Boothby – Australia 2013

LIB 0.6%

Incumbent MP
Andrew Southcott, since 1996.

Map of Boothby’s 2010 and 2013 boundaries. 2010 boundaries appear as red line, 2013 boundaries appear as white area. Click to enlarge.
Map of Boothby’s 2010 and 2013 boundaries. 2010 boundaries appear as red line, 2013 boundaries appear as white area. Click to enlarge.

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 south, losing parts of Edwardstown and Glen Osmond in the north, and gaining Aberfoyle Park from Mayo in the south. This reduced the margin for the Liberal Party from 0.8% to 0.6%.

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 has held the seat ever since.

The seat has trended away from the Liberal Party over the last two elections. 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%.


Boothby is the most marginal Coalition seat in the country. In the current circumstances, it is likely that there will be a swing to the Liberal Party that will ensure another term for Southcott.

Despite this, Boothby is one of the only Coalition seats in the country that could buck the trend. Southcott has never been a particularly impressive MP, and he has suffered negative swings against him at every election since 1998, including at elections where the Coalition gained ground nationally in 2001, 2004 and 2010. It is conceivable that Boothby could again buck the trend, but in current circumstances that seems unlikely.

2010 result

Andrew SouthcottLIB38,24844.81-1.44
Annabel DiganceALP30,51535.75+1.63
Fiona BlincoGRN11,30513.24+3.02
Meredith ResceFF2,1202.48+0.04
Ray McGheeIND1,6891.98-2.93
Thomas SalernoDEM5170.61-0.93
Michael NoackLDP3390.40+0.23
Stephen SkillitziCLSK3160.37+0.37
Avi ChapmanSEC3100.36+0.36

2010 two-candidate-preferred result

Andrew SouthcottLIB43,31750.75-2.18
Annabel DiganceALP42,04249.25+2.18
Polling places in Boothby at the 2010 federal election. North-East in green, South-East in blue, West in orange. Click to enlarge.
Polling places in Boothby at the 2010 federal election. North-East in green, South-East in blue, West in orange. Click to enlarge.

Booth breakdown
Booths have been divided into three areas:

  • North-East – Hawthorn and Torrens Park.
  • South-East – Aberfoyle Park and Flagstaff Hill.
  • West – Brighton and Marion.

The Liberal Party won a two-party-preferred margin in the south-east and north-east. In the west, the ALP won a majority of slightly less than 52%.

The Greens vote varied between 15.2% in the south-east and 11.8% in the west.

Voter groupGRN %LIB 2PP %Total votes% of ordinary votes
Other votes14.5152.3817,135
Two-party-preferred votes in Boothby at the 2010 federal election.
Two-party-preferred votes in Boothby at the 2010 federal election.
Greens primary votes in Boothby at the 2010 federal election.
Greens primary votes in Boothby at the 2010 federal election.


  1. Just rumour, but I did hear that Moriaty was something of a stalking horse for others in the Hamilton-Smith faction of the SA Libs, on the promise that he (Moriaty) would get a more promising seat at the next State election. Going by those numbers in the preselection, I guess it didn’t work quite as planned.

  2. I recon this seat is in play. southcott hasn’t gotten great results in the past, generally all swings against him for a while, weak performer, hasn’t amazed anyone as evident by the fact he is not on the frontbench. I think though this will fall with a swing of 0.9% to labor

  3. In terms of personal vote i.e. HoR less Senate, Southcott’s performance is poor, however, I believe he will get a large swing to him this time (and probably greater than the SA average) given the history of the seat. This seat will not swing to Labor in this upcoming election if Gillard is still PM.

    I don’t see Southcott’s personal standing to be any poorer than at the last election. Southcott is not overly popular, but that has been built into the vote for the last 2 elections.

    Separately, I also agree with Peter Brent that SA will swing greater than most other States.

  4. DB, interested in your take on this seat now that Rudd is leader and the latest Newspoll breakdown for SA has both parties 1st pref even at 41%.

  5. Don’t care what anyone says – I reckon, if the polls are anything to go by, that Boothby is up for grabs by Labor, especially after the redistribution to include Aberfoyle Park.

  6. Certainly not voting for ALP after the treatment of PM Gillard and the rewarding of Rudd for his destabilisation of the party and the leadership over 3 yrs. Who would vote for a party that rewarded that kind of politics and that kind of politician. ALP will lose as many votes as it gains.

  7. What has happened in the seat over the last couple of decades to make it slowly drift towards labor?

  8. Never did get a reply from DB to my July 10 query so wondering if anyone else has any thoughts on this seat. Appears to be another close result in the making but not enough for an ALP gain?

  9. I dont know Anabel but I’d say if she is like Templeman in Macquarie, she could get in. This seat doesn’t normally go with the trend, it underperformed in 07, patchy result in 10. Wouldnt be suprised if this seat swung to labor but Hindmarsh swung agaisnt labor (not enough for the ALP to lose)

  10. 2010 here was perhaps something of a correction after Labor underperformed in ’07.

    Obviously the only shot of Labor gaining a seat in SA, but it would be a big win. It’s possible that ’10 was the highwater mark here. Until I hear of fresh polling in Boothby, I’m expecting no seats to change hands in SA.

  11. Furthermore, from what I understand, Boothby is not even being polled by either major party anymore. I think the Libs will win Hindmarsh, Adelaide and possibly Wakefield or Makin.

  12. DB
    Yeah Ellis is gone. Wakefield was affected by the redistribution than any other SA seat, & the Libs will claim it easily with a 2004 level vote. It feels more vulnerable than Hindmarsh. Tony Zappia will hang on regardless because of his very high personal vote. Interestingly there have been persistent rumours of a SA labor MP considering crossing the floor for the last 3+ years. I’ve always suspected it was Zappia.

  13. Yeh DB is full of it I think. I now doubt that he sees polls and probably makes some up. Also DB may say a seat is gone for labor even if the tpp is 53/47. And DB now seems to know labor polling, sounds very dodgy.

  14. Observer
    Making such a personal judgement about DB is absolutely offensive.
    Perhaps you missed Ben’s requests on such behavior ???. Or are you simply, & commonly ill mannered??
    Only 3 weeks till Sept 7 . I’m happy to wait until then to see how much you have to say , about who has “been full of it” !!!.

  15. Look winediamond, all comments I make are thoughts and opinions, I don’t mention polling a great deal. I don’t see how it is offensive, and I’m happy to wait to because if DB is wrong about anything then we will know the truth

  16. winediamond – it’s ok. Thanks. I’ve known plenty of people like Observer. He is not a very nice person.

  17. The reality is that we are all “full of it”. We are pretending that we know what is in voters minds and speculating on something that we won’t know until election night.

    However, regardless of party bias or personal prefs mostly everyone is having a mature discussion and objective analysis of the process and the attempt to gauge voters intentions. It is absent the name calling, pettiness & trolling that occurs pretty much everywhere else.

    We really should try to keep that temperament regardless of disagreements or any perceived bias of another.

  18. For the most part the polling has supported DB’s version of events so he can’t be too “full of it”….

  19. Thank you for Winediamond and Yappo for pointing this out. The volume of comments has become so much I haven’t been able to read every one.

    Observer, you are being over-the-top in personal criticism of DB. Maybe he’s right, maybe he’s wrong, you don’t know, but you are now playing the man not the ball and it’s not on.

    I suggest you stay away from DB if you can’t be civil, or I will take further action, either making all of your comments moderated or banning you.

  20. Look Ben I just think that when you make a definitive claim like certain liberal gain and there’s nothing public to support that, it does sound very dodgy. If I said the Libs certain to lose Macquarie I would expect criticism if a poll says otherwise because I’ve mislead everyone on this site. I don’t mind if he says based on a poll I saw that says….. I think this seat will be tough but when you say polling I know of says its certain to go I don’t think it’s fair on anyone on this site because it gives false facts and limits discussion and opinions on a seat because of limited possibly incorrect facts.

  21. And what really annoys me is when DB shits down any other view because of polls he says he saw because people should be alowed to have their opinions and evidence referenced properly

  22. Observer – I apologise if I have made definitive claims on certain seats. I’ll try not to do that in future.

  23. Southcott will win. I will vote for him even though he does nothing and i’m not a huge personal fan (met him a few times) for me the lib seat win is more important..Boothby is annoying that it’s essentially 2 against 1with all green votes going to labor. ‘A vote for green is a vote for Digance’ should be plastered on every polling entrance….then see how the people react… Nonetheless, People are smarter than they were 10 years ago. They know where the preferences are going. even in Marion and Warradale. Boothby is a done deal already.

  24. SC – you won’t see your campaign message promoted that way. A former Lib State Director was prosecuted after a state poll (where somewhat different rules apply to advertizing) for running essentially that line. I don’t imagine the current director will want to follow in his former boss’s wake.

  25. SC – do you not understand how preferential voting works? A vote for the Greens is only a vote for Labor if you preference Labor ahead of the Liberals. If you dislike Labor but don’t want to vote Liberal, vote Greens, and then Liberal. There is no “people know where the preferences are going” issue – the people choose their own preferences.

    If you don’t understand that, go and read up on Australia’s voting system, because you clearly don’t know how it works.

  26. I like Andrew and have always voted Liberal but this election I will be voting for Sally Cox – time for a change but not a Labor change.

  27. This Coalitions announcement yest to cancel Tonsley rail project might hurt Southcott a little but not even to lose the seat unless there is a surprise.

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