Frome state by-election, 2009

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Frome, pictured mid-north and outlined in purple, is a rural seat nestled between the seats of Goyder and Stuart. At around 7000 km², the seat covers the industrial city of Port Pirie and surrounding agricultural areas including Clare.

A by-election was held for the South Australian House of Assembly seat of Frome on 17 January 2009.[1] This was triggered by the resignation of former Premier and state Liberal MHA Rob Kerin.[2] The seat had been retained by the Liberals at the 2006 state election on a 3.4 per cent margin, and at the 2002 state election on an 11.5 per cent margin.[3]

The writ for the by-election was issued on 28 November, with the rolls closing on 8 December. Candidate nominations closed 18 December at midday.

Independent candidate Geoff Brock ended up winning the seat from the Liberals in a very close contest.


Kerin was first elected as the member for the new rural Port Pirie-based seat of Frome at the 1993 state election where the Liberals won government. From 1995 he held various ministries in the Brown and Olsen Liberal governments until he became Premier of South Australia in October 2001, before losing government to the Mike Rann-led Labor Party at the March 2002 state election. Kerin remained Liberal leader until after the 2006 state election when he resigned the leadership to make way for Iain Evans.

The state by-election was the first to be held since the 1994 Taylor by-election, when another former Premier, Lynn Arnold, retired from politics.[4]


6 candidates in ballot paper order[5]
  Australian Labor Party John Rohde Postal worker.
  Nationals SA Neville Wilson Deputy mayor of Port Pirie Regional Council.
  Liberal Party of Australia Terry Boylan Police officer.
  Australian Greens Joy O'Brien Former librarian and Burnside councillor.
  One Nation Peter Fitzpatrick Small business contractor.
  Independent Your Voice Geoff Brock Mayor of Port Pirie Regional Council.

The Family First Party and the Australian Democrats, who ran candidates in the previous election, polling 5.2 percent and 2 percent respectively, did not nominate a candidate to contest the by-election.


Of concern to the electorate was the potential closure of the Nyrstar smelter in Port Pirie due to the federal government's emissions trading scheme known as the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, however it won special exemption from the scheme on 17 December.[6]

Port Pirie Mayor and Independent candidate Geoff Brock was considered a possibility for winning the seat, with a strong local profile, and receiving preference recommendations in how-to-vote cards (HTVs) from Labor and the Nationals, whilst the Greens did not recommend preferences. Brock's own HTV recommended preferences to the Nationals, Labor, Liberal, Green, and One Nation, in that order.[7] Independent Senator Nick Xenophon also campaigned for Brock.[8][9][10]


The by-election was closely contested, with the result being uncertain for over a week. Initial reports suggested a slight swing to the Liberals on the two-party preferred count against Labor, but with Independent candidate Geoff Brock not far behind Labor. By 21 January 2009, both the ABC's Antony Green and the State Electoral Office were indicating a two percent swing against the Liberals toward Labor, but not enough to lose the seat.[11][12][13] Liberal leader Martin Hamilton-Smith claimed victory on behalf of the party.[14][15][16]

Frome state by-election, 17 January 2009[5][17]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal Terry Boylan 7,576 39.24 –8.86
Labor John Rohde 5,041 26.11 –14.93
Independent Geoff Brock 4,557 23.60 +23.60
Nationals SA Neville Wilson 1,267 6.56 +6.56
SA Greens Joy O'Brien 734 3.80 +0.06
One Nation Peter Fitzpatrick 134 0.69 +0.69
Total formal votes 19,309 97.12 +0.21
Informal votes 573 2.88 –0.21
Turnout 19,882 89.79 –4.44
Two-party-preferred result
Liberal Terry Boylan 9,976 51.67 –1.74
Labor John Rohde 9,333 48.33 +1.74
Two-candidate-preferred result
Independent Geoff Brock 9,987 51.72 +51.72
Liberal Terry Boylan 9,322 48.28 –5.13
Independent gain from Liberal Swing N/A

The result hinged on the performance of Brock against Labor in the competition for second place. Brock polled best in the Port Pirie area, and received enough eliminated candidate preferences to end up ahead of the Labor candidate by 30 votes.

Distribution of Preferences - 4th count[18]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal Terry Boylan 8,215 42.54
Independent Geoff Brock 5,562 28.81
Labor John Rohde 5,532 28.65

Brock received 80 percent of Labor's fifth count preferences to achieve a two-candidate preferred vote of 51.72 percent (a majority of 665 votes) against the Liberals, despite a slight improvement in the Liberal primary vote since the previous count.[19][20] This was announced by the Electoral Commissioner, Kay Mousley, at 8:30 pm local time on 24 January 2009, but without a formal declaration. The commissioner rejected a request for a recount by Boylan, with a formal request being lodged by the Liberals, which was also rejected, after which the Liberals ruled out a possibility of taking the result to the Court of Disputed Returns.[21][22] A formal declaration of the by-election outcome was made by the State Electoral Office on 29 January.[23] The by-election saw a rare two-party swing to an incumbent government, and was the first time an opposition had lost a seat at a by-election in South Australia.[24][25] The result in Frome at the 2010 state election saw Brock increase his primary vote by 14.1 percent to a total of 37.7 percent and his two-candidate vote by 6.5 percent to a total of 58.2 percent. Despite a statewide swing against Labor at the election, Labor again increased its two-party vote in Frome by 1.8 percent to a total of 50.1 percent, coincidentally by 30 votes.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Libs upset by Frome poll date". ABC Online. 13 November 2008. Retrieved 1 February 2009. 
  2. ^ "Kerin quits politics". Independent Weekly (Fairfax Media). 12 November 2008. Retrieved 1 February 2009. 
  3. ^ Green, Antony (20 April 2006). "South Australian Election 2006 : Green Guide : Frome". ABC Online. Retrieved 1 February 2009. 
  4. ^ Green, Antony (18 December 2008). "Frome by-election and South Australian Redistributions". ABC Online. Retrieved 1 February 2009. 
  5. ^ a b "2009 Frome By-election: ABC Elections". 2 February 2009. Retrieved 28 July 2010. 
  6. ^ Smelter ‘safe’ - Premier: Fairfax 18/12/2008 Archived 31 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ "ABC Antony Green's Frome by-election Results blog". 17 January 2009. Retrieved 28 July 2010. 
  8. ^ Jamie Walker (14 January 2009). "Deals put former SA premier's seat on line: The Australian 14/1/2009". Retrieved 28 July 2010. 
  9. ^ "Independents unite to support Brock in bid for by-election glory: Flinders News 15/1/2009". 15 January 2009. Retrieved 28 July 2010. 
  10. ^ © AAP (14 January 2009). "Greens to run open ticket in Frome: The Independent 14/1/2009". Retrieved 28 July 2010. 
  11. ^ "Frome by-election goes down to the wire". ABC Online. 18 January 2009. Retrieved 25 January 2009. 
  12. ^ Green, Antony. "Frome By-election Results". ABC Online. Retrieved 25 January 2009. 
  13. ^ Emmerson, Russell; Pepper, Chris (18 January 2009). "Liberals confident they'll hold Outback seat of Frome". The Advertiser. Archived from the original on 20 January 2009. Retrieved 25 January 2009. 
  14. ^ "Liberals claim victory in Frome". Poll Bludger (Crikey). 21 January 2009. Retrieved 25 January 2009.  This article reproduces the original Liberal press release, no longer available on the SA Liberal site.
  15. ^ Hendrik Gout (30 January 2009). "Frome one loss to another: Independent Weekly 30/1/2009". Retrieved 28 July 2010. 
  16. ^ Richardson, Tom (30 January 2009). "Frome, a lost moment for the Libs: Independent Weekly 30/1/2009". Retrieved 28 July 2010. 
  17. ^ 2009 Frome by-election: ECSA
  18. ^ "District of Frome" (PDF). Retrieved 28 July 2010. [permanent dead link]
  19. ^ Pepper, Chris (25 January 2009). "Shock Frome loss rocks SA Liberals". The Advertiser. Retrieved 25 January 2009. 
  20. ^ Jamie Walker (31 January 2009). "Peace plea as Nationals take revenge on Liberals at polling booth: The Australian 31/1/2009". Retrieved 28 July 2010. 
  21. ^ "Recount refused as Brock takes Frome by-election". ABC Online. 25 January 2009. Retrieved 25 January 2009. [dead link]
  22. ^ 27 January 2009 11:30 pm (27 January 2009). "Electoral commissioner refuses challenge: The Advertiser 28/1/2009". Retrieved 28 July 2010. 
  23. ^ "New Frome MP to 'make politics more accessible': ABC 29/1/2009". 29 January 2009. Retrieved 28 July 2010. 
  24. ^ David Nason, New York correspondent (26 January 2009). "Leader left with pumpkin: The Australian 26/1/2009". Retrieved 28 July 2010. 
  25. ^ Gavin Lower; David Nason (26 January 2009). "Libs demand recount after shock poll loss: The Australian 26/1/2009". Retrieved 28 July 2010.