Australian Labor Party leadership spill, December 1991

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Australian Labor Party
Leadership spill, December 1991
June 1991 ←
19 December 1991 → 1996

  Paul Keating - 2007-crop.jpg Bob Hawke Portrait 1983.jpg
Candidate Paul Keating Bob Hawke
Caucus vote 56 51
Percentage 52.3% 47.7%

Leader before election

Bob Hawke

Elected Leader

Paul Keating

A leadership spill of the Australian Labor Party (ALP), the party of government in the Parliament of Australia, was held on 19 December 1991, the second spill in a year. Backbencher and former Treasurer Paul Keating defeated Prime Minister Bob Hawke, who led Labor for eight and a half years.


Bob Hawke had been leader of the Labor Party since 3 February 1983, and Prime Minister since the 1983 election, with Labor winning a record four elections under his leadership. The unexpectedly close win at the 1990 election, coupled with the deepening economic recession, fuelled tensions within the government over economic policy. A re-energised Liberal opposition led by John Hewson, a qualified economist, gained ground in the opinion polls. Hawke had alienated key NSW Right powerbroker Graham Richardson in late 1990, with the latter bluntly telling Hawke he no longer had the support of the Right. He also reneged on an agreement with Paul Keating, known as the Kirribilli agreement, that he would hand over the leadership to him following the 1990 election. On 3 June 1991, Keating challenged for the leadership, but lost in a 66-44 vote and moved to the backbench.

By late 1991, Hawke's public support fell to new lows as the Australian economy showed no signs of recovering from the recession and the opposition Liberals launching their Fightback! economic policy. The final straw was when Hawke sacked Keating's successor as Treasurer, John Kerin for his perceived communication weaknesses in early December. Keating supporters began a campaign to undermine Hawke's leadership.


Keating's second challenge was a success and defeated Hawke, 56 votes to 51. Keating said Hawke had gone missing for four of his eight years as prime minister and had to be propped up by him.[1]

Foreign Affairs Minister Gareth Evans was unable to attend the second ballot as he was overseas.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Playing politics is playing for keeps". The Advertiser. 24 February 2012. Retrieved 27 February 2012. 
  2. ^ "How it works: PM may come down to lucky draw". Optus. 27 February 2012. Retrieved 27 February 2012.