1940 Australian federal election

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1940 Australian federal election
Flag of Australia (converted).svg
  1937 21 September 1940 1943  

All 74 seats of the House of Representatives
38 seats were needed for a majority in the House
19 (of the 36) seats of the Senate
 First partySecond party
  Robert Menzies in 1939.jpg JohnCurtin.jpg
Leader Robert Menzies John Curtin
Party UAP/Country coalition Labor
Leader since 26 April 1939 1 October 1935
Leader's seat Kooyong (Vic.) Fremantle (WA)
Last election44 seats29 seats
Seats won36 seats32 seats
Seat changeDecrease2.svg8Increase2.svg3
Percentage49.70%50.30%
SwingDecrease2.svg0.90%Increase2.svg0.90%

Australia 1940 federal election.png
Popular vote by state with graphs indicating the number of seats won. As this is an IRV election, seat totals are not determined by popular vote by state but instead via results in each electorate.

Prime Minister before election

Robert Menzies
UAP/Country coalition

Subsequent Prime Minister

Robert Menzies
UAP/Country coalition

The 1940 Australian federal election was held in Australia on 21 September 1940. All 74 seats in the House of Representatives and 19 of the 36 seats in the Senate were up for election. The incumbent Coalition, consisting of the United Australia Party led by Prime Minister Robert Menzies and the Country Party led by Archie Cameron, defeated the opposition Labor Party under John Curtin despite losing the overall popular vote.

Contents

The Coalition had won 36 seats, two short of a majority, but formed a government on 28 October 1940 with the support of both independent crossbenchers, Alexander Wilson and Arthur Coles. The four MPs elected to Lang Labor's successor, the Australian Labor Party (Non-Communist), officially re-joined the ALP just months after the election in February 1941, bringing the ALP seat tally up to 36. The UAP–Country minority government lasted only until October 1941, when the two independents crossed the floor and allowed the ALP to form a minority government with Curtin as prime minister. It remains the only time since the 1910 introduction of an elected two-party system where the government changed as the result of a parliamentary confidence vote.

Future opposition leaders H.V. Evatt and Arthur Calwell both entered parliament at this election.

Background

The 15th parliament elected in the 1937 election first sat on 30 November 1937. [1] Under the constitution, the parliament would expire in November 1940 and a general election would have to held by January 1941. [2] [3] Throughout 1940, there were debates on whether the general election should be held or postponed in the midst of a world war. [4] Throughout July and August 1940, Prime Minister Robert Menzies contemplated the prospect of an early election. [5] The loss of three Cabinet ministers in the 1940 Canberra air disaster on 13 August also meant that three by-elections would have been required, followed within a few short months by a general election.

Both the Coalition and Labor supported Australia's ongoing participation in World War II. The Coalition's advertisements asked Australians to "Cast Your Vote for Unity and an All-in War Effort / Back the Government that's Backing Churchill", with a large picture of the British Prime Minister. Labor promised "A New Deal / for the Soldier / for the Soldier's wife / Widows, the Aged and Infirm / the Taxpayer / the Working Man / the Primary Producer". [6]

Results

House of Representatives

Australian Federal Election, 1940 Australian Federal Election, 1940.svg
Australian Federal Election, 1940
House of Reps (IRV) — 1940–43—Turnout 94.82% (CV) — Informal 2.56%
1940 Australian House.svg
PartyVotes %SwingSeatsChange
  UAP–Country coalition 1,703,18543.93–4.6536–8
  United Australia  1,171,78830.22–3.4923–5
  Country  531,39713.71–1.8413–3
  Labor 1,556,94140.163.0132+3
  Lang Labor 202,7215.23+5.234+4
  State Labor 101,1912.61+2.6100
  Defence Movement 15,3130.40+0.4000
  Protestant Labor 8,3000.21+0.2100
  Independents 289,3357.46+1.9020
 Total3,876,986  74
Two-party-preferred (estimated)
  UAP–Country coalition 49.70−0.90368
  Labor 50.30+0.9032+3

Notes
Popular vote
Labor
40.16%
United Australia
30.22%
Country
13.71%
Lang Labor
5.23%
State Labor
2.61%
Independent/Other
8.07%
Two-party-preferred vote
Labor
50.30%
Coalition
49.70%
Parliament seats
Coalition
48.64%
Labor
43.24%
Lang Labor
5.41%
Independent
2.70%

Senate

Senate (P BV) — 1940–43—Turnout 94.75% (CV) — Informal 9.56%
1940 Australian Senate.svg
PartyVotes %SwingSeats wonSeats heldChange
  UAP–Country coalition 1,831,13850.41+3.701619–1
 UAP–Country joint ticket1,649,24145.40+16.7210N/AN/A
  United Australia  181,8975.01–11.12615–1
  Country N/AN/AN/A040
  Labor 1,363,07237.52–10.96317+1
  Non-Communist Labor 274,8617.57+7.57000
  State Labor 70,0911.93+1.93000
  Defence Movement 9,5360.26+0.26000
  Independents 84,1192.32–1.07000
 Total3,632,817  1936

Notes

Seats changing hands

SeatPre-1940SwingPost-1940
PartyMemberMarginMarginMemberParty
Barton, NSW  United Australia Albert Lane 1.813.912.1 H. V. Evatt Labor 
Calare, NSW  Country Harold Thorby 2.25.63.4 John Breen Labor 
Cook, NSW  Labor Tom Sheehan N/A33.913.6 Tom Sheehan Labor (N-C) 
Dalley, NSW  Labor Sol Rosevear N/A14.97.2 Sol Rosevear Labor (N-C) 
Denison, Tas  Labor Gerald Mahoney 3.95.01.1 Arthur Beck United Australia 
Henty, Vic  United Australia Henry Gullett N/A3.213.5 Arthur Coles Independent 
Lang, NSW  Labor Dan Mulcahy N/A13.416.0 Dan Mulcahy Labor (N-C) 
Macquarie, NSW  United Australia John Lawson 2.110.28.1 Ben Chifley Labor 
Maranoa, Qld  Country James Hunter 4.35.91.6 Frank Baker Labor 
Riverina, NSW  Country Horace Nock 7.28.81.6 Joe Langtry Labor 
Wakefield, SA  Labor Sydney McHugh 6.710.03.4 Jack Duncan-Hughes United Australia 
Wannon, Vic  United Australia Thomas Scholfield 1.35.03.7 Don McLeod Labor 
Warringah, NSW  Independent Percy Spender 1.923.625.5 Percy Spender United Australia 
Watson, NSW  United Australia John Jennings 3.85.82.0 Max Falstein Labor 
West Sydney, NSW  Labor Jack Beasley 100.064.314.3 Jack Beasley Labor (N-C) 
Wilmot, Tas  Labor Lancelot Spurr 0.25.25.0 Allan Guy United Australia 

See also

Notes

  1. "Parliament". Trove. The Canberra Times. 16 November 1937. Retrieved 15 October 2020.
  2. "War Time Elections". Trove. The Daily News. 19 August 1940. Retrieved 15 October 2020.
  3. "Election during the war". Trove. The Daily News. 9 July 1940. Retrieved 15 October 2020.
  4. "Federal Election Question". Trove. The Advocate. 10 July 1940. Retrieved 15 October 2020.
  5. "A forced election". Trove. The Advertiser. 12 August 1940. Retrieved 15 October 2020.
  6. Hasluck, Paul (1965). Australia in the War of 1939–1945. Series 4 – Civil - Volume 1, The Government and the People, 1939–1941. Canberra: Australian War Memorial. pp. 256–263.

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References