1969 Australian federal election

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1969 Australian federal election
Flag of Australia (converted).svg
  1966 25 October 1969 1972  

All 125 seats of the House of Representatives
63 seats were needed for a majority
 First partySecond party
  JohnGorton1968.jpg Gough Whitlam 1962.jpg
Leader John Gorton Gough Whitlam
Party Liberal/Country coalition Labor
Leader since 10 January 1968 8 February 1967
Leader's seat Higgins (Vic.) Werriwa (NSW)
Last election82 seats41 seats
Seats won66 seats59 seats
Seat changeDecrease2.svg16Increase2.svg18
Percentage49.80%50.20%
SwingDecrease2.svg7.10%Increase2.svg7.10%

Australia 1969 federal election.png
Popular vote by state and territory with graphs indicating the number of seats won. As this is an IRV election, seat totals are not determined by popular vote by state or territory but instead via results in each electorate.

Prime Minister before election

John Gorton
Liberal/Country coalition

Subsequent Prime Minister

John Gorton
Liberal/Country coalition

The 1969 Australian federal election was held in Australia on 25 October 1969. The incumbent Liberal–Country coalition government, led by Prime Minister John Gorton, won the election with a severely diminished majority over the opposition Labor Party, led by Gough Whitlam despite losing the two party popular vote. Both major parties had changed their leaders in the run-up to the election, the first time this had occurred since 1946.

Contents

This election saw the arrival of future Prime Minister of Australia Paul Keating in the Parliament, winning the safe Labor division of Blaxland in suburban Sydney - a seat he would represent until his resignation following the Keating Government's electoral defeat in 1996.

Issues

The 1969 election centred heavily on the two leaders, John Gorton and Gough Whitlam. Both were leading their respective parties in an election for the first time. Gorton had initially been very popular, and was publicly promoted as an "average Aussie bloke". This image was boosted by his record of wartime service and his craggy battered profile (the result of a wartime injury). However, he gradually gained a reputation for being erratic and unnecessarily confrontational. By the time of the 1969 election campaign his attempts to alter long-standing Liberal Party policies with regard to federal–state powers, and foreign affairs had alienated the more conservative sections of the Liberal Party, and various state Liberal leaders (Henry Bolte and Bob Askin in particular).

Whitlam, by contrast, had reformed the ALP and abandoned unpopular policies such as the once-dominant White Australia Policy, as well as the commitment to socialism still held by many members on the left of the party. He presented a sleek and modern image which was able to win over new voters to his cause. Whitlam had also managed to restore and heal the party's image as an electable alternative, something that had been impossible after the Labor Party split in 1955. Under his leadership, Whitlam had also attracted back many Catholic voters who had previously dumped Labor due to its infighting and factionalism. In addition, although the Coalition had won the biggest majority government in Australian history in 1966, it was increasingly seen as becoming tired and unfocused after 20 years in power. There were also growing concerns over Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War. The ALP thus went into the election with a good chance of increasing its small caucus.

Despite a Coalition campaign depicting Labor as a party dominated and controlled by union bosses, the result was very close. Labor became the biggest single party in the House, taking 59 seats—an 18-seat swing from 1966. It also won a bare majority of the two-party-preferred vote, winning 50.2 percent to the Coalition's 49.8 percent—a 7.1-point swing from 1966, the largest not to have resulted in a change of government. However, largely due to the Democratic Labor Party preferencing against Labor, Whitlam came up four seats short of toppling the Coalition. Had Labor been able to overcome DLP preferences in four Melbourne-area seats, Whitlam would have become Prime Minister. [1] Nonetheless, Whitlam recovered much of what Labor had lost in its severe defeat three years earlier, and put the party within striking distance of winning government three years later.

Results

House of Reps (IRV) — 1969–72—Turnout 94.97% (CV) — Informal 2.54%
PartyVotes%SwingSeatsChange
  Labor 2,870,79246.95+6.9759+18
  Liberal–Country coalition 2,649,21943.32–6.6666–16
  Liberal  2,125,98734.77–5.3746–15
  Country  523,2328.56–1.2820–1
  Democratic Labor 367,9776.02–1.2900
  Australia 53,6460.88+0.8800
  Pensioner Power 7,7060.13+0.1300
  Social Credit 5,1560.08+0.0800
  Communist 4,9200.08–0.3200
  Independents 141,0902.53+1.080–1
 Total6,114,118  125+1
Two-party-preferred (estimated)
  Liberal–Country coalition WIN49.80–7.1066–16
  Labor 50.20+7.1059+18
Popular Vote
Labor
46.95%
Liberal
34.77%
Country
8.56%
DLP
6.02%
Australia
0.88%
Independents
2.31%
Other
0.51%
Two Party Preferred Vote
Labor
50.20%
Coalition
49.80%
Parliament Seats
Coalition
52.80%
Labor
47.20%

Seats changing hands

SeatPre-1969SwingPost-1969
PartyMemberMarginMarginMemberParty
Adelaide, SA  Liberal Andrew Jones 2.814.311.3 Chris Hurford Labor 
Barton, NSW  Liberal Bill Arthur 2.25.73.0 Len Reynolds Labor 
Batman, Vic  Independent Sam Benson N/A0.23.0 Horrie Garrick Labor 
Bowman, Qld  Liberal Wylie Gibbs 6.77.12.5 Len Keogh Labor 
Eden-Monaro, NSW  Liberal Dugald Munro 0.75.83.2 Allan Fraser Labor 
Forrest, WA  Liberal Gordon Freeth 9.511.61.1 Frank Kirwan Labor 
Franklin, Tas  Liberal Thomas Pearsall 2.29.95.9 Ray Sherry Labor 
Grey, SA  Liberal Don Jessop 3.03.11.9 Laurie Wallis Labor 
Hawker, SA  Liberalnotional - new seatN/A13.77.9 Ralph Jacobi Labor 
Kingston, SA  Liberal Kay Brownbill 8.216.53.9 Richard Gun Labor 
Lalor, Vic  Liberal Mervyn Lee 0.74.810.9 Jim Cairns Labor 
Maribyrnong, Vic  Liberal Philip Stokes 7.68.01.4 Moss Cass Labor 
Paterson, NSW  Liberal Allen Fairhall N/A9.17.5 Frank O'Keefe Country 
Perth, WA  Liberal Fred Chaney 6.912.28.2 Joe Berinson Labor 
Riverina, NSW  Country Bill Armstrong 16.518.82.3 Al Grassby Labor 
Robertson, NSW  Liberal William Bridges-Maxwell 8.59.71.8 Barry Cohen Labor 
St George, NSW  Liberal Len Bosman 9.59.60.1 Bill Morrison Labor 
Sturt, SA  Liberal Ian Wilson 16.215.00.5 Norm Foster Labor 
Swan, WA  Liberal Richard Cleaver 3.58.34.1 Adrian Bennett Labor 

See also

Notes

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References