Boothby – Australia 2022

LIB 1.4%

Incumbent MP
Nicolle Flint, since 2016.

Southern Adelaide. Boothby stretches from the coast to the bottom of the Adelaide Hills. The seat covers suburbs such as Brighton and Marion in the western part of the seat, Blackwood, Aberfoyle Park and Flagstaff Hill in the south-east and Hawthorn in the north-east.

Boothby has almost always been held by conservative parties, with a few exceptions in periods of Labor dominance. The ALP held the seat for most of the first decade-and-a-half following federation, as well as during the depression years, but in both cases lost the seat through a defection to a new conservative party. The ALP also held the seat for six years in the 1940s, with the seat remaining in Liberal hands for the last seventy years.

The electorate of Boothby was created for the 1903 election. The seat was first held by the ALP’s Lee Batchelor, who served as Minister for Home Affairs in the Watson government and Minister for External Affairs in the first two Fisher governments. He took responsibility for the Northern Territory when it was ceded to the federal government in 1911 and died in office the same year.

While the ALP lost the seat to the new Commonwealth Liberal Party in the 1911 by-election, the seat was won back in 1913 by George Dankel, who joined the new Nationalist Party in 1916. He retired in 1917 and was replaced by William Story, a Senator and another former ALP member in the Nationalist Party.

Story lost his seat in 1922 to John Duncan-Hughes of the newly-formed Liberal Party, made up of Nationalists disenchanted with Billy Hughes’ leadership, and Duncan-Hughes entered the Nationalist fold upon Hughes’ retirement as Prime Minister and held the seat until 1928.

John Price won the seat for the ALP in 1928, was re-elected in 1929 and then followed Joe Lyons across the floor in 1931 to join the newly founded United Australia Party. He held the seat until his death in 1941, when Grenfell Price won the seat and held onto it for one term.

The ALP won the seat in 1943 at the depths of the UAP’s ill-fortunes and held it for six years until the 1949 election, when the seat was won by the Liberal Party’s John McLeay. The ALP has never won the seat since.

McLeay served as Speaker of the House of Representatives from 1956 until his retirement in 1966, and still holds the record for the longest-serving Speaker. He was succeeded by his son John McLeay Jr in 1966. McLeay junior held the seat until 1981, and served as a minister in the first two terms of the Fraser government.

McLeay junior’s resignation in 1981 saw the seat won at a by-election by former South Australian Premier Steele Hall. Hall had been Premier from 1968 to 1970, when he lost office. He had resigned from the Liberal and Country League in 1972 to form the progressive Liberal Movement, and was elected as a crossbench senator in 1974 and 1975 before rejoining the Liberal Party in 1976 and resigning from the Senate in 1977.

Hall held the seat until his retirement in 1996, when Andrew Southcott defeated Liberal Senate leader Robert Hill in a preselection contest. Southcott held the seat for the next twenty years.

The seat has trended away from the Liberal Party over the last two decades. While the Liberals maintained a majority of the primary vote and a two-party-preferred vote of approximately 60% from 1984 until 1996, the 1998 election saw them fall below 50% for the first time. They remained steady in 2001, before Southcott suffered another swing against the national trend in 2004, falling to 55.4% of the two-party-preferred vote.

In 2007 the ALP preselected “star candidate” Nicole Cornes, who was generally considered to have performed poorly by the media and the ALP, but still managed a swing of another 2.5%, reducing Southcott’s margin to 2.9%.

In 2010, despite a national swing to the Coalition, Southcott’s margin was reduced further to 0.75%. In 2013, Southcott finally gained a swing back to the Liberal Party, with his vote increasing by 6.5%.

Southcott retired in 2016, and was succeeded by Liberal candidate Nicolle Flint. Flint was re-elected in 2019.

Sitting Liberal MP Nicolle Flint is not running for re-election.

Boothby is a very marginal seat, and the only marginal seat in South Australia. The absence of the sitting member will make this an attractive prospect for Labor.

2019 result

Nicolle Flint Liberal 49,97345.2+3.5
Nadia Clancy Labor 38,29734.6+7.7
Stef Rozitis Greens 13,22412.0+3.8
Trevor JonesIndependent2,8432.6+2.6
Geoff RussellAnimal Justice2,6752.4+1.0
Peter SalernoUnited Australia Party2,0941.9+1.9
Adrian David CheokConservative National Party8680.8+0.8
Carol WongRise Up Australia6030.5+0.6

2019 two-party-preferred result

Nicolle Flint Liberal 56,81251.4-1.3
Nadia Clancy Labor 53,76548.6+1.3

Booth breakdown

Booths have been divided into three parts. The “east” covers the Mitcham and Unley council areas. The “west” covers the Holdfast Bay council area and a small part of the Marion council area in the south-western corner of the seat. The “central” area covers the remainder of the Marion council area.

The map shows a clear divide, with the Liberal Party winning the west of the electorate (with 53% of the two-party-preferred), Labor winning the centre (with 56%), the Liberal Party winning the north-east and Labor winning the south-east.

Voter groupGRN prim %LIB 2PP %Total votes% of votes
Other votes10.755.419,34817.5

Election results in Boothby 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. Methinks this seat one of the strongest prospects for Labor outside of WA. With the caveat of course that state poll breakdowns have been very volatile in SA.

  2. Wreathy of Sydney
    Hello there. Have so eagerly been anticipating our discussions .
    This one will be fascinating. You may be right here. However the big issue, or subject of interest, is how Nicole Flint was attacked, with such venom, & hatred, last election. How silent the MSM, & the “Sisterhood” were (about it). Like they didn’t know!!!!!!!. Yeah right!!!!. Yeah Penny Wong didn’t know what was going on the the only contested seat in her state !!!??? Yeah right. Such hypocritical bullshit.
    Consequently I’m going contrarian & predicting a small swing to the Libs, unless Georgina Downer runs !. If that happens Labor will win !
    Unlikely though Labor never take my suggestions seriously !

  3. winediamond,

    Dr Rachel Swift is the Liberal candidate here so no chance of Downer being the candidate and besides I believe she has a new job now. I agree the liberals will hold, Moderate sensible liberal candidate for this lower case liberal seat. I believe Flint is supporting her as well.

    The only chance Labor has here if Penny Wong herself switches to the lower house and runs here (which will not happen) and besides a senior Labor member wouldn’t want to risk their political career on a marginal seat, whoever wins Boothby will likely be on the backbench for their entire career.

    Labor will probably win this in 2024/25 regardless of the presumed Liberal members personal vote/sophomore surge. The only 2 safe seats for the Liberals in SA are Gray and Barker. (and Mayo if Sharkie retires)

  4. Daniel
    Thanks for the reply.
    Interesting that i get the feeling that you weren’t much impressed with Flint, but admire Wong. I find this remarkable in view of the fact that they are the SAME personality Perfectionist/Reformer type 1. some minor differences in flavour, focus, etc….
    Doubtless you won’t be surprised that i vehemently disagree with you re Penny Wong !!. I’d be delighted if she were to stand, for any lower house seat. Not picky!
    Instinctively i see this seat drifting towards the liberals , (in the future) due to the biggest issue for voters -cost of living. Boothby is a fulcrum seat in this respect. A future redistribution could also be kinder….
    Interesting that you see Sturt as a marginal.
    cheers WD

  5. Georgina Downer doesn’t even live in South Australia anymore. It was reported she moved back to Victoria a year and a half ago. I doubt she would come back again for this seat. She probably looking for a seat in Victoria to contest if she was to try her hand again at politics. And as Daniel mentioned the Liberals already have a candidate in Dr Rachel Swift.

  6. The 2019 election makes a lot more sense in hindsight but I’m still surprised Labor didn’t pick this one (or Chisholm) up. An absolute must gain for them in 2022 and I think they will.

  7. John
    What didn’t make sense at the time that does now? Btw the election will be this year 2021.

  8. @Winediamond – every single opinion poll had Labor winning the election and they lost, and it wasn’t even clear what seats the LNP could win back to offset a few inevitable losses.

    In hindsight, seats like Longman and Braddon weren’t in the clear just because Labor held on from the s44 byelections, there were key demographics that didn’t like Turnbull but liked Abbott and Morrison (or didn’t carw about Turnbull’s demise), and fence sitting was a “worst of both worlds” strategy which wouldn’t help them win any QLD marginals.

    But Labor did actually pick up a swing in Boothby and Labor has every chance of repeating that to win here especially with no incumbent.

  9. A seat that covers much of the affluent middle class suburbia south of Adelaide, this should be a comfortable Lib seat. It’s had two weak members in Southcott and Flint, both of whom have come close to losing it. A competent Lib who goes down well in Netherby (Flint was a little too Sarah Palin for those sorts) will hold this for as long as she wants.

    Steele Hall became Premier of SA in 1968, not 1966. He is, I think, the oldest living former Premier of any state and the longest-lasting. His contemporaries in office included Bjelke-Petersen, Askin, Bolte and Brand – names to be reckoned, for sure, but now mostly distant memories.

  10. St Vincent de Paul Society SA CEO Louise Miller-Frost has been announced as Labor’s canidate in Boothby.


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