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Archives for October 1977

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…]


Against Poverty – Frank Wilkes Delivers The Arthur Calwell Memorial Lecture

A few months after becoming Victoria’s ALP Leader of the Opposition, Frank Wilkes delivered the Arthur Calwell Memorial Lecture at Monash University.

WilkesThe lecture, titled Against Poverty, was delivered on Monday, October 17, 1977.

Wilkes had been the ALP member for Northcote since 1957, since succeeding the former Labor premier, John Cain, Sr. Wilkes defeated Cain’s son, John Cain, Jr., for the Northcote preselection.

Wilkes became leader of the ALP in 1977, after Clyde Holding relinquished the position in order to enter federal parliament as the member for Melbourne Ports. Wilkes led the ALP into the 1979 election, winning an additional 11 seats but falling short of victory. He resigned the leadership in 1981 and was replaced by John Cain, Jr., who had been elected as the member for Bundoora in 1976. [Read more…]