SA election 2014

Electorate: Colton

Margin: Labor 3.6%
Region: Western Suburbs
Federal: Hindmarsh/Port Adelaide
Click to download SA Electoral Commission boundaries map

The candidates


Labor (top)

Liberal (bottom)


Family First

The western suburbs electorate of Colton covers the coast immediately north of the River Torrens, from Henley Beach South through Henley Beach to Grange, and extends inland as far as Kidman Park. The redistribution has added 1000 voters in Lockleys at its south-eastern corner from West Torrens, shaving the Labor margin from 4.0% to 3.6%. Prior to 1993 the electorate was called Henley Beach, and the two seats between them have gone the way of the winning party at every election since Henley Beach was created with the redistribution that followed the electoral reform of 1970. Steve Condous won it for the Liberals with the heavy defeat of the Labor government in 1993, withstanding a strong challenge from independent candidate Bob Randall, who had held Henley Beach for the Liberals from 1979 to 1982 and would later return to the party fold as its state president.

A substantial redistribution before the 2002 election cut the Liberal margin from 4.1% to 0.9%, at which point Condous retired. In a result that proved pivotal to the election outcome, Labor’s Paul Caica emerged victorious on the back of a 5.8% swing. The seat was put well beyond the marginal range at the 2006 election, when Caica recorded swings of 16.5% primary vote and 12.2% on two-party preferred. As in many seats which swung heavily to Labor in 2006, there was an equally strong move in the other direction in 2010, Caica’s margin being pared back from 16.1% to 4.0%.

Paul Caica came to politics from a background as a firefighter and national secretary of the Left faction United Firefighters Union. He entered the ministry after the 2006 election and reportedly won the favour of Mike Rann, gaining a surprise promotion to Industrial Relations Minister in July 2008. After the 2010 election he was reassigned to environment, water and the River Murray, where he remained until being dumped from cabinet in the January 2013 reshuffle. Writing in the Financial Review, former Senator Chris Schacht argued described the dumping of “one of the better performers in cabinet” as “strange”, and possibly motivated by a need to maintain female representation.

The Liberal candidate at the coming election is Joe Barry, a police officer aligned with Christopher Pyne and the moderate faction. Barry won preselection ahead of Jassmine Wood, who ran for the federal seat of Hindmarsh in 2010 and was initially rated as the front-runner. Wood’s fortunes changed when a motion put by Pyne at state executive resolved to reopen nominations, allowing Barry to run. Wood lodged an appeal against her preselection defeat, complaining she had earlier lobbied Barry confidentially without knowing she would be facing him as an opponent.

cuA Galaxy automated phone poll of 495 respondents, conducted on February 27 and published in the Sunday Mail, provided Labor with a measure of encouragement by showing Labor incumbent Paul Caica tied with Liberal challenger Joe Barry on two-party preferred, representing a swing to the Liberals of 3.6%. The primary votes were 45% for Labor (46.3% at the 2010 election), 46% for the Liberals (39.9%), 5% for the Greens (8.2%) and 4% for Family First (3.5%). Caica seems to be a very popular and well-recognised local member, recording a 58% satisfaction rating versus 22% dissatisfied, whereas Steven Marshall has a 42-39 edge over Jay Weatherill as preferred premier. Sixty-two per cent of respondents anticipate a Liberal victory against only 27% for Labor. A week after the poll was published, the Liberals promised to spend $6.8 million on a science centre for Henley High School, to be completed in 2018.

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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