Malcolm Fraser Announces Date Of 1980 Federal Election

Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser announced the 1980 federal election in a ministerial statement to the House of Representatives on September 11.

Fraser announced that the House of Representatives election would be held on October 18, concurrent with a half-Senate election.

It was Fraser’s third election as prime minister, following his appointment on November 11, 1975 as a consequence of the Dismissal of the Whitlam Government. He was re-elected in 1977.

Fraser’s Labor opposition was led by Bill Hayden, who had succeeded Gough Whitlam in 1977 and was now facing his first election as leader.

The Liberal/National Country Party coalition entered the election with 86 seats in the 124-seat House (Liberal 67, NCP 19). The ALP held 38 seats. The government majority was 48 seats, or 47 on the floor of the House.

The election saw Fraser’s coalition suffer a net loss of 12 seats. The ALP gained 13 seats in the new 125-seat House, reducing the government’s majority to 23. Bob Hawke entered the parliament as the member for Wills at this election. He replaced Hayden as leader in 1983.

Fraser’s election announcement was made at 8pm. Hayden responded immediately. The Speaker, Sir Billy Snedden, presided.

  • Listen to Fraser’s announcement and Hayden’s response (17m – transcript below)
  • Listen to 10pm 3DB News election report (34s)
  • Listen to 10pm ABC radio news (2m)

This is the front page of The Age for Friday, September 12, 1980.

The Age

Hansard transcript of Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser’s announcement to the House of Representatives of the 1980 federal election date.

Mr MALCOLM FRASER (Wannon) (Prime Minister) – by leave – Mr Speaker, honourable members will be aware that under the terms of the Constitution an election for the House of Representatives must be held within the next few months. I wish to inform the House that the Government has recommended to His Excellency the Governor-General that the House of Representatives be dissolved and that the necessary notices of Senate election be given in time for election of both Houses on Saturday, 18 October 1980. The timetable I have proposed to His Excellency is as follows: The issue of writs, 19 September 1980; the close of nominations, 27 September 1980; the polling date, 18 October 1980; the return of writs, on or before 17 December 1980.

His Excellency has agreed to communicate this timetable to State Governors with a view to its being adopted for election for senators in each of the States. When replies have been received from the States, I shall inform the House. I propose to recommend to His Excellency, the Governor-General, that he dissolve the House of Representatives on Friday, 19 September 1980.

Mr HAYDEN (Oxley) (Leader of the Opposition) – by leave- Mr Speaker, the announcement by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) heralds the end of the second and last Fraser Government. Its departure, indisputably an act of self-destruction, is also a great public service. Many more than a score of Government members will pack their bags and depart the Parliament for the last time next week. Their departure will be the greatest public service they have given an otherwise undistinguished public life. We have before us in its terminal state a government that has built ‘success’- in inverted commas for its irony- on the making of promises it intends to break, failing in economic management, a scandal ridden ministry and a divisive and unscrupulous Prime Minister. The Australian public has had more than enough of the Fraser Government style. The Government has had more than enough time to get things right, and it has failed.

I refer honourable members to some of the slogans on which the Government has built its success. It said that a $4,000m borrowing by an Australian government would be evidence of bankruptcy for the nation. The facts are that under the Labor Government in 1972 to 1975 the Commonwealth’s indebtedness increased by $2 billion. Under the Fraser Government it has increased by more than $12 billion. Another slogan was that it would bring about smaller government. Expenditure on the public sector in Australia now stands at in excess of 38 per cent of the gross domestic product, the highest level of government activity we have seen in the history of the nation. Ah! Honourable members opposite are scuttling.

Mr SPEAKER – Order! The House will come to order. The House will now have a few minutes’ silence. I call the Leader of the Opposition.

Mr HAYDEN – Indeed, a few minutes’ silence is appropriate for our departing friends. Another slogan of the Government was that it would end the tax rip-off. Total revenue – total taxes – in the hand of the Fraser Government now stands at nearly 34 per cent of gross domestic product, which is unparalleled in the peacetime history of the nation. There was the slogan that there would be smaller deficits as a result of the Fraser style of government. The highest level of public sector deficit in the nation’s history was in 1977-78 – 6.1 per cent of gross domestic product. The average for the public sector under the Labor Government was a little over 4 per cent. Under the Fraser Government, it is well over 5 per cent of gross domestic product. In August 1977 the Prime Minister said that a pool of unemployment was not a part of the Government’s strategy, yet in this year’s Budget the Government confesses that there will be even higher unemployment as a result of the Budget strategy. In September 1978 members of the Government said that inflation of 5 per cent ‘is within our reach by mid-1979’. Something happened to their reach, because by the end of this year inflation will be of the order of 1 2 per cent to 1 3 per cent.

They promised in 1977 that within 12 months interest rates would be down by 2 per cent. Interest rates are about to go up. The Reserve Bank has advised the Government that interest rates will have to go up in the order of 2 per cent. This is one of the substantial reasons why the election has been declared early, in some haste. It is simply for this reason. The last thing the Government would care to do before going to the public is display some honesty and some integrity. After all, does it not have a record to preserve? Therefore, the last thing it intends to do is increase interest rates before the election. It will have no chance to do so after the election. Because the Government is tardy on this, and because of the nature of its economic management, this economy is getting into deeper and deeper trouble. The thrust of the Government’s economic management, the components of it and the implications of its not adjusting the interest rates in the way in which the Reserve Bank has warned must be done urgently as a matter of crucial determination of the way in which the economy will go will create widespread trouble for many people in the economy.

In 1976 the Government said there would be no devaluation of the dollar. At the end of the year there was a devaluation of 1 71 per cent.

Mr Cotter – Are you there, Bob? Where’s Bob?

Mr HAYDEN – He is not here now and the honourable member for Kalgoorlie is, but after the election he will be here and the honourable member will not be, so the honourable member still will not meet him.

Mr Bourchier – He might be in your place.

Mr HAYDEN – Here is the Government Whip, in his usual after dinner condition – full of arrogance and cheap brandy.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The Leader of the Opposition will withdraw.

Mr HAYDEN – Mr Speaker, of course I withdraw the comment that he is arrogant.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The Leader of the Opposition knows he must withdraw unconditionally.

Mr HAYDEN – I withdraw unconditionally.

Mr Bourchier – Mr Speaker, I wish to raise a point of order. We have this doom and gloom forecasting. I thought the Labor Party was trying to lift its standards.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! There is no point of order. I call the Leader of the Opposition.

Mr HAYDEN – It is important that we do not get too far from the honourable member for Bendigo, nonetheless. In the 1975 policy speech the Prime Minister said that there would be no international safaris and that Australia did not need a tourist for a Prime Minister. We are glad he is visiting the country again, albeit briefly. In the 1975 election campaign the Government said it would fully index personal income tax for inflation within three years. It is a despicable record of dishonesty to the Australian people. Promises were made, but there was no intention of keeping them.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The Leader of the Opposition well knows that I have indicated I will not accept any implications of dishonesty. The use of the word is unparliamentary. I ask the Leader of the Opposition to withdraw the word.

Mr HAYDEN – Of course, I withdraw, Mr Speaker.

Mr Dawkins – Liberal Party Standing Orders!

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The Leader of the Opposition will resume his seat. I warn the honourable member for Melbourne.

Mr Innes – I beg your pardon.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! I warn the honourable member for Melbourne to remain silent.

Mr Innes – You are a joke.

Mr SPEAKER -The honourable member for Melbourne will apologise to the Chair.

Mr Innes – Mr Speaker, I apologise but in all deference to you, Mr Speaker, I did not open my mouth. You made a mistake and you ought to apologise to me.

Mr SPEAKER -The House will come to order. Government members will remain silent. The honourable member for Melbourne is a continual interjector and I assumed that it was his voice. Having learned that it was not his voice, I apologise to him on this occasion but the honourable member for Fremantle is–

Mr Dawkins – Mr Speaker, I feel that I should own up to the fact that I said that you were enforcing the Liberal Party Standing Orders.

Mr SPEAKER -I name the honourable member for Fremantle.

Motion (by Mr Sinclair) proposed:

That the honourable member for Fremantle be suspended from the service of the House.

Mr Young – Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order.

Mr SPEAKER -I will not accept debate on the motion.

Mr Young – With your indulgence, Mr Speaker, this is an extremely important evening and feelings are running very high. I suggest that you do give the honourable member for Fremantle the opportunity to withdraw. I do not think it would be good for the Parliament, with only a few days to go to the end of this session, to reach such a conclusion.

Mr Uren – Come on!

Mr SPEAKER -The honourable member for Reid will resume his seat.

Mr Dawkins – Mr Speaker, can I just say that all I was attempting to do was to get the honourable member for Melbourne off the hook.

Mr SPEAKER -The question is ‘that the honourable member for Fremantle be suspended from the service of the House’.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

The honourable member for Fremantle thereupon withdrew from the chamber.

Mr SPEAKER -I hope that the next Parliament will be a parliament of which one can be proud. I call the Leader of the Opposition.

Mr HAYDEN – Mr Speaker, I join with you in that sentiment. I trust that you enjoy the new Parliament from the comfort of the back benches on this side of the House.

Mr SPEAKER -The honourable gentleman is making an implication against the Chair. I ask him to withdraw.

Mr HAYDEN – Do you mean the implication that you are about to go into opposition? Have I got to withdraw that?

Mr SPEAKER -I ask the honourable gentleman to withdraw.

Mr HAYDEN – I withdraw, but really! I will leave the judgment to be made.

Mr SPEAKER -If the honourable gentleman wishes to misuse the practices and forms of the House that is for him to do. I will draw attention to his misuse of the forms and practices as it is my duty to do. I call the Leader of the Opposition.

Mr HAYDEN – This is a government that has corrupted itself. It made promises which it had no intention of keeping. It has shown a clear pattern of deception wilfully practised against the Australian community. This Government has a Prime Minister who said that there would be no international safaris and that Australia did not need a tourist as a Prime Minister. He is the Prime Minister of a government whose members have had 235 overseas trips in all- 23 by the Prime Minister and 42 by the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock). They are away more than they are at home. It is a wonder that they can even conduct a Cabinet meeting. This Government is scandal ridden. It has been a failure in economic management. It confessed in the most recent Budget that inflation would go up, interest rates would go up and unemployment would go up. The only thing that will go down in the near future is the position of the Government. It will be defeated at the next election. It deserves to be repudiated. There are many members on the Government back benches who will not even have the opportunity of gracing the Opposition back benches after the election. This is a scandal ridden government – a government with a divisive and unscrupulous Prime Minister–

Mr Ellicott – You are the most propped up Leader of the Opposition.

Mr SPEAKER – Order!

Mr HAYDEN – And a second rate lawyer with potential for appointment to the High Court.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The Leader of the Opposition will withdraw the allegation against the Prime Minister.

Mr HAYDEN – Which one?

Mr SPEAKER -The honourable gentleman is not entitled to use that unparliamentary language.

Honourable members Honourable members interjecting –

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member for Lalor will remain silent. Honourable gentlemen on my right will remain silent.

Mr Ellicott – You are the most propped up Leader of the Opposition we have ever had.

Mr SPEAKER -The Minister for Home Affairs will remain silent.

Mr HAYDEN – The Minister for Home Affairs –

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The Leader of the Opposition will resume his seat. I called upon him to withdraw.

Mr HAYDEN – I withdraw, Mr Speaker. The Minister for Home Affairs was interjecting. He is a man of distinctive character who, for safety, always carries a second opinion in his hip pocket in case he has to act the role of a spaniel at the behest of his Prime Minister.

Mr Ellicott – You are the most propped up Leader of the Opposition we have ever had.

Mr HAYDEN – The Minister for Home Affairs is always available to change his opinion. This is a government that stands on its record. Its record is a hangman’s trapdoor that it has set for itself. It will be repudiated at this election. The Australian people deserve much better than they have been getting. They are entitled to decent standards of conduct in government.

Mr Neil – Rubbish!

Mr Porter – That is rubbish.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The Leader of the Opposition will resume his seat. The honourable member for St George and the honourable member for Barker will remain silent. I call the Leader of the Opposition.

Mr HAYDEN – The people of Australia deserve decent, honest government – government based on integrity. They need a break from what they have experienced for the past five years. They are about to get that break; it is overdue.

Mr Yates – I move:

That the Leader of the Opposition be granted an extension of time so that he can make a better speech.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member for Holt is not moving an appropriate motion.

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