Boothby – Australia 2019

LIB 2.7%

Incumbent MP
Nicolle Flint, since 2016.

Southern Adelaide. Boothby stretches from the coast to the bottom of the Adelaide Hills. The seat covers suburbs such as Brighton and Marion in the western part of the seat, Blackwood, Aberfoyle Park and Flagstaff Hill in the south-east and Hawthorn in the north-east.

Boothby shifted north, losing Aberfoyle Park and Flagstaff Hill to Kingston and Craigburn Farm to Mayo. Boothby then gained Glenelg, Glenelg North, Glengowrie and Ascot Park from Hindmarsh and Black Forest from Adelaide.

Boothby has almost always been held by conservative parties, with a few exceptions in periods of Labor dominance. The ALP held the seat for most of the first decade-and-a-half following federation, as well as during the depression years, but in both cases lost the seat through a defection to a new conservative party. The ALP also held the seat for six years in the 1940s, with the seat remaining in Liberal hands for the last sixty years.

The electorate of Boothby was created for the 1903 election. The seat was first held by the ALP’s Lee Batchelor, who served as Minister for Home Affairs in the Watson government and Minister for External Affairs in the first two Fisher governments. He took responsibility for the Northern Territory when it was ceded to the federal government in 1911 and died in office the same year.

While the ALP lost the seat to the new Commonwealth Liberal Party in the 1911 by-election, the seat was won back in 1913 by George Dankel, who joined the new Nationalist Party in 1916. He retired in 1917 and was replaced by William Story, a Senator and another former ALP member in the Nationalist Party.

Story lost his seat in 1922 to John Duncan-Hughes of the newly-formed Liberal Party, made up of Nationalists disenchanted with Billy Hughes’ leadership, and Duncan-Hughes entered the Nationalist fold upon Hughes’ retirement as Prime Minister and held the seat until 1928.

John Price won the seat for the ALP in 1928, was re-elected in 1929 and then followed Joe Lyons across the floor in 1931 to join the newly founded United Australia Party. He held the seat until his death in 1941, when Grenfell Price won the seat and held onto it for one term.

The ALP won the seat in 1943 at the depths of the UAP’s ill-fortunes and held it for six years until the 1949 election, when the seat was won by the Liberal Party’s John McLeay. The ALP has never won the seat since.

McLeay served as Speaker of the House of Representatives from 1956 until his retirement in 1966, and still holds the record for the longest-serving Speaker. He was succeeded by his son John McLeay Jr in 1966. McLeay junior held the seat until 1981, and served as a minister in the first two terms of the Fraser government.

McLeay junior’s resignation in 1981 saw the seat won at a by-election by former South Australian Premier Steele Hall. Hall had been Premier from 1966 to 1970, when he lost office. He had resigned from the Liberal and Country League in 1972 to form the progressive Liberal Movement, and was elected as a crossbench senator in 1974 and 1975 before rejoining the Liberal Party in 1976 and resigning from the Senate in 1977.

Hall held the seat until his retirement in 1996, when Andrew Southcott defeated Liberal Senate leader Robert Hill in a preselection contest. Southcott held the seat for the next twenty years.

The seat has trended away from the Liberal Party over the last two decades. While the Liberals maintained a majority of the primary vote and a two-party-preferred vote of approximately 60% from 1984 until 1996, the 1998 election saw them fall below 50% for the first time. They remained steady in 2001, before Southcott suffered another swing against the national trend in 2004, falling to 55.4% of the two-party-preferred vote.

In 2007 the ALP preselected “star candidate” Nicole Cornes, who was generally considered to have performed poorly by the media and the ALP, but still managed a swing of another 2.5%, reducing Southcott’s margin to 2.9%.

In 2010, despite a national swing to the Coalition, Southcott’s margin was reduced further to 0.75%. In 2013, Southcott finally gained a swing back to the Liberal Party, with his vote increasing by 6.5%.

Southcott retired in 2016, and was succeeded by Liberal candidate Nicolle Flint.


Boothby is a very marginal seat and should be in play at the next election. The seat has shifted into parts of the neighbouring seat of Hindmarsh, so if that seat’s sitting MP Steve Georganas runs in Boothby that may well boost the Labor effort.

2016 result

Nicolle Flint Liberal 39,29841.2-9.141.7
Mark Ward Labor 23,36624.5-6.326.9
Karen HockleyNick Xenophon Team19,68820.7+20.718.5
Jane Bange Greens 8,0018.4-3.68.2
Gary WheatcroftFamily First2,4772.6-1.32.3
Evelyn CarrollAnimal Justice1,3561.4+1.41.4
Jamie ArmfieldIndependent6640.7+0.70.5
Robert De JongeIndependent4380.5+0.50.3

2016 two-party-preferred result

Mark Ward Labor 44,30846.5+3.647.3
Nicolle Flint Liberal 50,98053.5-3.652.7

Booth breakdown

Booths have been divided into three parts. The “east” covers the Mitcham and Unley council areas. The “west” covers the Holdfast Bay council area and a small part of the Marion council area in the south-western corner of the seat. The “central” area covers the remainder of the Marion council area.

The Liberal Party won a majority of the two-party-preferred vote in the east (53.7%) and the west (57.4%). Labor polled 54.9% in the centre.

The Nick Xenophon Team primary vote ranged from 16.3% in the west to 18.8% in the east.

Voter groupNXT prim %LIB 2PP %Total votes% of votes
Other votes20.351.218,10316.8

Election results in Boothby at the 2016 federal election
Toggle between two-party-preferred votes and Nick Xenophon Team primary votes.

Become a Patron!


  1. Ben – article needs a proof-read – speaks at points as if Southcott was still the member. Also – Steele Hall was SA Premier 1968 to 1970.

    More generally: the seat shows well the classic Adelaide voting distributions: a strong but thin blue ribbon along the coast, followed by labor support in the western plain, then Lib support again as it moves into the foot-hills.

  2. As the only conventional Liberal vs Labor marginal seat in SA, I expect there to be a lot of campaigning to the point of saturation.

    Steve Georganas would be an excellent candidate choice for Labor – he has a “Mr Everywhere” reputation and I have been struggling to find anything negative about him anywhere. Nicolle Flint is due for a sophomore surge but she is from the Abbott faction of the Liberals and also went out of her way to criticise her own government’s bank regulations – very easy to attack.

    I’m predicting an ALP gain but it definitely could go either way.

    Centre Alliance won’t be a factor.

  3. I see this as a near certain ALP gain now.
    * It’s the only seat in SA which Labor have a real chance of gaining, which will lead to a concentration of resources
    * Nicolle Flint puts on a moderate image, but behind the scenes she is a hard right conservative, and her name is listed several times as a Dutton supporter and plotter. This will hurt her in SA.
    * Morrison is almost as conservative as Dutton and Abbott, and this will be revealed over the coming weeks. Again, SA likes their Liberals moderate.
    * There’s a real chance that Centre Alliance will actually preference Labor now instead of having open tickets, due to the treachery of switching PMs.

  4. Be interested to see SA polling splits irt NXT vote but Labor could lead in this with just Greens prefences if the backlash against Libspill occurs and they have a high profile candidate. NXT preference flow will keep it interesting on the night but comfortably Labor.

  5. Yes, normal South Australians who are not engaged with politics will be walking into polling booths with their list of Dutton supporters to help them decide on whether to vote for the Liberal MP…

  6. Labor gain this is a bellwether, And what also will hurt the Liberals is the fact the the Marshall government is unpopular (I’m sure i read something somewhere about it a week or 2 ago) If it is true then this seat is in High danger of falling.

  7. This is the sort of seat Labor will win if something like the Victorian state result is repeated: it is one of two Adelaide seats with a large, traditional ‘blue ribbon’ Liberal vote (the other being its neighbour to the north east, Sturt; Adelaide containing a little bit of that in Unley and Walkerville, but now swamped by strong Labor areas to their north west), the sort of voters whom Matthew Guy lost. The Liberal coastal vote has been fairly resilient in the past: most of that vote was in the old seats of Hawker, and with its abolition in 1993, moved into Hindmarsh, forming Chris Gallus’s base. Whether generational change will affect that resilience will be another test for the local Libs, who have been a bit all over the place as to where they sit in the changing nature of the federal Liberals.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here