Margin: Labor 11.9%
Outgoing member: Lyn Breuer (Giles)
Click here for electoral boundaries map
To be vacated at the coming election by its member of 17 years, Labor’s Lyn Breuer, Giles covers the entire western half of South Australia minus a narrow band of Great Australian Bight coastal territory along the Eyre Highway, which was transferred to Flinders at the redistribution before the 2006 election. The industrial town of Whyalla provides the electorate with about 70% of its voters, making it the only non-metropolitan seat held by Labor. In 2010 the Whyalla booths collectively broke 71-29 in favour of Labor, while the balance of the electorate went 55-45 the other way. Population decline that has since abated required it to absorb almost 3000 voters in strongly Liberal-leaning areas going into the 2006 election, cutting the margin from 9.8% to 5.3%. The most recent redistribution has left it unchanged.
Whyalla was an electorate in its own right until 1993, when population decline required the addition of vast outback areas. The seat had a long history as a Labor stronghold, and was held by Deputy Premier Frank Blevins at the time it was abolished. Blevins then served for one term as member for Giles after holding on narrowly in the face of the 1993 landslide. With the pendulum swinging back strongly at the 1997 election, the seat was easily retained for Labor by Whyalla deputy mayor Lyn Breuer, a former TAFE lecturer in women’s studies with links to the Australian Education Union. Breuer burnished her left credentials as a parliamentarian in 2002 when she bravely called for detainees at the Woomera detention centre to be moved to Whyalla, provoking a strong reaction from locals including the mayor, John Smith, who had run against her as an independent at the election three months previously. After the 2010 election she assumed the Speaker’s position in place of Jack Snelling, who moved to cabinet.
Breuer was compelled by Weatherill to relinquish the Speaker’s position as part of a reshuffle in January 2013, making way for Right faction stalwart Michael Atkinson. Two months later she announced she would bow out at the coming election. Her successor as Labor candidate will be Eddie Hughes, who has served on Whyalla City Council for 21 years. The Liberal candidate is Bernadette Abraham, a Whyalla real estate agent.
Eight days out from polling day, The Advertiser revealed that Eddie Hughes had received a seven-day suspended jail sentence in 1983 for assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest and loitering, following an incident which occurred “in the early hours outside a Whyalla hotel”. As the Liberals accused Labor of having concealed the fact from voters, Labor said it was aware of the arrest but not the specific court outcome.
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.