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Division of Grey

Australian House of Representatives Division
Interactive map of boundaries
MPRowan Ramsey
NamesakeSir George Grey
Electors123,812 (2022)
Area904,881 km2 (349,376.5 sq mi)

The Division of Grey is an Australian electoral division in South Australia. The division was one of the seven established when the former Division of South Australia was redistributed on 2 October 1903 and is named for Sir George Grey, who was Governor of South Australia from 1841 to 1845 (and later Prime Minister of New Zealand).


Since 1984, federal electoral division boundaries in Australia have been determined at redistributions by a redistribution committee appointed by the Australian Electoral Commission. Redistributions occur for the boundaries of divisions in a particular state, and they occur every seven years, or sooner if a state's representation entitlement changes or when divisions of a state are malapportioned.[1]

The division covers the vast northern outback of South Australia. Highlighting South Australia's status as the most centralised state in Australia, Grey spans 904,881 square kilometres (349,377 sq mi), over 92 percent of the state. The borders of the electorate include Western Australia, the Northern Territory, Queensland and New South Wales borders, in addition to much of the southern coastal border. The electorate spans to Marion Bay and Eudunda in the south. The main population centres of the electorate include Ceduna, Port Lincoln, Whyalla, Port Augusta, Roxby Downs, Coober Pedy, Port Pirie, Kadina, Maitland, Orroroo, Booleroo Centre, Peterborough, Burra and Eudunda.


Sir George Grey, the division's namesake

When Grey was first created in 1903, it included the Northern Territory and all of northern and western South Australia, down to a line through the Mid North south of Port Pirie.[2]

Grey was held by Labor for much of its history, and was one of the few country seats where Labor usually did well. It remained in Labor hands for all but one term from 1943 to 1993, the only break coming when the Liberals won it during their landslide victory in 1966. For most of that time, it was a fairly safe Labor seat, though it was almost lost in the Coalition landslides in 1975 and 1977.

That changed in 1993, when the retirement of Labor incumbent Lloyd O'Neil, the unpopularity of the state Labor government, and the addition of the Clare Valley at a redistribution enabled Liberal Barry Wakelin become only the second non-Labor member to win the seat in 50 years. That happened even as Labor won another term; it was the first time Labor had won government at an election without winning Grey. However, the election came at a bad time for the state Labor government, which was roundly defeated at the state election later that year in which it lost all but one seat within Grey's borders.

Wakelin was re-elected with a large swing in 1996, and since then the decline in the mining and pastoral vote has made it a fairly safe Liberal seat. While the "Iron Triangle" towns of Whyalla, Port Augusta and Port Pirie still tilt Labor — as they have for more than a century — they are not enough to overcome the increasingly conservative lean in the rest of the seat.

The Liberals consolidated their hold on the seat ahead of the 2004 election when the Yorke Peninsula and the state's upper east, both historically strongly conservative areas, were transferred to Grey from Wakefield. The Liberals suffered a nine-point swing at the 2007 election, but Rowan Ramsey was still able to retain the seat for the Liberals, with 54 percent of the two-party vote. The seat became secure for the Liberals once again after Ramsey picked up a large swing in 2010, which he consolidated in 2013.

2016 election

South Australian Senator Nick Xenophon confirmed in December 2014 that by mid-2015 the Nick Xenophon Team (NXT) would announce candidates in all states and territories at the 2016 election, with Xenophon citing the government's ambiguity on the Collins-class submarine replacement project as motivation.[3] ABC psephologist Antony Green's 2016 federal election guide for South Australia stated NXT had a "strong chance of winning lower house seats and three or four Senate seats".[4]

Going into the 2016 election, Grey was the second-safest Liberal seat in South Australia; Labor needed a 13-point swing to win it. A ReachTEL seat-level opinion poll in Grey of 665 voters conducted by robocall on 9 June during the election campaign surprisingly found NXT candidate Andrea Broadfoot leading the Liberals' Ramsey 54–46 on the two-candidate preferred vote. Seat-level opinion polls in the other two rural Liberal South Australian seats revealed NXT also leading in both Mayo and Barker.[5][6]

Early counting following the poll showed that Broadfoot was a clear second to Ramsey on first preferences, well ahead of the ALP candidate in third place. This meant that the indicative assessment of two-candidate preferred count on election night had been done between the wrong pair,[7] and would need to be redone in the following week to give a clearer indication as to which of Ramsay and Broadfoot would win the seat after distributing all preferences.[8][9] While Broadfoot was ahead with as much as 80 percent of ballots counted, she ultimately lost to Ramsey on Family First preferences. Ultimately, Ramsey suffered a swing of 11.6 percent after preferences were counted, which made Grey the most marginal Liberal seat in the state and one of the most marginal Coalition-held rural seats in the nation. On a "traditional" two-party basis (Labor vs. Liberal), however, Grey was still a fairly safe Liberal seat.


Image Member Party Term Notes
  Alexander Poynton
Free Trade 16 December 1903
May 1904
Previously held the Division of South Australia. Served as minister under Hughes. Lost seat
  Labor May 1904 –
14 November 1916
  National Labor 14 November 1916
17 February 1917
  Nationalist 17 February 1917 –
16 December 1922
  Andrew Lacey
Labor 16 December 1922
19 December 1931
Lost seat. Later elected to the South Australian House of Assembly seat of Port Pirie in 1933
  Philip McBride
United Australia 19 December 1931
21 September 1937
Transferred to the Senate
  Oliver Badman
Country 21 September 1937
Previously a member of the Senate. Lost seat
  United Australia 1940 –
21 August 1943
  Edgar Russell
Labor 21 August 1943
31 March 1963
Died in office
  Jack Mortimer
1 June 1963
26 November 1966
Lost seat
  Don Jessop
Liberal 26 November 1966
25 October 1969
Lost seat. Later elected to the Senate in 1970
  Laurie Wallis
Labor 25 October 1969
4 February 1983
  Lloyd O'Neil
5 March 1983
8 February 1993
  Barry Wakelin
Liberal 13 March 1993
17 October 2007
  Rowan Ramsey
24 November 2007

Election results

2022 Australian federal election: Grey[10]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Rowan Ramsey 46,730 45.32 −5.33
Labor Julie Watson 22,068 21.40 −1.43
Independent Liz Habermann 11,613 11.26 +11.26
Greens Tim White 6,994 6.78 +2.18
One Nation Kerry Ann White 6,452 6.26 −2.43
United Australia Suzanne Waters 5,781 5.61 +1.85
Liberal Democrats Peter Miller 1,427 1.38 +1.38
Independent Richard Carmody 1,332 1.29 −0.45
Australian Federation Tracey Dempsey 721 0.70 +0.70
Total formal votes 103,118 93.07 −0.02
Informal votes 7,674 6.93 +0.02
Turnout 110,792 89.62 −3.03
Two-party-preferred result
Liberal Rowan Ramsey 61,938 60.07 −3.25
Labor Julie Watson 41,180 39.93 +3.25
Liberal hold Swing −3.25


  1. ^ Muller, Damon (14 November 2017). "The process of federal redistributions: a quick guide". Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 19 April 2022.
  2. ^ "HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES". The Register (Adelaide). Vol. XLVIII, no. 17, 790. South Australia. 19 November 1903. p. 5. Retrieved 8 November 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
  3. ^ Bourke, Latika (6 April 2015). "Subs backlash: Nick Xenophon sets sights on Liberal-held seats in Adelaide". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Archived from the original on 2 September 2015. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
  4. ^ Election Guide (SA) - 2016 federal election guide: Antony Green ABC
  5. ^ "Grey opinion poll 9 June". ReachTEL. 10 June 2016. Archived from the original on 21 September 2016. Retrieved 14 June 2016.
  6. ^ "ReachTEL: 50-50 - The Poll Bludger 10 June 2016". Archived from the original on 26 August 2016. Retrieved 14 June 2016.
  7. ^ "Grey too close to call - Federal election 2016". The Young Witness. 2 July 2016. Retrieved 5 July 2016.
  8. ^ "Grey, SA - AEC Tally Room". Australian Electoral Commission. Archived from the original on 5 July 2016. Retrieved 5 July 2016.
  9. ^ "Election 2016: Nick Xenophon Team ahead as recount begins in Grey". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 4 July 2016. Retrieved 5 July 2016.
  10. ^ Grey, SA, 2022 Tally Room, Australian Electoral Commission.

29°36′14″S 135°27′14″E / 29.604°S 135.454°E / -29.604; 135.454

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Division of Grey
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