1983 Australian federal election

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1983 Australian federal election
Flag of Australia (converted).svg
  1980 5 March 1983 1984  

All 125 seats in the House of Representatives
63 seats were needed for a majority in the House
All 64 seats in the Senate
 First partySecond party
  Bob Hawke Portrait 1983.jpg MalcolmFraser1982.JPEG
Leader Bob Hawke Malcolm Fraser
Party Labor Liberal/National coalition
Leader since 3 February 1983 21 March 1975
Leader's seat Wills (Vic.) Wannon (Vic.)
Last election51 seats74 seats
Seats won75 seats50 seats
Seat changeIncrease2.svg24Decrease2.svg24
Percentage53.23%46.77%
SwingIncrease2.svg3.6%Decrease2.svg3.6%

Australia 1983 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

Malcolm Fraser
Liberal/National coalition

Subsequent Prime Minister

Bob Hawke
Labor

The 1983 Australian federal election was held in Australia on 5 March 1983. All 125 seats in the House of Representatives and all 64 seats in the Senate were up for election, following a double dissolution. The incumbent Coalition government which had been in power since 1975, led by Malcolm Fraser (Liberal Party) and Doug Anthony (National Party), was defeated in a landslide by the opposition Labor Party led by Bob Hawke. This was the first of 5 consecutive election victories for the Labor party. This election marked the end of the 3 term 7 year Liberal-National Coalition Fraser Government and started the period of the 5 term 13 year Hawke-Keating Labor Government. The Coalition would spend its longest ever period of opposition and the Labor party would spend its longest ever period of government at the federal level. The Coalition would not return to government until the 1996 election.

Contents

Background and issues

At the time of the election, the economy suffered from high inflation and high unemployment, alongside increases in industrial disputation and drought across much of the rural areas. The coalition government was led by Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser since 1975. Fraser had fought off a leadership challenge from Andrew Peacock, who had resigned from the Cabinet citing Fraser's "manic determination to get his own way", a phrase Fraser had himself used when he resigned from John Gorton's Government in 1971. The Liberal government had to contend with the early-1980s recession. They unexpectedly won the December 1982 Flinders by-election, after having lost the March 1982 Lowe by-election with a large swing.

The Gallagher Index result: 10.54 1983 Election Australia Gallagher Index.png
The Gallagher Index result: 10.54

Bob Hawke had entered Parliament at the 1980 federal election following a decade as leader of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU). Labor factions began to push for the deposition of Bill Hayden from the party leadership in favour of Hawke. Fraser was well aware of the ructions in Labor, and originally planned to call an election for 1982, more than a year before it was due. However, he was forced to scrap those plans after suffering a severe back injury.

On 3 February 1983 at a meeting in Brisbane, Hayden resigned on the advice of his closest supporters. Hawke was elected as interim leader unopposed. An election wasn't due for seven more months, however Fraser, emboldened by the unexpected retention of Flinders, had caught wind of the impending change and attempted to immediately call an election (for 5 March), which would have put Parliament into "caretaker mode" and essentially frozen Labor into contesting the election with Hayden as leader. However, Fraser was unable to have the Governor-General, Sir Ninian Stephen, officially accept his recommendation and dissolve Parliament before the announcement of the change in Labor leadership, and was now stuck opposing the more popular Hawke (future Captain of Qantas flight 32 which was crippled on a flight from Singapore to Sydney, Richard de Crespigny, was serving as aide de camp to Governor-General Stephen at the time and details this event in his book). The actual dissolution of the parliament occurred the following day, 4 February. [1] In response to his removal, Hayden claimed that a "drover's dog" could lead the ALP to victory. Five days later, the ALP formally elected Hawke as party leader. Fraser also hoped to gain control of the Senate, where the Australian Democrats had held the balance of power since 1 July 1981.

Fraser's campaign used the slogan "We're Not Waiting for the World". Hawke's campaign theme was based around his favoured leadership philosophy of consensus, using the slogan "Bringing Australia Together". The Ash Wednesday bushfires that devastated areas of Victoria and South Australia on 16 February disrupted the Prime Minister's re-election campaign which was unofficially put on hold while he toured the affected areas. In response to an attack from Fraser on the security of the banking system to protect people's savings in which he asserted that ordinary people's money was safer under their beds than in a bank under Labor, Hawke laughed and said "you can't keep your money under the bed because that's where the Commies are!" [2]

As counting progressed on election night, it was obvious early on that the ALP had won on a massive swing. Hawke with wife Hazel claimed victory and a tearful Fraser conceded defeat. Ultimately, Labor won power on a 24-seat swing—the largest defeat of a sitting government since 1949, and the worst defeat a sitting non-Labor government has ever suffered. Fraser soon resigned from Parliament, leaving the Liberal leadership to one-time foe Andrew Peacock, who would later form a fierce leadership rivalry himself with future Prime Minister John Howard. The Labor Party would spend 13 years in government, the longest period of continuous federal government in the party's history.

Results

House of Representatives

Government (75)
Labor (75)

Opposition (50)
Coalition
Liberal (33)
National (17) Australian House of Representatives elected members, 1983.svg
Government (75)
     Labor (75)

Opposition (50)
Coalition
     Liberal (33)
     National (17)
    House of Reps (IRV) — 1983–84—Turnout 94.64% (CV) — Informal 2.09%
    PartyVotes%SwingSeatsChange
      Labor 4,297,39249.48+4.3475+24
      Liberal–National coalition 3,787,15143.61–2.7950–24
      Liberal 2,983,98634.36−3.0733−21
      National 782,8249.01+0.2717−2
      Country Liberal  20,4710.24+0.010−1
      Democrats 437,2655.03−1.5400
      Socialist Workers 46,0800.53+0.3300
      Democratic Labor 17,3180.20–0.1100
      Green 8,6410.10+0.1000
      Progress 6,6520.08–0.1300
      Communist 6,3980.07–0.0700
      Socialist Labour 6,3270.07–0.0500
      Socialist 4,1650.05+0.0500
      Deadly Serious 3,8100.04+0.0400
      NPWA 3,6860.04–0.0700
      Christian 3,0160.03+0.0100
      Imperial British Conservative 1,7860.02+0.0000
      National Humanitarian 1,6870.02+0.0200
      Australia 8440.01+0.0000
      Libertarian 7320.01+0.0100
      Conservative Nationalist 6000.01+0.0100
      Engineered Australia Plan 2920.00+0.0000
      Independent 50,8910.59–0.1100
     Total8,684,862  125 
    Two-party-preferred (estimated)
      Labor WIN53.23+3.675+24
      Coalition  46.77−3.650−24
    Popular Vote
    Labor
    49.48%
    Liberal
    34.36%
    National
    9.25%
    Democrats
    5.03%
    Other
    1.88%
    Two Party Preferred Vote
    Labor
    53.23%
    Coalition
    46.77%
    Parliament Seats
    Labor
    60.00%
    Coalition
    40.00%

    Senate

    Government (30)
Labor (30)

Opposition (28)
Coalition
Liberal (23)
National (4)
CLP (1)

Crossbench (6)
Democrats (5)
Independent (1) Australian Senate elected members, 1983.svg
    Government (30)
         Labor (30)

    Opposition (28)
    Coalition
         Liberal (23)
         National (4)
         CLP (1)

    Crossbench (6)
         Democrats (5)
         Independent (1)
      Senate (STV) — 1983–84—Turnout 94.64% (CV) — Informal 9.87%
      PartyVotes%SwingSeats WonTotal SeatsChange
        Labor 3,637,31645.49+3.243030+3
        Liberal–National coalition 3,195,39739.97–3.512828–3
       Liberal–National joint ticket1,861,61823.28−2.358**
        Liberal (separate ticket)923,57111.55−1.591623–4
        National (separate ticket)388,8024.86+0.4134+1
        Country Liberal 21,4060.27+0.02110
        Democrats 764,9119.57+0.31550
        Independents 193,4542.42+1.29110
       Other203,9672.55−1.34000
       Total7,995,045  6464
      Notes

      Seats changing hands

      SeatPre-1983SwingPost-1983
      PartyMemberMarginMarginMemberParty
      Barton, NSW  Liberal Jim Bradfield 0.44.44.0 Gary Punch Labor 
      Bendigo, Vic  Liberal John Bourchier 1.34.12.8 John Brumby Labor 
      Bowman, Qld  Liberal David Jull 1.23.42.2 Len Keogh Labor 
      Calare, NSW  National Sandy Mackenzie 1.54.42.9 David Simmons Labor 
      Canning, WA  Liberal Mel Bungey 1.89.27.4 Wendy Fatin Labor 
      Casey, Vic  Liberal Peter Falconer 1.92.60.7 Peter Steedman Labor 
      Chisholm, Vic  Liberal Graham Harris 2.24.42.2 Helen Mayer Labor 
      Deakin, Vic  Liberal Alan Jarman 2.34.42.1 John Saunderson Labor 
      Diamond Valley, Vic  Liberal Neil Brown 3.74.10.4 Peter Staples Labor 
      Eden-Monaro, NSW  Liberal Murray Sainsbury 2.84.61.8 Jim Snow Labor 
      Fadden, Qld  Liberal Don Cameron 1.53.11.7 David Beddall Labor 
      Flinders, Vic  Liberal Peter Reith 2.35.61.0 Bob Chynoweth Labor 
      Herbert, Qld  Liberal Gordon Dean 0.93.72.8 Ted Lindsay Labor 
      Kingston, SA  Liberal Grant Chapman 0.23.33.1 Gordon Bilney Labor 
      Leichhardt, Qld  National David Thomson 1.13.22.1 John Gayler Labor 
      Macarthur, NSW  Liberal Michael Baume 3.25.32.1 Colin Hollis Labor 
      Moore, WA  Liberal John Hyde 2.810.07.2 Allen Blanchard Labor 
      Northern Territory, NT  Country Liberal Grant Tambling 1.23.11.9 John Reeves Labor 
      Perth, WA  Liberal Ross McLean 1.07.46.4 Ric Charlesworth Labor 
      Petrie, Qld  Liberal John Hodges 3.43.90.5 Dean Wells Labor 
      Phillip, NSW  Liberal Jack Birney 0.62.51.9 Jeannette McHugh Labor 
      Stirling, WA  Liberal Ian Viner 2.09.07.0 Ron Edwards Labor 
      Tangney, WA  Liberal Peter Shack 4.67.83.2 George Gear Labor 

      See also

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      References

      1. House of Representatives Practice, 6th Ed, Appendix 12: GENERAL ELECTIONS—SIGNIFICANT DATES FROM 19TH TO 44TH PARLIAMENTS
      2. Hawke Swoops into Power, TIME, 14 March 1983