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."

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

"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.

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