. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.

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