Margin: Liberal 2.8%
Region: Eastern Suburbs
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Gained for the Liberals at the 2010 election by John Gardner, the outer eastern suburbs seat of Morialta was created as Coles when electoral reform was introduced in 1970, the name change occurring in 2002 when it acquired new territory east of the metropolitan limits. It currently extends through suburbs from Teringie and Woodforde northwards through Rostrevor to Paradise and Highbury, and inland for about 10 kilometres eastwards through lightly populated Adelaide Hills territory out to Cudlee Creek. The redistribution has given the seat a substantial transfer of 4000 voters from Newland, most of them in the suburb of Highbury (along with a further 450 voters in neighbouring Dernancourt from Torrens), but also including new Adelaide Hills territory north of the River Torrens. Countervailing transfers at the southern end of the electorate see 1500 voters in south-eastern Magill go to Hartley and 850 in Skye go to Bragg. The Liberals’ strength at the southern end mean the changes have reduced their margin by 1.3%.
Coles was held for Labor from its creation until 1977 by future Premier Des Corcoran, who moved to Hartley following an unfavourable redistribution. It was then won for the Liberals by Jennifer Cashmore, who retained it throughout the Bannon-Arnold years until her retirement in 1993. Cashmore was then succeeded by Joan Hall, a television reporter and wife of former Premier and federal MP Steele Hall. Hall survived determined preselection challenges late in her career but could not withstand the force of the swing to Labor in 2006, which in Morialta reached 11.5% on two-party preferred. The successful Labor candidate was Lindsay Simmons, previously a policy manager and chief-of-staff to Education Minister Trish White. Simmons’ margin was clipped from 8.0% to 6.8% by the redistribution ahead of the 2010 election, and she went on to suffer a decisive swing of 10.9%, placing her on a short Labor casualty list along with Adelaide MP Jane Lomax-Smith and Norwood MP Vini Ciccarello.
The incoming Liberal member was John Gardner, a former Young Liberals state president who had worked as a staffer to leading factional moderates Vickie Chapman and Christopher Pyne. Gardner was promoted to the front bench in a December 2011 reshuffle in the housing, disability, youth, families and communities and ageing portfolios. However, he was dropped to opposition whip in the restructure of the front bench which followed Steven Marshall’s ascent to the leadership in February 2013. His Labor opponent at the coming election is Clare Scriven, an adviser to Health Minister Jack Snelling.
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.