A.L.P. Federal Election Results Since 1910

“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...]


Bank Reform Party Registered By Electoral Commission

The Bank Reform Party has been registered as a political party with the Australian Electoral Commission.

The registered officer and spokesman for the party is Adrian Greig Bradley. The party’s website provides no other details about its membership.

Registration of a political party requires a party constitution and 500 members or at least one parliamentary representative.

Registration entitles a party to have its name printed alongside its candidates on ballot paper. It also makes the party eligible for election funding once it reaches the threshold of 4% of primary votes.

The Bank Reform Party’s tag line on its website says: “Bank, Supermarket & Fuel Sector Reform”.

Statement posted on the website of The Bank Reform Party.

Bank Reform Party

The Greedy and Unfair Banks

The founders of Unhappybanking are creating a new non-aligned political party with one initial aim, reform the banks and the legal system to protect Australians from greedy and unfair banks. [Read more...]


Joan Child, First Female Member Of House, First Female Speaker, Dies, 91

Joan Child, the first female Labor member of the House of Representatives, and the first female Speaker, has died. She was 91.

Child was elected to the Melbourne electorate of Henty, centred around Oakleigh, in 1974. She had unsuccessfully contested the electorate in 1972.

She was defeated at the 1975 election and again in 1977. She returned to the House in 1980, securing re-election to Henty in 1983, 1984 and 1987.

Child became the first woman Speaker of the House of Representatives in February 1986. She relinquished the position in August 1989, ahead of her retirement at the 1990 election.

The electorate of Henty was abolished in 1990. Parts of the old Henty are now in Chisholm, currently held by the second female Speaker, Anna Burke. Other areas are in Hotham and Higgins.

Shown below is an election leaflet Joan Child used in her unsuccessful 1972 campaign for Henty, and her 1974 and 1980 how-to-vote cards:

Child [Read more...]


Zed Seselja Topples Gary Humphries For ACT Liberal Senate Preselection

Senator Gary Humphries has lost preselection for the Liberal Party’s ACT Senate ticket to Zed Seselja.

SeseljaIn a preselection ballot today, Seselja defeated Humphries by 114 votes to 84.

Seselja’s win is a victory for the conservative wing of the Liberal Party. Humphries has always been regarded as a small-l Liberal.

Humphries, 54, has been an Australian Capital Territory Senator since 2003. Previously, he was Chief Minister of the ACT (2000-01). Elected to the ACT Legislative Assembly in 1989, he held various portfolios in Liberal governments, including Attorney-General (1995-2000) and Treasurer (1999-2001).

Seselja, 35, was elected to the ACT Legislative Assembly in 2004. He served as Leader of the Opposition from 2007 until earlier this month.

Territory senators serve concurrent terms with the House of Representatives. Assuming the September 14 election proceeds as announced, Seselja will enter the Senate at that time. New Senators elected from the states will not take their seats until July 1, 2014.



Gareth Evans Maintains The Rage

By Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Sir John Kerr was the worst of Australia’s Governors-General and his legacy was to delay the emergence of an Australian republic, former Labor minister Gareth Evans will tell a seminar today.

Professor Evans will say that Sir John, who dismissed Gough Whitlam from the prime ministership, had a “catastrophic” tenure.

It was not marked by dignity, competence or effectiveness. He showed “far less dispassionate non-partisanship than any politician incumbent of the office [of Governor General].”

Professor Evans, Chancellor of the Australian National University, will open the seminar on “Values and Visions of Australia’s Governors-General,” at ANU. [Read more...]