Today is the anniversary of three Australian federal elections held in 1949, 1955 and 1977.
December 10 is the single most popular day for federal elections, whilst December has been the most popular month. Twelve of the forty-three elections since Federation have been held in December: 1903, 1906, 1919, 1922, 1931, 1949, 1955, 1961, 1972, 1975, 1977 and 1984.
On December 10, 1949, Robert Menzies took the Liberal Party to its first election victory, in coalition with the Country Party. The election ushered in 23 years of continuous coalition rule, not broken until Gough Whitlam and the Labor Party won in 1972.
Menzies also won the second election to be held on December 10. In 1955, he called an early election to capitalise on the split in the ALP and won an easy victory. He was nearly defeated six years later when he held an election on December 9, 1961, but remained in office until he voluntarily retired in 1966, after 16 continuous years as prime minister.
The other December 10 election was held in 1977. Malcolm Fraser’s coalition government was resoundingly re-elected, just two years after its landslide victory in 1975.
Two days before Fraser’s re-election, Sir Zelman Cowen was sworn in as Australia’s 19th Governor-General, replacing Sir John Kerr. Sir Zelman died last Thursday night, 34 years to the day after taking up the vice-regal position.