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1987 Federal Election

July 11, 1987

The 1987 Federal election was called 6 months early by Labor Prime Minister, Bob Hawke, to capitalise on the disunity in the Opposition.

It was the first winter election in Australian Federal political history and resulted in an increased majority for the Labor government, an outcome that saw it become the first Labor government to win 3 successive terms.

The double dissolution election was called to capitalise on the disunity in the Federal Opposition, led by John Howard. Former Liberal leader, Andrew Peacock, was dismissed from the Shadow Ministry by Howard in March, following Peacock’s comments to Victorian Opposition Leader, Jeff Kennett, in an infamous car phone conversation.

John Howard, new to the position since succeeding Andrew Peacock in 1985 following a botched attempt by Peacock to remove Howard as his deputy, was fighting a war on two fronts. It was the origin of Howard’s oft-repeated remark that in politics “disunity is death”.

The National Party was in disarray caused by the Queensland Premier, Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen, who had announced his intention to campaign for the Prime Ministership. The “Joh for PM” campaign split the Opposition and resulted in the loss of 4 seats in Queensland. The election campaign was marked by an embarrassing error in the Opposition’s tax policy.

The ostensible reason for the election, the rejection by the Senate of the government’s Australia Card legislation, barely featured in the campaign. Following the election, public hostility to the identity card proposal and technical difficulties with the legislation led to the government dropping it.

State of the Parties

The ALP increased its majority in the election, with a net gain of 4 seats. It lost one seat in Victoria (Chisholm) and one in NSW (Reid) but gained 4 seats in Queensland (Fisher, Forde, Hinkler and Petrie) and one each in Tasmania (Denison) and the Northern Territory.

House of Representatives Elections 1987
ALP LIB NPA IND Total
NSW
28
13
10
51
VIC
24
12
3
39
QLD
13
5
6
24
WA
9
4
13
SA
8
5
13
TAS
1
4
5
ACT
2
2
NT
1
1
Total
86
43
19
148

 

Election Statistics

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