1974 Australian federal election

Last updated

1974 Australian federal election
Flag of Australia (converted).svg
  1972 18 May 1974 1975  

All 127 seats of the House of Representatives
64 seats were needed for a majority in the House
All 60 seats of the Senate
 First partySecond party
  Gough Whitlam - ACF - crop.jpg Billy Snedden 1972.jpg
Leader Gough Whitlam Billy Snedden
Party Labor Liberal/Country coalition
Leader since 8 February 1967 5 December 1972
Leader's seat Werriwa (NSW) Bruce (Vic.)
Last election67 seats58 seats
Seats won66 seats61 seats
Seat changeDecrease2.svg1Increase2.svg3
Percentage51.70%48.30%
SwingDecrease2.svg1.00%Increase2.svg1.00%

Australia 1974 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

Gough Whitlam
Labor

Subsequent Prime Minister

Gough Whitlam
Labor

The 1974 Australian federal election was held in Australia on 18 May 1974. All 127 seats in the House of Representatives and all 60 seats in the Senate were up for election, due to a double dissolution. The incumbent Labor Party led by Prime Minister Gough Whitlam defeated the opposition Liberal–Country coalition led by Billy Snedden.

Contents

Prior to the election the voting age had been reduced from 21 to 18 years. The election was held in conjunction with four referendum questions, none of which were carried.

Future Prime Minister John Howard entered parliament at this election. Snedden became the first Liberal Leader not to serve as prime minister.

Background and issues

Gough Whitlam had been an active prime minister since his party's victory in the 1972 election, and his government had pursued many socially progressive reforms and policies over its first term. However, it suffered through the 1973 oil crisis and the 1973–75 recession and received a hostile reception from the coalition/DLP-controlled Senate, with the last Senate election held in 1970.

Following an attempt by Whitlam to create an extra Senate vacancy in Queensland by appointing former Democratic Labor Party (DLP) Leader, Senator Vince Gair, as Ambassador to the Republic of Ireland, Snedden announced that the opposition would block the Government's supply bills in the Senate. After a great deal of legalistic argumentation in both houses about the Gair Affair, and justified by the failure of six (non-supply) bills to pass the Senate, Whitlam requested and was granted by Governor-General Sir Paul Hasluck a double dissolution under section 57 of the Constitution. The already-announced election date of 18 May was kept. The election focused on Whitlam's first one-and-a-half years in office and whether the Australian public was willing to continue with his reform agenda.

Results

House of Representatives results

Government (66)
Labor (66)

Opposition (61)
Coalition
Liberal (40)
Country (21) Australian House of Representatives elected members, 1974.svg
Government (66)
     Labor (66)

Opposition (61)
Coalition
     Liberal (40)
     Country (21)
House of Reps (IRV) — 1974–75 – Turnout 95.42% (CV) — Informal 1.92%
PartyVotes%SwingSeatsChange
  Labor 3,644,11049.30−0.2966−1
  Liberal–Country coalition 3,379,54545.73+4.2561+3
  Liberal 2,582,96834.95+2.9140+2
  Country 736,2529.96+0.5221+1
  National Alliance  60,3250.82+0.820-2
  Australia 172,1762.33−0.0900
  Democratic Labor 104,9741.42−3.8300
  Liberal Movement 57,8170.78+0.7800
  Socialist 1,1320.02+0.0000
  Republican 9340.01+0.0100
  Communist 5390.01–0.1100
  Independents 29,7790.40–0.5600
 Total7,391,006  127+2
Two-party-preferred (estimated)
  Labor WIN51.70−1.0066−1
  Liberal–Country coalition  48.30+1.0061+3
Notes

Popular Vote
Labor
49.30%
Liberal
34.95%
Country/NA
10.78%
Australia
2.33%
DLP
1.42%
Other
2.04%
Two Party Preferred Vote
Labor
51.70%
Coalition
48.30%
Parliament Seats
Labor
51.97%
Coalition
48.03%

Senate results

Government (29)
Labor (29)

Opposition (29)
Coalition
Liberal (23)
Country (6)

Crossbench (2)
Liberal Movement (1)
Independent (1) Australian Senate elected members, 1974.svg
Government (29)
     Labor (29)

Opposition (29)
Coalition
     Liberal (23)
     Country (6)

Crossbench (2)
     Liberal Movement (1)
     Independent (1)
    Senate (STV) — 1974–75 – Turnout 95.50% (CV) — Informal 10.77%
    PartyVotes%SwingSeats WonSeats HeldChange
      Labor 3,127,19747.29+5.082929+3
      Liberal–Country coalition 2,901,45443.88+5.702929+3
     Liberal–Country joint ticket2,298,81634.77+15.2616**
      Liberal 516,9197.82−9.791223+2
      National Alliance 55,3010.84+0.841**
      Country 30,4180.46–0.6006+1
      Democratic Labor 235,3433.56−7.5500–5
      Australia 92,1071.39−1.51000
      Liberal Movement 63,0320.95+0.9511+1
      National Liberal 23,9650.36+0.36000
      Communist 20,5830.31+0.31000
      United Christian 3,9770.06+0.06000
      United Tasmania 2,0510.03+0.03000
      National Socialist 1,8100.03–0.40000
      Republican 4840.01+0.01000
      Social Credit 3790.01+0.01000
      Independents 140,0032.12+0.4111–2
     Total6,612,385  6060
    Notes

    Seats changing hands

    SeatPre-1974SwingPost-1974
    PartyMemberMarginMarginMemberParty
    Canning, WA  National Alliance John Hallett N/A26.114.3 Mel Bungey Liberal 
    Henty, Vic  Liberal Max Fox 0.31.81.5 Joan Child Labor 
    Hume, NSW  Labor Frank Olley 1.92.60.7 Stephen Lusher Country 
    Isaacs, Vic  Liberal David Hamer 1.11.70.6 Gareth Clayton Labor 
    Lilley, Qld  Labor Frank Doyle 0.01.01.0 Kevin Cairns Liberal 
    Mitchell, NSW  Labor Alfred Ashley-Brown 1.22.71.5 Alan Cadman Liberal 
    Moore, WA  National Alliance Don Maisey N/A1.410.5 John Hyde Liberal 
    Riverina, NSW  Labor Al Grassby 6.97.70.8 John Sullivan Country 
    Wide Bay, Qld  Labor Brendan Hansen 3.36.83.5 Clarrie Millar Country 

    Aftermath

    Election result

    The Whitlam Government had been re-elected with their majority in the House of Representatives reduced from 9 to 5 seats, while they gained 5 seats in the Senate. The ALP and the coalition each won 29 seats in the 60 member Senate, with the balance of power held by Steele Hall of the Liberal Movement, and Michael Townley, a conservative independent. The Democratic Labor Party, which had been rendered obselete by the election of the Whitlam government in 1972, lost all five of its Senate seats. [1]

    Al Grassby who served as Minister for Immigration in the Labor Whitlam Government lost his seat. Grassby's actions as immigration minister attracted criticism from anti-immigration groups, led by the Immigration Control Association, which targeted his electorate in a campaign at the May 1974 election. Partly as a result, Grassby was defeated by the National Party candidate, John Sullivan, by just 792 votes. Grassby and his supporters accused these groups of mounting a smear campaign against him. [2]

    Joint sitting

    The re-elected Whitlam government's failure again to gain a majority in the Senate led to the 1974 joint sitting, Australia's only joint sitting, pursuant to section 57 of the Constitution. It was approved by the new governor-general Sir John Kerr after the bills were presented to the new parliament and were rejected a third time. It was held three months after the election, on 6–7 August, and it enabled the six bills that had been thrice rejected by the Senate to be passed. The Health Insurance bills were both passed on party lines, 95–92, the Petroleum and Minerals Authority legislation also passed on party lines, though with one Liberal Party member absent. Liberal Movement Senator Steele Hall supported the three Electoral bills, citing his experience as Liberal Premier of South Australia, where he had fought his own party in an effort to improve unequal electoral arrangements dubbed the Playmander. Northern Territory Country Party MP Sam Calder supported the Territory Senators legislation, though he opposed the ACT being given added representation. [3]

    Subsequent changes

    In February 1975, the independent senator Michael Townley joined the Liberal party. This gave the Coalition 30 out of 60 Senators, with 29 Labor and 1 Liberal Movement (Steele Hall).

    Later in 1975, two Coalition premiers would break longstanding convention in the replacement of two ALP senators. Lionel Murphy, who had resigned to take up an appointment to the High Court, was replaced by independent Cleaver Bunton; and Bertie Milliner, who had died, was replaced by Albert Field, an ALP member who was opposed to Whitlam. Bunton (along with Hall) refused to vote against supply, but Field was prepared to. Field took his seat in the Senate as an Independent on 9 September. Due to a High Court challenge to his appointment, he was on leave from the Senate, unable to exercise a vote, from 1 October 1975, which reduced the number of sitting senators to 59. This gave the Coalition an effective majority, holding 30 of the 59, allowing them to block supply in the Senate to pave the way for the 1975 Australian constitutional crisis.

    See also

    Related Research Articles

    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 been removed from office in this manner.

    1975 Australian constitutional crisis Dismissal of Prime Minister Gough Whitlam by Governor-General John Kerr

    The 1975 Australian constitutional crisis, also known simply as the Dismissal, has been described as the greatest political and constitutional crisis in Australian history. It culminated on 11 November 1975 with the dismissal from office of the Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam of the Australian Labor Party (ALP), by Governor-General Sir John Kerr, who then commissioned the Leader of the Opposition, Malcolm Fraser of the Liberal Party, as caretaker Prime Minister.

    Vince Gair Australian politician; Premier of Queensland

    Vincent Clair Gair was an Australian politician. He served as Premier of Queensland from 1952 until 1957, when his stormy relations with the trade union movement saw him expelled from the Labor Party. He was elected to the Australian Senate and led the Democratic Labor Party from 1965 to 1973. In 1974 he was appointed Australian Ambassador to Ireland by the Whitlam government, which caused his expulsion from the DLP.

    Albert Jaime Grassby, AM was an Australian politician who served as Minister for Immigration in the Labor Whitlam Government. He completed reforms in immigration and human rights, and is often known as the father of Australian "multiculturalism".

    Francis Patrick Vincent McManus, Australian politician, was the last leader of the parliamentary Democratic Labor Party and a prominent figure in Australian politics for 30 years.

    Whitlam Government federal executive government of Australia led by Prime Minister Gough Whitlam

    The Whitlam Government was the federal executive government of Australia led by Prime Minister Gough Whitlam. It was made up of members of the Australian Labor Party. The government commenced when Labor defeated the McMahon Government in the 1972 federal election after a record 23 years of Coalition government. It concluded, in historic circumstances, when it was dismissed by Governor-General Sir John Kerr as a result of the 1975 constitutional crisis and was succeeded by the Fraser Government. The Whitlam Government remains the only federal government in Australian history to be dismissed by either a monarch or viceregal representative.

    1963 Australian federal election

    The 1963 Australian federal election was held in Australia on 30 November 1963. All 122 seats in the House of Representatives were up for election. The incumbent Liberal–Country coalition government, led by Prime Minister Robert Menzies, won an increased majority over the opposition Labor Party, led by Arthur Calwell.

    Condon Byrne Australian politician

    Condon Bryan Byrne, Australian politician, was a Senator for the Australian Labor Party and later the Democratic Labor Party. Prior to entering politics he was private secretary to Vince Gair who was then Premier of Queensland.

    Democratic Labor Party (historical) former political party in Australia

    The Democratic Labor Party (DLP) was an Australian political party. The party came into existence following the 1955 Labor split as the Australian Labor Party (Anti-Communist), and was renamed the Democratic Labor Party in 1957. In 1962, the Queensland Labor Party, a breakaway party of the Queensland branch of the Australian Labor Party, became the Queensland branch of the DLP. The DLP continued to exist until it was deregistered in 1978.

    1977 Australian federal election

    The 1977 Australian federal election was held in Australia on 10 December 1977. All 124 seats in the House of Representatives and 34 of the 64 seats in the Senate were up for election.

    1972 Australian federal election election

    The 1972 Australian federal election was held in Australia on 2 December 1972. All 125 seats in the House of Representatives were up for election, as well as a single Senate seat in Queensland. The incumbent Liberal–Country coalition government, led by Prime Minister William McMahon, was defeated by the opposition Labor Party led by Gough Whitlam. Labor's victory ended 23 years of successive Coalition governments that began in 1949 and started the 3 year Whitlam Labor Government.

    The Queensland Labor Party (QLP) was a political party of Queensland, Australia formed in 1957 by a breakaway group of the then ruling Labor Party Government after the expulsion of Premier Vince Gair. In 1962 the party became the Queensland section of the Democratic Labor Party (DLP). The party continued to hold seats in the Queensland state parliament until 1972, then suffered a collapse in its vote and wound itself up in 1978.

    Bertie ("Bert") Richard Milliner was an Australian trade unionist, politician and Senator, representing the Australian Labor Party (ALP). He would have been a minor figure in Australia's political history but for the events that followed his sudden death. Those circumstances contributed to the 1975 Australian constitutional crisis, which culminated in the dismissal of the Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam, by the Governor-General, Sir John Kerr.

    Magnus Cormack Australian politician

    Sir Magnus Cameron Cormack KBE was an Australian politician who served as a Senator for Victoria from 1951 to 1953 and from 1962 to 1978, representing the Liberal Party. He was President of the Senate from 1971 to 1974.

    This is a list of members of the Australian Senate from 1974 to 1975. The 18 May 1974 election was a double dissolution of both Houses, with all 127 seats in the House of Representatives, and all 60 seats in the Senate up for election. The incumbent Labor Party led by Prime Minister Gough Whitlam defeated the opposition Liberal Party led by Billy Snedden and their Coalition partner the Country Party led by Doug Anthony.

    Gair Affair

    The Gair Affair was an episode in Australian political life in 1974, during the government led by the Labor Prime Minister Gough Whitlam. Whitlam offered the post of Ambassador to Ireland to a non-government senator from Queensland, Vince Gair, in the hope that this would improve Labor's chance of gaining a majority in the Senate at the forthcoming general election. Whitlam's plan was foiled by the Premier of Queensland, Joh Bjelke-Petersen, during what came to be known as "The Night of the Long Prawns", but the matter was overtaken by events when Whitlam decided to call a double dissolution election.

    Fraser Government federal executive government of Australia led by Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser

    The Fraser Government was the federal executive government of Australia led by Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser. It was made up of members of a Liberal-Country party coalition in the Australian Parliament from November 1975 to March 1983. Initially appointed as a "caretaker" government following the dismissal of the Whitlam Government, Fraser won in a landslide at the resulting 1975 Australian federal election, and won substantial majorities at the subsequent 1977 and 1980 elections, before losing to the Bob Hawke-led Australian Labor Party in the 1983 election.

    McMahon Government

    The McMahon Government was the period of federal executive government of Australia led by Prime Minister William McMahon of the Liberal Party. It was made up of members of a coalition between the Liberal Party and the Country Party, led by Doug Anthony as Deputy Prime Minister. The McMahon Government lasted from March 1971 to December 1972, being defeated at the 1972 federal election. Writing for the Australian Dictionary of Biography, Julian Leeser describes McMahon's prime ministership as "a blend of cautious innovation and fundamental orthodoxy".

    History of the Australian Labor Party

    The history of the Australian Labor Party has its origins in the Labour parties founded in the 1890s in the Australian colonies prior to federation. Labor tradition ascribes the founding of Queensland Labour to a meeting of striking pastoral workers under a ghost gum tree in Barcaldine, Queensland in 1891. The Balmain, New South Wales branch of the party claims to be the oldest in Australia. Labour as a parliamentary party dates from 1891 in New South Wales and South Australia, 1893 in Queensland, and later in the other colonies.

    References

    1. Fred Daly, From Curtin to Kerr, 1977, Sun Books, Sydney.
    2. "Whitlam government minister Al Grassby dies". The Sydney Morning Herald . Fairfax Media. 23 April 2005. Retrieved 6 August 2010.
    3. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 17 October 2007.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

    Bibliography