Margin: Liberal 20.2%
Region: Eastern Suburbs
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Vickie Chapman’s electorate of Bragg covers affluent suburbs immediately to the south-east of the city centre, from Rose Park east to Wattle Park and south to Glen Osmond, and south-eastwards into the hills as far as Uraidla and Crafers. The redistribution has adjusted its northern boundary to add Kensington Park’s 1700 voters from Hartley along with the 850 voters in Skye and eastern Wattle Park from Morialta, while transferring 1400 voters in southern Kensington Gardens and western Rosslyn Park to Hartley.
Bragg has been held by the Liberals since its creation in 1970, the inaugural member being David Tonkin, who led a one-term Liberal government from 1979 to 1982. Tonkin quit the year after his government was defeated and was succeeded by Graham Ingerson, who briefly held the party’s deputy leadership in 1992 and was made Tourism Minister when Dean Brown’s government was elected the following year. Ingerson went on to play a key role in the 1996 leadership coup when he switched support from Brown to John Olsen, before being compelled to stand down as a minister in August 1998 as a series of controversies dogged him through the government’s second term.
Ingerson’s retirement at the 2002 election initiated a hotly contested preselection in which Vickie Chapman, state party president and daughter of Tonkin government minister Ted Chapman, prevailed over Michael Armitage, the member for Adelaide. Armitage was seeking a safer seat after redistribution had weakened his position, and despite backing from the Right his move was reportedly opposed by John Olsen, who felt he should have stood his ground in the key seat of Adelaide. Amid Right complaints of branch-stacking by moderates, including allegations levelled by Senator Grant Chapman against Christopher Pyne, Chapman reportedly emerged with twice as many preselection votes as Armitage.
Chapman’s success perpetuated the long-running family feuds that characterise the state Liberal Party, as she soon emerged as a leadership hopeful with rivals including the Right’s Iain Evans, whose father Stan Evans had once locked horns with Ted Chapman. Vickie Chapman’s rise continued when she assumed the shadow education portfolio three months after her election, but she performed disappointingly in the ballot for the deputy leadership when Dean Brown vacated the position in November 2005, losing to Evans by 15 votes to five. After Kerin led the party to a heavy defeat in 2006, a cross-factional deal was brokered in which Evans took the leadership and Chapman became deputy. She remained deputy after Evans was deposed in April 2007 by Waite MP Martin Hamilton-Smith, who secured the numbers in part by reaching a deal with Chapman.
When Hamilton-Smith’s leadership was fatally compromised by the leaked emails scandal in June 2009, Chapman pointedly refused to rule out challenging at a press conference from which she made an awkward summary exit, stumbling over camera tripods on the way. Mitch Williams’ subsequent resignation from shadow cabinet caused Hamilton-Smith to call a spill, the surprise result of which was that Williams did not challenge but Chapman did. Chapman did better than expected in losing the ballot 11 votes to 10 (with one member abstaining), but her defeat compelled her to stand aside as deputy in place of Heysen MP Isobel Redmond. Hamilton-Smith called another spill to clear the air, but when Redmond said she would put her name forward he announced he would stand aside. There followed a three-way contest for the leadership between Redmond, Chapman and Williams, with Redmond prevailing over Chapman in a second round ballot by 13 votes to nine, Right members having rallied behind the unaligned Redmond in order to block Chapman.
Chapman generated considerable unwelcome publicity at the height of the 2010 campaign by refusing to rule out a leadership challenge after the election. Martin Hamilton-Smith publicly blamed her for the defeat, and the post-election reshuffle saw her bumped from Shadow Attorney-General and Justice Minister to the lesser housing, disability and ageing portfolios. She did not emerge as a leadership contender as Redmond’s position deteriorated in 2012, with moderate powerbrokers Christopher Pyne and Simon Birmingham instead backing Hamilton-Smith’s narrowly unsuccessful bid to return to the leadership in October. When Steven Marshall assumed the leadership without opposition after Redmond stood aside the following January, Chapman recovered the deputy leadership position vacated by Marshall, defeating her old foe Iain Evans by ten votes to eight amid grumbling from the Right that the moderates had achieved a clean sweep.
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.