ELECTION 2013: Port Pirie strays away from political trend

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The Liberal Party may have experienced a surge in support from South Australians, but there is one city that is still Labor at heart...Port Pirie.

The Spencer Gulf city, which is in the electorate of Grey, saw it's first preference and two candidate preferred vote favour Labor's Ben Browne.

Five of the six polling centres (including the pre-poll voting centre) saw increases to the ALP.

Labor has experienced two candidate preferred increases of 7.64 per cent in Port Pirie South, 3.55 per cent in Pirie West, 1.44 per cent in Risdon Park East, 2.53 per cent in Risdon Park South and 3.70 per cent in Solomontown.

Port Pirie wasn't the only town to see an increase in support for Labor - many of the polling booths in Port Augusta and Whyalla, also Spencer Gulf cities, saw swings against the Liberal Party.

The big surprise came in the blue-ribbon town of Crystal Brook, a farming community in South Australia's mid north.

Liberal's Rowan Ramsey saw his first preference vote fall by 6.15 per cent and two candidate preferred down by 2.97 per cent.

Other towns that also saw slight swings toward Labor include Ceduna, Booborowie, Spalding, Brinkworth, Bute, Kimba, Melrose, Quorn, Karoonda and Tailem Bend.

Stronghold increases

The Liberal Party's stronghold on regional South Australia is set to increase, with country electorates seeing strong swings against Labor.

One seat is still in limbo, with a tough race expected between Labor's Nick Champion and the Liberal Party's Tom Zorich in the electorate of Wakefield - set in Adelaide's northern suburbs and the Clare Valley.

With 74.92 per cent of first preference votes counted, Nick Champion is ahead of Tom Zorich, polling 41.63 per cent and 38.10 per cent, respectively.

While Champion looks set to hold on to Wakefield, this once safe Labor seat looks to sit on a knife-edge.

Grey, Mayo and Barker will stay in the hands of the Liberal Party, with Rowan Ramsey, Jamie Briggs and Tony Pasin each increasing the party's stronghold on the three electorates.

Academic expects swing against Labor

One of South Australia's leading political academics, Dr Clem Macintyre, Adelaide University's head of the School of History and Politics, said there should be a swing towards the Liberal Party in all regional seats.

"In 2010, it was unusual while the rest of the country moved towards Abbott, our vote (in South Australia) strengthened to Labor," he said.

Dr Macintyre said this created a buffer for Labor to lose.

Looking at the seats of Grey, Barker and Mayo, he said they should become safer Liberal seats.

"Wakefield is interesting. The big debate is the car industry," he said.

With the Liberal Party announcing cuts to motor industry funding and Labor set to increase the Fringe Benefits Tax, all eyes were on Wakefield and the affect both announcements would have on Elizabeth's Holden plant, based in Adelaide's northern suburbs.

Wakefield poses a challenge for both parties and is a mix of metropolitan and regional voters, consisting of Adelaide's northern suburbs and the Clare Valley.

Dr Macintyre said he had been watching Wakefield with interest as both Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott made visits to the electorate.

Looking at Abbott's visit, he said it suggested the Liberal Party's polls had dictated that a win was not out of the question.

"I'm confident that Barker, Mayo and Grey will stay Liberal," he said.

"With Wakefield, the fact it has been concentrated on suggests how much trouble Labor is in this election."

Queue controller Sandy George lines up voters at Murray Bridge North School.

Queue controller Sandy George lines up voters at Murray Bridge North School.

Liberal volunteer Brian O'Riley, Nick Xenophon man John Phillpott, Family First's Judy Lang, Green Jessica Olds and Richard Sage proxy Nick Sims hand out how-to-vote cards at a Murray Bridge polling place.

Liberal volunteer Brian O'Riley, Nick Xenophon man John Phillpott, Family First's Judy Lang, Green Jessica Olds and Richard Sage proxy Nick Sims hand out how-to-vote cards at a Murray Bridge polling place.

Voters file into Murray Bridge North School to fill out their ballots in the 2013 Federal Election.

Voters file into Murray Bridge North School to fill out their ballots in the 2013 Federal Election.

Andrew Cherini received a how-to-vote card from Margaret Glover in Port Lincoln.

Andrew Cherini received a how-to-vote card from Margaret Glover in Port Lincoln.

Liberal Party volunteer Katie Patterson, left, Labor Party volunteer Ian Nitz and Nick Xenophon supporter Laura Skorpos were ready to hand out how-to-vote cards in Port Pirie.

Liberal Party volunteer Katie Patterson, left, Labor Party volunteer Ian Nitz and Nick Xenophon supporter Laura Skorpos were ready to hand out how-to-vote cards in Port Pirie.

Voting booths at the Naracoorte Town Hall.

Voting booths at the Naracoorte Town Hall.

Bendigo's Chris Wood spruiks the Nationals, Tarpeena's Harley O'Neill and Naracoorte's John Kilgour promote Nick Xenophon and Naracoorte's Michael Becroft promotes the Family First Party at the Naracoorte South Primary School polling booth.

Bendigo's Chris Wood spruiks the Nationals, Tarpeena's Harley O'Neill and Naracoorte's John Kilgour promote Nick Xenophon and Naracoorte's Michael Becroft promotes the Family First Party at the Naracoorte South Primary School polling booth.

David and Gwen Hannaford sell raffles for the Royal Flying Doctor Service at the Naracoorte South Primary School polling booth.

David and Gwen Hannaford sell raffles for the Royal Flying Doctor Service at the Naracoorte South Primary School polling booth.

City of Victor Harbor mayor Graham Philp places his vote in the ballot box.

City of Victor Harbor mayor Graham Philp places his vote in the ballot box.

Mayo electorate residents place their votes in the Victor Harbor Town Hall.

Mayo electorate residents place their votes in the Victor Harbor Town Hall.

Naracoorte Lucindale Council mayor Erika Vickery puts in her vote with husband Neville at the town hall.

Naracoorte Lucindale Council mayor Erika Vickery puts in her vote with husband Neville at the town hall.

Novita Children's Services Naracoorte branch members Bev Miller, Jenny Nikkerud and Moreen Collins sell raffles at the town hall while voting takes place.

Novita Children's Services Naracoorte branch members Bev Miller, Jenny Nikkerud and Moreen Collins sell raffles at the town hall while voting takes place.

People leave the Naracoorte South Primary School polling booth on election day.

People leave the Naracoorte South Primary School polling booth on election day.

Tyson and Jordan Thornton (front) check out the yummy treats on offer from Meg Nolan (left) and Angela Baty at the Mary Mackillop Memorial Kindergarten trading table set up at Naracoorte South Primary School.

Tyson and Jordan Thornton (front) check out the yummy treats on offer from Meg Nolan (left) and Angela Baty at the Mary Mackillop Memorial Kindergarten trading table set up at Naracoorte South Primary School.

Karen Brown of Victor Harbor cast her vote as Tony Phillips, Julie Phillips, Susanne Camac and Drew handed out voting information at the Victor Harbor Town Hall.

Karen Brown of Victor Harbor cast her vote as Tony Phillips, Julie Phillips, Susanne Camac and Drew handed out voting information at the Victor Harbor Town Hall.

Don Schmidt and Graeme Brewster cooking a sausage sizzle outside of a voting centre in Ceduna.

Don Schmidt and Graeme Brewster cooking a sausage sizzle outside of a voting centre in Ceduna.

Ceduna voters cast their vote.

Ceduna voters cast their vote.

Sarah Strathern of Ceduna casts her vote.

Sarah Strathern of Ceduna casts her vote.

Sam Smith of Ceduna casts his vote.

Sam Smith of Ceduna casts his vote.

Voting officer Jane Hampton marks off voters Jess Mattys and Brad Milligan

Voting officer Jane Hampton marks off voters Jess Mattys and Brad Milligan

 Liberal representative Ken McPhee hands a flyer to Damien Grosser.

Liberal representative Ken McPhee hands a flyer to Damien Grosser.

Gary and Robyn Holthouse of Port Pirie cast their votes at the polling booth at Solomontown Primary School.

Gary and Robyn Holthouse of Port Pirie cast their votes at the polling booth at Solomontown Primary School.

Bill Dunn of Keith placing his voting slip in the ballot box.

Bill Dunn of Keith placing his voting slip in the ballot box.

 Jo Hough for Senator Nick Xenophon hands a how-to-vote card to Alison and Neville Dick and Bill Mayfield.

Jo Hough for Senator Nick Xenophon hands a how-to-vote card to Alison and Neville Dick and Bill Mayfield.

Peter Doroch registering names at the Vineyard Lutheran School polling booth.

Peter Doroch registering names at the Vineyard Lutheran School polling booth.

 Jessica Tilbrook helping out with the absentee voting at the Vineyard Lutheran School polling booth in Clare.

Jessica Tilbrook helping out with the absentee voting at the Vineyard Lutheran School polling booth in Clare.

Barrie Smith of the Clare Lions Club was in charge of the sausage sizzle.

Barrie Smith of the Clare Lions Club was in charge of the sausage sizzle.

Madina Karimov, Gabby Doult, Chelsea Coch help out with a fundraiser held outside of a polling booth on Clare.

Madina Karimov, Gabby Doult, Chelsea Coch help out with a fundraiser held outside of a polling booth on Clare.

Labor volunteers Josh Abbott and Marilyn Brandt handing out how-to-vote cards in Clare.

Labor volunteers Josh Abbott and Marilyn Brandt handing out how-to-vote cards in Clare.

Brenton Lewis, Penny Bayly, Virginia Hill, Doug Baker, Peter Young, Tim Rogers and Darryl Croser hand out voting information at the Robe Institute.

Brenton Lewis, Penny Bayly, Virginia Hill, Doug Baker, Peter Young, Tim Rogers and Darryl Croser hand out voting information at the Robe Institute.

Kingston mayor Evan Flint casts his vote.

Kingston mayor Evan Flint casts his vote.

 Neville Round handed Aisea Raikiwasa a how-to-vote card in Port Lincoln.

Neville Round handed Aisea Raikiwasa a how-to-vote card in Port Lincoln.

Family first volunteer Wendy Hoare with Dennis Starke in Port Lincoln.

Family first volunteer Wendy Hoare with Dennis Starke in Port Lincoln.

Maxine Raleigh got a how-to-vote card from Jim Kay in Port Lincoln.

Maxine Raleigh got a how-to-vote card from Jim Kay in Port Lincoln.

Casey and Ella Campbell cast their vote in Port Lincoln.

Casey and Ella Campbell cast their vote in Port Lincoln.

June Glass voting in Port Lincoln.

June Glass voting in Port Lincoln.

Bob Glass makes his vote count in Port Lincoln.

Bob Glass makes his vote count in Port Lincoln.

Jarrad Elson voted in the election.

Jarrad Elson voted in the election.

It would take a sizeable swing for Labor to lose Wakefield.

Glenys Buchanan hands out how-to-vote cards for the Family First Party in Port Augusta.

Glenys Buchanan hands out how-to-vote cards for the Family First Party in Port Augusta.

Frank Horvat shows Port Augusta local Steve how to vote for the Liberal Party.

Frank Horvat shows Port Augusta local Steve how to vote for the Liberal Party.

Manoah McRae happily encourages Port Augusta voters to support Labor.

Manoah McRae happily encourages Port Augusta voters to support Labor.

Neil Heneker traveled to Port Augusts to make his vote count.

Neil Heneker traveled to Port Augusts to make his vote count.

Melanie and submist here vote at the Port Augusta TAFE Campus with daughter Sienna Boxall.

Melanie and submist here vote at the Port Augusta TAFE Campus with daughter Sienna Boxall.

An Australian Electoral Commission sign warns of one of the hazards of living in a democracy.

An Australian Electoral Commission sign warns of one of the hazards of living in a democracy.

A sign shows voters which way to go as a poster depicting the front-runner for the division of Barker, Liberal candidate Tony Pasin, watches on.

A sign shows voters which way to go as a poster depicting the front-runner for the division of Barker, Liberal candidate Tony Pasin, watches on.

Liberal Party volunteer Margaret Neumeister and Labor Party volunteer Marcus Connelly were ready to hand out how-to-vote cards at the pre-poll voting centre set-up at the Port Pirie YWCA.

Liberal Party volunteer Margaret Neumeister and Labor Party volunteer Marcus Connelly were ready to hand out how-to-vote cards at the pre-poll voting centre set-up at the Port Pirie YWCA.

"It's not beyond possibility," Dr Macintyre said.

"But, I wouldn't expect it."

Voting begins in Tatiara - with Benn Gransden

Voting started for the Federal election today at 8am and by 9.30am 500 people had already passed in Bordertown High School to vote.

Bordertown Officer in Charge, Karen Johnstone said people were lined up at the high school hall from 8am this morning.

“There has been a line up ready to go at 7.55 this morning, I suppose that’s to do with football," Ms Johnstone said.

“Already there have been about 500 people through to vote, normally we have around the 2000 mark in Bordertown, but we won't know that until after 6pm tonight when votes will be counted.

Bordertown is also one of a few places that have the interstate booth for those voting from outside their home state.

Fairfax Regional Media tried to contact the Liberal Party's Tony Pasin, who was unreachable in Mt Gambier and Nationals candidate Miles Hannemann who said “he can’t change anything now”.

Both are fighting for the seat of Barker.

“I'm in the sheep yard catching up with sheep work,” Mr Hannemann joked.

Mr Hannemann said by 10am on Saturday he had visited Keith and Willalooka voting booths and hoped to catch the Keith versus Bordertown game in Padthaway before heading down to Naracoorte.

“I can’t change anything now can I,” Mr Hannemann said.

“It will be interesting to see how it pans out, but some amazing things have happened in the last couple of days.”

Analysis of regional seats

Even with Member for Barker Patrick Secker being ousted, after being defeated in an election ballott by Tony Pasin, Liberals look set to hold on to Barker - it is the party's safest South Australian seat.

Barker is a seen as a safe conservative seat, being held by the Liberal Party for 69 years.

The Liberal Party can also be confident of holding on to Grey, held by Rowan Ramsey.

Ramsey, an Eyre Peninsula farmer, enjoys great popularity throughout the electorate - his only challenge will be to sway Port Pirie and Whyalla voters.

The two Spencer Gulf cities, both dominated by industry, Port Pirie with the Nyrstar smelter and Whyalla with a steelworks, typically favour Labor.

Labor are sure to get some brownie points from Wakefield voters in Adelaide's northern suburbs for pledging more support for Holden's Elizabeth plant, based in the electorate. But, their increase to the Fringe Benefits Tax is sure to raise concern among voters.

A debate gaffe from Wakefield's Liberal candidate Tom Zorich won't work in his favour - Zorich stumbled when asked about his party's climate change policy.

He replied with: ''I'm not across all those issues ... I will say to you as a candidate and a businessman, I'm not across everything.''

Labor's biggest problem in Wakefield lies in the Clare Valley, a region dominated by the grape-growing industry, that supports conservative candidates. It's a vote they can rule out receiving.

In Mayo, which covers a portion of the Adelaide Hills, the Fleurieu Peninsula and Kangaroo Island, the Liberal Party's Jamie Briggs not only has to compete with Labor, but also the Greens, who polled almost 17 per cent in first preferences in 2010. But, for Briggs, all signs point to a Liberal win.