Mayo by-election, 2008
A by-election was held for the Australian House of Representatives seat of Mayo, located in Adelaide, South Australia, on 6 September 2008, following the retirement of Liberal Party MP and former Liberal leader Alexander Downer. The by-election was held on the same day as the Lyne by-election, and the Western Australian state election.
The writ for the by-election was issued 4 August, with the rolls closing on 8 August. Candidate nominations closed on 14 August. The by-election was contested on the same boundaries drawn for Mayo at the 2007 federal election. The seat was won by Jamie Briggs of the Liberal Party on a two-candidate preferred vote of 53 per cent against the Greens.
Downer first won the seat of Mayo at its creation at the 1984 federal election. He retained the seat at each subsequent election. The 2007 Labor-Liberal two-party-preferred margin was the narrowest in the seat's history. Except for 1998, the seat has been won at each election by the Liberals on primary votes alone. Despite this, the Australian Democrats and independents have traditionally polled well, including two elections where the Democrats and independent Brian Deegan came second.
At the 2007 federal election, Downer retained his seat against his main Labor Party competitor by a two-party preferred margin of 57.06% to 42.94%. However, the opposition Labor Party defeated the incumbent Liberal-National coalition government, the first change of government in over 11 years. Alexander Downer had served as Foreign Minister throughout the duration of the previous government. He was also Liberal leader and leader of the opposition for several months in 1994.
On 3 July 2008, Downer announced his intention to resign his seat. He officially resigned from parliament on 14 July. He, with Mark Vaile in Lyne, became the next former Howard government ministers returned at the 2007 election to resign their seats. Peter McGauran had done likewise earlier in 2008.
Eleven candidates contested the by-election. They are listed below in ballot order.
- Conservatives for Climate and Environment - Rachael Barons.
- Independent - Bill Spragg, Adelaide Hills councillor and lecturer in information technology at TAFE SA, who had also contested Mayo in 2001.
- Independent - Mary Brewerton, retired nurse, contested Mayo for Labor in 2007.
- Independent - Malcolm Ronald King, retired.
- Democratic Labor Party - David McCabe, clerk.
- Independent - Di Bell, anthropologist and author. South Australian independent Senator Nick Xenophon gave support to Bell's campaign.
Labor opted not to stand a candidate.
The candidature of Liberal Jamie Briggs was criticised because of his role in controversial industrial-relations policies and reports that some Liberal Party colleagues were unhappy with his preselection. Bob Day, who had held membership of the Liberal Party for 20 years and was the endorsed Liberal candidate for Makin in 2007, quit the party after failing to win Mayo preselection by 10 out of 271 votes, citing a "manipulated" preselection process. Iain Evans, who came second to Briggs, agreed to some extent.
|Mayo by-election, 2008|
|Family First||Bob Day||8,468||11.40||+7.38|
|Democratic Labor||David McCabe||1,426||1.92||+1.92|
|Climate Conservatives||Rachael Barons||725||0.98||-0.32|
|One Nation||Mathew Keizer||503||0.68||+0.68|
|Independent||Malcolm Ronald King||219||0.29||+0.29|
|Total formal votes||74,260||95.01||-2.23|
The Liberal Party retained the seat on 53 per cent of the two-candidate preferred (2CP) vote against the Greens. Some commentators drew comparisons between this and the 2002 Cunningham by-election. The reduction in the Liberal margin was caused in part by asymmetric preference flows in the absence of a Labor candidate, with seat results returning to form at subsequent elections such as with Cunningham.
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- Jamie Walker (25 August 2008). "Mayo candidates jockey for votes as saviours of the Murray". The Australian. Retrieved 1 July 2010.
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- Glenn Milne, writing in The Sunday Times (25 July 2008). "Lib fears the enemy within". News.com.au. Retrieved 1 July 2010.
- "Family with the odd black sheep". The Sydney Morning Herald. 15 August 2008. Retrieved 1 July 2010.
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- 29 July 2008 12:00AM (29 July 2008). "Liberal chief Iain Evans admits to Mayo concerns". The Australian. Retrieved 1 July 2010.
- AEC Results: Mayo by-election 2008
- John Wiseman, Comment (8 September 2008). "Bitter victory for the Libs in what is now a marginal seat". The Australian. Retrieved 1 July 2010.
- Glenn Milne (8 September 2008). "A tale of two leaders, and bad news ballots". The Australian. Retrieved 1 July 2010.