By JESSE NEILL
Colton is an urban electoral district in South Australia’s House of Assembly. Its boundaries cover the western coastal suburbs between Henley Beach and Glenelg North, also including inland suburbs of Fulham Gardens, Kidman Park, Lockleys and the Adelaide Airport.
Colton has been a Labor-held district for the past 16 years, however, changes to the boundaries in line with the state’s redistribution guidelines have transformed the electorate into a notional Liberal seat.
The Labor voting suburbs of Seaton and Grange have been added to Lee, while the suburbs of West Beach and Glenelg North have been transferred from the safe Liberal seat of Morphett.
This redistribution southwards sees a significant swing towards the Liberals, with the previous suburbs of Colton recording a meager two-party preferred vote of 50.3 per cent for Labor in the last election.
This overall shift is set to reverse Labor’s 1.5 percent margin from the previous election and swing towards the Liberals with a margin of 3.9 per cent.
The Liberals chances are also increased with the departure of Labor’s Paul Caica, who represented the seat since Labor took office in 2002.
Interestingly, Colton could be considered South Australia’s only bellwether seat, consistently being the only electorate in the House of Assembly to be won by the party that has formed government.
The past seat of Henley Beach also went the way of the winning party at every election since its inception in 1970.
The electorate is named after the President of the Women’s Suffrage League, Mary Colton.
Colton arrived in Adelaide in 1839 and worked tirelessly for the rights and welfare of women and children. She also lived long enough to witness the introduction of equal voting rights for women in South Australia in 1894.
The name Colton was established in 1993, previously being called Henley Beach.
On The Record interviewed several voters from the area to see what issues they were most concerned about in their electorate.
The most common replies surrounded improving the services of health, education, security and roads in the area, in addition to taking more measures to protect the environment.
A key issue was the funding cuts to the Queen Elizabeth Emergency Department and axing cardiac services as part of Labor’s Transforming Health reforms.
For many locals, what was meant to reduce costs and improve efficiency, has actually reduced the quality of care and resulted in a net cost for the Labor government.
The West Beach coastline in another important policy for voters in Colton.
Voters mention their gripes with West Beach constantly shifting from one electorate to the next as part of the SA Electoral Commission redistributions.
Local resident Connor Foley, believes this causes his suburb to be dismissed from genuine long-term solution, with local politicians failing to address the issue at hand.
“There’s a problem with the coastline,” Mr Foley said.
“I’ve watched it get gradually destroyed and Labor is still doing nothing about it, they are still backing the Adelaide Living Beaches Strategy which has failed repeatedly.
“With diminishing sand, we cannot simply solve the issue by trucking in more sand, we need a long-term solution to maintain and replenish sand naturally.”
He also mentioned the regular flushing of the River Torrens is a problem because it contaminates the beach making it a no-swim zone, even during busy weekends.
Another point of contention in the electorate is the police station at Henley Beach.
While it is a recently developed multi-million dollar facility, the station is only open during office hours, Monday to Friday.
In a busy and popular precinct, especially on weekends, locals believe the police station should be open longer, if not around the clock every day of the week.
With a number of key issues in the electorate, Paul Caica’s retirement and the redistribution of the state boundaries means the seat is now the Liberals to lose.
Colton’s Liberal preselection was a competitive process between Matt Cowdrey OAM – who holds 13 Paralympic gold medals in swimming and is currently a business adviser for international accounting firm KPMG – and Alex Brown, son of former Premier Dean Brown.
The contest reportedly divided factional moderates, as deputy leader Vickie Chapman backed Brown, while Morialta MP John Gardner pushed for Cowdrey.
The 27-year old Cowdrey won the preselection and will face Labor candidate Angela Vaughan, a local school teacher who has lived in the electorate for 25 years and grew up in the western suburbs.
Other Candidates include Paul Petherick for The Greens, a carpenter who grew up in Tea Tree Gully and currently lives in South Plympton.
Jassmine Wood is the representative for SA-BEST, a previous Liberal candidate for West Torrens in the 2010 state election and Hindmarsh in the Federal election of the same year.
Wood was also elected as Henley Ward Councillor for the City of Charles Sturt and currently works for her husband in a water storage and purification company.
Finally, Dr Ted Evans is running for the Dignity Party. He has a research, policy and academic background, as well as being a parent carer of two adult children with disabilities.
The electorate of Colton (previously Henley Beach) has been the barometer for the state election for decades, determining the result in a number of one-seat parliamentary outcomes in 1975, 1989, 2002 and 2014.
With Colton set to be one of the key seats in the upcoming state election, it may once again be the determining factor for the winning party this Saturday.
Image Source: Tricia Watkinson/The Advertiser