Australian federal election, 1977

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Australian federal election, 1977

← 1975 10 December 1977 1980 →

All 124 seats of the House of Representatives
63 seats were needed for a majority in the House
34 (of the 64) seats of the Senate

  First party Second party
  Malcolm Fraser 1977 - crop.jpg Gough Whitlam - ACF - crop.jpg
Leader Malcolm Fraser Gough Whitlam
Party Liberal/NCP coalition Labor
Leader since 21 March 1975 8 February 1967
Leader's seat Wannon (Vic.) Werriwa (NSW)
Last election 91 seats 36 seats
Seats won 86 seats 38 seats
Seat change Decrease5 Increase2
Popular vote 3,811,340 3,141,051
Percentage 54.60% 45.40%
Swing Decrease1.10 Increase1.10

Prime Minister before election

Malcolm Fraser
Liberal/NCP coalition

Subsequent Prime Minister

Malcolm Fraser
Liberal/NCP coalition

Federal elections were held in Australia on 10 December 1977. All 124 seats in the House of Representatives and 34 of the 64 seats in the Senate were up for election.

The incumbent Liberal-National Country Coalition led by Malcolm Fraser, in government since 1975, was elected to a second term over the opposition Labor Party led by Gough Whitlam. While the Coalition suffered a five-seat swing, it still had a substantial 35-seat majority in the House. The Liberals retained an outright majority, with 67 seats. Although Fraser thus had no need for the support of the National Country Party, the Coalition was retained.

Whitlam became the first and only person to contest four federal elections as Leader of the Opposition. He was unable to recover much of the ground Labor had lost in its severe defeat two years prior, and resigned as leader shortly after the election.

Background and issues[edit]

The Gallagher Index result: 15.16

The government offering tax cuts to voters and ran advertisements with the slogan "fistful of dollars".[citation needed] The tax cuts were never delivered; instead a "temporary surcharge" was imposed in 1978.[citation needed] The election coincided with the retirement of the Governor-General, Sir John Kerr.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

Results[edit]

House of Representatives results[edit]

Government (86)
Coalition
     Liberal (67)
     NCP (18)
     CLP (1)

Opposition (38)
     Labor (38)
House of Reps (IRV) — 1977–80—Turnout 95.08% (CV) — Informal 2.52%
Party Votes % Swing Seats Change
  Liberal–NCP coalition 3,811,340 48.11 –4.95 86 –5
  Liberal 3,017,896 38.09 −3.71 67 −1
  National Country  776,982 9.81 −1.44 18 −4
  Country Liberal  16,462 0.21 +0.00 1 0
  Labor 3,141,051 39.65 −3.20 38 +2
  Democrats 743,365 9.38 +9.38 0 0
  Democratic Labor 113,271 1.43 +0.11 0 0
  Progress 47,567 0.60 –0.18 0 0
  Communist 14,098 0.18 +0.06 0 0
  Socialist 1,895 0.02 +0.02 0 0
  Independents 50,267 0.63 –0.19 0 0
  Total 7,922,854     124 −3
Two-party-preferred (estimated)
  Liberal–NCP coalition WIN 54.60 −1.10 86 –5
  Labor   45.40 +1.10 38 +2
Popular Vote
Labor
39.65%
Liberal
38.09%
National
10.01%
Democrats
9.38%
Other
2.87%
Two Party Preferred Vote
Coalition
54.60%
Labor
45.40%
Parliament Seats
Coalition
69.35%
Labor
30.65%

Senate results[edit]

Government (34)
Coalition
     Liberal (27)
     National (6)
     CLP (1)

Opposition (27)
     Labor (27)

Crossbench (3)
     Democrats (2)
     Independent (1)
Senate (STV) — 1977–80—Turnout 95.08% (CV) — Informal 9.00%
Party Votes % Swing Seats Won Seats Held Change
  Liberal–NCP coalition (total) 3,369,843 45.56 –5.18 18 34 –1
  Liberal–NCP joint ticket 2,533,882 34.26 −5.60 7 * *
  Liberal 783,878 10.60 −0.48 10 27 +1
  National Country  36,619 0.50 −0.04 0 6 –2
  Country Liberal 15,463 0.21 −0.01 1 1 0
  Labor 2,718,876 36.76 −4.15 14 27 0
  Democrats 823,550 11.13 +11.13 2 2 +2
  Democratic Labor 123,192 1.67 –1.00 0 0 0
  Progress 88,203 1.19 +0.32 0 0 0
  Call to Australia 49,395 1.12 +1.12 0 0 0
  Marijuana 44,276 0.60 +0.60 0 0 0
  Socialist 42,740 0.58 +0.57 0 0 0
  Australia 8,283 0.11 –0.37 0 0 0
  Independents 127,850 1.73 +0.13 0 1 0
  Total 7,396,207     34 64

Seats changing hands[edit]

Seat Pre-1977 Swing Post-1977
Party Member Margin Margin Member Party
Capricornia, Qld   National Country Colin Carige 0.1 2.7 1.2 Doug Everingham Labor  
Griffith, Qld   Liberal Don Cameron 8.0 5.0 3.5 Ben Humphreys Labor  
Indi, Vic   National Country Mac Holten N/A 22.3 5.1 Ewen Cameron Liberal  
  • Members in italics did not contest their seat at this election.

Significance[edit]

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 party'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, and was replaced by Bill Hayden.

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.

See also[edit]

References[edit]