Sturt – Election 2010

LIB 0.9%

Incumbent MP
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)

Political situation
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 result

Christopher PyneLIB42,73147.17-4.49
Mia HandshinALP37,56541.46+6.91
Sally ReidGRN5,8066.41+0.35
Carol JansenFF3,1023.42-1.36
Paul RowseDEM1,0641.17-1.09
Felicity TilbrookLDP3270.36+0.36

2007 two-candidate-preferred result

Christopher PyneLIB46,15350.94-5.86
Mia HandshinALP44,44249.06+5.86

Booth breakdown
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%.

Voter groupGRN %LIB 2CP %Total votes% of votes
Other votes7.0053.8617,78619.63
Two party preferred vote by booth in Sturt
Two party preferred vote by booth in Sturt


  1. Did I miss something or are some tables here wrong?

    2007 two-candidate-preferred result
    Candidate Party Votes % Swing
    Julie Collins ALP 36,845 54.48 -3.11
    Vanessa Goodwin LIB 30,787 45.52 +3.11


  2. Dear Tally Room readers,

    I’d like to introduce myself.

    I am the Greens candidate for Sturt. My name is Peter Fiebig.

    You can find me via:

    Facebook: Peter Fiebig, Greens candidate for Sturt
    Twitter: Greens4Sturt

    Just a word from on the ground here in Sturt. It looks as though Christopher Pyne is avoiding the progressive side of the public forum circuit this time around. Is this a trend people are noticing in other electorates: i.e Coalition members deciding not to attend the public forums where they are likely to have a difficult time?

    I say this because the other night Christopher Pyne pulled out at late notice of a Make Poverty History forum organised by Oxfam to attend a Border Protection Forum in Windsor Gardens with Shadow Immigration Minister Scott Morrisson.

  3. Watched ‘Don’s Party’ the other night and Sturt was the only electorate mentioned. Ian Wilson’s victory against the trend in 1972 may be the only example of an individual campaign and buckets of $$ producing an upset.
    A ‘Border Protection Forum’ I’d rather sit through ten Andre Rieu concerts in a row

  4. Peter,

    Rightly or wrongly, winning your seat and election is about the swinging voters. I doubt the percentage of swinging voters at that event would be high.

  5. Yes, i was under no illusions about Pyne’s strategy there.

    What made it a wily move was that he knew this was a date where both the ALP and GRN candidates would be otherwise engaged therefore couldn’t come and crash his soiree with Morrisson. When I say “crash,” I mean to say “ask polite questions from the floor.”

    Whatever the case, I enjoyed speaking on Australia’s aid contributions. Far more interesting than the banalities that would have awaited across town.

  6. Hi Peter, I’m a Sturt voter and former Young Liberal. I am very interested to hear your positions and plans for Sturt. As you well know, The Greens are probably well on their way to their best result ever at this election, and Sturt has a notable Greens vote. I wish you well on your campaign.

    But I do have to call you out on the so called Oxfam snubbing by Pyne. I don’t know the details of what may have been happening in his office at the time, but I received a letter from the office of Christopher Pyne inviting me to the aforementioned Border Protection forum weeks ahead. I’m just wondering, unless it was merely disorganisation, where do you get off on implying Mr. Pyne is avoiding events of perceived greater importance through a “late notice” pull out? Pyne was pictured and mentioned alongside Scott Morrison on the invitation to the forum, and I can tell you for certain that it wasn’t a late notice appearance. If you aren’t convinced as a candidate clearly itching to drop spin in an effort to try and bump the Greens vote up from its normal below-national-average in Sturt, I can produce a copy of the invitation for you.

    Now, on the topic of convenience, border protection is one of the key issues in this election. So I think it’s safe to assume that, rather than avoiding the Oxfam function at the last minute to attend a “friendlier” forum on border protection, Chris Pyne actually helped to organise and appear at the forum well ahead of time, and for good and relevant reason.

    I don’t think the voters of Sturt would appreciate fact fudging by the Greens candidate. The implication you made with your allegation isn’t exactly flattering.

  7. Hi Peter,

    Congrats on your preselection. I note that Sturt is one of the marginal seats where the Greens aren’t directing preferences to Labor. Do you have any background on this that you’d care to share?

    I was rather hoping (and still am) that Labor, via Green preferences could knock off a senior shadow minister.

    All the best.


  8. Rick Sarre’s CV as a refugee lawyer suggests border protection won’t be his favourite topic the sort of seat where unhappiness among Labor activists could affect the campaign.

  9. In regards to Joseph’s comments.

    I know that Oxfam decided the date for the overseas aid forum around Pyne’s availability.

    The Border Protection forum was organised after this date was pencilled in.

    I would hope that the Member for Sturt will be available for an Australian Conservation Foundation forum that I believe is in the pipeline. Or at least we will see him at an up coming National Seniors Australia forum on August 5.

    In regards to Hamish and preferences in Sturt: I am not in a position to comment on that matter at this stage.

  10. Peter, on July the 17th, you said:

    “I say this because the other night Christopher Pyne pulled out at late notice of a Make Poverty History forum organised by Oxfam to attend a Border Protection Forum in Windsor Gardens with Shadow Immigration Minister Scott Morrisson.”

    Misleading choice of words.

    Again, Pyne had organised the border protection forum weeks before the actual date. Whether or not he did this after Oxfam organised it, why did you claim that Pyne pulled out “the other night”, and “at late notice”? Despite the fact you must have one of the loosest interpretations of “the other night” I have ever seen, does pulling out of a forum at any date after it’s organised warrant being considered “late notice”? I just have some issues with your consistency here.

  11. The Democrats will be running Darren Andrews and for the record the Democrats sent Christopher Pyne a polite email weeks ago letting him know that the 2 forums conflicted in case he was not aware.

  12. When are you guys (the esteemed candidates) going to realise that fighting each other with “he should have done this” tactics is boring and out of date? Why don’t you focus on the positive aspects of who you are instead of trying to poke holes in others? It’s so puerile! Promote yourself and forget about the other candidates. Don’t you realise that by even mentioning the other candidates you are reminding voters that your rivals exist. Once in power you’ll quickly find that you don’t have enough hours in the day to do everything! I just find this all so boring and bland! It’s like being at an Lawyer’s lunch. Blah…blah..blah…*yawn*! Find an interesting point of difference and promote it! Spice it up!!! Be bold!!! If I had enough time in the day I would give this caper a whirl, however I live an interesting, exciting and fulfilling life.

    Good luck to all! 🙂

  13. Amen Laura! I have not seen Rick Sarre at all during this campaign, and he’s had little to no substance in anything he’s actually said. Family First have, since their founding, relied on some of the most misleading negative propaganda any party can resort to. Darren Andrews… well…

    … and after Fiebig’s inconsistent criticism of Pyne, there’s certainly no way I can bring myself to vote for the Greens, even if I think it’s relatively good that they will be holding the balance of power in the Senate. One Nation, ’nuff said. And finally, the LDP candidate has not turned up anywhere, but I’m pretty inclined to vote him highly in preferences seeing as he is also a former Young Liberal moderate, and he has had the same criticisms of conservative faction lunatics in the Minchin/Bernardi end of the Liberal Party.

    Jeanie, I like the Democrats. For all intents and purposes, they were gonna rate pretty highly in my preferences. Then Mr. Andrews happened, and I kinda wished that you’d also let people know about your candidate in Sturt. To be fair, it is a bit of a double standard for the media to refuse to report on any positive news regarding the Dems, but freely make a big news story out of dodgy Democrats.

    Finally, I came into this election willing to keep an open mind about the candidates, but only Chris Pyne has stayed on message and kept in touch with the electorate. Polls show he’ll probably retain, and to be honest, he’s the only candidate who deserves to win.

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