Margin: Liberal 15.8%
Region: Eastern Hinterland
Click to download SA Electoral Commission boundaries map
Kavel covers rural areas to the interior or the Adelaide Hills from Mount Barker in the south, which is home to about a quarter of its voters, through Woodside and Lobethal in the centre to Gumeracha and Birdwood in the north, and also extends south-eastwards through less populous territory out to Monarto. The redistribution before the previous election added Birdwood and Gumeracha from Schubert while transferring Hahndorf to Heysen, but the latest redistribution has left it undisturbed. The seat is very safe for the Liberal Party, the narrowest margin of recent times being 9.4% at Labor’s high water mark of 2006.
Kavel has been held by three Liberal members since it was created at the redistribution which gave effect to the electoral reforms of 1970, the first being Roger Goldsworthy and the third being his son, Mark Goldsworthy. In between, the elder Goldsworthy agreed to surrender the seat to John Olsen in 1992 to facilitate his return to state politics after two years in the Senate, in order for him to resume the leadership position he had earlier bequeathed to Dale Baker. This prompted a counter-measure from factional moderates who engineered the return to parliament of Dean Brown, who had been unseated in Davenport at the 1985 election when factional rival Stan Evans ran against him as an independent Liberal, by having Ted Chapman make way for him in his seat of Alexandrina (now Finniss). The two contenders won their respective seats at by-elections held on 9 May 1992 and promptly went head-to-head in a leadership vote, which was won by Brown.
Olsen held the seat until he retired from politics at the 2002 election, five months after being compelled to resign as Premier over the Motorola affair. The circumstances of Olsen’s demise, combined with mutterings about the younger Goldsworthy inheriting his father’s seat, led some punters to place their bets on Tom Playford, son of the legendary former Liberal Premier of the same name, who ran as an independent. Playford indeed gave Goldsworthy a run for his money, finishing ahead of the Labor candidate and falling 2.9% short after preferences. Family First appeared to score a coup when they landed Playford as their candidate at the 2006 election, but his primary vote fell from 18.7% to 15.7% and he was unable to relegate a strongly performing Labor to third place.
Goldsworthy earned a place in shadow cabinet after the 2006 election in the emergency services and state-local government relations portfolios, but was bumped to shadow cabinet secretary when Martin Hamilton-Smith came to the leadership in April 2007. In keeping with the family association with the Right faction, he had supported its figurehead Iain Evans when Hamilton-Smith successfully challenged him for the leadership. He recovered his old portfolios when Isobel Redmond took over in July 2009, exchanging emergency services for consumer affairs in December 2011, before being dropped from the front bench in the reshuffle that followed Hamilton-Smith’s unsuccessful challenge to Redmond’s leadership in October 2012.
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.