Spence – Australia 2022

ALP 14.1%

Incumbent MP
Nick Champion, since 2019. Previously member for Wakefield, 2007-2019.

Northern fringe of Adelaide. Wakefield covers the towns of Elizabeth, Gawler and Salisbury on the northern outskirts of Adelaide. In addition to the entirety of the Gawler and Playford council areas, it covers northern parts of the Salisbury council area and small parts of the Barossa and Light council areas (those parts immediately to the north and east of Gawler.

Spence is a new name for the seat of Wakefield, which was an original South Australian electorate, having been created in 1903 at the first election with single-member electorates in South Australia. The seat was almost always been held by conservative parties. Prior to the 2007 election, the ALP had only won the seat two times. The electorate was significantly redrawn prior to the 2004 and 2019 elections in ways that shifted the seat from being a conservative fringe seat to a Labor-leaning urban seat.

The seat was first won in 1903 by Frederick Holder. Holder had previously been Premier of South Australia and had won an at-large seat in the House of Representatives in 1901 and had been elected as the first Speaker of the House of Representatives. Holder served as an independent and as Speaker up until July 1909, when he died while presiding over a raucous session of the House of Representatives.

The ensuing by-election was won by the Commonwealth Liberal Party’s Richard Foster, who had previously served as a minister in state governments before losing his seat in 1906. Foster held the seat continuously until the 1928 election, when he was defeated by Country Party candidate Maurice Collins. Collins was defeated at the 1929 election, and the party has never won Wakefield since.

The seat was won in 1929 by Nationalist Charles Hawker, who went on to serve as a minister in Joseph Lyons’ first government before resigning from the ministry in protest against high ministerial salaries during the Depression. Hawker died in a plane crash in 1938.

The ALP’s Sidney McHugh won the seat in the following by-election. McHugh was a former state MP, and lost the seat to UAP candidate John Duncan-Hughes in 1940 before returning to state politics. Duncan-Hughes had previously held the seat of Boothby before losing it in 1928, and then had served as a UAP Senator from 1932 to 1938.

Duncan-Hughes lost to ALP candidate Albert Smith in 1943. Smith was defeated by Philip McBride (LIB) in 1946. McBride had previously held the seat of Grey and then served in the Senate, and had served in Menzies’ first ministry while in the Senate.

McBride served as a minister when the Liberal Party gained power in 1949, first as Minister for the Interior and then as Minister for Defence from 1950 until his retirement in 1958.

Bert Kelly won the seat in 1958, and was a prominent proponent of free trade at a time when it was a minority view. He served as a minister from 1967 until 1969 but his advancement was limited by his free trade advocacy.

The redistribution before the 1977 election abolished the seat of Angas and the sitting member for Angas, Geoffrey Giles, challenged Kelly for Liberal preselection and won Wakefield. Giles had held Angas since 1964, when he won a by-election triggered by the death of Alexander Downer Sr.

Giles retired in 1983, and was succeeded by Neil Andrew. Andrew had a largely undistinguished career until after the 1998 election, when he was elected Speaker of the House of Representatives.

A redistribution before the 2004 election made Wakefield a notional Labor seat, and Andrew retired. Despite the unfavourable redistribution the Liberal Party’s David Fawcett retained the seat. Fawcett held the seat for one term before losing it to the ALP’s Nick Champion in 2007.

Champion has been re-elected four times, winning the renamed seat of Spence in 2019.

Sitting Labor MP Nick Champion is not running for re-election.

  • Alvin Warren (United Australia)
  • Matt Burnell (Labor)
  • David Deex (Greens)
  • Matilda Bawden (Federation)
  • Shawn Lock (Liberal)
  • Linda Champion (One Nation)
  • Assessment
    Spence is a safe Labor seat.

    2019 result

    Nick Champion Labor 51,79151.0+5.8
    Kathleen Bourne Liberal 26,25225.8+5.1
    Daniel Jury Greens 7,3307.2+2.7
    Ron FiedlerUnited Australia Party7,1577.0+7.0
    Nathan HerbertIndependent5,4735.4+5.4
    Rita KuhlmannAnimal Justice3,6263.6+3.0

    2019 two-party-preferred result

    Nick Champion Labor 65,17464.1-3.0
    Kathleen Bourne Liberal 36,45535.9+3.0

    Booth breakdown

    Booths have been divided into three parts: central, north-east and south-west.

    The ALP won a majority of the two-party-preferred vote in all three areas, with a small 54.1% majority in the north-east Gawler area, and larger majorities of over 67% in the centre and south-west.

    Voter groupALP 2PP %Total votes% of votes
    Other votes61.615,12314.9

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

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      Aspiring Labor women face stand-over tactics, threats and intimidation when they dare to seek office against factionally-backed male candidates, a damning ­report prepared for the ALP’s Emily’s List has found.

      Despite hailing the success of the party through Labor’s affirmative action rule – a quota of 40 per cent of women for winnable seats rising to 50 per cent in 2025 – the report says male-dominated factional culture within the ALP is pushing women away from advancement.

      It also includes horror stories from women who have sought preselection against favoured male candidates only to be warned off, told it is not their turn, in some cases being directly heavied by factional leaders and their allies who have threatened to end their careers.

      In one case a woman who had sought preselection revealed that her parents had been phoned and then approached in person by factional players demanding they talk her out of running against a preferred male candidate.

      The findings are contained in a major report by Australian ­National University PhD candidate Medha Majumdar, who is the 2020-2021 Julia Gillard Next Generation Intern working for Emily’s List, the ALP-aligned group that champions affirmative action and women’s rights within the party.

      While its findings are levelled at all the major political parties and based on interviews with dozens of women from across politics, the report also focuses on the experience of Labor women who have been blocked in preselection battles.

      One of the women interviewed is thwarted South Australian preselection aspirant Alice Dawkins, a 27-year-old policy analyst who incurred the wrath of the SA ALP by running against the factionally-backed and union-backed male candidate Matt Burnell for the federal seat of Spence in July.

      Ms Dawkins, the daughter of Hawke/Keating government education minister and treasurer John Dawkins, said she had already been contacted by young Labor women since her defeat saying the episode had put them off politics.

      She said the findings of the Emily’s List report reflected her own experience where she had been told not to upset an agreed arrangement between the factions and the Transport Workers Union for Mr Burnell to be slotted into Spence, where long-serving MP Nick Champion is not contesting the next election.

      “This is the way these deals get done and the message to young women like me is wait your turn and if you don’t wait your turn you will pay a price for it,” she said.

      “It is pretty patronising and ­demeaning that we are told the party wants us to get involved but then when we have to sit back ­quietly and wait while the blokes divvy up the spoils and decide who gets what.”

      Ms Dawkins endorses a key finding of the report that is the lack of transparency surrounding preselections.

      “There needs to be a level playing field otherwise we are going to keep having situations like mine where women go into politics feeling idealistic and inspired only to find they can’t advance because secret deals have been done that prevent them from getting ahead,” she said.

      The report, entitled The Missing Women of Australian Politics, examines how violence, harassment and intimidation prevent women from entering and progressing in politics. It devotes much discussion to the Brittany Higgins rape case and the role that played in exposing a toxic and alcohol-fuelled culture within Parliament House and has acted as a deterrent against female participation.

      It interviews volunteers, staffers, current and former MPs, all of whom say that their gender has been an obstacle or issue for them in politics.

      The comments from defeated candidates mirror the experience of Ms Dawkins who has become a pariah in the eyes of some in the SA ALP for taking legal action and approaching Labor national executive to challenge her preselection in Spence.

      “Women seeking to contest preselections face threats related to their support within the party and their careers in politics,” the report says. “They are pressured to ‘wait their turn’, or face exclusion and blacklisting, unless they withdraw their nomination. The power imbalance in these circumstances is stark. The perpetrator of the intimidation is often a senior person with influence and power within the party.”

      Women needed to be prepared to face this intimidation in preselection contests.

      One female interviewee noted: “They are going to really pressure you to withdraw. What are you going to do when that senator calls you and says, ‘come on, you don’t want to ruin your career’? Because that call is going to happen. That is what happened to me.”

      The report proposes a series of recommendations across all parties, specifically calling on Labor to include the ­offence of intimidation in its code of conduct.

      David Penberthy is a columnist with The Advertiser and Sunday Mail, and also co-hosts the FIVEaa Breakfast show. He’s a former editor of the Daily Telegraph, Sunday Mail and news.com.au.

    2. Good to see all those Labor values, ethics, & higher moral standards at work !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.
      For all you committed Murdoch media conspiracists David Pemberthy is married to Kate ELLIS the former (Labor) member of Adelaide. So i guess you could say he has a “special interest, & insight.

    3. I hate when certain Labor seats are reserved for the left or the right factions. It means the preselection is ultimately a bit rigged.

    4. The key here who is the best person for the job. A policy analyst (What is that) or a twu guy who has properly faught for workers. If people want equality then get rid of quotas.

      Sounds like Dawkins wants an easy ride based on her father who did spit the dummy and quit politics when he couldn’t get his own way. Was the start of the demise of Keating and I am a Freo boy.

    5. James
      IIRC Dawkins spat the dummy over Keatings betrayal & duplicity over the LAW L.A.W. “tax cuts” & the aftermath of a myriad of appallingly inefficient minor taxes which Dawkins was charged with implementing, announcing, & attempting to defend.
      Remember some of us have lived experience of Keating playing “fast, & loose”!. Dawkins was already exhausted, & this debacle pushed him over the edge health wise.
      Popular history as promoted by PJK has propagandised this period into the “nation changing policy success” of compulsory Superannuation. IMV this has been a policy disaster for australian workers when compared to the far more effective NZ national pension scheme. Still history is written by the victors………

    6. Nick Champion has sent his resignation letter in to the Speaker of the House. Seems a little early given that it is apparently still possible to squeeze a by-election in.

    7. Alex J, I believe the reason why Nick Champion resigned early is because he is running as the Labor candidate for the state seat of Taylor. He has to resign his federal seat before the close of nominations for the state election, which is to be held on 19 March.

      I doubt that there would be a by-election for Spence as it is only 2-3 months before the federal election, so it would be too costly and inconvenient.

    8. Technically the House of Reps could remain for another 4 and a bit months until its expiry at the start of July. The likelihood of that is infinitesimally small but may have to be taken into consideration.

    9. The technical possibility of separate House and Half-Senate elections seems to me a bit like mini-redistributions. Yes, it could in theory happen at some point but practical concerns mean the likelihood of it happening is vastly disproportionate to the amount that commentators and politics tragics (like ourselves) talk about it.

      Already for this cycle the time between the last possible Half-Senate date and the expiry of the House makes the value of splitting the elections dubious at best; adding at least one required by-election merely makes it even less practical.

    10. Peter Reith was elected in December 1982 at the Flinders by election and the general election was in March 1983 – but it doesn’t count as it was called early. Can anybody recall if he was actually sown in as an MP?
      In 2001, the Aston by election was on July 14 and the general election on November 10 but presumably there was a fair bit of parliamentary sitting in between.

    11. I’m not sure who Ritan Zeid was (Google says a banker in Sydney).

      The Liberal candidate in Spence is Shawn Lock, who also ran as the Liberal candidate against Nick Champion in Taylor. He has corflute signs up in Gawler but not further south.
      He doesn’t appear on the Federal Liberal website as far as I can find, but his state profile page has been updated from Taylor to Spence at https://strongerfuture.com.au/candidate/shawn-lock
      As far as I can tell, he was SRC co-captain at Mark Oliphant College (public R-12 school in Munno Para) in 2021, https://moc.sa.edu.au/our-community/student-voice/ so has probably never voted in an election he was not a candidate for.


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