Sturt – Australia 2022

LIB 6.9%

Incumbent MP
James Stevens, since 2019.

Sturt lies in the eastern suburbs of Adelaide. The southern part of the seat covers most of Burnside LGA, while Campbelltown and Norwood Payneham and St Peters LGAs cover the centre of the seat, and parts of the Port Adelaide Enfield and Tea Tree Gully LGAs cover the north of the seat.

Sturt stretches north to Grand Junction Road, and key suburbs include Glen Osmond, Burnside, Magill, Felixstow, Campbelltown, Klemzig, Gilles Plains, Rostrevor, Newton, Norwood, Stepney, Paradise, Athelstone and Highbury.

Sturt was created for the 1949 election, and has almost always been held by the Liberal Party. Indeed, except for two terms when it was held by the ALP, the seat was held by the same family from its creation until 1993.

The seat was first won by Keith Wilson in 1949. He lost the seat in 1954 to Norman Makin. Makin had served in the House of Representatives from 1919 to 1946, during which time he served as Speaker of the House of Representatives and a Minister in the Curtin and Chifley governments, before becoming Ambassador to the United States.

Makin abandoned the seat in 1955 for the safer Bonython, and Wilson returned to the seat. Wilson retired in 1966 and was succeeded by his son Ian. Ian served as a junior minister in the last term of the Fraser government before going to the backbench after the election of the Hawke government.

Wilson was challenged for preselection in 1993 by 25-year-old Christopher Pyne. Pyne held the seat for the next 26 years, serving as a minister in the Howard government and as a senior minister in the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison government, before retiring in 2019.

Liberal candidate James Stevens won the seat in 2019.


  • Katie McCusker (Greens)
  • Sonja Baram (Labor)
  • Chris Schmidt (TNL)
  • Alexander Allwood (One Nation)
  • Angela Fulco (Progressives)
  • Stephen Grant (United Australia)
  • Kathy Scarborough (Federation)
  • David Sherlock (Animal Justice)
  • Thomas McMahon (Liberal Democrats)
  • Inty Elham (Democratic Alliance)
  • James Stevens (Liberal)
  • Assessment
    Sturt is the second-most marginal Liberal seat in South Australia but has become more conservative and would require a substantial swing to flip.

    2019 result

    James Stevens Liberal 55,49050.6+6.2
    Cressida O’Hanlon Labor 32,76629.9+6.6
    Paul Boundy Greens 12,26311.2+3.6
    Nick LarcombeIndependent2,9062.6+2.7
    Hedley HardingUnited Australia Party2,6572.4+2.4
    Harbinda RobertsAnimal Justice1,8661.7+0.4
    Colin ThomasChild Protection Party1,2191.1+1.1
    Angela FulcoProgressives5650.5+0.5

    2019 two-party-preferred result

    James Stevens Liberal 62,40456.9+1.5
    Cressida O’Hanlon Labor 47,32843.1-1.5

    Booth breakdown

    Booths have been divided into three areas: central, north and south.

    The Liberal Party won a majority of the two-party-preferred vote in all three areas but there was some variation in that vote from the north, where they polled 50.3%, down to the south, where they polled 58.2%.

    Voter groupGRN prim %LIB 2PP %Total votes% of votes
    Other votes11.059.719,22617.5

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

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    1. The seat of missed opportunities

      In 2016, it seemed like there was enough Nick Xenophon Team vote to get rid of Pyne, but Labor did slightly too well (especially after Green preferences which favoured Labor) so there was no Liberal vs NXT runoff. It could have been another Mayo.

      This also seems like a “Turnbull Liberal” seat. That means Labor could have made a serious play for it in 2019, especially with Pyne retiring. It’s clear they didn’t and the results show it. The end result was “Safe Liberal Seat” yet again.

      I don’t think it’s a real prospect in 2022, though there might be some interesting interactions with the SA state election.

    2. Liberal hold. I agree with John there was a chance of pulling this off the liberal party in 2016 to the NXT. Labor & the Greens should have directed there preferences to unseat Pyne.

    3. This almost looks like the inverse of Boothby and trending towards the liberals…… in 2007….. Pyne almost lost….. now the libs seem secure….. this looks similar to how Dunstan is changing at the state level

    4. Why did Labor lose this in 1972 despite winning government? This along with Forrest and a few others switched to the coalition in 72′ and bucked the trend. Did McMahon have some sort of appeal here or were there demographic changes that happened back then?

    5. Daniel
      The 1972 election was a nation in two parts. NSW, Victoria, SE QLD and southern Tasmania swung to the ALP. North Queensland, SA, WA and Northern Tasmania swung to the coalition. There had been very big swings to the ALP in SA and WA in 1969. Both from what I can gather being driven by state issues. In SA it was a swing back from a huge liberal swing in 1966. In Forrest, Gordon Freeth was Foreign Affairs minister and apparently made comments in 1969 that made it seem he was soft on the Cold War. And Forrest reverted to type in 1972. 1972 was not the Labor sweep that historical legend has invested it with.

    6. Redistributed, finally someone says it! I hate it when the media paints 1972 as some huge landslide. The Coalition were just 5 seats away from majority government!

    7. Its been reported Labor have preselected community services worker Sonja Baram. The margin of 6.9% and the latest Newspoll you would think Labor could be competitive in this seat. I’m still skeptical if Labor is that far in front ahead though because you would think you would hear alot more seats in play then has been reported at the moment. James Stevens should benefit from a sophomore surge to counter a swing against him.

      It was mentioned in the comments Labor was close to winning this seat in 2007. I remember it and the Labor candidate at the time Mia Handshin was getting praise for her performance taking it to Christopher Pyne. There were even murmurs in the Labor party if she didn’t beat Pyne which was considered likely because Sturt wasn’t an easy prospect. That Labor may look for a seat for her in the state ranks. But Handshin didn’t recontest the seat of Sturt in 2010 and hasn’t resurfaced since on the political scene.

    8. 6.9% is a reasonably big margin to overturn but the Libs may also find that they may need to sandbag to maintain a presence in the Adelaide metro area. It would seem that only a miracle will save the Libs in Boothby.

    9. Wreathy, whilst 1972 was not a true landslide, from a historical perspective that election was a generational change from 20+ years of Coalition government to a more progressive, left leaning Labor government.

      I think Whitlam was like Rudd, fairly experienced but tried to implement too much change in a short timeframe. Had Labor in both 1972 and 2007 opted for a slower, and more gradual rollout of their progressive policies, with the public kept well informed of their intentions, then they could have lasted more than one term.

    10. Yoh An
      Whilst thats true of Whitlam in particular narrow sense, i don’t think Rudd was comparable. IIRC his famous quote (from the so called “2020”summit) was “give me something to believe in”!!. Most of his change was unplanned (ie disaster ! ) IMO. Older libs are saying now feels like 2007. I guess it is in respect of the libs are looking like losers. However there is a critical difference. Voters are about to vote for an undisclosed, if not unknown agenda, if there actually is one (which is highly improbable).

      I laugh whenever Labor talk about their “Vision”!!. In 2007 voters were promised everything which was exposed allies, deception, illusion, etc.
      In 72 “its time” was not seen as to be necessary to even explain. Whitlam took his election an an unconditional endorsement of everything he thought,(& would do) such was his ego. so “a slower, and more gradual rollout of their progressive policies, with the public kept well informed of their intentions, then they could have lasted more than one term” was never even contemplated in either case.
      cheers wd

    11. Yeah would have to agree with you Winediamond. Albanese seems a lot like Joe Biden 2020, he is lying low at the moment in order to keep the spotlight on Morrison. If Labor do win this time around, Albanese may then try to force through some potentially unpopular policies and that will result in his popularity/approval plummeting.

    12. Yoh An and WD
      In 1972, Whitlam went to the polls with grand policy ideas. They were well developed as a lot of them had already been taken to the 1969 election. After 23 years, they was a huge appetite for change and there was no dispute that they had a mandate for change. However, the problem was in the implementation – Whitlam abandoned the concept of a Cabinet and outer ministry so he had an unwieldy 27 member cabinet. The cabinet and some of the policy settings were ill disciplined and they took their eyes off the politics with some disastrous results – Jim Cairns and Rex Connor being the main cases in point. Also the cabinet was elected by the party room, so Whitlam could not choose his team. Whitlam also had a recalcitrant senate that sent him to the polls in 1974 and ultimately led to the Dismissal. The Dismissal and the events of 1975 has always overshadowed the whole Whitlam Government so it has always been hard for an objective historical review. One of the key achievements of the Hawke Government was that they learned from the political failures. In 2007, Kevin Rudd basically coasted in on the back of a feeling for change. If John Howard had retired in 2006, it might have been very different. If the GFC had not happened, it would be hard to see what the Rudd Government would actually achieved beyond the Apology to the Stolen Generation. The political failures of the Whitlam Government were apparent at the time but the Rudd Government failures became more apparent in hindsight – and his dumping was probably the ultimate political failure as it overshadowed the next three years and to some extent overshadows us now. The big problem in this country is that since 1993, oppositions have been frightened to go with a big agenda preferring the small target strategy and Albo is very small target as he is just waiting for the political collapse of a very tired government. That is not to say that he won’t make the big reveal once in government.

    13. You An
      I think the presumption that Albo HAS policies is a stretch !.His “popularity” is based on only one thing – that he is NOT Morrison !. I don’t think the media need any encouragement to ‘SPOTLIGHT” the PM. iN fact the media have enabled the opposition to avoid any reform, or even critical self examination since 2013. The result is a party completely unprepared, & ill equipped for government. A predictable outcome,-disaster, awaits the country.
      I feel pretty sanguine about the future, as i accept that this is a democracy, people have free will, & lessons need to be learned, illusions shattered, & falsehoods exposed. The cost however will be almost unimaginable.

      Your comparison with Biden is apt, but could be applied far more widely
      cheers wd

    14. Redistributed
      “The Dismissal and the events of 1975 has always overshadowed the whole Whitlam Government so it has always been hard for an objective historical review.” Yes in a dramatic sense. However as an historian i can condemn it completely. Even it’s much vaunted “achievements” can be exposed as policy disasters.

      “In 1972, Whitlam went to the polls with grand policy ideas. They were well developed as a lot of them had already been taken to the 1969 election.” Just because the policies were well known, doesn’t mean they were “well developed”. The consequences of most were again disastrous .

      However i broadly agree with most of the rest of your assessment

      ” That is not to say that he won’t make the big reveal once in government.” You can’t be serious surely ?
      There is nothing to reveal. Sadly, or fortunately !
      cheers wd

      ps i note there has been no response to my cost of CC post

    15. If the swing to Labor is really on nationwide, could this get close? Haven’t seen much discussion about the possibility of this seat flipping. I’d imagine the state election is making the Liberal member here feel somewhat nervous, although I’d also be careful to put too much stock in the federal implications of a state election. Would like to hear what others think.

    16. I think it might be close like 2007 when Chris Pyne barely hung on with a margin of only 1%, that is if the Labor swing is going to be quite large and in line with current polls.

    17. I flat out don’t believe that the swings in state and federal elections have no relation to each other. Sturt’s in trouble for the Libs, and Boothby is so far out of their reach that it might as well be on Mars.

    18. I suspect the Liberals would have won Sturt on state figures. One (relative) bright spot for the Liberals is that they appear to have held their marginal seats in the eastern suburbs: Hartley, Morialta, and maybe Dunstan.

    19. Furtive Lawngnome
      I agree, I think they must have some relation. Especially when the state election is being held so close to the federal election, it would be very easy for voters to conflate state and federal issues. Sturt is definitely on my radar as a sleeper pick to flip to the ALP.

    20. STURT is the type of area that coincides with the more wealthy 6 to 11% margin state seats which are so close This and Grey if a strong independent candidate runs.. will cause the liberals trouble at the Federal election.. they will need to allocate resources as they will be unsure

    21. On the other hand MQ, the Libs will have an easier time in some ways because they only need to sandbag one or possibly two seats (Boothby is a write-off at this point imo). Contrast this with 2007 when the Libs were basically on the defensive everywhere – Makin, Kingston, Sturt, Boothby, Wakefield etc.

    22. @FT, the evidence for a reciprocal relationship between state and federal election results is weak at best. History shows it’s generally a one-way street where the party in power federally drags down their state counterpart. Based off the 2017 WA election, Scott Morrison should have lost at least five seats in WA. Not only did he lose zero seats, but he was even within a hair’s breadth of retaking Cowan!

      That said, there are some examples you might point to where state issues have certainly affected federal results to some degree – TAS 1983, QLD 1990, VIC 1990, SA 1993 etc.

    23. If Boothby is considered a write off, then the upcoming Federal election may well be similar to the 2007 result with Labor winning 80+ seats.

    24. It is an interesting picture for the Libs in SA this election. Obviously, they have virtually no prospects of any gains, including Mayo, so they won’t invest anything into any seat they don’t already hold. They might throw a token effort at Boothby, but I largely agree with you Wreathy of Sydney that it is pretty much a write-off, ALP Gain. Barker is safe, although if Troy Bell switches to federal politics one day an independent win is in the cards. I’d be surprised if they lost Grey, but resources must be allocated there, it could get competitive with an independent running. And then of course Sturt is the real question. The majority of SA Liberal resources must go here, as it could be a true down to the wire marginal, and if the Libs take it for granted, they could lose it. However, I’d imagine the Liberals are acutely aware of all of this, and will invest in Sturt accordingly. My current prediction would be that the Liberals hold Sturt on a margin similar to their current margin in Boothby, around 51-49 or 52-48.

    25. 52-48 2PP lead for Labor in a Sturt poll carried out by uComms for the Advertiser. I would be shocked on election night if this seat changed hands as you’d expect national polls to tighten and the Liberals to increase sandbagging efforts in seats with these types of margins.

    26. Given that 2 recent polls have a swing to Labor in SA of 10% and 12% is this seat a virtual goner or are Labor held seats going to have ridiculously lopsided outcomes? Even if the polls are incorrect by a few % points this seat is severely under threat. Mind you, I’d expect polls in SA to be more accurate because there are minimal One Nation & UAP supporters muddying the waters by refusing to disclose their voting intentions in case they are tracked down and victimized by the authorities.

    27. If this seat falls, unlikely as it may be, the Liberals would not hold a single seat in the Adelaide metropolitan area. Has there ever been a time where one of the major parties has failed to win a single seat in one of the five mainland state capitals?


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