South Australian state election, 1968

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South Australian state election, 1968
South Australia
1965 ←
2 March 1968 (1968-03-02) → 1970

All 39 seats in the South Australian House of Assembly
20 seats were needed for a majority
  First party Second party
Leader Steele Hall Don Dunstan
Party Liberal and Country League Labor
Leader since 1966 1 June 1967
Leader's seat Gouger Norwood
Last election 18 seats 21 seats
Seats won 20 seats 19 seats
Seat change Increase2 Decrease2
Percentage 46.8% 53.2%
Swing Increase1.1 Decrease1.1

Premier before election

Don Dunstan

Elected Premier

Steele Hall
Liberal and Country League

State elections were held in Australia on 2 March 1968. All 39 seats in the South Australian House of Assembly were up for election. The incumbent Australian Labor Party led by Premier of South Australia Don Dunstan was defeated by the Liberal and Country League led by Leader of the Opposition Steele Hall.

House of Assembly (IRV) — Turnout 94.48% (CV) — Informal 2.31%
  Party Votes % Swing Seats Change
  Australian Labor Party 292,445 51.98 -3.06 19 -2
  Liberal and Country League 246,560 43.82 +7.89 19 +2
  Democratic Labor Party 9,223 1.64 -2.71 0 0
  Independent 5,781 1.03 -0.85 1 0
  Other 8,649 1.54 0 0
  Total 562,658     39
  Liberal and Country League WIN 46.80 +1.10 20 +2
  Australian Labor Party 53.20 -1.10 19 -2

Independent: Tom Stott


The election saw the Liberal and Country League opposition win the same number of seats in the House of Assembly as the incumbent Australian Labor Party government, despite the fact that Labor won 53.2 percent of the two-party-preferred vote and the LCL only 46.8. However the LCL assumed office with the support of the long-serving independent member for Ridley, Tom Stott. Stott, a good friend of former Premier Playford, and with no liking for the ALP, agreed to support the LCL and was elected as Speaker of the Assembly.

Hall had served as leader of the opposition for two years before becoming Premier. Young and handsome, he was also the first Australian state premier to sport sideburns. Indeed, the 1968 election, fought between Hall and his opponent Don Dunstan, was described by the Democratic Labor Party as the battle of "the matinee idols".

Hall found himself in a politically unacceptable position as a result of the obvious unfairness of the election result, and decided to institute electoral reforms to end the malapportionment of the Playmander. At the 1968 election there were only 13 metropolitan electoral districts containing 0.7 million people, whereas there were 26 rural districts containing 0.4 million people. The reforms included increasing the number of lower house seats from 39 to 47. In the 2006 election there were 35 metropolitan districts representing 1.1 million people and 12 rural districts representing 0.4 million people. Further reforms would be implemented after the 1975 election in which Labor retained government despite a two-party-preferred vote of 49.2 percent, as well as the 1989 election where Labor retained government despite a two-party-preferred vote of 48.1 percent. South Australian is the only state to deliberately draw electoral boundaries based on the two-party preferred vote. It was legislated after 1989 that the Electoral Commission of South Australia should redraw boundaries after each election with the objective that the party which receives over 50 percent of the two-party-preferred vote at the forthcoming election will form the government.

Eventually Hall and Stott fell out over the proposed Chowilla Dam. Stott wanted the dam built in his electorate while Hall thought its construction was not justified. Constituent anger forced Stott to vote against the Hall government, leading to an early election - the 1970 South Australian state election, which would be fought on much fairer electoral boundaries.

A 1968 Millicent by-election was triggered by the Court of Disputed Returns where Labor had won the seat by a single vote at the 1968 election. Labor increased their margin. Notably, turnout increased at the by-election.

Legislative Council Results[edit]

1968 Legislative Council Result
Party Seats
  Australian Labor Party 52.8% 2
  Liberal and Country League 41.9% 8
  Democratic Labor Party 5.3%
1968-1973 Legislative Council
Party Seats
  Liberal and Country League 16
  Australian Labor Party 4

See also[edit]