Dunstan by-election, 2024

Cause of by-election
Sitting Liberal MP Steven Marshall announced his impending retirement on 24 January 2024.

Margin – LIB 0.5%

Incumbent MP
Steven Marshall, since 2014. Previously member for Norwood 2010-2014.

Eastern suburbs. Dunstan covers the suburbs of College Park, Evandale, Firle, Hackney, Joslin, Kent Town, Marden, Maylands, Payneham South, Royston Park, St Morris, St Peters, Stepney, Trinity Gardens, Beulah Park and Kensington. Most of the electorate lies in the Norwood Payneham and St Peters council area, as well as part of the Burnside council area.

The electorate of Norwood was first created at the 1938 election. For most of that period, the seat has been held by the ALP. The outgoing member was the first Liberal to win the seat at multiple elections. Norwood was renamed Dunstan in 2014.

From 1938 to 1953, the ALP’s Frank Nieass and the Liberal and Country League’s Albert Moir alternated in the seat, switching back and forth over four terms.

In 1953, Moir was replaced by the ALP’s Don Dunstan. Dunstan served as Deputy Premier from 1965 to 1967, and then as Premier from 1967 to 1968 and from 1970 to 1979, when he retired from Parliament.

The ALP’s Greg Crafter won the March 1979 Norwood by-election. He lost the seat at the September 1979 general election to the Liberal Party’s Frank Webster.

That result was invalidated in court, and Crafter won the seat back at a 1980 by-election.

Crafter held the seat throughout the 1980s, until the 1993 election.

In 1993, the Liberal Party’s John Cummins won the seat, and held it until 1997.

Vini Ciccarello won Norwood back for the ALP in 1997. She was re-elected in 2002 and 2006.

The Liberal Party’s Steven Marshall won the seat at the 2010 election off Ciccarello.

Marshall was promoted to the Liberal Party frontbench in December 2011. In October 2012, he was elected deputy leader as part of a challenge to Liberal leader Isobel Redmond.

Redmond resigned in January 2013, and in February Marshall was elected as Liberal leader. Marshall led the Liberal Party to the 2014 election, winning re-election in his renamed seat of Dunstan. Marshall’s party won a majority of the two-party-preferred vote, but failed to form government in a hung parliament. Marshall continued to lead the opposition until 2018, when he led the Liberal Party to power and became Premier.

Marshall led the government for the next four years, but lost the subsequent state election in 2022.


Dunstan is a very marginal seat, and in the absence of the incumbent Liberal MP it is quite possible that there could be a change of party here.

2022 result

Candidate Party Votes % Swing
Steven Marshall Liberal 11,219 46.7 -2.6
Cressida O’Hanlon Labor 8,445 35.2 +6.4
Kay Moncrieff Greens 3,279 13.7 +4.7
Tony Holloway Family First 1,067 4.4 +4.4
Informal 437 1.8

2022 two-party-preferred result

Candidate Party Votes % Swing
Steven Marshall Liberal 12,135 50.5 -6.9
Cressida O’Hanlon Labor 11,875 49.5 +6.9

Booth breakdown

Booths in Dunstan have been divided into three areas: north-east, north-west and south.

The Liberal Party won 53.1% of the two-party-preferred vote in the north-west, and also won the special votes, which made up almost 40% of the total vote. Labor won 50.3% in the south and 53.1% in the north-east.

The Greens came third, with a primary vote ranging from 12.5% in the north-west to 16.1% in the south.

Voter group GRN prim % ALP 2PP % Total votes % of votes
South 16.1 49.7 5,908 24.6
North-East 13.4 46.9 5,274 22.0
North-West 12.5 53.1 3,429 14.3
Other votes 12.7 52.1 9,399 39.1

Election results in Dunstan at the 2022 South Australian state election
Toggle between two-party-preferred votes and primary votes for the Liberal Party, Labor and the Greens.

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  1. I saw something interesting on Antony Green’s write up for this upcoming by-election – that the Liberal who won in 1993 – John Cummins had lost Labor pre-selection back in 1979, but I couldn’t find anything else on that and when he switched parties.

  2. Labor might have a shot here. They came close in 2022 and the Liberal margin was probably inflated by Marshall’s personal vote. It’s interesting that an MP would resign from a marginal seat. This will be interesting to watch. I expect both sides to throw everything at it.

    Hi @Ben Raue, there’s an issue with the primary votes in the map. They show 100 for all parties at all booths.

  3. Labor will put a lot of effort into winning Dunstan, and they’re certainly in with a chance. A Labor swing to the degree of Bragg, which is a similar-ish seat just a lot safer would comfortably deliver victory.

  4. The Greens preselected last year in anticipation Marshall wasn’t long for Parliament. The candidate is Katie McCusker, 2022 Sturt candidate. The SA Greens have done a few doorknocks in the area.

    The electorate seems similar to areas in other cities that vote Green/teal but Adelaide is a city where Liberals still do quite well in affluent inner city areas (e.g. North Adelaide). But in a by-election to with very much not moderate Liberal leaders both locally and federally, I can see potential cut through.

  5. @John the Greens haven’t really broken through in SA yet, probably a couple of elections until they’ll put up a good fight anywhere barring Heysen which they realistically could win with a strong effort. You are right though the SA Libs still remain strong in areas that elsewhere for Liberals have been susceptible to independent and Green campaigns.

  6. Agreed, I think the Greens have good prospects in Heysen and I would add Unley to the list as well.

    This seat is hard to pick but the media is suggesting it’s a straight Labor vs Liberal contest. I am really interested to find out how the Greens go as they have been doorknocking since last year and picked their candidate early in 2023.

    This seat covers their best area from federal Sturt where they performed very well in 2022. I think the Greens will outpoll Labor in Kent Town and Norwood (like they almost did in Sturt in 2022) but I can’t see them getting ahead of Labor anywhere else (maybe Maylands?).

  7. @Greens Political Party Supporter yes Unley is a chance, certainly the right sort of seat for the Greens to succeed considering teals seem to have avoided metropolitan Adelaide. Probably stems from the generally moderate nature of the South Australian Liberals although that is changing so maybe teals will begin to emerge as they have in other states and stunt the growth of the Greens.

    On Dunstan I can see certainly see a scenario where the Greens poll second on some booths, but that may the extent to their success I’m afraid if they achieve that at all. Ultimately it will be a Liberal vs Labor contest and a very close one. I expect the Green vote will be around 17%, a good result and puts it in the same boat as seats such as West Torrens and Unley. But hey, don’t lose faith in a Dunstan Greenslide lol!

  8. The majors have preselected candidates. Anna Finizio (LIB) was the candidate for Hindmarsh at the 2022 federal election. Cressida O’Hanlon (ALP) was the candidate for Dunstan at the 2022 state election.

    On paper it looks marginal but perhaps some internal polling is telling the Libs it’s ok for Marshall to resign.

    I don’t think the Greens can crack the 2CP in many places. Even if they outpoll Labor in Kent Town or St Peters, it’ll depend on which minor right-wing parties will run (namely Family First, One Nation), how many votes they get and how the preferences will flow.

  9. @Votante yes it’s unlikely the Greens will make second in many places (they certainy won’t come second over all) but it isn’t beyond the realms of possibility.

    I imagine Family First will run a candidate and their vote will probably be fairly static if not down on last time.

  10. @notrealMingCampbell, I see this as a classical Liberal vs Labor seat. It’s not a blue/green seat like some in affluent, inner-city parts of other capital cities. At the 2022 federal election in Sturt, the Greens got big swings but still came third on primaries at just about every booth.

    Voters of FF, ON and Libertarians tend to put the Greens behind Labor. This gives Labor a boost against the Greens. However, such parties give the Liberals a bigger boost.

  11. There’s an article in the InDaily saying that neither Labor or Liberal have undertaken internal polling for Dunstan, and that the Greens are “bullish” about their chances. I’ve really got no idea where this one’s going; I don’t know why the Greens would be taking this so seriously if they thought they had bugger all chance. They are evidently putting in more effort than they did in other byelections in recent times like Aston, Fadden etc.

  12. It Appears that the Liberals have shot themselves in the foot with their candidates’ “shady hidden business past”

  13. Some quick fed to state election calculations

    Greens: 20.1
    ALP: 30.1
    Lib: 39.8

    3CP would be something like

    Greens: 22.7
    ALP: 31.9
    Lib: 45.4

    And 2PP

    Lib: 48.2
    ALP: 51.8

    That’s off a 54% TPP in SA. So this is definitely winnable for Labor and there is a possibility for the Greens to win if they put in effort over a long period of time.

  14. A bit of a campaign update from what I’ve seen online:

    The way the major parties (Labor and Liberal) seem to be overcoming the new corflute restrictions on public roads is by having volunteers waving/carrying the corflutes some days on the roadside to peak hour motorists. This seems like a good strategy to gain name recognition though it is very resource-intensive since a lot of people need to be involved.

    Peter Malinauskas and David Speirs have both been in the electorate fairly often, and the Labor corflutes seem to have their candidate Cressida O’Hanlon side-by-side with Peter Malinauskas, which indicates the Labor brand and Premier still hold pretty good favourability ratings. The Greens seem to be pulling out the big guns as well – apparently Bob Brown is coming to campaign for the Greens and Tom Ballard launched the campaign.

    To @Caleb’s point, yes the major parties seem to be throwing mud at each other but when there’s so much mud being thrown at each other, none of it sticks it just increases voter distrust, and ultimately I think it will result in both majors losing votes to minor parties.

  15. Here’s ChatGPT’s blurb:

    “Voters in the state seat of Dunstan in Adelaide are heading to the polls today for the 2024 Dunstan state by-election. This election follows the resignation of Liberal MP and former Premier Steven Marshall, prompting a contest between Liberal candidate Anna Finizio, Labor candidate Cressida O’Hanlon, and Greens candidate Katie McCusker. Dunstan, an ultra-marginal seat with a slim 0.5% margin, holds the distinction of being the most marginal seat in South Australia, setting the stage for a potentially competitive race with significant implications for the region.”

  16. Liberal hold, I think Ipswich West in QLD gives the conservative side of politics the momentum just a week after. Gut feeling Liberals hold this with a slightly increased margin (2-3% swing to the Libs)

  17. @Daniel T Agreed with the margin prediction although I personally don’t think a greater conservative momentum is anything to do with it. It’s just unlikely for the government to win a seat from opposition and there isn’t a need to reward Labor with an increased majority.

  18. I’m leaning towards a Labor gain given the ultra low margin. The former premier would’ve had a decent personal vote preventing Labor from winning Dunstan in 2022.

  19. The ABC is showing this as a Labor gain.
    LAB and LIB primaries have decreased.
    Strong showing in the primaries from the left-wing parties with 24.3% Green (+10.6%) and 4.2% AJP.

  20. Almost certain Labor victory. The east is the heartland of Adelaide Liberals but it can become volatile at times where Labor are exceedingly popular. The Liberal seats of Hartley and Morialta were victims of the Rannslide, both are Liberal seats today but considering the Dunstan result one would imagine they are at risk of falling at the next election. A ‘Pete’ or ‘Mali’ slide perhaps?

    This is likely to become the Greens best seat in South Australia, beating Heysen which is interestingly the only seat in which the Greens have made the two-candidate count on a state level as far as I’m aware. Both I imagine will be prime targets in 2026 for the Greens, as will Unley I imagine. The result in Dunstan probably doesn’t say much about how they may peform in Sturt or Adelaide at the next election, both are very much longshots.

    Can’t imagine Vincent Tarzia or John Gardner are particularly comfortable looking at the result.

  21. What. The. Hell.

    No, not the result. I’m not that surprised. But what I am surprised about is that voter turnout was only 48.3% despite the seat being located in Adelaide (as opposed to it being a vast remote seat covering plenty of Indigenous communities that vote at mobile voting centres). So does this mean that 51.7% (more than half) of the electors in this seat have to pay a fine?

  22. Nether Portal, SA treats all pre-poll votes as ‘Declaration’ votes. These cannot be counted until Monday, so that is why the count is so low.

    I think the margin will drop slightly by about 1%, leaving a final 2PP margin around 52% or so instead of the current 52.8% once all pre-poll votes are added (since these tend to favour the Coalition most of the time).

  23. The Declaration Ballot Papers count is at zero, presumably that encompasses postal and pre-poll votes. Maybe they count them during the working week.

  24. I expect the margin to tighten a bit as the postals and prepolls get counted. I’d say it’s looking better for Labor than the Liberals.

    The Liberals have little chance of retaining unless there’s a huge swing TO them on postals and prepolls plus a sufficiently large number of votes yet to be counted. I doubt the stars are aligned for the Liberals. Usually turnout rates are low at by-elections and it would be weird if ordinary voters swing to Labor but prepoll and postal voters swing to the Liberals.

    Last night, I posted about the strong primary votes for the Greens and AJP. I’m guessing those votes were from left-leaning booths or those where there were strong swings. Both have retreated as more ordinary votes got counted.

  25. Given the what I assume was a high personal vote for Marshall a 1.4% swing was very lackluster so I’d wager libs will regain this at a general election and will easily hold sturt

  26. I personally feel the Libs will regain Waite and Davenport before this seat. Waite and Davenport are more affluent and blue ribbon seats. Norwood/Dunstan has a history of being a Labor seat.


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