Mayo – Australia 2019

CA 5.0%

Incumbent MP
Rebekha Sharkie, since 2016.

Parts of South Australia to the south and east of Adelaide. Mayo covers the Adelaide Hills and the coast of South Australia from Lake Alexandrina to the southern edge of Adelaide, as well as Kangaroo Island.

Mayo expanded further into the Adelaide urban area, taking in Aldinga Beach, Port Willunga and Sellicks Beach from Kingston, and also taking in Craigburn Farm and Hawthorndene from Boothby. Mayo lost Mount Pleasant and Springton to Barker, and some other small changes were made to its western boundary.

Mayo was first created in 1984 as part of the expansion of the House of Representatives. The seat has always been held by the Liberal Party, although it has always been a high-profile target for minor parties.

The seat was won in 1984 by Alexander Downer, son of former cabinet minister Alec Downer and grandson of former premier Sir John Downer. He retained the seat safely in 1987 but was challenged by the Democrats in 1990, with the minor party polling over 20%. Downer retained the seat with a 6% margin.

A redistribution and a fall in the Democrats vote saw him retain the seat easily in 1993 and 1996. In 1998, the Democrats ran John Schumann, best known as lead singer of the band Redgum. Schumann achieved over 22% of the primary vote and reduced Downer’s two-party margin to 1.7%, the closest the Democrats ever came to winning a House of Representatives seat.

Another favourable redistribution in 2001 helped Downer win re-election, and he was untroubled at the 2004 and 2007 elections. Downer had served a disastrous year as Leader of the Opposition from 1994 to 1995 and served as Foreign Minister for the entirety of the Howard government from 1996 until 2007. After the defeat of the Howard government in 2007, Downer moved to the backbench and retired in 2008 to serve as United Nations envoy to Cyprus.

The ensuing by-election was contested between Liberal candidate Jamie Briggs and Greens candidate Lynton Vonow, as the ALP did not stand a candidate. The Greens polled 21%, and the Liberal vote dropped to 40%. After preferences, Briggs won 53% of the vote, and retained the seat by a slim margin.

Jamie Briggs was re-elected in 2010 and 2013.

Briggs lost Mayo in 2016 to Nick Xenophon Team candidate Rebekha Sharkie.

Sharkie was forced to resign from parliament in early 2018 due to her late citizenship renunciation in 2016, but she was re-elected at the resulting by-election as a representative of the renamed Centre Alliance.


Mayo was considered a difficult seat to pick before the by-election. It wasn’t clear how much of a personal vote Rebekha Sharkie would have built up, and whether Nick Xenophon’s departure from the party which previously bore his name would hurt her chances. The by-election suggests she’s in a strong position and should win a second full term at the next general election.

2016 result

Jamie Briggs Liberal 35,91537.8-16.136.6
Rebekha SharkieNick Xenophon Team33,15834.9+34.932.9
Glen Dallimore Labor 12,85913.5-7.616.7
Nathan Daniell Greens 7,6618.1-6.18.2
Bruce HicksFamily First4,3754.6-2.54.5
Luke DzivinskiLiberal Democrats1,1481.2+1.21.0

2016 two-candidate-preferred result

Rebekha SharkieNick Xenophon Team52,28355.0
Jamie Briggs Liberal 42,83345.0

2016 two-party-preferred result

Glen Dallimore Labor 42,46644.6+7.246.7
Jamie Briggs Liberal 52,65055.4-7.253.3

2018 by-election result

Rebekha SharkieCentre Alliance39,38244.4+9.5
Georgina Downer Liberal 33,21237.4-0.3
Major Moogy Sumner Greens 7,8988.9+0.9
Reg Coutts Labor 5,3706.1-7.5
Tracey-Lee CaneChristian Democrats1,3481.5+1.5
Stephen HumbleLiberal Democrats8090.9-0.3
Kelsie HarfouchePeople’s Party7160.8+0.8

2018 by-election two-candidate-preferred result

Georgina Downer Liberal 37,68042.5-2.6
Rebekha SharkieCentre Alliance51,05557.5+2.6

Booth breakdown

Booths have been divided into five areas, primarily based on local government boundaries. three groups cover all of the polling booths in a single council area: Kangaroo Island, Mount Barker and Onkaparinga (although the latter also covers a small part of Mitcham council area).

Polling places in the Adelaide Hills and Barossa council areas have been grouped as “Adelaide Hills”, while those in Alexandrina, Victor Harbour and Yankalilla council areas have been grouped together as ‘South’.

The Nick Xenophon Team won a majority of the two-candidate-preferred vote in all areas at the 2016 election, ranging from 51.1% on Kangaroo Island to 58.5% in Mount Barker. This doesn’t include areas redistributed into Mayo in Onkaparinga.

Labor came third, with a primary vote ranging from 10.9% in the Adelaide Hills to 16.6% in Onkaparinga.

At the 2018 by-election, the Centre Alliance won a majority of the two-candidate-preferred vote in all five areas, ranging from 52.7% in Onkaparinga to 63.7% in Mount Barker.

2016 booth breakdown

Voter groupALP prim %LIB prim %NXT prim %NXT 2CP %Total votes% of votes
Adelaide Hills10.937.136.656.820,56419.4
Mount Barker13.734.236.858.513,71912.9
Kangaroo Island11.041.434.751.12,1262.0
Other votes19.936.330.453.0*14,46913.6

2018 by-election booth breakdown

Voter groupCA 2CP %Total votes% of votes
Adelaide Hills58.921,92424.7
Mount Barker63.712,83114.5
Kangaroo Island55.21,9522.2
Other votes49.19,71210.9

Election results in Mayo at the 2016 federal election
Toggle between two-candidate-preferred (NXT vs Liberal) votes and Labor primary votes.

Two-candidate-preferred (Centre Alliance vs Liberal) votes in Mayo at the 2016 federal election

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  1. Was bummed Georgina Downer didn’t win (very much a dry Liberal myself) – hope she gets to run in something else in the future (maybe Sturt when Pyne retires, or even the SA state parliament)

    Anyway, Sharkie should hold, and most likely continue to do so until she retires or does something stupid.

  2. Downer underpolling Briggs saya it all, especially considering the resources the Liberals put into the byelection. I doubt that the entire cabinet and busloads of interstate young liberals will spend their effort here when there’s 150 other seats.

    Greens outpolled Labor and I don’t expect that to change.

    Not even sure this one will even go to preferences in the General election.

  3. @John – not at all. She did about as you’d expect in a by-election with a popular independent MP. Antony Green himself actually got very irritated with angry leftists trying to assert that she was somehow a drag on the Liberals – she wasn’t. Bottom line is she was never going to win anyway.

  4. Those booths formerly in Kingston, which voted strongly for Amanda Rishworth, should also go for Sharkie now.

  5. Wreathy, if she was always doomed, that’s not consistent with the very large amount of resources the Liberals put into the seat. Mayo was not in the same category as Perth and Fremantle.

    Sharkie was actually getting $6 odds for the first few weeks, and commentators thought Downer and her family name were the favourites. Things changed a bit after the 2 polls that had her losing by a huge margin (especially the betting odds), but enough commentators were still suggesting that because of Xenophon’s fall, and because Briggs was out of the picture, that the Liberals could win.

    It was only about a week out from the vote that Downer talked down her own chances.

  6. @John everything you’ve just listed is not inconsistent with what I said. I agree, the commentators and the Libs poured resources and were talking the big game early on. However, I think for those with a bit more insight, it was fairly clear that Sharkie was going to win – that’s all seperate from whether the result achieved was actually ‘good’.

  7. I think there’s a fair argument that Downer was not a good choice of candidate, at least not in Mayo. Parachuting in a candidate because she was related to a former member probably fed into the sentiment that she was “snobby” and “entitled” (which were the words used to describe her by undecided voters during focus group tests). But it wasn’t just that – Downer didn’t actually give people much of a reason to vote for her, whereas Sharkie made a lot more effort to engage with the community and talk about issues they cared about (i.e. actually being a good representative).

    Major parties tend to have this arrogant attitude that independent-held seats are “rightfully theirs” and continue to run uninspiring or unpopular party insiders as candidates (Indi is probably the worst example). Votes for independents/minor parties are not necessarily protest votes, in some cases they’re simply votes for the better representative.

  8. Selecting Downer showed very poor judgement on the part of the Liberals as a whole, thinking people would just vote for a name.

    I don’t think the second point just applies to independents. Running Brett Whiteley in Braddon again was another huge mistake as he was turfed out personally in 2016. Same goes for Trevor Ruthenberg who suffered an enormous swing in the 2015 state election and couldn’t shake off Newman’s shadow (as well as the medal scandal).

    Either their talent pool isn’t particularly deep, or the internal power that gets MPs to their positions doesn’t go away when the electorate sours on them.

  9. You cannot make judgements about the quality of candidates based solely on one set of election results. Brett Whiteley was not a superstar when he won Braddon and he was not a dud when he lost Braddon. Nor was Trevor Ruthenberg either of those things when he won and then lost Kallangur. Both were hostage to their parties’ larger fortunes.

    Same goes for Georgina Downer.

    That the Liberals lost ground in all three by-elections does not imply all three candidates were unusually awful. It suggests there were larger forces at work.

  10. That’s a good point John. Bret Whiteley has been voted out of state AND federal politics, and apparently now he’s going to run for a senate seat. At this point they’re just stubbornly ignoring the will of voters.

    Downer might be a reasonable candidate in some other electorates (I can see why she sought preselection in Goldstein) but I don’t think she’s suited to Mayo. Parties need to make more of an effort to select candidates who are actually representative of the electorate they’re running in.

  11. Look mayo foreigners…Listen up to a local in Mayo…
    We had a choice between 1) a well known woman who has lived in Mayo for 20 years and who has for the past 2 years strongly represented our electorate in Canberra. 2) A woman who was NOT well known and who has lived elsewhere for the past 20 years.
    Ummm ..Dead easy choice – the first, Rebekha Sharkie

  12. I would not be surprised if Mayo goes right down to the line on election night.
    – Centre Alliance won’t be able to throw every resource at this seat like they did at the by election.
    – If they do, it will be at the expense of Barker or Grey where they came second last time.
    – less name recognition.
    – Agree that Rebekah Sharkie will have the incumbent advantage.
    – The ALP can’t run dead in a general election like they did in the by election – they have to get those senate votes in.
    – Georgina Downer has had more time to build up name recognition.
    – Her vote at the by election held up – the liberal core held up.

    It could be very close

  13. Downer cant win ok? Dont be biased to the liberals like the media is, you know how corrupt the party is, based off the by election she should win easily with a small swing against her , 55-45 in her favor predicted like 2016

  14. Centre Alliance won’t be able to throw quite as many resources at this seat compared to the by-election, but surely their main competition, the Liberals, will be far more disadvantaged on that front?

    As for Labor not running as dead – as long as their HTV has Sharkie over Downer and Labor voters follow it, this surely won’t be much of an issue.

  15. Downer caught out in a photo pretending to deliver a community grant for a club.
    a fake cheque with her name on it ,implying she arranged for the grant…oh dear

    Sharkie should be a certainty of winning this seat now

  16. While some candidates in the past have tried to get elected after one or more failed attempts it is clear that Georgina Downer has not been wanted twice as a potential MHR for Mayo and before that by Liberal preselectors in Goldstein shortly before. Time to get a real job Ms Downer instead of being on party committees and a guest on talk back radio.


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