Fraser Calls An Early 1977 Federal Election; Whitlam Responds

Malcolm Fraser called an early federal election at the end of 1977, just two years into his first term as prime minister.

FraserFraser’s announcement of the December 10 election was made in the House of Representatives on October 27.

In 1975, Fraser had won the largest majority of any government in Australia’s federal political history. As of 2013, no government has ever gained a larger majority.

However, the 1975 election was a double dissolution in which the terms of senators were backdated to July 1, as prescribed by Section 13 of the Constitution. As a consequence, a half-Senate election had to be held by May 1978, whereas the House election wasn’t required until the end of 1978. Indeed, the House election could have been delayed until early 1979.

Since Senate elections can be held anytime in the 12 months leading up to the expiry of senators’ terms, Fraser chose to hold the Senate election at the end of 1977 and held a House election simultaneously, a year earlier than required. In this way, he avoided separate House and Senate elections. [Read more…]