Australian federal election, 1954

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Australian federal election, 1954
Australia
1951 ←
29 May 1954
→ 1955

All 121 seats of the Australian House of Representatives
61 seats were needed for a majority
  First party Second party
  RobertMenzies.jpg
Hvevatt.jpg
Leader Robert Menzies H.V. Evatt
Party Liberal/Country coalition Labor
Leader since 23 September 1943 13 June 1951
Leader's seat Kooyong Barton
Last election 69 seats 52 seats
Seats won 64 seats 57 seats
Seat change Decrease5 Increase5
Percentage 49.30% 50.70%
Swing Decrease1.40 Increase1.40

Prime Minister before election

Robert Menzies
Liberal/Country coalition

Elected Prime Minister

Robert Menzies
Liberal/Country coalition

Federal elections were held in Australia on 29 May 1954. All 121 seats in the House of Representatives were up for election, no Senate election took place. The incumbent Liberal Party of Australia led by Prime Minister of Australia Robert Menzies with coalition partner the Country Party led by Arthur Fadden defeated the Australian Labor Party led by Herbert Evatt.

House of Reps (IRV) — 1954–55—Turnout 96.09% (CV) — Informal 1.35%
  Party Votes % Swing Seats Change
  Australian Labor Party 2,280,098 50.03 +2.40 57 +5 (1 elected
unopposed)
  Liberal Party of Australia 1,745,808 38.31 −2.31 47 −5 (3 elected
unopposed)
  Country Party 388,171 8.52 −1.20 17 0 (3 elected
unopposed)
  Other 143,211 3.14 0 0
  Total 4,557,288     121
  Liberal/Country coalition WIN 49.30 −1.40 64 −5
  Australian Labor Party 50.70 +1.40 57 +5

See Australian Senate election, 1953 for Senate composition.


Seats changing hands[edit]

Seat Pre-1954 Swing Post-1954
Party Member Margin Margin Member Party
Bass, Tas   Liberal Bruce Kekwick 3.4 4.4 1.0 Lance Barnard Labor  
Flinders, Vic   Labor Keith Ewert 5.1 4.3 1.6 Robert Lindsay Liberal  
Griffith, Qld   Liberal Doug Berry 3.7 4.1 0.4 Wilfred Coutts Labor  
St George, NSW   Liberal Bill Graham 1.6 4.3 2.7 Nelson Lemmon Labor  
Sturt, SA   Liberal Keith Wilson 2.4 5.4 3.0 Norman Makin Labor  
Swan, WA   Liberal Bill Grayden 3.3 4.9 1.6 Harry Webb Labor  

History[edit]

In 1949, Sir Robert Menzies founded the Liberal Party of Australia (descended from the United Australia Party) and was led by Menzies for 16 years through successive re-elections with the traditional coalition in place with the National Party of Australia (known then as the Country Party). Labor stayed out of government for 23 years after the defeat of the Chifley Government in 1949, largely due to the split of the Democratic Labor Party from Labor. The party nevertheless won the two-party-preferred vote on three occasions (1954 - where Labor achieved a first preference vote of more than 50% - 1961 and 1969), but these were not enough to win a sufficient number of seats to form government.

The election was complicated by the Petrov Affair, in which Vladimir Petrov, an attache to the Soviet embassy in Canberra, defected amidst a storm of publicity, claiming that there were Soviet spy rings within Australia. Given that the 1951 election had been fought over the issue of banning the Communist Party of Australia altogether, it is unsurprising that such a claim would gain credibility.

Evatt took the extraordinary step of publicly assuring Parliament, just prior to the calling of the election, that he had written to Vyacheslav Molotov, the Soviet Foreign Affairs Commissar, regarding Petrov's allegations, and that Molotov had assured him that there were no Soviet spy rings within Australia. Menzies was able to use this very effectively in the ensuing election campaign, and Evatt (and the ALP) were defeated, although they made up ground on the ruling Liberal/Country Party coalition.

The defeat, as well as Evatt's many tactical mistakes, led directly to the Australian Labor Party split of 1955, with the Liberal/Country Party coalition retaining power for the next 17 years.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • University of WA election results in Australia since 1890
  • AEC 2PP vote
  • Prior to 1984 the AEC did not undertake a full distribution of preferences for statistical purposes. The stored ballot papers for the 1983 election were put through this process prior to their destruction. Therefore the figures from 1983 onwards show the actual result based on full distribution of preferences.