SA Election: Campaign Insights & Analysis

17 March 2022

With two days until the South Australian election, both the Liberal Party and the Australian Labor Party (ALP) are drawing their campaigns to a close. Public polling at this stage suggests an ALP victory, with a poll released on Tuesday showing a substantial ALP lead on a two-party preferred basis of 56-44 after preferences.

The radio and television advertising blackout began this morning, resulting in an increase in online advertising. With two days left of pre-polling and an average of nearly 20,000 votes a day, over 135,000 South Australians have already voted. This is an uptick on early voting figures from the last election where 120,000 people voted early. This significant number of early votes could result in a slower-than-usual release of results on Saturday night.

The Campaign Trail

On Monday, the Liberal Party released its costings and indicated it would make no further spending announcements. This move was used to focus the campaign on the ALP’s significant spending commitments, which have amounted to more than $3 billion over the course of the past four years. Retiring Treasurer Rob Lucas has been heavily campaigning on the narrative that “When Labor spends, you pay”. Elsewhere, Premier Steven Marshall has been campaigning with former Liberal Prime Minister John Howard on the economic growth his Government promises to deliver.

The ALP has continued to reinforce its narrative of an under-resourced health system, ambulance delays and ‘ramping’. Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas has been capitalising on support from the Ambulance Employees Association and pointing to recent reports of deaths related to ambulance delays as a reason to “Vote Labor like your life depends on it”. This afternoon, the ALP released its costings, totalling $3.118 billion.


A YouGov poll released by The Advertiser on Tuesday shows the ALP has a substantial lead over the Liberal Party on a two-party preferred basis, 56-44. Premier Marshall has also fallen behind Mr Malinauskas as preferred premier, 40-45, with 15 per cent uncommitted.

This suggests that the ALP has overcome early concerns regarding Mr Malinauskas’ name identification and indicates that the public is responding well to the ALP’s largely health-focused campaign.

The Primary Vote of The Advertiser’s poll is detailed below.

Primary Vote:

  • 41% Labor
  • 33% Liberal
  • 15% Other/Independent
  • 11% Greens

The Battlegrounds

If the above poll is replicated on election day and is spread evenly across electorates, it would result in a landslide that the Liberal Party has not experienced since its infamously underfunded 2006 campaign, where it won 15 seats compared to the ALP’s 28. This would be a surprising result. Liberal-held seats that would be at risk with a swing of that size include Newland, King, Adelaide, Elder and Stuart. In addition, the notionally Liberal seats of Waite and Kavel are held by former Liberal MPs who defected to the crossbench, and these seats may not return to the Liberal Party if the polling manifests on Saturday.

It is also possible that the Liberal Party will see a swing against it in safe seats that the ALP has been targeting, such as Dunstan (the Premier’s seat, held at a margin of 7.4* per cent), Davenport (held at a margin of 8.1* per cent), and Gibson (held at 10* per cent). For further analysis on the above seats, see editions one and two of SA Votes.

*These seats’ margins are projected following the 2020 electoral boundary redistribution.

The Announcements

Liberal Party

Premier Marshall announced that a re-elected Liberal Government will make the real time fuel pricing (RTFP) trial permanent. This would see service stations required to continue to report petrol prices within 30 minutes, while users will be able to view prices on an app. The Liberal Party also partnered with the Federal Coalition to jointly commit $134 million towards expanded mental health services across SA. Other recent commitments include increased funding for the Women in STEM Scholarships Program and $100 million to create 20,800 additional apprenticeships and traineeships over four years.

Australian Labor Party

The ALP seems to have made the majority of its health announcements at the start of the campaign, with recent commitments focused on a broader range of policy areas. Labor has committed to developing 750 additional public housing residences and upgrading 3,000 existing properties, as well as doubling the cost of living concession and introducing a new Homestart loan to allow eligible first-home buyers to purchase with a three per cent deposit. Mr Malinauskas also announced procurement changes under a Labor Government, with a new requirement for the Government to consider at least two competitive quotes from local businesses for projects over $100,000 in value, and 90 per cent of all workers and materials on major government contracts required to come from SA. In terms of broader social policy, the ALP will dedicate over $67 million to increased education services for students with autism and $220 million for a new hospital at Mount Barker.

Further information

This is the third of our SA Election 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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