Hartley is located a few miles east of the city, extending from Kensington Gardens north to Campbelltown. There is a clear north-south divide in the electorate, with Labor's strength in Campbelltown, Felixstow and Hectorville balanced by very safe Liberal Kensington Gardens. Median weekly family income as measured in the 2006 census ranged from $937 in Hectorville to $1662 in Kensington Park, against a state figure of $1103. Hectorville and Glynde at the centre of the electorate are the focal point of Adelaide's Italian community, with respectively 25.3 per cent and 20.0 per cent of their residents nominating Italian as their main language. The redistribution has done Labor a good turn by transferring the southern half of Kensington Gardens and Rosslyn Park to Bragg, while a new Labor-leaning area at Paradise has been gained from Morialta in the north. The changes have increased the Labor margin from 4.7 per cent to 5.6 per cent.
Hartley was won on its creation at the 1977 election by soon-to-be Premier Des Corcoran, who had previously been the member for Coles (which was renamed Morialta in 2002). After losing the 1979 election, Corcoran retired in 1982 and was succeeded as Labor member by Terry Groom. Groom quit the Labor Party in 1991 when an unfavourable redistribution prompted him to unsuccessfully seek preselection for Napier, but he continued to serve in Lynn Arnold's cabinet and unsuccessfully contested Napier as an independent in 1993. High school teacher Joe Scalzi gained the seat for the Liberals at the ensuing landslide, and it stayed in the Liberal fold when the pendulum swung back in 1997 and 2002. The 6.7 per cent swing to Labor in 2006 was at the lower end of the Adelaide scale, but it was more than enough to demolish Scalzi's 2.1 per cent margin. The incoming Labor member was Grace Portolesi, previously chief-of-staff to Cheltenham MP and Left faction heavyweight Jay Weatherill. Portolesi was immediately appointed parliamentary secretary to the Attorney-General after the election, and is rated a very likely prospect for further promotion. When Mia Handshin withdrew from her second bid to win the federal seat of Sturt in August 2009, there was widely reported speculation she would instead run for Hartley and leave Sturt for Portolesi, who promptly denied any interest in entering federal politics.
The Liberals opted to give Joe Scalzi a chance to recover his old seat at a May 2008 preselection ballot, in which he prevailed over Campbelltown councillor Marijka Ryan. Scalzi was said to have been associated with the moderate faction, in particular with former deputy leader Vickie Chapman. Greg Kelton of The Advertiser said Scalzi's preselection caused dismay among senior Liberals, who were concerned at the lack of women in the party's election line-up, and presumably felt the party had missed an opportunity for renewal in returning to a long-term back-bencher. Then-leader Martin Hamilton-Smith was said to have been steamrolled by the state executive's decision to hold early preselections here and in nearby Norwood and Morialta, which benefited the locally dominant moderate faction.
Early in 2009, Grace Portolesi led a public backlash against a decision by Campbelltown council to participate in a trial of fortnightly rather than weekly rubbish collection, notwithstanding that it was made at the request of the state government. She has also closely associated herself with efforts to save the heritage-listed Chelsea Cinema at Kensington Park, which Burnside council voted to sell to developers.
During an ABC Radio debate in the first week of the campaign, Joe Scalzi gamely voiced support for anti-abortion corflutes which have appeared around Adelaide courtesy of independent upper house candidate Trevor Grace. The posters, which feature a premature baby's disfigured head, were the subject of an investigation by the Advertising Standards Bureau.
PREDICTION: Labor retain