All 122 seats of the House of Representatives
62 seats were needed for a majority in the House
31 (of the 60) seats of the Senate
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.
The 1961 Australian federal election was held in Australia on 9 December 1961. All 122 seats in the House of Representatives and 31 of the 60 seats in the Senate were up for election. The incumbent Liberal–Country coalition led by Prime Minister Robert Menzies defeated the opposition Labor Party under Arthur Calwell, despite losing the two-party-preferred popular vote. In his first election as Labor leader, Calwell significantly reduced the Coalition's margin, gaining 15 seats to leave the government with only a one-seat majority. This was the first and only time that a Federal Government won a sixth consecutive term in office.
Future opposition leader and Governor General Bill Hayden entered parliament at this election.
Due to a credit squeeze, the economy had gone into a brief recession in 1961 and unemployment had risen to high levels. This saw an increase in popularity for Labor; Menzies' case was not helped by an approach seen by the press, notably The Sydney Morning Herald , as inappropriately paternalistic.[ citation needed ] The Herald, which had long supported Menzies, switched sides to support Calwell and Labor, which gave Calwell the confidence to mount a spirited campaign. These factors were enough to see a swing against the Menzies Government.
|Party||Votes||%||Swing||Seats Won||Seats Held||Change|
|Liberal–Country joint ticket||1,595,696||33.16||+9.79||8||*||*|
|Liberal (separate ticket)||398,292||8.28||–12.41||7||24||–1|
|Country (separate ticket)||31,090||0.65||–0.50||1||6||–1|
|Bowman, Qld||Liberal||Malcolm McColm||6.1||8.0||1.9||Jack Comber||Labor|
|Canning, WA||Country||Len Hamilton||N/A||65.7||15.7||Neil McNeill||Liberal|
|Capricornia, Qld||Liberal||Henry Pearce||7.7||10.7||5.0||George Gray||Labor|
|Cowper, NSW||Country||Earle Page||11.1||12.9||1.8||Frank McGuren||Labor|
|Evans, NSW||Liberal||Frederick Osborne||7.0||7.1||0.1||James Monaghan||Labor|
|Griffith, Qld||Liberal||Arthur Chresby||0.1||7.4||7.3||Wilfred Coutts||Labor|
|Herbert, Qld||Liberal||John Murray||1.5||3.8||2.3||Ted Harding||Labor|
|Hume, NSW||Country||Charles Anderson||2.1||3.0||0.9||Arthur Fuller||Labor|
|Kalgoorlie, WA||Liberal||Peter Browne||0.3||0.9||0.6||Fred Collard||Labor|
|Lilley, Qld||Liberal||Bruce Wight||11.9||13.2||1.3||Don Cameron||Labor|
|Mitchell, NSW||Liberal||Roy Wheeler||8.0||11.4||3.4||John Armitage||Labor|
|Moore, WA||Liberal||Hugh Halbert||2.9||4.2||1.3||Hugh Leslie||Country|
|Oxley, Qld||Liberal||Donald Cameron||5.9||9.4||3.5||Bill Hayden||Labor|
|Petrie, Qld||Liberal||Alan Hulme||10.5||11.2||0.7||Reginald O'Brien||Labor|
|Phillip, NSW||Liberal||William Aston||1.9||3.3||1.4||Syd Einfeld||Labor|
|Stirling, WA||Liberal||Doug Cash||0.2||0.5||0.3||Harry Webb||Labor|
|Wide Bay, Qld||Country||Henry Bandidt||4.3||9.5||5.2||Brendan Hansen||Labor|
For a long time, the 1961 election remained the closest Federal election in Australian history, with the Coalition being reduced to a one-seat majority. Despite not having a majority of seats in New South Wales and Queensland the Coalition retained all of their seats in Victoria and could retain power.The election was decided in the seats of Bruce near Melbourne and Moreton near Brisbane.
In Bruce, Labor's Keith Ewert led Liberal Billy Snedden on the first count, but on the second count more than two-thirds of the DLP's preferences flowed to Snedden, enough to give him the victory.
However, the Coalition was not ensured of a sixth term in government until Jim Killen won Moreton by only 130 votes.Labor actually won 62 seats, the same as the Coalition. However, without Bruce, the best Labor could hope for was a hung parliament, since two of its seats were in ACT and Northern Territory. At the time, territorial MPs had limited voting rights and were not counted for the purpose of determining who was to form government. The record for the closest election in Australia's history was eventually beaten by the 2010 election, which was a 72-72 seat draw.
The most notable casualty was Earle Page, the third-longest serving MP in Australia's history, and briefly Prime Minister. He had been the member for Cowper since 1919. Although he was 81 years old and gravely ill with lung cancer, he decided to fight his 17th general election. His Labor opponent, Frank McGuren, needed a seemingly daunting 11-point swing to win the seat, but won by a slim three-point margin on the second count. Page, who had been too sick to actively campaign, died 11 days after the election without ever knowing he had been defeated.
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