South Australian state election, 2018
The 2018 South Australian state election will elect members to the 54th Parliament of South Australia on 17 March 2018. All 47 seats in the House of Assembly or lower house, whose current members were elected at the 2014 election, and 11 of 22 seats in the Legislative Council or upper house, last filled at the 2010 election, will become vacant. The record-16-year-incumbent Australian Labor Party government, currently led by Premier Jay Weatherill, will be challenged by the opposition Liberal Party of Australia, currently led by Opposition Leader Steven Marshall.
Like federal elections, South Australia has compulsory voting, uses full-preference instant-runoff voting in the lower house and single transferable vote group voting tickets in the proportionally represented upper house. The election will be conducted by the Electoral Commission of South Australia (ECSA), an independent body answerable to Parliament.
2014 election outcome
The 2014 election resulted in a hung parliament with 23 seats for Labor and 22 for the Liberals. The balance of power rested with the two crossbench independents, Bob Such and Geoff Brock. Such did not indicate who he would support in a minority government before he went on medical leave for a brain tumour. University of Adelaide Professor and Political Commentator Clem McIntyre said Such's situation virtually guaranteed Brock would side with Labor. With 24 seats required to govern, Brock backed Labor, allowing Premier Jay Weatherill to remain in office at the head of a minority government. McIntyre said:
If Geoff Brock had gone with the Liberals, then the Parliament would have effectively been tied 23 to 23, so once Bob Such became ill and stepped away then Geoff Brock, I think had no choice but to side with Labor.
The Liberals were reduced to 21 seats in May 2014 when Martin Hamilton-Smith became an independent and entered cabinet with Brock. Both Hamilton-Smith and Brock agreed to support the government on confidence and supply while retaining the right to otherwise vote on conscience. It is the longest-serving state Labor government in South Australian history and is the second time that Labor has won four consecutive state elections in South Australia, the first occurred when Don Dunstan led Labor to four consecutive victories between 1970 and 1977. The last hung parliament occurred when Labor came to government in 2002. Labor achieved majority government when Nat Cook won the 2014 Fisher by-election by five votes from a 7.3 percent two-party swing which was triggered by the death of Such. Despite this, the government kept Brock and Hamilton-Smith in cabinet, giving the government a 26 to 21 parliamentary majority.
Redistributions and the two-party vote
To produce 'fair' boundaries, which has a history going back to the mid-1900s Playmander, the Electoral Commission of South Australia has been required following the 1989 election to redraw boundaries after each election through a "fairness" provision with the objective that the party which receives over 50 percent of the statewide two-party vote at the forthcoming election should win the two-party vote in a majority of seats. Labor's success in South Australia since the end of the Playmander has been based in part on the strength of its dominance in Adelaide, located in a highly centralised state, with the Liberal vote locked up in rural seats. In 2014 for instance, Labor only won 47 percent of the statewide two-party vote to the Liberals' 53 percent. However, the Liberals only won 12 of the 36 urban seats, while only 4 of their 14 safe two-party seats were urban, with all eight non-safe (<10 percent) seats being urban. Overall, the election resulted in a hung parliament with 23 seats for Labor and 22 for the Liberals. The balance of power rested with the two crossbench independents, Bob Such and Geoff Brock. Their seats, Fisher and Frome, both returned clear Liberal two-party votes but elected independents. 24 seats had returned a Liberal two-party vote, 23 seats returned a Labor two-party vote, therefore the "fairness" provision was met. One element of the Playmander still exists to this day which contributes to the issue − the change from multi-member to single-member seats. Each Labor period of government since the end of the Playmander had at least one comprehensive win, allowing often-Liberal seats to be won by Labor candidates who then built up incumbency and personal popularity. Examples in 2014 were Mawson, Newland and Light, and additionally in 2010, Bright and Hartley – all gained at the 2006 election landslide. Mawson in fact swung toward Labor in 2010 and 2014 despite the statewide trend. The bellwether seat of Colton was retained by Labor. Furthermore, metropolitan Liberal seats and booths had single and double digit swings against them.
In 2014, referring to the 1989 fairness legislation, Premier Jay Weatherill said "Complaining about the rules when you designed the rules I think sits ill on the mouth of the Liberal Party", while Electoral Commissioner Kay Mousley said it was an "impossible" task for the Boundaries Commission to achieve the legislated requirement, stating "It is a constitutional requirement, and until the constitution gets changed, I must say I find it a very inexact science". Additionally, she had previously stated in 2010 "Had the Liberal Party achieved a uniform swing it would have formed Government. The Commission has no control over, and can accept no responsibility for, the quality of the candidates, policies and campaigns."
The last state election was held on 15 March 2014 to elect members for the House of Assembly and half of the members in the Legislative Council. In South Australia, section 28 of the Constitution Act 1934, as amended in 2001, directs that parliaments have fixed four-year terms, and elections must be held on the third Saturday in March every four years unless this date falls the day after Good Friday, occurs within the same month as a Commonwealth election, or the conduct of the election could be adversely affected by a state disaster. Section 28 also states that the Governor may also dissolve the Assembly and call an election for an earlier date if the Government has lost the confidence of the Assembly or a bill of special importance has been rejected by the Legislative Council. Section 41 states that both the Council and the Assembly may also be dissolved simultaneously if a deadlock occurs between them.
The Electoral (Miscellaneous) Amendment Act 2013 introduced set dates for writs for general elections in South Australia. The writ sets the dates for the close of the electoral roll and the close of nominations for an election. The Electoral Act 1985 requires that, for a general election, the writ be issued 28 days before the date fixed for polling (S47(2a)) and the electoral roll be closed at 12 noon, 6 days after the issue of the writ (S48(3(a)(i). The close of nominations will be at 12 noon 3 days after the close of rolls (Electoral Act 1985 S48(4)(a) and S4(1)).
The following Mackerras Pendulum works by lining up all of the seats according to the percentage point margin on a two candidate preferred basis based on the 2014 results and changes since. "Safe" seats require a swing of over 10 per cent to change, "fairly safe" seats require a swing of between 6 and 10 per cent, while "marginal" seats require a swing of less than 6 per cent.
The Liberals were reduced to 21 seats in May 2014 when Martin Hamilton-Smith became an independent and entered cabinet with Geoff Brock. Both Hamilton-Smith and Brock agreed to support the Labor government on confidence and supply while retaining the right to otherwise vote on conscience. Labor achieved majority government when Nat Cook won the 2014 Fisher by-election which was triggered by the death of Bob Such by five votes from a 7.3 percent two-party swing. On a 0.02 percent margin it is the most marginal seat in parliament. Despite this, the Jay Weatherill Labor government kept Brock and Hamilton-Smith in cabinet, giving the government a 26 to 21 parliamentary majority.
Independent Bob Such in Fisher died from a brain tumour on 11 October 2014 which triggered a 2014 Fisher by-election for 6 December. Labor's Nat Cook won the by-election by five votes with a 7.3 percent two-party swing against the Liberals, resulting in a change from minority to majority government. On a 0.02 percent margin it is the most marginal seat in parliament. Despite this, the Jay Weatherill Labor government kept crossbench MPs Geoff Brock and Martin Hamilton-Smith in cabinet, giving the government a 26 to 21 parliamentary majority. ABC psephologist Antony Green described the by-election as a "very bad result for the Liberal Party in South Australia" both state and federally, and that a fourth term government gaining a seat at a by-election is unprecedented in Australian history.
Liberal Iain Evans in Davenport resigned from parliament on 30 October 2014 which triggered a 2015 Davenport by-election for 31 January. Liberal Sam Duluk won the seat despite a five percent two-party swing, turning the historically safe seat of Davenport in to a two-party marginal seat for the first time. ABC psephologist Antony Green described it as "another poor result for the South Australian Liberal Party", following the 2014 Fisher by-election which saw Labor go from minority to majority government.
Upper house casual vacancy
Following the parliamentary resignation of Bernard Finnigan on 12 November 2015, Peter Malinauskas is expected to fill the Legislative Council casual vacancy in a joint sitting of the Parliament of South Australia on 1 December.
Polling conducted by Newspoll and published in The Australian is conducted via random telephone number selection in city and country areas. Sampling sizes usually consists of over 800 electors, while the 10–13 March 2014 poll consisted of 1602 electors. The declared margin of errors at these sample sizes is ±3.5 percent and ±2.5 percent respectively.
The July to September 2014 Newspoll saw Labor leading the Liberals on the two-party-preferred vote for the first time since 2009.
|Primary vote||TPP vote|
|15 Mar 2014 election||35.8%||44.8%||8.7%||10.7%||47.0%||53.0%|
|10–13 Mar 2014||34%||41%||9%||16%||47.7%||52.3%|
|21–27 Feb 2014||34%||44%||7%||15%||46%||54%|
|Polling conducted by Newspoll and published in The Australian.
|15 Mar 2014 election||–||–||–||–||–||–|
|10–13 Mar 2014||43%||37%||42%||42%||42%||35%|
|21–27 Feb 2014||40%||39%||43%||44%||45%||29%|
|Polling conducted by Newspoll and published in The Australian.
^ Remainder were "uncommitted" to either leader.
- South Australian state election, 2014
- Candidates of the South Australian state election, 2014
- Members of the South Australian House of Assembly, 2014–2018
- Members of the South Australian Legislative Council, 2014–2018
- By-election for Bob Such's seat of Fisher expected to put pressure on Weatherill Government: ABC 13 October 2014
- Fisher by-election win for Labor gives Weatherill Government majority in SA: ABC 13 December 2014
- The 1989 South Australian election, Australian Journal of Political Science, Dean Jaensch
- Liberals blocked by unfair boundaries, says Downer: The Australian 17 March 2014
- "Draft Redistribution Report". Electoral Commission of South Australia. 12 August 2011. Retrieved 9 June 2012.
- "Australian elections timetable". Australian Parliamentary Library. Retrieved 5 February 2013.
- "Registered Political Parties". ECSA.sa.gov.au.
- "2014 SA pendulum". 2014 South Australian Election. ABC.net.au.
- 2014 SA election House of Assembly final results: ECSA
- Political party name abbreviations & codes, demographic ratings and seat status: AEC
- "Martin Hamilton-Smith quits Liberals to back South Australian Labor Government". ABC News. 2014-05-28. Retrieved 2014-05-28.
- Former Liberal leader Martin Hamilton-Smith attends first Labor Cabinet meeting in SA: ABC 2 June 2014
- South Australian MP Bob Such dies in hospital after suffering a brain tumour: ABC 11 October 2014
- Likely Shock Labor By-Election Win in SA: The Conversation 4 December 2014
- Iain Evans to quit, Senior Liberal will retire from SA politics and force by-election: ABC 6 June 2014
- Speaker Michael Atkinson defends decision to separate two SA by-elections: ABC 21 October 2014
- Departing SA Liberal Iain Evans takes final swipe at parliamentary colleagues: ABC 30 October 2014
- Davenport by-election date in South Australia set for January 31: ABC 13 November 2014
- Liberals withstand swing to win by-election in South Australian seat of Davenport: ABC 31 January 2015
- 2015 Davenport by-election commentary: Antony Green ABC
- Union boss Peter Malinauskas nominates for Bernard Finnigan's seat in South Australian Parliament: ABC 18 November 2015
- Union boss Peter Malinauskas to join State Parliament and replace former MP Bernard Finnigan: News.com.au 18 November 2015