November 10, 2001
The election saw the return of the coalition Liberal and National Party government led by John Howard. In winning a third term, Howard confounded his critics and opponents, setting himself on the path to becoming Australia’s third longest-serving Prime Minister.
The election campaign was fought in the context of a tide of support for the Australian Labor Party over the preceding three years. The ALP had won office in Tasmania in 1998, won a majority of the votes in the 1998 federal election (although not a majority of the seats), was re-elected in NSW in 1999, snatched government from the coalition in Victoria in 1999, was re-elected in a landslide in Queensland in February 2001, and won office in Western Australia, also in February 2001. Subsequently, the ALP won a traditional Liberal Party electorate, Ryan in Queensland, in a by-election. Whilst retaining the Victorian electorate of Aston in a July 2001 by-election, the coalition suffered a 4% swing against it. In August 2001, the ALP unexpectedly won office for the first time ever in the Northern Territory. During the federal campaign, the ALP won office in the Australian Capital Territory.
Two events stand out as being vital to the outcome. The first of these was the controversy over refugees and asylum-seekers. The rescue of distressed asylum-seekers by the Norwegian cargo ship, the Tampa, in late August 2001, fuelled a frenzy of debate over refugee policy, led to a parliamentary confrontation between the Government and the Opposition, and remained the dominant campaign issue right up until the day of the election. The centrepiece of the coalition campaign was an emphasis on the leadership of John Howard and the assertion that “We will decide who comes to this country and under what circumstances”.
The second event was the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon in the United States on September 11, 2001. Throughout the campaign, the US-led attacks on the Taliban regime in Afghanistan dominated the news and was often linked to the refugee issue.
Some people argue that the ALP had no hope of winning this election because of the international events, whereas others argue that the ALP lost because of its strategy of making itself a “small target” in the preceding years.
The outcome of the election was a 2% two-party-preferred swing to the coalition and an increase in its parliamentary majority. The ALP recorded its lowest primary vote since 1934. The Australian Greens recorded a big increase in their vote and Senate representation.
Kim Beazley resigned the Labor leadership on election night and was replaced by Simon Crean. Rumblings in the Australian Democrats highlighted ongoing divisions caused by Senator Natasha Stott Despoja’s ousting of Senator Meg Lees as leader at Easter 2001. The National Party lost two seats to independents and another to the Liberal Party and had its representation in the Howard ministry reduced.
State of the Parties
This table shows the final state of the parties following the election.
|House of Representatives Elections 2001|
- Federal Election Results 1901-2014 – a Parliamentary Library research paper with detailed statistics on elections since 1901.
- 2001 Primary Vote Winners, Preference Vote Losers
- Election Pendulum – The pendulum following the 1998 election and redistributions in New South Wales, Tasmania, Northern Territory and Western Australia.
- AEC Information Booklets – NSW & Vic
- 2001 Election Timetable
- Election Timetable – The constitutional and legislative factors that determine the timing of elections.
- Pressure Group Campaigns – Aside from the political parties, a host of pressure groups conducted campaigns on particular issues or campaigned for or against parties and candidates.
- Quotes – A collection of quotes from the election campaign.
- The Sharp End – Ari Sharp, the Australian Democrats candidate for Kooyong in Victoria, wrote a weekly column sharing his experiences on the campaign trail.
- Paraphernalia – A selection of campaign leaflets, letters and how-to-vote cards.
- Editorial Opinions – Aside from The Age and Sunday Telegraph, most Australian newspapers supported the return of the coalition.
- Commentary – Commentary on the election before and after.
- Predictions – Compare the actual results with the predictions of some of Australia’s journalists and political operatives.
- Nov 11, 2001: ALP National Secretary Geoff Walsh discusses the ALP’s defeat
- Nov 21, 2001: Liberal Party Federal Director Lynton Crosby Address to the National Press Club
- Jan 24, 2001: Factsheet: Labor’s Online University Proposal
- Jan 24, 2001: Kim Beazley’s Knowledge Nation Policy
- Feb 11, 2001: The Difficult Task Of Winning A Third Term
- Feb 25, 2001: Howard Under Pressure As Polls Show Slipping Support
- Apr 15, 2001: Victorian Greens Nominate Senate Candidate
- Jun 15, 2001: Ari Sharp, 18, Chosen As Democrats Candidate In Kooyong
- Jul 17, 2001: When Will The Next Federal Election Be Held?
- Aug 01, 2001: Is The Ground Shifting?
- Sep 11, 2001: TERRORIST ATTACKS ON USA
- Sep 12, 2001: SEPTEMBER 11, 2001: A DAY OF INFAMY
- Sep 20, 2001: 2001 Pre-Election Commentary
- Sep 28, 2001: CHOGM Off, Election Announcement Expected Soon
- Sep 30, 2001: The Sharp End: A Candidate’s Story
- Oct 01, 2001: The Sharp End: Everything Has Changed Since August
- Oct 05, 2001: Election Announcement Imminent
- Oct 05, 2001: Howard Sees Governor-General; Election Looms
- Oct 05, 2001: HOWARD ANNOUNCES NOVEMBER 10 ELECTION
- Oct 05, 2001: Howard Calls November 10 Election; Refuses To Commit To Serving Full Three Years
- Oct 05, 2001: Beazley Responds To Election Announcement: We Need A Qualified PM For The Long Haul
- Oct 05, 2001: Battlelines Drawn As Howard And Beazley Enter Election Campaign
- Oct 05, 2001: 2001 Federal Election Timetable
- Oct 05, 2001: David Kemp Leaflet – 2001 Federal Election
- Oct 07, 2001: The Sharp End: The Work Of The Local Candidate
- Oct 08, 2001: Ari Sharp – Kooyong Democrats Leaflet – 2001
- Oct 09, 2001: Postal Vote Mailout – David Kemp – 2001 Federal Election
- Oct 10, 2001: 2001 Federal Election Pendulum
- Oct 11, 2001: Who’ll Be Lucky? – The Economist Editorial
- Oct 14, 2001: The Sharp End: Targeting The Voters
- Oct 14, 2001: 2001 Federal Election: John Howard And Kim Beazley Leaders’ Debate
- Oct 17, 2001: 2001 Federal Election: AEC Information Booklets
- Oct 19, 2001: Beazley Pledges GST Rollback
- Oct 21, 2001: The Sharp End: Nominations, Lotto And Preferences
- Oct 22, 2001: National Party: John Anderson’s 2001 Federal Election Policy Speech
- Oct 23, 2001: Liberals Attack Beazley Over Knowledge Nation
- Oct 28, 2001: Howard Launches Government Campaign With A Billion Dollars Of Promises
- Oct 28, 2001: The Sharp End: The Party Faithful
- Oct 28, 2001: John Howard’s 2001 Election Policy Speech
- Oct 31, 2001: Kim Beazley’s 2001 Federal Election Policy Speech
- Nov 04, 2001: The Sharp End: Encounters With MPs (Members Of The Public)
- Nov 04, 2001: Future Matters More Than Past: Sunday Telegraph Election Editorial
- Nov 05, 2001: Pressure Group Campaigns In The 2001 Federal Election
- Nov 09, 2001: ALP 2001 Federal Election Policies
- Nov 09, 2001: Voters Left Little To Work With: Canberra Times Election Editorial
- Nov 09, 2001: A Time To Look Ahead, Not Back: The Age Election Editorial
- Nov 09, 2001: Newspaper Editorials Vary In Attitude To Federal Election
- Nov 10, 2001: Senator Bob Brown (Greens-Tas) Bass How-To-Vote Card 2001
- Nov 10, 2001: 2001 Federal Election Predictions
- Nov 10, 2001: Kim Beazley’s 2001 Election Concession Speech
- Nov 10, 2001: Prime Minister John Howard’s 2001 Election Victory Speech
- Nov 10, 2001: How The Count Unfolded: 2001 Election Night Reports
- Nov 11, 2001: Howard Wins A Third Term: Some Historical Comparisons
- Nov 11, 2001: ALP National Secretary Geoff Walsh Discusses Labor’s Election Defeat
- Nov 11, 2001: The Sharp End: The Day After The Night Before
- Nov 13, 2001: Quotes From The 2001 Federal Election
- Nov 21, 2001: Lynton Crosby: 2001 Federal Election Analysis
- Nov 26, 2001: Howard Sworn In For Third Term As Prime Minister
- Dec 01, 2001: Independent Members – House – 2001
- Dec 01, 2001: National Party Members – House – 2001
- Dec 01, 2001: Liberal Party Members – House – 2001
- Dec 01, 2001: Members Of The House Of Representatives – 2001
- Dec 01, 2001: ALP Members – House – 2001
- Dec 03, 2001: Geoff Walsh: 2001 Federal Election Analysis
- Dec 05, 2001: The Opposition Leader As A Factor Influencing Voting Behaviour
- Dec 06, 2001: Election Funding Payments: 2001 Federal Election
- Dec 09, 2001: The Balance of Power in the Senate
- Dec 15, 2001: 2001 Primary Vote Winners, Preference Vote Losers
- Jan 30, 2002: Wayne Swan: Connecting With The Missing Middle – Reforming The Parliament And The ALP
- Feb 19, 2002: “Children Overboard” Gallery Of Photographs
- Jun 10, 2002: John Howard’s Formula For Winning Elections
- Jan 06, 2014: The Malcolm Mackerras Six And The Question Of How To Define A Landslide
- Jul 17, 2014: Federal Election Results 1901-2014