Grey – Australia 2022

LIB 13.3%

Incumbent MP
Rowan Ramsey, since 2007.

Grey covers the vast majority of the geographical expanse of South Australia. Grey covers South Australia’s borders with Western Australia, the Northern Territory, Queensland and New South Wales. It covers most of the coast of South Australia, including everything west of the Yorke Peninsula. Main towns include Port Pirie, Port Augusta, Port Lincoln, Whyalla, Coober Pedy and Roxby Downs.

Grey is an original electorate, having been created in 1903. The seat was first won by the ALP’s Alexander Poynton, who had been elected as a Free Trade MP in 1901, when South Australia elected its parliamentary delegation at large.

Poynton strongly supported conscription and followed Billy Hughes into the Nationalist Party in 1916.

Poynton was defeated by Andrew Lacey in 1922. Lacey held the seat until his defeat by Philip McBride (UAP) in 1931. Lacey went on to win a seat in the South Australian House of Assembly in 1933 and became Leader of the Opposition until 1938.

McBride held Grey for the UAP from 1931 until 1937, when he made a swap with Country Party senator Albert Badman, with Badman winning Grey and McBride taking Badman’s seat in the Senate. McBride held the Senate seat until his defeat in 1943, and then served as Member for Wakefield from 1946 to 1958, serving as a minister in the Menzies government.

Badman held the seat of Grey until 1943, effectively serving as a member of the UAP for his final years after the collapse of the Country Party in South Australia.

In 1943, Badman was defeated by Edgar Russell (ALP). Russell began a 50-year period of the ALP holding Grey except for a single election, and he served as a backbencher until his death in 1963. Jack Mortimer won the seat for the ALP in 1963, but was defeated by Liberal Don Jessop in 1966. Jessop only held the seat for one term, losing to Laurie Wallis in 1969. Jessop then won a seat in the Senate in 1970 and served there until 1987.

Wallis held Grey from 1969 to 1983, when he retired. He was succeeded by Lloyd O’Neil, who held the seat for the ALP from 1983 until his retirement in 1993.

The redistribution before the 1993 had expanded Grey to include rural areas to the west of Port Pirie and Port Augusta, after the seat had been limited to the immediate coastal strip for decades. This improved the position of the Liberal Party, and Barry Wakelin won the seat off the ALP at the 1993 election.

Wakelin held the seat until 2007, when he retired and was succeeded by Rowan Ramsey. Ramsey has been re-elected four times.


  • Tim White (Greens)
  • Suzanne Waters (United Australia)
  • Peter Miller (Liberal Democrats)
  • Liz Habermann (Independent)
  • Julie Watson (Labor)
  • Kerry White (One Nation)
  • Tracey Dempsey (Federation)
  • Richard Carmody (Independent)
  • Rowan Ramsey (Liberal)
  • Assessment
    Grey is a safe Liberal seat.

    2019 result

    Rowan Ramsey Liberal 52,39250.6+8.5
    Karin Bolton Labor 23,61222.8+0.3
    David StoneOne Nation8,9908.7+8.7
    Andrea BroadfootCentre Alliance5,3245.1-21.6
    Candace Champion Greens 4,7604.6+1.9
    Alexander David WarrenUnited Australia Party3,8913.8+3.8
    Jacqui EdgecombeAnimal Justice2,6812.6+2.6
    Richard CarmodyIndependent1,7971.7+1.7

    2019 two-party-preferred result

    Rowan Ramsey Liberal 65,50463.3+5.6
    Karin Bolton Labor 37,94336.7-5.6

    Booth breakdown

    Booths have been divided into eight areas. There are four major towns in the electorate: Whyalla, Port Lincoln, Port Pirie and Port Augusta. Polling places in these towns have been grouped together.

    The remainder of the electorate has been split between:

    • Central – Barunga West, Copper Coast, Mallala, Wakefield and Yorke Peninsula council areas.
    • East – Clare and Gilbert Valleys, Flinders Ranges, Goyder, Light, Mount Remarkable, Northern Areas, Orroroo Carrieton, Peterborough council areas, and those parts of Port Pirie council area outside of the Port Pirie urban area.
    • Outback – Polling places in northern parts of the seat, including Coober Pedy, Roxby Downs and Woomera.
    • West – Those polling places in the south of the electorate to the west of Whyalla.

    The Liberal Party generally did best in the rural parts of the seat, but did win all but one area. The Liberal Party narrowly won in Port Pirie and Port Augusta, and elsewhere their vote ranged from 59.8% in the outback to 78.4% in the west. Labor polled 58.1% in Whyalla.

    Voter groupON prim %LIB 2PP %Total votes% of votes
    Port Pirie9.851.35,1515.0
    Port Lincoln6.764.74,5394.4
    Port Augusta11.151.12,8902.8
    Other votes8.166.915,69715.2

    Election results in Grey at the 2019 federal election
    Toggle between two-party-preferred votes and primary votes for the Liberal Party and Labor.

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    1. Potentially the next speaker of the house after Tony Smith announced his retirement. Ramsay isn’t a high profile minister and has been in parliament for 14 years so it’s entirely possible he is next speaker. Any ideas who could be next speaker if not Ramsay?

    2. This is Australia’s rustbelt seat. Once a Labor seat but with decline of the industry & retributions have benefited the LNP.

    3. This seat now literally extends from the Urban fringe of Adelaide to the borders of WA, Vic, QLD and NSW. With very little population growth wonder if a future redistribution will force into including some of the working class Northern Adelaide suburbs.

    4. There may be too much objection if they try and force Grey into more of urban Adelaide. If requiring expansion, Grey may be better to take more of the Riverland from Barker, then Barker expands into the Adelaide Hills and Mayo becomes another urban seat. This makes 2 pure rural seats and the remainder all in greater Adelaide.

    5. Yoh An, what about if Grey takes the Riverland and then Baker expands to take Fleurieu Peninsula and Kangaroo Island. Mayo could then take some of the Eastern Suburbs of Adelaide along with the Adelaide Hills with Sturt potentially abolished? The Adelaide Hills is quite affluent so i dont know if it should be in a rural seat.

    6. Yes, that sounds reasonable in a future redistribution. Although an option would be Sturt expanding to take in the Adelaide Hills, Kangaroo Island included with Kingston (this configuration occurs with the state seat of Mawson) and Barker extending just to the edge of Victor Harbour/Goolwa, thus making Mayo the seat that is effectively abolished.

    7. In terms of naming, Sturt could be removed since it commemorates a colonial explorer and the name Mayo applied to the district covering the Adelaide Hills and eastern suburbs.

    8. Yoh An, agree. I am keen for name Mayo to be retained as it named after a pioneering woman and for Sturt to be retired when possible due to its colonial aspects.

    9. I can’t see how Sturt should be retired, given he discovered South Australia, and that he actually (unlike most early settlers) propitiated with Indigenous people, meaning there were no scuffles or massacres.

    10. I think both Sturt and Mayo should stay as names – if you have to get rid of a name, ditch Boothby, he was merely a returning officer. In terms of names, I’d have ditched Boothby over Wakefield last time.

    11. I have no idea who Boothby is. Meanwhile, Wakefield was named after a colonialist who kidnapped a 15-year-old girl in 1827 and got a 3 year jail term. Choices.

    12. I have no idea who Boothby is. Meanwhile, Wakefield was named after a colonialist who kidnapped a 15-year-old girl in 1827 and got a 3 year jail term. Choices.

      Also until I researched it I legitimately thought Wakefield was named after the invention of the chocolate cookie, who actually isn’t Australian *facepalm*.

    13. Correct William Boothby was a returning officer but given he did it for the first ever federal election there is some prominence given. Also when he was the returning officer in South Australia prior to to Federation and pioneered the Secret Ballot, a world first often referred to as the Australian ballot in those days. Also Boothby dates back to 1903 while Sturt dates back to 1949.

      WD, Colonial aspects means that they were named after British people rather than Australians. If a seat dates back to Federation etc like Macquarie/Hindmarsh i am keen to retain it for historical continuity. We have seen the same trend occur for example the name Reid was retained over Lowe, Cowan retained over Stirling and recently Clark and Nicholls renamed from Denison and Murray respectively. i see that trend continuing i predict some of the next to go will be Hotham, Gellibrand and Shortland

    14. Nimalan

      I would consider another reason as to why Cowan was kept over Stirling, mainly as Edith Cowan is quite simply a more well-known individual here in Perth.
      Whenever people talk about Governor Stirling it’s generally in reference to the inn on the Stirling Highway which are both named after him.
      Stirling has a lot more things named after him:
      Stirling Gardens (outside the Supreme Court)
      Stirling Central Shopping Centre in Westminster
      Governor Stirling Senior High School in Woodbridge
      Captain Stirling Hotel, Pharmacy, Medical Centre and Shopping Centre
      Stirling Street (one street back from Beaufort Street, south of Highgate)
      The City of Stirling (people tried to rename it this year)
      and the suburb of Stirling.

      While knowledge about him certainly hasn’t permeated through WA, the knowledge about the Pinjarra massacres have, and it’s only inevitable that these names are changed, as we shouldn’t be honouring someone who partook in ethnic cleansing and genocide in the early days of the Swan River colony.

      I have a feeling a seat named after former PM Keating would likely be in south Western Sydney, which I guess would help find a spot for it.

    15. Ryan, Good point about Cowan/Stirling. Also i just want to be clear i am not accusing Sturt of committing any crimes etc. For me it was about priority and that there are many Australians who deserve to be recognised and have a seat named after them. Sturt already has quite a few things named after him including a suburb, highway, national park in NSW and an LGA. I am keen on Federation seats being retained so i was disappointed when Melbourne Ports was renamed Macnamara i would have preferred if Hotham was renamed instead.

    16. Nimalan
      Without being provocative (for once !) Id suggest that your premise of australian vs British is a poor one given historical context. Until 1901 we were 6 British colonies or 7 if you count NZ.there was NO Australia.
      I won’t bang on with a faux historical lecture. However Sturt was a typical (maniacal) explorer. These lunatics aren’t like normal people they go on risking their lives when normal (healthy) folk would give up & go home !
      Unless you want to unfairly change the names of about 20 seats, they do deserve to be celebrated for suffering, & bleeding, if not dying for our land !
      The argument for separating geographical names such as riverina, or regional cities Bendigo is far stronger ie state fed.
      Until the name Phillip is restored (Arthur Phillip) & Morshead our 2nd greatest general & 1/2 dozen VC winners (war heroes) ie Middleton, Edmonton, Jacka are celebrated, please no more grubby pollies, especially PM’s!!!!!.

    17. Ryan Spencer Nimalan Anton Kreitzer
      Hers a great idea on who needs to be immortalised immediately
      Doris Henschke . What a legend !!.
      iN 1979 Doris emptied both barrels of a shotgun into the head of her husband Cyril Henschke. A year later she was acquitted of murder (charges) ! . This was obviously a first, & provided a precedent, & obvious solution to the massively costly issue of domestic violence. Cyril is celebrated by the naming of eden valley’s greatest Cabernet Sauvignon (nicknamed “the wife-beater”) !

    18. As deceased former Prime Ministers get first dibs on seat naming, there will be a problem at some stage in NSW. There are four former NSW based PMs – Keating, Howard, Abbott, Turnbull – who will at some stage need a seat named after them – that doesn’t even count Morrison and potentially Albo. NSW will run out of seats to name after PMs.

    19. Henschke is indeed a legend, upon reading about her.

      The only way we can really accommodate all these names is by increasing the sizes of both houses.

    20. NSW still has a few geographic-based names that could be turned into commemorative names: North Sydney, Warringah, Berowra, Parramatta, Werriwa…..even Eden-Monaro, Riverina, New England and Richmond if you wanted to expand into the regions.

      e.g. I can easily see one of North Sydney, Berowra or Warringah getting renamed ‘Howard’, for example.

    21. WD, agree with your point about the point of separating Australians/British especially in the context of the times. Until 1949, there was no concept of Australian Citizenship and prior to that Australians were British subjects like a quarter of the global population at that time. Maybe Sturt should be retained in such a case. As i said i am not trying to promote a cancel culture and not criticising Sturt. Interesting Albert Jacka was one of those who i am keen for a seat named for in Victoria along with Weary Dunlop. Also i would like to see more non politicians such as artists, activists, authors etc being recognised with a seat named after them. Some people i would like to recognise include Charles Perkins, Simon Wonga, Yagan, Margaret Tucker, Jack Mundey. I would also like to see Streeton and Lawson return in future. I think this may occur if both houses of parliament are expanded as Ryan said. This may occur around the time Australia’s populations hits around 30 million mark as it would have doubled in size from 1984, when parliament was last expanded.

    22. Options, retaining current territory senator : state senator ratio and nexus
      First option-
      24 senators per state, 4 senators per territory for a total of 152 senators.
      Which therefore means 304 MHRs.
      Second option-
      18 senators per state, 3 senators per territory for a total of 114 senators.
      Which therefore means 228 MHRs.
      Based on current population data;
      Option A: 85,096 people per district.
      Option B: 113,462 people per district

      For the following; Option A/Option B, given that the AEC estimates 17,568,585 Australians are eligible to vote (regardless of whether they are actually enrolled to do so):
      NSW: 96/71
      VIC: 78*/57
      QLD: 62/46
      WA: 31/23
      SA: 22/16
      TAS: 7/5
      ACT: 5*/4
      NT: 3/2
      *The final seat in this simulation would be close between the ACT and Victoria although Victoria would get it on current data.

      In terms of WA people, I would love for people like Yagan to get a seat named after them.

    23. I think the next South Australian redistribution – which is still someway off – is likely to be pretty minimalist. The electorates are pretty well defined now: seven suburban, two regional, and one hybrid (Mayo).

      If Grey needs to expand it would do so by shifting further around the urban perimeter, taking the remainder of Light LGA (sans Gawler Belt) and, if it needs to go further, pushing into the Barossa. Compensating adjustments would see Barker encroach towards the Fleurieu peninsula – the Strathalbyn area would probably suffice. Victor Harbor & Kangaroo Island stay in Mayo.


      The Senate is not going to be expanded by 12 or even 6 Senators per state in one go. That would be too many more politicians for the voters to tolerate.

      The territory senator : state senator ratio is not fixed in the constitution (although the High Court won`t let Parliament give them a hugely disproportionately large share of seats). Doubling the number of territory Senators (with the introduction of staggered 6 year terms) was a suggested alternate option in the recent inquiry into the fair representation of the NT.

      Altering the nexus to include the territory seats is another option. It would however require either a referendum or the High Court to change its mind on the matter (possibly also requiring legislation).

    25. According to Wikipedia, Rex Patrick seems to have spent some time in his formative years in Whyalla so has some connection with Grey. The Xenophon team came very close to winning Grey in 2016 so there may be some residual infrastructure to build on. Also if Nick X runs for the senate they could possibly leverage off each other. Should Rex Patrick run, what is the status of the casual vacancy in the Senate seeing as the NXT structure that Rex Patrick was elected under no longer exists? Can that go to Nick X. and give him a further platform? Timing is important too as the SA parliament will need to be prorogued at some juncture before the March election.

    26. In response to redistributed, the Centre Alliance party (successor to NXT) may be best placed to take up any casual vacancy.

      This was the case back in 1977 I believe with Liberal Movement Senator Steele Hall. He switched to the Liberal Party during his Senate term, then resigned to successfully run for the House seat of Boothby. As the Liberal Movement no longer existed as a party, the SA state parliament saw the Australian Democrats as the ‘successor’ party and appointed Janine Haines to Steele Hall’s vacant Senate seat.

    27. Is anyone actually talking about the seat of Grey or is it a discourse on Australian history? Ramsay will win with daylight coming second.

    28. It was a speculated by Samantha Maiden on Insiders that Liz Habermann the independent canidate for the state seat of Flinders could stand in this seat. What would go against Habermann though is how much bigger a federal electorate is to a state seat. And the lack of time left to campaign before the next federal election is called- probably means it would be too late to make a serious run at it.

    29. Habermann is standing and is backed by Barry Waklin previous liberal mp.if We take the sa state election the liberals hold 2 seats. On 8% margin the other approx 3%…. the rest independents or Labor. If I were Mr Ramsay I would worry

    30. I have Grey in as a smokey to watch on election night. Looking at the 2019 PV breakdown, the SA election results and general expectation of a swing against the LNP you’d have to say Habermann is a decent chance here.

      Anyone with local knowledge in this part of the country?

    31. I have Liz Habermann down as a smoky too. Let’s hope she can get her message out. Doesn’t seem to have big money backing. Many in that seat now regularly vote Independent at State level. Would love to hear news from ground too.

    32. Of the state seats.. Frome lib 8% naugh excuse spelling ind 8% Giles alp 15% Stuart ind 17% Flinders where habermann ran and most conservative electorate libs by 3% add them together and…..


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