Electoral Commission Proposes Scrapping South Australian Labor held Seat of Port Adelaide

Turnbull Government minister Christopher Pyne’s South Australian electorate has avoidedthe Australian Electoral Commission (AEC)’s scrapheap, with the commission instead targeting the Labor-held electorate of Port Adelaide.

Butler wearing dark-rimmed glasses watches an out of focus Shorten speak to the media.

Port Adelaide is currently held by Labor MP Mark Butler, who is the spokesman for energy and climate change on Bill Shorten’s frontbench.

Mr Butler is currently campaigning for a second term as the ALP’s national president.

The electorate of Wakefield will be renamed Spence, after Catherine Helen Spence, a campaigner for women to get the right to vote in South Australia in the late 1800s.

The AEC’s decision to abolish one South Australian seat was foreshadowed after the 2016 election, as the state’s population grows at a slower rate than other jurisdictions.

The commission has released its proposed redistribution report and said the electorate of Port Adelaide, which Mr Butler has held since 2007, was the most suitable seat to go.

“I have been the proud member of Port Adelaide since 2007 and am obviously disappointed in its proposal to abolish the Division of Port Adelaide,” Mr Butler said in a statement.

“This seat is deeply entrenched in the local community, with a proud and long history.

“I will be looking at all my options as I continue to serve my community and as we await a final decision by the commission.”

Senior Labor sources have suggested there will now be jostling for preselection in the party’s South Australian branch, as Mr Butler tries to find a seat to contest.

There is speculation he could try to move into one of the neighbouring electorates of Hindmarsh, Makin or the renamed Spence, but may face opposition from sitting MPs Steve Georganas, Tony Zappia and Nick Champion.

Time will now be allowed for objections to the proposed redistribution before the final decision is delivered later this year.

ABC election analyst Antony Green has calculated the redistribution would result in some neighbouring electorates of Hindmarsh, Adelaide, Makin and Spence becoming safer Labor seats.

Liberal Party Labor Party Xenophon Team Total
Old Boundaries 4 6 1 11
New Boundaries 4 5 1 10

The ACT and Victoria will gain extra seats in the redrawing of their boundaries, taking the House of Representatives from 150 to 151 members.

Unsurprisingly, the major parties had called on the SA redistribution to hit seats held by their opponents during the AEC’s deliberations.

Labor had argued the seat of Sturt, held by Mr Pyne and taking in Adelaide’s eastern and north-eastern suburbs, should be the electorate facing the chop.

However the Liberals had claimed the electorate of Adelaide, currently held by retiring Labor MP Kate Ellis, should be swallowed up in any redrawing of the boundaries.

Christopher Pyne laughs during Question Time. He's sitting down.

There had been pleas from Liberal MP Rowan Ramsey not to take the easy option of merging his regional South Australian electorate, which covers more than 900,000 square kilometres or 92 per cent of the state’s land mass, with the other regional electorate of Barker.

Mr Ramsey’s electorate of Grey does grow slightly.