1954 Australian federal election

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1954 Australian federal election
Flag of Australia (converted).svg
  1951 29 May 1954 1955  

All 121 seats of the House of Representatives
61 seats were needed for a majority
 First partySecond party
  Portrait Menzies 1950s.jpg Herbert V. Evatt.jpg
Leader Robert Menzies H. V. Evatt
Party Liberal/Country coalition Labor
Leader since 23 September 1943 13 June 1951
Leader's seat Kooyong (Vic.) Barton (NSW)
Last election69 seats52 seats
Seats won64 seats57 seats
Seat changeDecrease2.svg5Increase2.svg5
Percentage49.30%50.70%
SwingDecrease2.svg1.40%Increase2.svg1.40%

Australia 1954 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
Liberal/Country coalition

Subsequent Prime Minister

Robert Menzies
Liberal/Country coalition

Federal elections were held in Australia on 29 May 1954. All 121 seats in the House of Representatives were up for election, but no Senate election took place. The incumbent Liberal–Country coalition led by Prime Minister Robert Menzies defeated the opposition Labor Party led by H. V. Evatt, despite losing the two-party preferred vote.

Elections in Australia discussion of elections conducted in Australia

Elections in Australia take place periodically to elect the legislature of the Commonwealth of Australia, as well as for each Australian state and territory. Elections in all jurisdictions follow similar principles, though there are minor variations between them. The elections for the Australian Parliament are held under the federal electoral system, which is uniform throughout the country, and the elections for state and territory Parliaments are held under the electoral system of each state and territory.

Australian Senate upper house of the Australian Parliament

The Senate is the upper house of the bicameral Parliament of Australia, the lower house being the Australian House of Representatives. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Chapter I of the Constitution of Australia. There are a total of 76 Senators: 12 are elected from each of the six Australian states regardless of population and 2 from each of the two autonomous internal Australian territories. Senators are popularly elected under the single transferable vote system of proportional representation.

Coalition (Australia) group of centre-right parties in Australia

The Liberal–National Coalition is an alliance of centre-right political parties that forms one of the two major groupings in Australian federal politics. Its main opponent is the Australian Labor Party (ALP), and the two forces are often regarded as operating in a two-party system. The Coalition has been in government since the 2013 federal election, most recently being re-elected in the 2019 Australian federal election. The group is led by Scott Morrison as Prime Minister of Australia since August 2018.

Contents

This was the first federal election that future Prime Minister Gough Whitlam contested as a member of parliament, having entered parliament at the 1952 Werriwa by-election.

Gough Whitlam Australian politician, 21st Prime Minister of Australia

Edward Gough Whitlam was the 21st Prime Minister of Australia, serving from 1972 to 1975. The Leader of the Labor Party from 1967 to 1977, Whitlam led his party to power for the first time in 23 years at the 1972 election. He won the 1974 election before being controversially dismissed by the Governor-General of Australia, Sir John Kerr, at the climax of the 1975 Australian constitutional crisis. Whitlam remains the only Australian prime minister to have his commission terminated in that manner.

A by-election was held for the Australian House of Representatives seat of Werriwa on 29 November 1952. This was triggered by the death of Labor Party MP Bert Lazzarini.

Issues

The election was complicated by the Petrov Affair, in which Vladimir Petrov, an attache to the Soviet embassy in Canberra, defected amidst a storm of publicity, claiming that there were Soviet spy rings within Australia. Given that the 1951 election had been fought over the issue of banning the Communist Party of Australia altogether, it is unsurprising that such a claim would gain credibility.[ citation needed ]

Petrov Affair

The Petrov Affair was a Cold War spy incident in Australia in April 1954, concerning Vladimir Petrov, Third Secretary of the Soviet embassy in Canberra.

Results

Labor: 57 seats
Liberal: 47 seats
Country: 17 seats Australian Federal Election, 1954.svg
  Labor: 57 seats
  Liberal: 47 seats
  Country: 17 seats
House of Reps (IRV) — 1954–55—Turnout 96.09% (CV) — Informal 1.35%
PartyVotes%SwingSeatsChange
  Labor 2,266,97950.07+2.4457+5
  Liberal–Country coalition 2,153,97047.57–2.7764–5
  Liberal  1,765,79939.00–1.6247–5
  Country  388,1718.57–1.15170
  Communist 56,6751.25+0.2700
  Independents 50,0271.11+0.0600
 Total4,527,651  121
Two-party-preferred (estimated)
  Liberal–Country coalition WIN49.301.40645
  Labor 50.70+1.4057+5

Notes

Half-senate elections were held in Australia on 9 May 1953. 32 of the seats in the Senate were up for election. This was the first time a Senate election had been held without an accompanying election of the House of Representatives. The two election cycles fell out of synchronisation after the 1951 double dissolution. While the term of the House was not due to expire until 1954, a Senate election was due by 1 July 1953.

Popular Vote
Labor
50.07%
Liberal
39.00%
Country
8.52%
Communist
1.25%
Independent
1.10%
Two Party Preferred Vote
Labor
50.70%
Coalition
49.30%
Parliament Seats
Coalition
52.89%
Labor
47.11%

Seats changing hands

SeatPre-1954SwingPost-1954
PartyMemberMarginMarginMemberParty
Bass, Tas  Liberal Bruce Kekwick 3.44.41.0 Lance Barnard Labor 
Flinders, Vic  Labor Keith Ewert 5.14.31.6 Robert Lindsay Liberal 
Griffith, Qld  Liberal Doug Berry 3.74.10.4 Wilfred Coutts Labor 
St George, NSW  Liberal Bill Graham 1.64.32.7 Nelson Lemmon Labor 
Sturt, SA  Liberal Keith Wilson 2.45.43.0 Norman Makin Labor 
Swan, WA  Liberal Bill Grayden 3.34.91.6 Harry Webb Labor 

Aftermath

The 20th session of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia was officially opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia. This was the first time a reigning monarch had opened a session of parliament in Australia. The Queen wore her Coronation Dress to open the 20th session of parliament. The success of the 1954 Royal Tour of Australia (the first by a reigning sovereign), the recovery of the economy from a brief recession in 1951-52 and the Petrov Affair were all credited with assisting in the return of the government.

A monarch is a sovereign head of state in a monarchy. A monarch may exercise the highest authority and power in the state, or others may wield that power on behalf of the monarch. Typically a monarch either personally inherits the lawful right to exercise the state's sovereign rights or is selected by an established process from a family or cohort eligible to provide the nation's monarch. Alternatively, an individual may become monarch by conquest, acclamation or a combination of means. A monarch usually reigns for life or until abdication.

See also

This is a list of the members of the Australian House of Representatives in the 21st Australian Parliament, which was elected at the 1954 election on 29 May 1954. The incumbent Liberal Party of Australia led by Prime Minister of Australia Robert Menzies with coalition partner the Country Party led by Arthur Fadden lost a net of five seats, but defeated the Australian Labor Party led by Herbert Evatt.

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