December 10, 1977
The 1977 election was held a year earlier than required. In part, it was necessary to bring elections for the House and Senate back into line. A half-Senate election had to be held by the middle of 1978, since the double dissolution election of 1975 had resulted in the terms of senators being backdated to July 1975.
Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser may have been keen to fight one more election against the ALP Leader, Gough Whitlam. Some commentators speculated about the possibility of a deteriorating economy. Another factor was the resignation from the Liberal Party of former minister, Don Chipp. Chipp had been dropped from the ministry after the 1975 election. He formed a new political party, the Australian Democrats, and announced his attention to run for the Senate.
The election is remembered for the “fistful of dollars” advertisements run by the government, offering tax cuts to voters. The tax cuts were never delivered; instead a “temporary surcharge” was imposed in 1978.
The election was a virtual mirror image of the 1975 result, the Liberal-National Party coalition retaining a large majority in the House and narrow control of the Senate.
Whitlam announced his intention to stand down from the leadership and was succeeded by Bill Hayden. Whitlam retired from Parliament in the middle of 1978.
The election also coincided with the retirement of the Governor-General, Sir John Kerr. Kerr had disgraced himself by a drunken appearance at the Melbourne Cup in November. His appointment as Ambassador to UNESCO never took place due to a public outcry.
State of the Parties
This is the state of the parties in the House of Representatives, following the 1977 Federal Election.
|House of Representatives Elections 1977|
- Federal Election Results 1901-2014 – a Parliamentary Library research paper with detailed statistics on elections since 1901.
- A selection of audio clips from 1977 is available here – includes the resignation of Don Chipp, Fraser’s announcement of the election date, Gough Whitlam’s policy speech, election night speeches, and Sir John Kerr’s drunken performance at the Melbourne Cup.
- Jun 30, 1977: So Sing It Loud – National Party Queensland Song
- Oct 27, 1977: Fraser Calls An Early 1977 Federal Election; Whitlam Responds
- Nov 17, 1977: Gough Whitlam Policy Speech: 1977 Federal Election
- Dec 01, 1977: Tom Uren And Don Dunstan Address ALP Election Rally At Monash University
- Dec 09, 1977: National Party – Richmond (NSW) Doug Anthony How-To-Vote Card
- Dec 10, 1977: Whitlam Steps Down As ALP Leader
- Dec 10, 1977: Malcolm Fraser’s Remarks On Winning The 1977 Federal Election
- Dec 05, 2001: The Opposition Leader As A Factor Influencing Voting Behaviour
- Dec 10, 2011: Saturday Trivia: December 10 Most Popular Day for Elections
- Dec 09, 2012: More Anniversaries: Three Elections, A Floating Dollar And The Redfern Speech
- Dec 10, 2013: December 10: Most Popular Federal Election Date
- Jan 06, 2014: The Malcolm Mackerras Six And The Question Of How To Define A Landslide
- Jul 17, 2014: Federal Election Results 1901-2014
- Mar 27, 2016: The Myth Of The Ten-Week Election Campaign In 1984
- Dec 10, 2016: Malcolm Turnbull Becomes Australia’s 22nd Longest-Serving Prime Minister