Electoral Form Guide: Grey
Margin: Liberal 4.4%
Location: Western Regional/Outback, South Australia
In a nutshell: The decline of the industrial cities of Whyalla and Port Augusta has wrought an electoral transformation over the seat of Grey, which has switched from safe Labor to safe Liberal. The margin was substantially garnished when long-serving member Barry Wakelin retired in 2007, but Rowan Ramsey was nonetheless able to keep the seat in the party fold.
Electorate analysis: Grey has covered most of the vast South Australian land mass since federation, apart from a period between 1934 and 1951 when the interior was divided between Grey and Wakefield. With population growth maintaining its long-term failure to keep pace, the redistribution before the 2004 election saw it absorb the entirety of the Yorke Peninsula from a radically redrawn Wakefield. Until 1993 the seat was usually safe for Labor, having been held by them for all but one term since 1943. Barry Wakelin then won it for the Liberals when the retirement of Labor member Lloyd O’Neil coincided with a redistribution that gave the Liberals a 4.3 per cent boost, adding to the electorate Port Pirie and part of the strongly conservative Clare Valley. Wakelin enjoyed swings of 6.4 per cent in 1996, 1.9 per cent in 2001 and 3.2 per cent in 2004, with only a 0.5 per cent swing going the other way in 1998. There as a sharp 9.4 per cent swing to Labor when Wakelin retired in 2007, but the Liberals nonetheless retained a comfortable 4.4 per cent margin. The incoming member was Rowan Ramsey, an Eyre Peninsula farmer.
Grey was one of four South Australian marginals covered by a Galaxy survey of 800 respondents in the second last week of the campaign, and it showed no swing across the four.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Read Bowe’s blog, The Poll Bludger.