Boothby – Australia 2019

LIB 2.7%

Incumbent MP
Nicolle Flint, since 2016.

Geography
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.

Redistribution
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.

History
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.

Candidates
No information.

Assessment
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

CandidatePartyVotes%SwingRedist
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
Others0.2
Informal4,3744.4

2016 two-party-preferred result

CandidatePartyVotes%SwingRedist
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
East18.853.732,29430.0
Central18.545.122,12820.6
West16.357.421,07919.6
Other votes20.351.218,10316.8
Pre-poll18.857.313,90912.9

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

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Ben Raue is the founder and author of the Tally Room.If you like this post, please consider donating to support the Tally Room.