1988 New South Wales state election

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1988 New South Wales state election
Flag of New South Wales.svg
  1984 19 March 1988 (1988-03-19) 1991  

All 109 seats in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly
and 15 (of the 45) seats in the New South Wales Legislative Council
55 Assembly seats were needed for a majority
 First partySecond party
  No image.png
Leader Nick Greiner Barrie Unsworth
Party Liberal/National coalition Labor
Leader since15 March 19834 July 1986
Leader's seat Ku-ring-gai Rockdale
Last election37 seats58 seats
Seats won59 seats43 seats
Seat changeIncrease2.svg22Decrease2.svg15

New South Wales Legislative Assembly 1988.svg
Legislative Assembly after the election

Premier before election

Barrie Unsworth

Elected Premier

Nick Greiner
Liberal/National coalition

Elections to the 49th Parliament of New South Wales were held on Saturday 19 March 1988. All seats in the Legislative Assembly and a third of the seats in the Legislative Council were up for election. The Labor government of Premier Barrie Unsworth was defeated by the Liberal-National Coalition, led by Opposition Leader Nick Greiner.


The election took place following a redistribution of seats, which resulted in the Assembly growing from 99 to 109 seats.


The Labor Party, under Neville Wran and, since 1986, Barrie Unsworth, had been in office for 12 years. A number of corruption scandals had tarnished Labor's image. Among these was the jailing of Labor's Minister for Corrective Services Rex Jackson in 1987 for accepting bribes for the early release of prisoners.

Even before then, two by-elections in 1986 indicated that NSW voters were about to call time on the three-term Labor government. When Unsworth, then a member of the New South Wales Legislative Council, ran for the previously safe Labor Assembly seat of Rockdale in 1986, he only won it by 54 votes after losing more than 17 percent of Labor's primary vote from 1981. Additionally, Labor suffered a 22-percent primary vote swing in Wran's old seat of Bass Hill, allowing the Liberals to take it on a 103-vote margin. [1] However, by-elections in Heathcote and Bankstown in 1987 saw only small swings against the government.

The Liberals' campaign slogan was "A change for the better". Greiner campaigned on a promise to clean up state government, foreshadowing the establishment of the Independent Commission Against Corruption, as well as promising to freeze government expenditure, create 16,000 new employment and training positions, and pay more attention to law enforcement.

In rural electorates, Labor's positions on gun laws and conservation alienated many voters. Health care was also a campaign issue.

Future Liberal Prime Minister Tony Abbott admitted in 2005 that he voted Labor at this election saying that Unsworth "was the best deal premier that New South Wales had ever had" and knew that it would not damage Greiner's prospects at this election. [2]

Key dates

22 February 1988The Legislative Assembly was dissolved, and writs were issued by the Governor to proceed with an election. [3]
26 February 1988Nominations for candidates for the election closed at noon.
19 March 1988Polling day, between the hours of 8am and 6pm.
25 March 1988The Unsworth ministry resigned and the Greiner-Murray ministry was sworn in.
22 April 1988The writ was returned and the results formally declared.
27 April 1988Parliament resumed for business.


Legislative Assembly

The result was a landslide for the Coalition parties. Election analyst Antony Green later noted that "the 1988 result was startling, the worst Labor performance, and best Coalition result, since the Lang era of the 1930s". [4] Labor lost heartland seats including Balmain, Newcastle and Swansea for the first time since the turn of the century.

Seven non-aligned Independents were elected to the Legislative Assembly.

New South Wales state election, 19 March 1988 [3]
Legislative Assembly
<< 19841991 >>

Enrolled voters3,541,447
Votes cast3,314,229 Turnout 93.58%+1.07%
Informal votes63,870Informal3.07%+0.84%
Summary of votes by party
PartyPrimary votes%SwingSeatsChange
  Liberal 1,147,61335.80+3.6239+17
  Labor 1,233,61238.48–10.2743–15
  National 440,48213.74+2.9020+ 5
  Democrats 58,1631.81–1.030± 0
  Independent EFF 39,1941.22+1.220± 0
  Call to Australia 14,2050.44+0.370± 0
  Illawarra Workers Party 6,7550.21+0.210± 0
  Socialist 2,7170.08–0.050± 0
  Nuclear Disarmament 1,0640.03+0.030± 0
  Independent 261,7198.16+3.087+ 3
Total3,205,524  109 
  Liberal/National 1,725,93655.96+8.4
  Labor 1,358,04944.04–8.4
Popular vote
Independent EFF
Two-party-preferred vote

Legislative Council

New South Wales state election, 19 March 1988. [4]
Legislative Council
<< 19841991 >>

Enrolled voters3,541,447
Votes cast3,307,855 Turnout 91.92–0.60
Informal votes267,113Informal8.01+1.42
Summary of votes by party
PartyPrimary votes%SwingSeats
  Liberal/National Coalition 1,403,30046.15+3.54719
  Labor 1,140,63437.51–9.37621
  Call to Australia 174,5535.74–0.3513
  Democrats 90,6342.73–0.4212
  Independent EFF 72,9652.40+2.4000
 Community Independents52,9921.74+1.7400
 Environment Group48,5361.60+1.6000
  Nuclear Disarmament 28,1610.93+0.9300
 Aboriginal Team13,3630.44+0.4400
 Humanist Party11.8950.39+0.3900
 Defence Ex-Service Team6,9700.23+0.2300
  Marijuana 2,7130.09+0.0900
  Independent 3,3960.11–0.3100
Total3,040,742  15 

Seats changing hands

Albury  Labor Harold Mair 2.1-13.811.7 Ian Glachan Liberal 
Ballina  Independent*new seatN/AN/A18.0 Don Page National 
Balmain  Labor Peter Crawford 19.3-21.01.7 Dawn Fraser Independent 
Bass Hill Liberal Michael Owen 18.4 (ALP)-14.14.3 Bill Lovelee Labor 
Bathurst  Labor Mick Clough 7.6-9.82.2 David Berry Liberal 
Bligh  Liberal Michael Yabsley 0.2-0.80.6 Clover Moore Independent 
Blue Mountains  Labor Bob Debus 4.6-4.90.3 Barry Morris Liberal 
Burrinjuck  Labor Terry Sheahan 4.9-8.63.7 Alby Schultz Liberal 
Cessnock  Labor Stan Neilly 8.9-9.40.5 Bob Roberts Liberal 
Earlwood  Labor Ken Gabb 5.9-7.21.3 Phil White Liberal 
Georges River  Labor Frank Walker 5.9-8.02.1 Terry Griffiths Liberal 
Gladesville  Labor Rodney Cavalier 5.3-8.33.0 Ivan Petch Liberal 
Gosford  Labor Brian McGowan *0.9-8.77.8 Chris Hartcher Liberal 
Heathcote  Labor Ian McManus *5.1-6.91.8 Allan Andrews Liberal 
Lismore  Independent Bruce Duncan N/AN/A19.9 Bill Rixon National 
Minchinbury  Labornew seat10.4-12.92.5 Anne Cohen Liberal 
Monaro  Labor John Akister 8.0-11.93.9 Peter Cochran National 
Newcastle  Labor Arthur Wade 14.5-19.85.3 George Keegan Independent 
Parramatta  Labor Barry Wilde 5.4-5.90.5 John Books Liberal 
Penrith  Labor Peter Anderson 8.1-10.32.2 Guy Matheson Liberal 
Ryde  Labor Garry McIlwaine 5.1-5.30.2 Michael Photios Liberal 
Sutherland  Labor Maurie Keane 5.1-7.62.5 Chris Downy Liberal 
Swansea  Labor Don Bowman 18.7-27.18.4 Ivan Welsh Independent 
The Entrance  Labornew seat7.9-9.92.0 Bob Graham Liberal 

¶ Bass Hill was won by the Liberal party in the 1986 by-election. It was regained by Labor in this election.

Redistribution affected seats

Seat1984 Election1986 RedistributionSwing1988 Election
Camden  Liberal John Fahey 5.2 LaborNotional5.8-5.70.1 Peter Primrose Labor 
Wollongong  Independent Frank Arkell 4.2 LaborNotional4.7-10.25.5 Frank Arkell Independent 

Post-election pendulum

Ryde Michael Photios LIB0.2%
Blue Mountains Barry Morris LIB0.3%
Parramatta John Books LIB0.5%
Cessnock Bob Roberts LIB0.5%
Earlwood Phil White LIB1.3%
Heathcote Allan Andrews LIB1.8%
The Entrance Bob Graham LIB2.0%
Georges River Terry Griffiths LIB2.1%
Penrith Guy Matheson LIB2.2%
Bathurst David Berry LIB2.2%
Sutherland Chris Downy LIB2.5%
Minchinbury Anne Cohen LIB2.5%
Gladesville Ivan Petch LIB3.0%
Burrinjuck Alby Schultz LIB3.7%
Monaro Peter Cochran NAT3.9%
Fairly safe
Hurstville Guy Yeomans LIB6.4%
Wakehurst John Booth LIB7.5%
Gosford Chris Hartcher LIB7.8%
Murwillumbah Don Beck NAT10.1%
Pittwater Jim Longley LIB10.1% v IND
Miranda Ron Phillips LIB11.5%
Cronulla Malcolm Kerr LIB11.6%
Albury Ian Glachan LIB11.7%
Manly David Hay LIB12.2%
Strathfield Paul Zammit LIB12.8%
Davidson Terry Metherell LIB14.0% v IND
Hornsby Neil Pickard LIB14.7%
Clarence Ian Causley NAT15.0%
Southern Highlands John Fahey LIB16.8%
Eastwood Andrew Tink LIB17.6%
Upper Hunter George Souris NAT17.8%
Ballina Don Page NAT18.0%
Carlingford Wayne Merton LIB18.2%
Murrumbidgee Adrian Cruickshank NAT18.4%
Bega Russell Smith LIB18.7%
Northern Tablelands Ray Chappell NAT19.0%
Goulburn Robert Webster NAT19.3%
Port Macquarie Bruce Jeffery NAT19.4%
Myall Lakes John Turner NAT19.9%
Lismore Bill Rixon NAT19.9%
Middle Harbour Peter Collins LIB21.2%
Dubbo Gerry Peacocke NAT21.3%
Coffs Harbour Matt Singleton NAT21.4%
Castlereagh Roger Wotton NAT21.9%
Hawkesbury Kevin Rozzoli LIB22.1%
Orange Garry West NAT22.5%
Wagga Wagga Joe Schipp LIB22.6%
Lane Cove John Dowd LIB22.6%
Lachlan Ian Armstrong NAT23.6%
Mosman Phillip Smiles LIB23.9%
Manning Wendy Machin NAT23.9%
Barwon Wal Murray NAT24.3%
Tamworth Noel Park NAT25.4%
The Hills Fred Caterson LIB25.9%
Northcott Bruce Baird LIB26.0%
Murray Jim Small NAT27.0%
Vaucluse Ray Aston LIB27.2%
Ku-ring-gai Nick Greiner LIB29.7%
Gordon Tim Moore LIB32.9%
Camden Peter Primrose ALP0.1%
Charlestown Richard Face ALP0.1%
Port Stephens Bob Martin ALP0.2%
Waverley Ernie Page ALP0.5%
Keira Col Markham ALP0.8%
Maitland Allan Walsh ALP0.8%
Ashfield Paul Whelan ALP1.2%
Coogee Michael Cleary ALP1.2%
Broken Hill Bill Beckroge ALP2.0%
Drummoyne John Murray ALP2.1%
Kogarah Brian Langton ALP2.2%
Lakemba Wes Davoren ALP2.6%
Londonderry Paul Gibson ALP3.0%
Canterbury Kevin Moss ALP3.4% v EFF
Fairfield Geoff Irwin ALP3.9%
Wentworthville Pam Allan ALP3.9%
Bass Hill Bill Lovelee ALP4.3%
Illawarra Terry Rumble ALP4.4%
Wyong Harry Moore ALP4.5%
Macquarie Fields Stan Knowles ALP4.9%
Seven Hills Bob Christie ALP5.0%
Mulgoa Tony Aquilina ALP5.5%
Campbelltown Michael Knight ALP5.7%
Fairly safe
Lake Macquarie Merv Hunter ALP6.4%
Burragorang Ian McManus ALP6.6%
Cabramatta John Newman ALP6.6%
McKell Sandra Nori ALP6.6% v IND
Rockdale Barrie Unsworth ALP7.0
Riverstone Richard Amery ALP7.2
East Hills Pat Rogan ALP7.4
Peats Tony Doyle ALP7.5
Bankstown Doug Shedden ALP9.2
Blacktown John Aquilina ALP9.2
Heffron Laurie Brereton ALP9.2
Wallsend Ken Booth ALP9.4
Maroubra Bob Carr ALP10.4%
Auburn Peter Nagle ALP10.7%
Smithfield Janice Crosio ALP10.8%
Granville Laurie Ferguson ALP10.9%
Kiama Bob Harrison ALP11.4%
Waratah John Price ALP11.4%
Liverpool George Paciullo ALP14.1%
Marrickville Andrew Refshauge ALP15.5%
Bligh Clover Moore IND0.6% v LIB
Balmain Dawn Fraser IND1.7% v ALP
Newcastle George Keegan IND5.3% v ALP
Wollongong Frank Arkell IND5.5% v ALP
Swansea Ivan Welsh IND8.4% v ALP
North Shore Ted Mack IND9.9% v LIB
South Coast John Hatton IND14.7% v LIB

See also

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  2. http://www.smh.com.au/news/National/I-voted-Labor-says-Abbott/2005/06/12/1118514925725.html
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