Victorian state election, 1999
Elections were held in the Australian state of Victoria on Saturday 18 September 1999 to elect the 88 members of the state's Legislative Assembly and 22 members of the 44-member Legislative Council. The Liberal–National Coalition led by Jeff Kennett and Pat McNamara was narrowly defeated due mainly to a significant swing against it in rural and regional Victoria. The winner was decided by three rural independents who ultimately decided to back the Labor Party to form a minority government led by Steve Bracks, who was sworn in as Premier of Victoria on 20 October 1999.
|Summary of votes by party|
|One Nation||8,181||0.29||+0.29||0||± 0|
|Democratic Labor||6,183||0.22||+0.22||0||± 0|
|Natural Law||6,044||0.21||–1.65||0||± 0|
|Christian Democrats||414||0.02||–0.21||0||± 0|
The following voting statistics exclude the three mid-term by-elections held on the same day, at which two seats were retained by Labor and a third was gained by Labor from the Liberals.
|Summary of votes by party|
Seats changing hands
|Ballarat East||Liberal||Barry Traynor||0.1||-3.7||3.7||Geoff Howard||Labor|
|Ballarat West||Liberal||Paul Jenkins||1.4||-2.4||1.0||Karen Overington||Labor|
|Bendigo East||Liberal||Michael John||5.0||-8.1||3.1||Jacinta Allan||Labor|
|Carrum||Liberal||David Lean||0.8||-1.0||0.2||Jenny Lindell||Labor|
|Frankston East||Independent||Peter McLellan*||3.1||-7.7||4.6||Matt Viney||Labor|
|Geelong||Liberal||Ann Henderson||3.5||-3.5||0.03||Ian Trezise||Labor|
|Gippsland East||National||David Treasure||15.2||-22.9||7.7||Craig Ingram||Independent|
|Gisborne||Liberal||Tom Reynolds||7.8||-9.4||1.6||Jo Duncan||Labor|
|Narracan||Liberal||Florian Andrighetto||1.6||-4.1||2.5||Ian Maxfield||Labor|
|Oakleigh||Liberal||Denise McGill||0.8||-4.1||3.3||Ann Barker||Labor|
|Ripon||Liberal||Steve Elder||4.6||-7.2||2.6||Joe Helper||Labor|
|Seymour||Liberal||Marie Tehan||4.2||-4.9||0.7||Ben Hardman||Labor|
|Tullamarine||Liberal||Bernie Finn||3.0||-6.8||3.8||Liz Beattie||Labor|
|Warrnambool||National||John McGrath||13.8||-22.7||8.9||John Vogels||Liberal|
- Members in italics did not recontest their seats.
- The Liberal-turned-Independent member for Frankston East, Peter McLellan died on election day. A supplementary election was held in which Labor won.
- In addition, Labor won Mitcham in a by-election and retained it in this election.
- In addition, Independent Susan Davies won Gippsland West in a by-election and retained it in this election.
The Kennett government entered the campaign with a substantial lead in the polls and was widely expected to win, some commentators even tipped the government to increase their already large majority.
The Liberals ran a campaign centred on Jeff Kennett and the unusual jeff.com.au website. The presidential nature of the campaign was emphasised when the Herald Sun ran a damaging front page story revealing that most Liberal candidates were gagged from speaking to the media. The Coalition stuck to a message of focusing on its economic record, and promising modest increases in spending in schools, hospitals and police.
In contrast Labor sought to tap into perceptions in rural Victoria that the Kennett government had neglected them. Both John Brumby who led Labor until early 1999 and Steve Bracks campaigned extensively in rural and regional Victoria, attacking Coalition policies of privatisation highlighting poor service delivery. Labor also took the unusual step of launching their campaign in the regional centre of Ballarat where it announced it would spend $170 million to improve rural infrastructure. In addition Labor campaigned on issues of government transparency and service administration. By election day few people believed that there would be a change of government. When The Australian published a poll which suggested the result would be a cliffhanger, Steve Bracks is said to have stated 'I hope it's right, but I think The Australian is on drugs.'
On the afternoon of the election, while polling was being conducted, it was learned that Liberal-turned-Independent member for the marginal seat of Frankston East, Peter McLellan, had died of a heart attack. Polling was therefore aborted, with a supplementary election to be scheduled.
When the results started to come through, it appeared that there was only a modest swing in metropolitan Melbourne, even in the electorally volatile eastern suburbs, but there was a substantial swing to Labor in provincial and rural Victoria, the traditional stronghold of the Liberals. Political analyst and ABC commentator Antony Green later wrote that "in the more than 35 elections I've been involved in, the 1999 Victorian election was the only one where I thought there was something wrong with the computer."
When the Victorian Electoral Commission finished counting for the night, the result was still too close to call: Labor had made huge gains in the rural hinterland, but had failed to make much headway in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne where elections had historically been won or lost.
In limbo: Frankston East and the rural independents
After initial counting was complete, the Coalition had won 43 seats, Labor had won 41 (including winning the seat of Geelong by just 16 votes) and independents had won three seats in the 88-seat Assembly.
The independents, Russell Savage, Craig Ingram and Susan Davies, adopted a united stand and released a charter of their demands which the parties would need to accept in order to further negotiate. Labor accepted all of them while the Coalition accepted all but two, saying that the Upper House should only be reformed after a referendum and rejecting outright an enquiry into the effects of privatisation. The independents announced that they would announce their decision after the supplementary election in Frankston East, which was to be held on 16 October and now assumed a crucial role.
On 16 October, the Frankston East supplementary by-election resulted in an 7.71% swing to Labor, with its candidate Matt Viney winning 54.60% of the two-party preferred vote. The next morning, Labor and the Independents signed an agreement which became public the following day.
The supplementary election in Frankston East was held due to the death on polling day of sitting Independent MP and candidate Peter McLellan. As McLellan died on the day of the general election, voters in Frankston East had already voted in the electorate prior to learning of McLellan's death. As McLellan died as a candidate in the election it meant that it was constitutionally required for a supplementary election in the seat due to that basis. The votes that were cast in Frankston East on the day of the election and McLellan's death were then destroyed without them being counted. It is therefore unknown whether Frankston East voters had voted the same way in the supplementary election than the way they voted at the general election.
On 20 October, the Kennett Ministry resigned and the Bracks Ministry was sworn in. Kennett also resigned from the party leadership, making way for Dr Denis Napthine, a rural MP who was believed to bring a more consensus-style approach to leadership.
Labor won Kennett's old seat of Burwood in a by-election that December after he decided to retire from parliament. The following year they also won former Nationals leader Pat McNamara's hitherto safe seat of Benalla in another by-election, which brought them to 44 of the Assembly's 88 seats.
The Liberal and National parties formally terminated their coalition agreement after the election, and it was not renewed until mid-2008.
- Members of the Victorian Legislative Assembly, 1999–2002
- Members of the Victorian Legislative Council, 1999–2002
- Candidates of the Victorian state election, 1999
- Economou, Nick (June 2000). "Australian Political Chronicle: July–December 1999". Australian Journal of Politics and History 46 (2): 226–237. ISSN 0004-9522.
- Hughes, Colin A. (2002). A Handbook of Australian Government and Politics 1985-1999. Sydney: Federation Press. p. 320.
- Antony Green (June 2001). "1999 Victorian State Election - Summary of Results". Retrieved 5 July 2013.
- Hughes (2002) p.321.
- Woodward, Dennis; Costar, Brian. "The Victorian Election of 18 September 1999". Australian Journal of Political Science 35 (1): 125–133. doi:10.1080/10361140050002881.
- Bennett S. & Newman G., 'Victorian Election 1999', Australian Parliamentary Library Research Paper 
- Bennett S. & Newman G., 'Victorian Election 1999', Australian Parliamentary Library Research Paper
- Megalogenis, George (2006). The Longest Decade. Melbourne: Scribe. p. 54.
- Comment by Antony Green at pollbludger (, 8 May 2006, accessed 2 February 2010.
- "Ministers of the Crown". Victorian Government Gazette. 20 October 1999. p. 1999:S155 (Special).