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Death Of John Bourchier, Former Liberal MP, Announced To House

The death of John Bourchier, a former member for Bendigo, was announced to the House of Representatives today.

BourchierThe Speaker, Tony Smith, announced that Bourchier died on August 31. He was 87.

Bourchier represented the Victorian division of Bendigo for the Liberal Party for five terms from 1972 until 1983. He was a backbencher throughout.

Bourchier’s arrival in the House coincided with the election of the Whitlam government. Bourchier defeated David Kennedy, who had held the seat for the ALP since 1969. A campaign against Kennedy over the abortion issue is widely regarded as contributing to his defeat. Whilst Kennedy topped the primary vote with 47.7% to Bourchier’s 26.7%, Bourchier was elected with the aid of Country Party (17.3%) and DLP (8.4%) preferences. He defeated Kennedy by 165 votes (50.2%).

In 1974, Bourchier defeated Kennedy again, increasing his margin to 884 votes (50.8%). At the 1975 election, which saw a landslide defeat of the ALP, Bourchier increased his margin to at least 52.2%. If DLP preferences had been distributed, this would have risen to around 56%. He achieved a similar margin in 1977.

Bourchier’s vote fell in 1980, as the ALP regained ground around the nation. He retained the seat with 51.3% of the two-party vote. In 1983, a 5.7% primary swing to the ALP saw the future Victorian Treasurer and Premier, John Brumby, elected. Brumby held the seat for three terms until he was defeated in 1990.

The death of John Bourchier means that there are now just 9 out of 39 Liberals still living from the House elected in 1972. A total of 31 (25%) of the 126 members who served in that parliament are still living. Detailed statistics on the members of all parliaments are available here.

  • Watch the Speaker’s announcement (1m)
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