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John Howard Comments On The 1983 Election Defeat And His Leadership Ambitions

The day after the Coalition’s defeat in the 1983 federal election, the outgoing Treasurer, John Howard, commented on his leadership ambitions in the Liberal Party.

Howard was 43 years old. He had entered parliament in 1974 and served as a minister throughout the seven years of the Fraser government, notably as Treasurer between 1977-83. His rivalry with Andrew Peacock was well-established in 1983, although the full scale of the competition was not yet evident. [Read more…]

1983 Federal Election: Triumphant Hawke Arrives At National Tally Room And Claims Victory

Bob Hawke arrived at the National Tally Room in Canberra on election night – March 5, 1983 – to applause and adulation.

These two videos show how Hawke’s arrival was shown by ABC television and Channel 10: [Read more…]

Malcolm Fraser Concedes Defeat In 1983 Federal Election

After nearly 7 years and 4 months as Australia’s 22nd Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser conceded defeat late on the night of March 5, 1983.

He was at that stage Australia’s second longest serving prime minister. He would lose that position to the man who defeated him, Bob Hawke. In turn, Hawke was eventually overtaken by John Howard.

Fraser accepted responsibility for the timing of the double dissolution election and the defeat of the government. He immediately resigned as leader of the Liberal Party. He subsequently resigned from his Victorian electorate of Wannon and never sat in the House of Representatives again. [Read more…]

Prime Minister-elect Bob Hawke’s Election Night Press Conference

Before Bob Hawke made a triumphant appearance in the National Tally Room on election night – March 5, 1983 – he first held a sober press conference in which he made clear how he intended to govern.

Decades later, Hawke’s first remarks as Prime Minister-elect are instructive. He made it clear that he did not intend to repeat Gough Whitlam’s two-man government of December 1972. Reassurance, calm and steadiness are the hallmarks of his comments. Hawke’s determination to prove that Labor could govern responsibly was never more clear than in this press conference. [Read more…]

Video Scenes From 1983 Federal Election Night

On election night, March 5, 1983, it soon became clear that Bob Hawke’s ALP had defeated Malcolm Fraser’s Liberal-National Coalition.

However, some Liberals, including Andrew Peacock and Ian MacPhee, were reluctant to give up hope that the government might hang on.

This video shows some scenes from the election counting. The media panel includes David Butler, Jim Waley, Max Walsh and George Negus. It features Andrew Peacock, Ian MacPhee and the incoming Treasurer, Paul Keating. [Read more…]

Final Television Broadcasts: 1983 Federal Election

This is the audio of the final television broadcasts by the major political parties for the 1983 Federal Election.

Each broadcast was shown on the ABC as part of its statutory requirement to provide time to the parties during an election.

They were shown on the Wednesday night before the election, a few hours before the electronic blackout on election material. [Read more…]

Don Chipp On His Faith In Bob Hawke

This is audio of an interview with the Australian Democrats leader, Senator Don Chipp, during the 1983 federal election campaign.

Chipp, a former Liberal who established the Australian Democrats in 1977, discusses his faith in ALP leader Bob Hawke. [Read more…]

Bob Hawke At The National Press Club: 1983 Federal Election

The ALP Leader of the Opposition, Bob Hawke, appeared at the National Press Club on March 2, 1983, just three days before he won the Federal election.

It has long been an election tradition in Australia that the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition address the Press Club and take questions from journalists in the final week of an election campaign.

In retrospect, Hawke’s appearance is very interesting. He was at ease. There is an easy humour to his demeanour and responses. His rapport with the media is obvious. There is an expectation that he will win the election. Many of the issues raised are similar to those that arise in every election.

What seems remarkable three decades later is that the Channel 10 evening news devoted 15 minutes to reporting Hawke’s appearance in detail. It is impossible to imagine that happening now.

  • Listen to the Channel 10 report (15m)
  • Watch the report:

ALP Free-Time Election Advertisement: Bob Hawke

This is an ALP election advertisement from the 1983 Federal Election.

It was a free-time advertisement broadcast on ABC television on March 1, four days before the election that brought Hawke to office for the first time. [Read more…]

1983 Federal Election: Liberal Party TV Advertisement

This election advertisement was shown on ABC television on March 1, 1983, four days before the election.

The advertisement stresses the leadership qualities of Malcolm Fraser, as polls showed the ALP surging under the leadership of Bob Hawke.

The ad features John Newcombe, Peter Brock and Alan Jones lauding the virtues of Malcolm Fraser.

  • Leadership: Liberal Party advertisement (5m)
  • Listen to the advertisement (5m)