New South Wales state election, 1968
All 94 seats in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly
48 Assembly seats were needed for a majority
Legislative Assembly after the election
The 1968 New South Wales state election was held on 24 February 1968. It was conducted in single member constituencies with compulsory preferential voting and was held on boundaries created at a 1966 redistribution. The election was for all of the 94 seats in the Legislative Assembly. The Liberal Party of Australia, led by Premier Bob Askin, in Coalition with the Country Party of Deputy Premier Charles Cutler, was elected for a second term—the first time that a non-Labor government had been reelected since before World War II.
An extensive redistribution of electoral boundaries was undertaken in 1966 by a commission consisting of Judge Amsberg of the District Court, the Surveyor-General, G Prince and the Electoral Commissioner J McDonald. Following instructions from the government of Robin Askin, the redistribution gave an increased weighting to the votes of electors in rural New South Wales . Of the 94 electorates, 48 were to be classified as "urban" with an average enrollment of 27,531 and 46 were "country" with an average enrollment of 20,882. However, a continuing movement of population from rural to urban NSW meant that many of the "country" seats were effectively situated in the outskirts of Sydney, where the Liberal Party traditionally had strong electoral support. Four seats (Casino, Cobar, Dulwich Hill and Redfern) were abolished and four new seats (Campbelltown, Corrimal, Merrylands and Northcott) were created . A further 9 seats, Ashfield-Croydon ( renamed Ashfield), Concord (Yaralla), Hartley (Blue Mountains), Illawarra (Kembla), Kurri Kurri (Wallsend), Mudgee (Burrendong), Ryde (Fuller), Sturt (Broken Hill) and Wollongong-Kembla (Wollongong), were extensively changed and renamed. The notional net result of the redistribution was to reduce the Labor Party's representation by at least 5 and possibly 9 seats and to reduce the Country Party by 1. The redistribution was unsuccessfully opposed by the Labor Party with parliamentary walkouts, legal appeals and public rallies.
At the beginning of 1968, the Liberal/Country Party Coalition was perceived as a competent first-term government. With the aid of a favourable redistribution, it appeared certain that the government would be returned and subsequently the campaign failed to generate significant public interest. During the term the government had controversially resolved the problem of cost over-runs and building delays at the Sydney Opera House by forcing the resignation of the architect, Jørn Utzon. However, this was seen by many as a positive action by the government. New government policies during the campaign included an increase in state aid for private schools, increased spending on hospitals and a consumer affairs agency to monitor prices.
In contrast to the coalition, Labor's leader and former Premier, Jack Renshaw was unable to resonate with urban voters and had a hard time adjusting to television. He had also led Labor government widely seen as tired and unfocused to defeat in the previous election three years earlier. Labor's campaign promises included four weeks annual leave for all employees on state controlled award wages, the restoration of the Sydney City Council, price controls for basic food items and state control of Credit Unions. Renshaw was unable to match the government's promises of aid for private schools, which was a difficult ideological question for Labor.
Prior to the election the Country Party had gained the seats of Bathurst from the Labor Party and Oxley from the Liberal Party at by-elections caused by the deaths of sitting members. There was a slight swing to the Labor Party in the two party preferred vote at the election. However, the effects of the redistribution resulted in a significant improvement in the position of the coalition government and changes in seats at the election reflected the effects of the re-distribution rather than a swing in voter sentiment. The government had a buffer of 6 seats in the new parliament:
The DLP contested 42 seats but achieved less than 3% of the statewide vote while the Communist party was reduced to 6 candidates who received negligible support. The New State Movement, which had suffered a devastating defeat at a plebiscite on the formation of a new state in New England in 1967, contested 4 seats and gained 0.80% of the total vote but up to 35% in individual seats.
The election marked the first time that a non-Labor government in New South Wales had been reelected since the Coalition won three consecutive elections from 1932 to 1938.
Seats changing party representation
This table lists changes in party representation since the 1965 election
|Seat||Incumbent member||Party||New member||Party|
|Ashfield||New Seat||David Hunter||Liberal|
|Ashfield-Croydon||David Hunter||Liberal||Abolished Seat|
|Blue Mountains||New seat||Harold Coates||Independent|
|Broken Hill||New seat||Lew Johnstone||Labor|
|Burrendong||New seat||Roger Wotton||Country|
|Campbelltown||New Seat||Max Dunbier||Liberal|
|Casino||Richmond Manyweathers||Country||Abolished Seat|
|Cobar||Lew Johnstone||Labor||Abolished Seat|
|Concord||Thomas Murphy||Labor||Abolished seat|
|Corrimal||New Seat||Laurie Kelly||Labor|
|Dulwich Hill||Cliff Mallam||Labor||Abolished seat|
|Fuller||New seat||Peter Coleman||Liberal|
|Hartley||Harold Coates||Independent||Abolished seat|
|Illawarra||Howard Fowles||Labor||Abolished Seat|
|Kembla||New seat||George Petersen||Labor|
|Kurri Kurri||Ken Booth||Labor||Abolished seat|
|Manly||Douglas Darby||Independent Liberal||Douglas Darby||Liberal|
|Merrylands||New seat||Jack Ferguson||Labor|
|Mudgee||Leo Nott||Labor||Abolished seat|
|Murray||Joe Lawson||Country||Joe Lawson||Independent|
|Northcott||New seat||Jim Cameron||Liberal|
|Redfern||Fred Green||Labor||Abolished seat|
|Ryde||Frank Downing||Labor||Abolished seat|
|Sturt||William Wattison||Labor||Abolished seat|
|Sutherland||Tom Dalton||Labor||Tim Walker||Liberal|
|Wallsend||New seat||Ken Booth||Labor|
|Wollongong||New seat||Jack Hough||Liberal|
|Wollongong-Kembla||Jack Hough||Liberal||Abolished seat|
|Yaralla||New seat||Lerryn Mutton||Liberal|
|23 January 1968||The Legislative Assembly was dissolved, and writs were issued by the Governor to proceed with an election.|
|31 January 1968||Nominations for candidates for the election closed at noon.|
|24 February 1968||Polling day.|
|22 March 1968||Last day for the writs to be returned and the results formally declared.|
|26 March 1968||Opening of 42nd Parliament.|
|Summary of votes by party|
All electorates were contested 
Robert Askin and Charles Cutler remained Premier and Deputy Premier throughout the term of the parliament. Renshaw was replaced as the Leader of the Labor Party by Pat Hills in December 1968. During the parliament there were 5 by-elections. These produced no change in party representation with the exception of the Liberal Party losing Georges River to Labor's, Frank Walker.
- "How the electorate changes will operate". The Sydney Morning Herald. 16 April 1966. p. 16.
- "Rally to protest electorate proposal". The Sydney Morning Herald. 18 April 1966. p. 5.
- "2 Million vote today". The Sydney Morning Herald. 24 February 1968. p. 1.
- "Mr Hughes and Mr Utzon". The Sydney Morning Herald. 24 February 1968. p. 2.
- "2 Million vote today". The Sydney Morning Herald. 24 February 1968. p. 1.
- Evan Whitton (19 February 1968). "Renshaw: Jack with Beanstalk and Giant". The Sydney Morning Herald. p. 2.
- "Renshaw: lists his priorities". The Sydney Morning Herald. 19 February 1968. p. 8.
- McMullin, Ross (1991). The Light on the Hill: The Australian Labor Party 1891-1991. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-554966-X.
- *Antony Green. "1968 New South Wales state election". New South Wales Parliament. Retrieved 12 January 2009.