The government offering tax cuts to voters and ran advertisements with the slogan "fistful of dollars". The tax cuts were never delivered; instead a "temporary surcharge" was imposed in 1978. The election coincided with the retirement of the Governor-General, Sir John Kerr. Kerr had appeared drunk at the Melbourne Cup in November and the public outcry resulted in the cancellation of his appointment as Ambassador to UNESCO.
The 1977 election was held a year earlier than required, partly to bring elections for the House and Senate back into line. A half-Senate election had to be held by the middle of 1978, since the double dissolution election of 1975 had resulted in the terms of senators being backdated to July 1975.
Liberal Don Chipp had been dropped from the ministry after the 1975 election. He had formed a new political party, the Australian Democrats, and had announced his intention to run for the Senate. Liberal Movement senator Steele Hall resigned and was replaced by Janine Haines, but she lost her seat; however, the party gained Chipp in Victoria and Colin Mason in New South Wales, with Haines being re-elected at the next election as the new part's popularity grew.
The ALP made limited gains in the election.[clarification needed] The second Fraser Government had the second-largest parliamentary majority in Australian history after the majority it won in the 1975 election. Gough Whitlam resigned as the leader of the ALP in 1978.
This was the last Australian federal election for the House of Representatives at which no women were elected, although there were a number of women candidates. Women have been elected at every federal election from 1980 onwards.
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.