1983 Federal Election

March 5, 1983

Hawke

Bob Hawke at his election night press conference – March 5, 1983

The 1983 election brought to an end seven years of coalition government and ushered in the first of five successive election wins for the ALP.

The coalition government led by Malcolm Fraser had to contend with a parlous economic situation with high inflation and high unemployment. The nation had seen an increase in industrial disputation and many rural areas were gripped by drought.

In the previous year, Fraser had fought off a leadership challenge from Andrew Peacock, who had resigned from the Cabinet citing Fraser’s “manic determination to get his own way”, a phrase Fraser had himself used when he resigned from the Gorton ministry in 1971.

A by-election in Flinders in December 1982, occasioned by the retirement of Phillip Lynch, had seen an unexpected victory by the Liberal candidate, Peter Reith. Emboldened by this success Fraser opted for an early double dissolution election. On the day he called the election, the ALP replaced its leader, Bill Hayden, with Bob Hawke. Moves against Hayden had begun in earnest over the Christmas holiday period. Stoically accepting his removal, Hayden claimed that a “drover’s dog” could lead the ALP to victory.

State of the Parties

This is the state of the parties in the House of Representatives following the 1983 Federal Election.

House of Representatives Elections 1983
ALP LIB NPA IND Total
NSW
24
11
8
43
VIC
23
7
3
33
QLD
10
3
6
19
WA
8
3
11
SA
7
4
11
TAS
5
5
ACT
2
2
NT
1
1
Total
75
33
17
125

 

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