Christopher Pyne, since 1993.
Sturt lies in the eastern suburbs of Adelaide. The southern part of the seat covers most of Burnside LGA, while Campbelltown LGA covers the centre of the seat, and five other LGAs each overlap with the western and northern fringes of Sturt. Sturt stretches north to Grand Junction Road, and key suburbs include Glen Osmond, Burnside, Magill, Felixstow, Campbelltown, Klemzig, Gilles Plains, Rostrevor, Newton, Paradise, Athelstone and Highbury.
The seat covers the wealthy, Liberal-voting south-east and the mortgage belt suburbs of eastern Adelaide.
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 Pyne was elected in 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 served as a Parliamentary Secretary from the 2001 election until January 2007, and he quickly moved into the role of Minister for Ageing.
The 2007 election saw a significant swing to the ALP, with Pyne’s margin being slashed from 6.8% to 0.9%. This was a dramatic shift from the usual range of margins in Sturt. From the expansion of the House of Representatives in 1984 until 2004, all but one election saw the Liberals hold Sturt with a margin between 5.7% and 8.2%, although Pyne managed a 10% margin at the 1996 landslide. This has always placed Sturt in the “sort-of-safe” range, unlike 2007, which moved it firmly into the ‘marginal’ column.
- Dale Clegg (Family First)
- Rick Sarre (Labor)
- Jess Clark (Liberal Democrats)
- Christopher Pyne (Liberal) – Member for Sturt since 1993.
- Peter Fiebig (Greens)
- Darren Andrews (Democrats)
- Jack King (One Nation)
Sturt is the most marginal Liberal seat in South Australia, and one of the most marginal across the country. The question at the next election will be whether the previous result was an anomaly, and Sturt will return to its normal range of a 5-8% margin for the Liberal Party, or that the 2007 swing will provide a base for the ALP to ride another national swing into a victory in Sturt.
Chris Pyne’s profile has raised dramatically since the 2007 election, as a key figure on the Opposition frontbench. It will be interesting to see whether this prevents him from campaigning as hard in Sturt as he has in previous campaigns, or improves his position amongst potential Liberal voters in Sturt. The ALP is yet to determine who it will run in the seat, and this will be a key factor in determining this race.
2007 two-candidate-preferred result
I divided the booths in Sturt into three areas:
- South – Burnside LGA as well as Kensington.
- Central – Campbelltown LGA as well as most of Norwood LGA.
- North – Those parts of the seat in Port Adelaide Enfield, Tea Tree Gully and Walkerville LGAs.
The southern suburbs of Sturt vote very strongly for the Liberals, with over 60% of the two-party-preferred vote. In contrast, the ALP won by smaller margins in both central Sturt and northern Sturt, each by a margin of about 4%.
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