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Arthur Gietzelt, Labor Senator And Hawke Minister, Dies, 93

Arthur Gietzelt, an ALP senator and minister in the Hawke government, has died. The former longtime leader of the NSW ALP Left faction was 93.

GietzeltGietzelt was elected to the Senate from New South Wales in 1970, at the last stand-alone half-Senate election. Upon the election of the Hawke government, he became the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, an outer ministry position he held for two terms until the 1987 election.

Gietzelt resigned from the Senate in February 1989. At the time of his retirement, he was joint Father of the Senate, the longest-serving member of that chamber, a position he shared with Liberal Senator Peter Durack. In 1992, he was awarded an Order of Australia in the Officer category.

Prior to entering parliament, Gietzelt served for 15 years on the Sutherland Shire Council. He was Shire President or mayor for 9 years.

Gietzelt was a prominent and influential leader of the NSW ALP’s Left faction, from the 1960s until the 1980s. He was a member of the faction’s Steering Committee and was regarded on all sides as a fierce factional warrior. [Read more…]


1986-87 Hawke Government Cabinet Papers Released

Cabinet Papers from the Hawke government’s second and third terms of 1986-87 have been released by the National Archives.

Hawke Cabinet

Former Senator Gareth Evans, a Cabinet minister of the time, described the Hawke government, then in its fourth and fifth years, as a “government pretty much at the top of its form”. [Read more…]


At America’s Cup 30th Anniversary, Bob Hawke Tells A Joke

Today is the 30th anniversary of Australia’s victory over the United States in the America’s Cup yacht race.

Bob Hawke had been prime minister for six months when Australia II, skippered by John Bertrand, defeated Liberty, skippered by Dennis Conner. Australia II was designed by Ben Lexcen with a revolutionary and controversial ‘winged keel’. Representing the Royal Perth Yacht Club, Australia II was funded by businessman Alan Bond.

Australia II’s victory was the first time in 132 years that the Americans had been defeated.

Even though few Australians knew much about the race, it captured the public imagination at the time. On the day of victory, Bob Hawke appeared on morning television wearing a specially made jacket. His appearance is remembered for his declaration: “Any boss who sacks anyone for not turning up today is a bum.”

  • Watch Hawke’s 1983 America’s Cup appearance:

At an event to celebrate the 30th anniversary today, Bob Hawke appeared with Bertrand and Bond and told a joke that he said captures the “irreverence” of Australians:

  • Watch Bob Hawke’s 2013 joke:

Medicare 30th Anniversary

Medicare is 30 years old today.

MedicareThe legislation to establish the universal health insurance system was passed on this day in 1983, six months after the election of the Hawke Labor government.

As it still still does today, Medicare is partly funded by a 1.5% levy on all taxpayers. It allows doctors to provide medical care at no cost to patients through bulk billing. Alternatively, Medicare reimburses patients 85% of a scheduled fee which allows doctors to determine their own charges with patients paying the balance. Medicare also provides for basic public hospital cover with patients able to take out additional private insurance. Health professionals with a Medicare provider number are also included in the scheme.

Medicare’s history begins with Gough Whitlam in the 1970s. The health insurance scheme was developed by health economist Richard Scotton and John Deeble. Under Whitlam, the scheme was called Medibank and was a major plank in Whitlam’s 1972 election platform. [Read more…]


A.L.P. Federal Election Results Since 1910

An updated version of the data on this page was published in 2016.

“The ALP is heading for its biggest defeat ever under Gillard,” I was told recently.

The confident assertion promptly fell to pieces when I asked for a definition of “biggest defeat ever”. A garbled account of seats, votes and swings followed. Such are casual political conversations. Few people know the figures.

But the question is a good one. How do you measure the extent of an election defeat? If the Gillard government is annihilated this year, what measures of comparison should we use?

Here’s a table showing ALP statistics for three different measures: the proportion of seats won in the House of Representatives, the two-party-preferred vote, and the primary vote. The ALP’s winning election years are shaded yellow.

The table includes every election since Federation, except for the first three: 1901, 1903 and 1906. These have been excluded since they took place before the formation of the two-party system as we know it. Since 1910, elections have been fought between the ALP and the non-Labor parties under a variety of names.

The ALP has won 14 of the 40 elections held since 1910. I have categorised the 26 elections it has lost into four groups:

  1. Seven major defeats where the ALP won no more than a third of the seats in the House: 1917, 1925, 1931, 1966, 1975, 1977 and 1996.
  2. Seven significant defeats where the ALP won between 33% and 40% of the seats: 1919, 1922, 1934, 1937, 1949, 1955 and 1958.
  3. Nine moderate defeats where the ALP won between 40% and 50% of the seats: 1928, 1951, 1954, 1963, 1969, 1980, 1998, 2001 and 2004.
  4. Three near misses where the ALP just fell short: 1913, 1940 and 1961.
A.L.P. Performance In Federal Elections
Election Leader Election Won or Lost Seats Won In House of Representatives Two-Party-Preferred Vote % Primary Vote %
1910
Fisher
WIN
42 / 75 = 56.00%
49.97
1913
Fisher
LOSS
37 /75 = 49.33%
48.47
1914
Fisher
WIN
42 / 75 = 56.00%
50.89
1917
Tudor
LOSS
22/ 75 = 29.33%
43.94
1919
Tudor
LOSS
26 / 75 = 34.66%
42.49
1922
Charlton
LOSS
29 / 45 = 38.66%
42.30
1925
Charlton
LOSS
23 / 75 = 30.66%
45.04
1928
Scullin
LOSS
31 / 75 = 41.33%
44.64
1929
Scullin
WIN
46 / 75 = 61.33%
48.84
1931
Scullin
LOSS
14+4=18 / 75 = 24.00%
27.10+10.57 = 37.67
1934
Scullin
LOSS
18+9 = 27 / 74 = 36.48%
26.81+14.37 = 41.18
1937
Curtin
LOSS
29 / 74 = 39.19%
40.40
43.17
1940
Curtin
LOSS
32+4=36 / 74 = 48.64%
50.30
40.16+5.23 = 45.39
1943
Curtin
WIN
49 / 74 = 66.21%
58.20
49.94
1946
Chifley
WIN
43 / 74 = 58.10%
54.10
49.71
1949
Chifley
LOSS
47 / 121 = 38.84%
49.00
45.98
1951
Chifley
LOSS
52 / 121 = 42.97%
49.30
47.63
1954
Evatt
LOSS
57 / 121 = 47.10%
50.70
50.03
1955
Evatt
LOSS
47 / 122 = 38.52%
45.80
44.63
1958
Evatt
LOSS
45 / 122 = 36.88%
45.90
42.81
1961
Calwell
LOSS
60 / 122 = 49.18%
50.50
47.90
1963
Calwell
LOSS
50 / 122 = 40.98%
47.40
45.47
1966
Calwell
LOSS
41 / 124 = 33.06%
43.10
39.98
1969
Whitlam
LOSS
59 / 125 = 47.20%
50.20
46.95
1972
Whitlam
WIN
67 / 125 = 53.6%
52.70
49.59
1974
Whitlam
WIN
66 / 127 = 51.96%
51.70
49.30
1975
Whitlam
LOSS
36 / 127 = 28.34%
44.30
42.84
1977
Whitlam
LOSS
38 / 124 = 30.64%
45.40
39.65
1980
Hayden
LOSS
51 / 125 = 40.80%
49.60
45.15
1983
Hawke
WIN
75 / 125 = 60.00%
53.23
49.48
1984
Hawke
WIN
82 / 148 = 55.40%
51.77
47.55
1987
Hawke
WIN
86 / 148 = 58.10%
50.83
45.76
1990
Hawke
WIN
78 / 148 = 52.70%
49.90
39.44
1993
Keating
WIN
80 / 147 = 54.42%
51.44
44.92
1996
Keating
LOSS
49 / 148 = 33.10%
46.37
38.75
1998
Beazley
LOSS
67 / 148 = 45.27%
50.98
40.10
2001
Beazley
LOSS
65 / 150 = 43.33%
49.05
37.84
2004
Latham
LOSS
60 / 150 = 40.00%
47.26
37.63
2007
Rudd
WIN
83 / 150 = 55.33%
52.70
43.48
2010
Gillard
WIN
72 / 150 = 48.00%
50.12
37.99

By any measure, the ALP’s most successful election was John Curtin’s victory in 1943. Curtin won 66.21% of seats in the House. James Scullin won 61.33% in 1929 and Bob Hawke won 60% in 1983.

Curtin’s victory is also the only election in which the ALP polled in excess of 55% of the national two-party-preferred vote. [Note: Early figures for the two-party vote are not shown either because there are no precise figures available or because the election took place before preferential voting was introduced in 1918. Up until 1955, two-party figures contain a small element of estimation because some seats returned a member unopposed.] [Read more…]


1984-85 Hawke Government Cabinet Papers Released

The National Archives has released Cabinet papers from the 1984-85 Hawke Labor government.

Because the Archives is transitioning from the old 30-year embargo rule to 20 years, two years worth of papers have been released.

CLICK HERE for details of the Cabinet documents.

Dr. Jim Stokes, the National Archives historical consultant, outlined the political climate of the time, whilst a former Hawke minister, Susan Ryan, provided a personal recollection of 1984-85. Transcripts of their talks are provided below. [Read more…]


Julia Gillard And Bob Hawke Speak At Woodford Folk Festival

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has appeared at the Woodford Folk Festival with her Labor predecessor Bob Hawke.

Gillard told the gathering that the “big decisions” made by her government “would have been effectively the same” even if the government had not operated in a minority.

She said that she wanted to launch the National Disability Insurance Scheme on July 1st and deliver “further education reforms” before “we get around to winning that election”. [Read more…]