Division of Wakefield

Coordinates: 34°14′53″S 138°37′05″E / 34.248°S 138.618°E / -34.248; 138.618
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Australian House of Representatives Division
Division of Wakefield in South Australia, as of the 2016 federal election
NamesakeEdward Gibbon Wakefield

The Division of Wakefield was an Australian electoral division in the state of South Australia. The seat was a hybrid rural-urban electorate that stretched from Salisbury in the outer northern suburbs of Adelaide at the south of the seat right through to the Clare Valley at the north of the seat, 135 km from Adelaide. It included the suburbs of Elizabeth, Craigmore, Munno Para, and part of Salisbury, and the towns of Balaklava, Clare, Freeling, Gawler, Kapunda, Mallala, Riverton, Tarlee, Virginia, Williamstown, and part of Port Wakefield.

The division was named after Edward Gibbon Wakefield, who promoted colonisation as a tool for social engineering, plans which formed the basis for settlements in South Australia, Western Australia, New Zealand and Canada. The division was one of the seven established when the multi-member Division of South Australia was redistributed into single-member seats on 2 October 1903. At the 1903 federal election, the division (on very different boundaries) was won unopposed by the sitting speaker (following traditional Westminster convention), running as an independent. It was first contested by more than one candidate at the 1906 election. Two of the seat's former members of particular note have been the inaugural Speaker of the House and two-time Premier of South Australia, Frederick Holder, and Howard government two-term Speaker Neil Andrew.

Wakefield was abolished in 2019, following a redistribution triggered by a change in representation entitlement which saw South Australia's seats in the House of Representatives reduced to ten. The division has been mostly replaced by the Division of Spence.

1903 - 2004[edit]

Edward Gibbon Wakefield, the division's namesake

For a hundred years, Wakefield covered large rural areas of South Australia and at times all the way to the borders of Northern Territory and Queensland, and was held by the Liberal Party and its predecessors for all but five years from 1903 to 2004. For most of that time, it was a safely conservative seat. Labor only succeeded in winning it twice, at a 1938 by-election and the 1943 federal election.

In its final configuration as an exclusively rural seat, it stretched from the Yorke Peninsula in the west to the New South Wales border in the east, and included much of the Riverland. It covered the towns of Angaston, Balaklava, Barmera Berri, Gawler, Gumeracha, Kadina, Kapunda, Loxton, Minlaton, Moonta, Morgan, Mount Pleasant, Nuriootpa, Renmark, Tanunda, Waikerie, Wallaroo and Yorketown.[1]

Final configurations 2004 - 2019[edit]

The seat's character was dramatically altered by a redistribution prior to the 2004 election. Bonython, a comfortably safe Labor seat based on the outer northern suburbs of Adelaide, was abolished, and Wakefield was pushed well to the south to absorb much of Bonython's territory. In the process, Wakefield lost much of its vast rural territory, which went to Grey and Barker. This resulted in a seat covering only 6,407 km², roughly a fifth of its pre-2004 extent of 31,841 km².

Neil Andrew, the seat's member since 1983, had previously held the old rural Wakefield with a comfortably safe majority of 14.6 percent. However, the new hybrid urban-rural (though still classed rural) Wakefield became a marginal Labor seat with a notional 1.3 percent two-party margin. Andrew believed this made Wakefield impossible to hold and retired. However, David Fawcett retained it for the Liberals in 2004 with a 0.7 percent two-party margin, defeating the former member for Bonython, Martyn Evans.

At the 2007 election, Nick Champion became only the third Labor member ever to win Wakefield, with a 6.6 percent two-party margin. At the 2010 election, Champion made it a safe Labor seat on paper by winning a 12 percent two-party margin. He became the first Labor member to be re-elected to Wakefield, and the second to be elected for a full term. The South Australian federal redistribution in 2011 had the greatest impact on Wakefield where the Labor margin declined by 1.5 percent. Champion retained it at the 2013 election on a 3.4 percent two-party margin even as Labor lost government, marking the first time the non-Labor parties won government at an election without winning Wakefield. Champion increased his two-party margin at the 2016 election to 11 percent, again making Wakefield a safe Labor seat on paper.

Under the electoral redistribution completed in 2018 the adjoining Division of Port Adelaide was abolished, Wakefield was renamed Spence in honour of Catherine Helen Spence, and became a seat based on Adelaide's outer northern metropolitan local government councils of City of Playford , Town of Gawler and northern part of the City of Salisbury. The remaining non metropolitan rural portions were transferred to the Divisions of Grey and Barker.[2].The newly named Division of Spence overlapped the final configuration of the former Division of Bonython before it was abolished prior to the 2004 election.


Image Member Party Term Notes
  Sir Frederick Holder
Independent 16 December 1903
23 July 1909
Previously held the Division of South Australia. Served as Speaker during the Barton, Deakin, Watson, Reid and Fisher Governments. Died in office
  Richard Foster
Commonwealth Liberal 28 August 1909
17 February 1917
Previously held the South Australian House of Assembly seat of Flinders. Served as minister under Hughes. Lost seat
  Nationalist 17 February 1917 –
  Liberal Union 1922 –
  Nationalist 1925 –
17 November 1928
  Maurice Collins
Country 17 November 1928
12 October 1929
Lost seat
  Charles Hawker
Nationalist 12 October 1929
7 May 1931
Served as minister under Lyons. Died in office
  United Australia 7 May 1931 –
25 October 1938
  Sydney McHugh
Labor 10 December 1938
21 September 1940
Previously held the South Australian House of Assembly seat of Burra Burra. Lost seat. Later elected to the South Australian House of Assembly seat of Light in 1941
  Jack Duncan-Hughes
United Australia 21 September 1940
21 August 1943
Previously a member of the Senate. Lost seat
  Albert Smith
Labor 21 August 1943
28 September 1946
Lost seat
  (Sir) Philip McBride
Liberal 28 September 1946
14 October 1958
Previously a member of the Senate. Served as minister under Menzies. Retired
  Bert Kelly
Liberal 22 November 1958
10 November 1977
Previously a member of the Senate. Served as minister under Holt, McEwen and Gorton. Lost preselection and retired
  Geoffrey Giles
Liberal 10 December 1977
4 February 1983
Previously held the Division of Angas. Retired
  Neil Andrew
Liberal 5 March 1983
31 August 2004
Served as Chief Government Whip in the House under Howard. Served as Speaker during the Howard Government. Retired
  David Fawcett
Liberal 9 October 2004
24 November 2007
Lost seat. Later elected to the Senate in 2010
  Nick Champion
Labor 24 November 2007
11 April 2019
Transferred to the Division of Spence after Wakefield was abolished in 2019

Election results[edit]

2016 Australian federal election: Wakefield[3]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Labor Nick Champion 38,197 39.82 −1.70
Liberal Kathleen Bourne 25,299 26.37 −11.52
Xenophon Richard Inwood 19,592 20.42 +20.42
Family First Marilyn Phillips 5,396 5.62 −0.36
Greens Craig Vanstone 4,102 4.28 −0.87
Independent John Bolton 2,728 2.84 +2.84
Christian Democrats Ralph Anderson 619 0.65 +0.65
Total formal votes 95,933 94.61 +0.30
Informal votes 5,470 5.39 −0.30
Turnout 101,403 90.34 −2.77
Two-party-preferred result
Labor Nick Champion 58,494 60.97 +7.57
Liberal Kathleen Bourne 37,439 39.03 −7.57
Labor hold Swing +7.57

See also[edit]



  1. ^ "Wakefield boundary map, 2001" (PDF). Australian Electoral Commission. 1999. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
  2. ^ "Federal electoral divisions in South Australia formalised". Australian Electoral Commission. 20 July 2018. Retrieved 28 July 2018.
  3. ^ Wakefield, SA, Virtual Tally Room 2016, Australian Electoral Commission.

External links[edit]

34°14′53″S 138°37′05″E / 34.248°S 138.618°E / -34.248; 138.618