The electorate of Port Adelaide resumed its traditional name at the 2002 election after periods as Hart (1993 to 2002) and Semaphore (1970 to 1993). A Labor stronghold at all times, it covers a large area for a metropolitan electorate, including Port Adelaide proper, the suburbs on the Lefevre Peninsula to the west, and a stretch eastwards across Dry Creek to Mawson Lakes and a portion of Parafield Gardens. Like so many other quirks of South Australia's boundaries, the latter areas have been added (from Ramsay) because of electoral fairness requirements. Knock-on effects from successive changes designed to keep Colton marginal have pushed Lee northwards (it gains the Lefevre Peninsula suburbs of Birkenhead and Peterhead with the current redistribution) and squeezed Port Adelaide to the east, across the empty Dry Creek area that forms its logical natural boundary and into unfamiliar suburbs beyond. Interestingly, the newly acquired Mawson Lakes is a small Liberal island in the northern Adelaide sea of red, although it only accounted for 410 votes in 2002.
Kevin Foley (left) secured the prized seat after impressing party elders in his 18 month tenure as chief-of-staff to Premier Lynn Arnold, and he entered parliament at the 1993 election that obliterated Arnold's government. The election result also gutted the Centre Left faction of which Foley was a member, but he successfully integrated with the Right and began a quick climb up a much-shortened party ladder. Foley was made Shadow Treasurer in 1996 and reportedly knocked back an approach to run for the leadership when disaffection with Mike Rann emerged in 2001. He was also rated as Rann's most likely replacement if Labor failed to win power in 2002. Instead he assumed the deputy leadership which had been vacated upon Annette Hurley's failure to win Light, and began his term as Treasurer just in time for a sustained period of economic growth. Foley is predictably enthusiastic about local AFL team Port Power, going so far as to present budget documents in the club colours of teal, black and white.
Anna Micheel (right), Liberal candidate and manager of the Adelaide International Raceway, would do well to look at the camera when posing for party promotional photos.
The major local political drama of the past term has related to construction of two bridges over Port River as part of the Port Expressway project, which the Government promised would be open-span to allow passage of tugboats and tall ships, thereby preserving the inner harbour's dwindling port functions. This prompted the RAA, Business SA, SA Farmers Federation, SA Road Transport Association and SA Freight Council to publish a collective open letter in The Advertiser arguing that such bridges would be expensive white elephants pandering to wealthy yuppies. It was believed the government was distancing itself from the idea when it began to stress that the Navy did not wish to use the inner harbour. This prompted federal Port Adelaide MP Rod Sawford to accuse Foley of abandoning his electorate, and he threatened to take part in a blockade of construction if a closed bridge went ahead. In the event the government came down in favour of open bridges in April 2003, albeit with a toll attached. On a more positive note, in June 2005 The Advertiser revealed details of "the biggest project of its kind in South Australia's history", a $1.5 billion redevelopment on the western bank of the inner harbour. The development will include 2000 new homes on government-owned land and new buildings as high as 12 storeys. This followed the awarding of a $6 billion air warfare destroyer contract to the Australian Submarine Corporation, based in the electorate at Osborne.
ASSESSMENT: Labor retain
Not the most exciting seat for election observers at the best of times, Port Adelaide has now added another 6.8 per cent to Labor's already unassailable margin. Nevertheless, it has slipped from third to fourth place on the ranking of safest Labor seats.
OUTCOME: Labor retain (25.7%)