Beachside seat expected to buck ‘see-saw’ trend

May 14, 2016 Tom Engelhardt
Port Willunga is one of many beautiful beaches in the Kingston electorate. Photo by Charlotte Chalklen.
South Road cuts through swathes of suburbia, retail and semi-industrial zones. Photo by Tom Engelhardt.
Vines at Aldinga beach. While the nearby wine industry of the southern vales is one of the area's major local employers, many Kingston residents commute to Adelaide's CBD and suburbs. Photo by Charlotte Chalklen.
Sitting Member:
Rishworth, A (ALP)
Size of electorate:
171 sq. Km

Sitting Member

Amanda Rishworth was appointed Shadow Assistant Minister for Education and Shadow Assistant Minister for Higher Education in June 2014

Key Comments

Named after former SA Premier Charles Kingston, the electorate has more than 98,000 people and stretches from Adelaide's southern suburbs along the coast to the upper Fleurieu Penninsula. Kingston is experiencing rapid growth with local industries including: construction, retail, various small industries in the north and a desalination plant.

Electorate Profile

A cursory glance at historical results suggests that the outer-suburban Adelaide electorate is a fiercely-contested swinging seat, but on July 2 Kingston is expected to fall only one way.

The ALP is tipped to carry the seat for the fourth consecutive election through the popular Amanda Rishworth, with challenges coming from Liberal newcomer Kelvin Binns, Robyn Holtham of The Greens and the relatively unknown quantity of the Nick Xenophon Team and its candidate Damien Carey.

The setting

Kingston is an outer-metropolitan seat located in the southern suburbs of Adelaide, which stretches along the coast from Hallett Cove in the north to Sellicks Beach in the south.

The electorate ranges from mortgage-belt suburbs like Reynella and Sheidow Park, to public housing pockets in Christie Downs and Hackham West, upscale holiday houses at Port Willunga and even Australia’s first nudist beach at Maslin Beach.

Formerly, semi-rural areas such as McLaren Vale and Willunga were included, but a redrawing of electoral boundaries in 2011 saw these areas relocated to neighbouring Mayo and Kingston become an entirely suburban seat.

That shift of boundaries substantially reduced the area covered by Kingston from 377 square kilometres to 171, and the resulting shift of around 6,500 voters extended Labor’s margin by about half a percent from an already commanding 14 per cent.

Since its creation in 1949, Kingston has been a see-sawing division which has seen both Labor and Liberal MPs enjoy long tenures before being voted out of office.

The issues

As South Australia leads the nation in unemployment job creation is a key issue in Kingston.

The recent $50b deal to build twelve submarines in South Australia is highlighted by both major party candidates in Kingston, as it is in every South Australian seat.

While all candidates agree that job creation is a priority, housing affordability, health and education funding and Kingston’s dire NBN infrastructure will be hot topics, especially amongst younger voters.

A marginal seat no more

Kingston changed hands four times in five elections between 1996 and 2007 but is now a firmly entrenched Labor stronghold. Incumbent member Amanda Rishworth is widely expected to secure a fourth term in Canberra.

Ms Rishworth has held Kingston since defeating Kym Richardson amid a wave of nationwide ALP momentum in 2007 when twenty-six seats changed hands from the Coalition to Labor, but her comprehensive 2010 victory was even more noteworthy.

In an election which saw Labor suffer a federal two-party swing of -2.58 per cent, Ms Rishworth bucked the trend by attracting a two-party result of 64-36 per cent, a swing of +9.49 per cent, and the largest vote of any party in Kingston’s 61-year history.

The 2013 election, which featured another significant federal swing against Labor, saw the margin of victory narrowed by some 4.85 per cent by Liberal candidate Damien Mills, but Ms Rishworth comfortably held the seat by a margin of 17,000 votes on a two-party-preferred basis.

Kingston has historically followed the general national trends of the day, which highlights the results of 2010 as a major turning point in the seat’s trajectory.

The recent series of comprehensive ALP wins, even in the context of national momentum away from the party, have re-defined Kingston as a safe Labor seat, and not the marginal one it once was.

The sitting member, the newcomer & the X(enophon)-factor

In Amanda Rishworth, the ALP have a candidate with an impeccable election record and a strong affinity with local voters at a community level.

Ms Rishworth’s popularity at the polls, coupled with her ascent to the party’s shadow outer ministry as shadow Assistant Minister for Education suggests she will again be a formidable contender on July 2.

The Liberal candidate in Kingston will be newcomer Kelvin Binns.

Mr Binns, still in his twenties, has not appeared on a ballot previously and will need to overturn the gaping 17,000 vote two-party margin from 2013 to win.

The Greens also have a new candidate in Robyn Holtham. A City of Onkaparinga councillor, Ms Holtham has outlined housing affordability and renewable energy as key focus areas.

The major parties must also beware of Damien Carey of the fledgling Nick Xenophon Team (NXT), which could play a major role in deciding which way South Australian seats fall.

Mr Carey, a massage therapist and Chinese medicine practitioner, represents an unknown quantity in Kingston in 2016.

The new party headed by Xenophon, a highly visible South Australian independent Senator, could poll between ten and twenty percent of the primary lower-house vote across SA, according to political experts and leaked internal polling.

Xenophon Team preferences are likely to shape the outcomes in a number of South Australian seats, and while Kingston is widely tipped to be a comfortable Labor hold, the X-factor has the potential to shake things up.

2013 Election Results

Candidate Party Votes % Swing(%)
SNOSWELL, Andy Rise Up Australia Party 1191 1.35 +1.35
MOORE, Palitja Australian Greens 6062 6.89 -5.22
FROST, Mitchell Thomas Palmer United Party 3709 4.22 +4.22
MILLS, Damien Liberal 28492 32.4 +3.99
DOECKE, Geoff Family First 5168 5.88 +0.08
RISHWORTH, AmandaElected Australian Labor Party 43328 49.26 -2.5
...... Australian Democrats 0 0 -1.93


Tom Engelhardt



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