Notes on the SA Election 2022 – Issue 1

21 February 2022

With the writs issued on Saturday 19 February (28 days before polling day), the SA Government is now in caretaker mode as the state heads toward the South Australian State Election, scheduled for Saturday, 19 March 2022.

This election will see Premier Steven Marshall’s incumbent Liberal Government defend its first term against an Australian Labor Party (ALP) led by Peter Malinauskas. Should it succeed, it will be the first time since 1998 the SA Liberal Party has achieved consecutive terms following 16 years of an ALP government from 2002-2018.

While both major parties kicked off their campaigns at the weekend, a number of key Independents will likely play a significant role in whoever is able to form government.

Political Landscape

In 2018, the SA Liberal Party was elected to government with 25 seats, while the ALP won 19 seats and three Independents were elected. Since then, three Liberals – Dan Cregan, Fraser Ellis and Sam Duluk – have defected to the crossbench, leaving the Government in a minority.

Cregan and Ellis, representing Kavel and Narungga respectively, are likely to retain their blue-ribbon seats as Independents. Meanwhile, Duluk will likely face a tougher challenge to hold the south-east seat of Waite as an Independent, with stiff competition from Liberal candidate Alexander Hyde and Independent Dr Heather Holmes-Ross, current Mayor of the City of Mitcham.

The South Australian electorate system is unique in Australia given there is a mandated redistribution of electoral boundaries after every election. Following the 2020 redistribution, two popular incumbents – Geoff Brock and Frances Bedford – have moved from their current seats to contest neighbouring electorates in 2022.

The traditionally safe Liberal regional seat of Frome has been held by Independent Member and former Mayor of Port Pirie Regional Council Geoff Brock since the 2009 by-election. However, due to a significant redistribution which moved the town of Port Pirie to the neighbouring electorate of Stuart, Brock will instead contest the 2022 election as a candidate for Stuart. This will likely see Frome return to the Liberals after 13 years, with candidate Penny Pratt – former Chief of Staff to Member for Adelaide and Minister for Child Protection, Rachel Sanderson – expected to win the seat. The ALP is yet to announce a candidate for Frome.


Polling conducted from February 1 to 14 by online market research company Dynata puts Labor ahead of the Liberals on a two-party preferred basis of 51-49, with the primary vote (detailed below) indicating a high level of support for Independents/Other parties. Note that this data is based on a representative sample of 602 South Australians surveyed online, with the research company indicating a four per cent margin of error.

Primary vote (%)

  • 37% Liberal
  • 35% Labor
  • 17% Independent/Other
  • 7% Greens
  • 4% SA Best

Seats to watch

The following seats are the key battlegrounds for the election. These seats’ margins are projected following the 2020 electoral boundary redistribution.

  • Adelaide (Liberal – 1.0%) – The CBD seat of Adelaide has been held by Liberal Minister Rachel Sanderson since 2010. ALP staffer Lucy Hood is contesting the seat.
  • Newland (Liberal – 0.1%) – Newland is located on the north-eastern edge of Adelaide and is currently held by first-term Liberal member, Richard Harvey. Considered SA’s most marginal seat, Newland is being contested by the ALP’s Olivia Savvas and popular Independent Member, Frances Bedford, who has moved from her neighbouring electorate of Florey to contest Newland following a significant boundary redistribution.
  • King (Liberal – 0.6%) – Held by first-term Liberal Paula Luethen, the north-east seat of King was first contested in 2018 following its creation in the 2016 boundary redistribution. Ms Luethen will face competition from Labor candidate and staffer, Rhiannon Pearce.
  • Elder (Liberal – 2.0%) – Following the 2020 boundary distribution, the inner-southern electorate of Elder saw its projected margin halved. The incumbent, first-term Liberal Member Carolyn Power (née Habib), will be challenged by the ALP’s Nadia Clancy – who unsuccessfully ran as Labor’s candidate for Boothby in the 2019 Federal Election.
  • Mawson (ALP – 0.7%) The most marginal Labor-held seat in SA, Mawson is a southern electorate incorporating Kangaroo Island and much of the Fleurieu Peninsula. Incumbent Labor MP of 16 years, Leon Bignell, is up against the Liberals’ Amy Williams for this seat in 2022.

Key issues

  • Health will be a key battleground of the SA election, with the ALP making a significant effort to highlight issues the Government has faced in running the general health system, most notably the admission delays at hospitals for patients arriving via ambulance, referred to as ‘ramping’. It is worth noting that the 2018 election was also largely run on the topic of health – with the former Labor Government’s campaign to retain government impacted by its controversial ‘Transforming Health’ policy, as well as the surfacing of incidents of abuse at the government-run Oakden Older Persons Mental Health Facility.
  • The Government’s COVID response will also be a contentious campaign issue. While the South Australian health system has withstood the pressure of the Omicron variant outbreak to date, the Opposition is pointing to a ‘lack of adequate government support’ for businesses and hospitality and is criticising a ‘lack of preparation’ from the Government in terms of access to RATs and PCR testing waiting times ahead of opening SA’s borders to the eastern states during the December holiday period.
  • The South Australian economy will be a central focus of the Government’s campaign, with the State recently recording its lowest unemployment rate on record. Premier Marshall will argue that green shoots in key existing industries such as mining and agriculture, as well as promising signs in new industries such as the services industry, space and defence, have been fuelled by his Government’s economic management.

Further information

This is the first of our SA Election 2022 newsletter series, featuring analysis of campaign activities, policy announcements, polling and other political developments. For more information about the election, or to enquire about our services in South Australia, please contact:

Sandy Kay-Oswald
m: 0432 220 063
e: [email protected]


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