Division of Grey

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Australian House of Representatives Division
Division of GREY 2016.png
Division of Grey in South Australia, as of the 2016 federal election.
Created 1903
MP Rowan Ramsey
Party Liberal
Namesake Sir George Grey
Electors 102,059 (2016)
Area 904,881 km2 (349,376.5 sq mi)
Demographic Rural

The Division of Grey is an Australian electoral division in South Australia. The division was one of the seven established when the former Division of South Australia was redistributed on 2 October 1903 and is named for Sir George Grey, who was Governor of South Australia from 1841 to 1845 (and later Prime Minister of New Zealand).


The division covers the vast northern outback of South Australia. Highlighting South Australia's status as the most centralised state in Australia, Grey spans 904,881 square kilometres (349,377 sq mi), over 92 percent of the state. The borders of the electorate include the Western Australia, Northern Territory, Queensland and New South Wales borders, in addition to much of the southern coastal border. The electorate spans to Marion Bay and Eudunda in the south. The main population centres of the electorate include Ceduna, Port Lincoln, Whyalla, Port Augusta, Roxby Downs, Coober Pedy, Port Pirie, Kadina, Maitland, Orroroo, Peterborough, Burra and Eudunda.


Grey had been held by Labor for most of its history, and was one of the few country seats where Labor usually did well. It remained in Labor hands for all but one term from 1943 to 1993, the only break coming when the Liberals won it during their landslide victory in 1966. For most of that time, it was a fairly safe Labor seat, though it was almost lost in the Coalition landslides of 1975 and 1977.

This changed in 1993, when the retirement of Labor incumbent Lloyd O'Neil, the unpopularity of the state Labor government, and the addition of the Clare Valley at a redistribution saw Liberal Barry Wakelin become the fifth non-Labor member to win it, and only the second in 50 years. This happened even as Labor won another term; it was the first time Labor had won government at an election without winning Grey. However, as mentioned earlier, the election came at a bad time for the state Labor government, which would be roundly defeated at the state election later that year.

Wakelin was re-elected with a large swing in 1996, and since then the decline in the mining and pastoral vote has made it a fairly safe Liberal seat. While the "Iron Triangle" towns of Whyalla, Port Augusta and Port Pirie still tilt Labor—as they have for more than a century—they are not enough to overcome the increasing conservative lean in the rest of the seat.

The Liberals consolidated their hold on the seat ahead of the 2004 election when the Yorke Peninsula and the state's upper east, both historically strongly conservative areas, were transferred to Grey from Wakefield. The Liberals suffered a nine-point swing at the 2007 election, but Rowan Ramsey was still able to retain it for the Liberals on 54 percent of the two-party vote. The seat became secure for the Liberals once again after Ramsey picked up a large swing in 2010 which he consolidated in 2013.

2016 election[edit]

South Australian Senator Nick Xenophon confirmed in December 2014 that by mid-2015 the Nick Xenophon Team (NXT) would announce candidates in all states and territories at the 2016 election, with Xenophon citing the government's ambiguity on the Collins-class submarine replacement project as motivation.[1] ABC psephologist Antony Green's 2016 federal election guide for South Australia stated NXT had a "strong chance of winning lower house seats and three or four Senate seats".[2]

Going into the 2016 election, Grey was the second-safest Liberal seat in South Australia; Labor needed a 13-point swing to win it. A ReachTEL seat-level opinion poll in Grey of 665 voters conducted by robocall on 9 June during the election campaign surprisingly found NXT candidate Andrea Broadfoot leading the Liberals' Ramsey 54–46 on the two-candidate preferred vote. Seat-level opinion polls in the other two rural Liberal South Australian seats revealed NXT also leading in both Mayo and Barker.[3][4]

Early counting following the poll showed that Broadfoot was a clear second to Ramsey on first preferences, well ahead of the ALP candidate in third place. This meant that the indicative assessment of two-candidate preferred count on election night had been done between the wrong pair,[5] and would need to be redone in the following week to give a clearer indication as to which of Ramsay and Broadfoot would win the seat after distributing all preferences.[6][7] While Broadfoot was ahead with as much as 80 percent of ballots counted, she ultimately lost to Ramsey on Family First preferences. Ultimately, Ramsey suffered a swing of 11.6 percent after preferences were counted, which made Grey the most marginal Liberal seat in the state and one of the most marginal Coalition-held rural seats in the nation. On a "traditional" two-party basis (Labor vs. Liberal), however, Grey was still a fairly safe Liberal seat.


Member Party Term
  Alexander Poynton Labour 1903–1916
  National Labor 1916–1917
  Nationalist 1917–1922
  Andrew Lacey Labor 1922–1931
  Philip McBride United Australia 1931–1937
  Oliver Badman Country 1937–1940
  United Australia 1940–1943
  Edgar Russell Labor 1943–1963
  Jack Mortimer Labor 1963–1966
  Don Jessop Liberal 1966–1969
  Laurie Wallis Labor 1969–1983
  Lloyd O'Neil Labor 1983–1993
  Barry Wakelin Liberal 1993–2007
  Rowan Ramsey Liberal 2007–present

Election results[edit]

Australian federal election, 2016: Grey[8]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal Rowan Ramsey 38,409 42.74 −12.91
Xenophon Andrea Broadfoot 24,936 27.74 +27.74
Labor Scott Martin 19,373 21.56 −5.74
Family First Cheryl Kaminski 3,710 4.13 −1.37
Greens Jillian Marsh 2,304 2.56 −1.15
Independent Phillip Gourlay 1,144 1.27 +1.27
Total formal votes 89,876 96.13 +1.53
Informal votes 3,619 3.87 −1.53
Turnout 93,495 91.61 −1.40
Two-party-preferred result
Liberal Rowan Ramsey 52,696 58.63 −4.91
Labor Scott Martin 37,180 41.37 +4.91
Two-candidate-preferred result
Liberal Rowan Ramsey 46,692 51.95 −11.59
Xenophon Andrea Broadfoot 43,184 48.05 +48.05
Liberal hold Swing N/A

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Bourke, Latika (2015-04-06). "Subs backlash: Nick Xenophon sets sights on Liberal-held seats in Adelaide". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Archived from the original on 2 September 2015. Retrieved 2015-12-29.
  2. ^ Election Guide (SA) - 2016 federal election guide: Antony Green ABC
  3. ^ "Grey opinion poll 9 June". ReachTEL. 2016-06-10. Retrieved 2016-06-14.
  4. ^ ReachTEL: 50-50 - The Poll Bludger 10 June 2016
  5. ^ "Grey too close to call - Federal election 2016". The Young Witness. 2 July 2016. Retrieved 5 July 2016.
  6. ^ "Grey, SA - AEC Tally Room". Australian Electoral Commission. Archived from the original on 5 July 2016. Retrieved 5 July 2016.
  7. ^ "Election 2016: Nick Xenophon Team ahead as recount begins in Grey". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 4 July 2016. Retrieved 5 July 2016.
  8. ^ Grey, SA, Virtual Tally Room 2016, Australian Electoral Commission.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 29°36′14″S 135°27′14″E / 29.604°S 135.454°E / -29.604; 135.454