South Australian state election, 1979

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South Australian state election, 1979
South Australia
1977 ←
15 September 1979 (1979-09-15)
→ 1982

All 47 seats in the South Australian House of Assembly
24 seats were needed for a majority
11 (of the 22) seats in the South Australian Legislative Council
  First party Second party
 
Leader David Tonkin Des Corcoran
Party Liberal Labor
Leader since 1975 15 February 1979
Leader's seat Bragg Hartley
Last election 17 seats 27 seats
Seats won 25 seats 19 seats
Seat change Increase8 Decrease8
Percentage 55.0% 45.0%
Swing Increase8.4 Decrease8.4

Premier before election

Des Corcoran
Labor

Elected Premier

David Tonkin
Liberal

State elections were held in Australia on 15 September 1979. All 47 seats in the South Australian House of Assembly were up for election. The incumbent Australian Labor Party led by Premier of South Australia Des Corcoran was defeated by the Liberal Party of Australia led by Leader of the Opposition David Tonkin.

A Norwood by-election was held due to the seat's election result being overturned by a court decision, which saw the seat lost from the Liberals to Labor, which meant the Liberals held 24 seats with Labor on 20 seats.

House of Assembly (IRV) — Turnout 93.04% (CV) — Informal 4.43%
  Party Votes % Swing Seats Change
  Liberal Party of Australia 352,343 47.94 +6.73 25 +8
  Australian Labor Party 300,277 40.86 -10.78 19 -8
  Australian Democrats 60,979 8.30 +4.82 1 0
  Nationals SA 14,013 1.91 +0.31 1 0
  Independent 7,364 1.00 +0.61 1 +1
  Other 0 0.00 0 0
  Total 734,976     47
  Liberal Party of Australia WIN 55.00 +8.40 27 +7
  Australian Labor Party 45.00 -8.40 20 -7

Independent: Norm Peterson


Background[edit]

Premier Don Dunstan abruptly resigned on 15 February 1979 due to ill health, and was succeeded by Deputy Premier Des Corcoran.

Spurred by positive opinion polls and seeking to escape the shadow of Dunstan, Corcoran called a snap election (without pre-informing the party apparatus) in order to gain a mandate of his own. The election campaign was plagued by problems, which allowed an opening for the Liberals under Tonkin. It didn't help matters that The Advertiser was biased toward the Liberal campaign. Labor suffered a large swing, losing eight seats to the Liberals. The Liberals also won 55 percent of the two-party vote to Labor's 45 percent. It was the first time the main non-Labor party in South Australia had won the most seats while also winning a majority of the vote since the Liberal and Country League won 50.3 percent of the two-party vote in 1959.

Corcoran was bitter in defeat, believing sections of the ALP had undermined him during the campaign. He resigned as leader soon after the election, and retired from politics in 1982.

One of the seats lost to the Liberals had been Dunstan's old seat of Norwood. However, in 1980, a court overturned Liberal Frank Webster's victory, triggering a 1980 Norwood by-election. Greg Crafter regained the seat for Labor, reducing the Liberals' majority to 24 seats against 20 for Labor. A 1982 Mitcham by-election and 1982 Florey by-election were triggered, the Democrats retained Mitcham by 45 votes, Labor increased their margin in Florey.

Legislative Council results[edit]

The two Liberal Movement members elected in 1975 had rejoined the Liberal Party.

In 1982, Labor MLC Norm Foster resigned from the Labor Party (to vote in favour of the Olympic Dam development) and sat the remainder of his term (until the 1982 election) as an independent.

1979 Legislative Council Result (STV)
Party Seats
  Liberal Party of Australia 50.6% 6
  Australian Labor Party 39.7% 4
  Australian Democrats 6.5% 1
  Nationals SA 1.1%
1979-1982 Legislative Council
Party Seats
  Liberal Party of Australia 11
  Australian Labor Party 10
  Australian Democrats 1


See also[edit]

References[edit]