South Australian state election, 1965

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
South Australian state election, 1965
South Australia
1962 ←
6 March 1965 (1965-03-06) → 1968

All 39 seats in the South Australian House of Assembly
20 seats were needed for a majority
  First party Second party
  FrankWalsh.jpg Playford portrait 38.jpg
Leader Frank Walsh Thomas Playford
Party Labor Liberal and Country League
Leader since 1960 5 November 1938
Leader's seat Edwardstown Gumeracha
Last election 19 seats 20 seats
Seats won 21 seats 18 seats
Seat change Increase2 Decrease2
Percentage 54.3% 45.7%
Swing Steady0.0 Steady0.0

Premier before election

Thomas Playford
Liberal and Country League

Elected Premier

Frank Walsh

State elections were held in Australia on 6 March 1965. All 39 seats in the South Australian House of Assembly were up for election. The incumbent Liberal and Country League led by Premier of South Australia Thomas Playford IV, in power since 1938, was defeated by the Australian Labor Party led by Leader of the Opposition Frank Walsh.

House of Assembly (IRV) — Turnout 94.59% (CV) — Informal 2.81%
  Party Votes % Swing Seats Change
  Australian Labor Party 274,432 55.04 +1.06 21 +2
  Liberal and Country League 179,183 35.93 +1.43 17 -1
  Democratic Labor Party 21,679 4.35 -3.40 0 0
  Independent 9,352 1.88 -1.27 1 -1
  Other 13,994 2.81 0 0
  Total 498,640     39
  Australian Labor Party WIN 54.30 +0.00 21 +2
  Liberal and Country League 45.70 -0.00 18 -2

Independent: Tom Stott

  • Three LCL seats were won uncontested. Labor's two-party vote is lower than their primary vote, as the primary vote was counted on seats contested, while the two-party vote was estimated for all seats.


Even though Labor won multiple elections on the two-party vote against Thomas Playford IV and the Liberal and Country League (LCL), the electoral rural overweighting known as the Playmander consisted of rural districts enjoying a 2-to-1 advantage in the state parliament, even though they contained less than half of the population. The seat system was also changed from multi-member to single-member. The most populous urban (metropolitan) seats had as much as 5-10 times the number of voters than the least populous rural seats. The 1965 election saw the Australian Labor Party in government for the first time since 1933. Frank Walsh, who had been leader of the opposition since 1960, became premier. Walsh's government was very weak on paper, with only a two-seat majority. This was despite the fact that Labor had won one of the biggest victories at the state level in Australian history at the time, with 54.3 percent of the two-party vote, unchanged from the previous election where the LCL retained government, but an increase in seats won due to more effective marginal seat campaigns.

Walsh’s term as Premier was marked by increased spending on public education and the implementation of far-reaching social welfare and Aboriginal Affairs legislation, although many of these changes were spearheaded by the socially liberal Don Dunstan, and the socially conservative Walsh may well have personally opposed some of these moves.

Walsh was never comfortable dealing with the media, particularly television, and his ascension to the job of Premier only exacerbated these problems. A master of malapropisms, Walsh regularly had journalists, Hansard reporters, and political ally and foe alike bewildered by his statements. To give but one example, Walsh once said in parliament "In this manner, Mr Speaker, the government has acted as if this were a diseased estate. It's not sufficiently elasticated... The government is suffering from a complete lack of apathy in the case." His unease with the media was seen in stark contrast to his Attorney-General, Dunstan, who would prove to be a media relations master throughout his later terms as Premier.

Walsh's awkwardness with the media was further highlighted after 1966, when Playford retired as Opposition Leader and was succeeded by 37-year-old Steele Hall. Hall was not only younger, but considerably more socially liberal than Playford. A sagging economy and poor polling figures combined with Hall's advent to convince local Labor heavyweights that Labor could not win the next election with Walsh as Premier. Things came to a head in early 1967, when South Australian Labor power-broker Clyde Cameron publicly thanked Walsh for making the noble decision to retire to make way for a younger person. This was news to Walsh, who had made no such decision. After initially digging in his heels, Walsh eventually announced his retirement two weeks later, but not before attempting (without success) to manoeuvre his protégé Des Corcoran into the Premiership ahead of Dunstan.

Dunstan led Labor into the 1968 election. Although Labor won 53.2 percent of the two-party vote, it lost two seats, resulting in a hung parliament with 19 seats for both parties. Lone crossbench independent MP Tom Stott held the balance of power, and announced confidence and supply support for an LCL minority government, installing Hall as premier even though the LCL had only won 46.8 percent of the two-party vote. Stott became Speaker of the South Australian House of Assembly. Dunstan spearheaded a public outcry which led Hall to finally scrap the Playmander soon after taking office.

Results prior to 1965[edit]

Lower house percentage and seat results
1965 55.04% (21) 35.93% (17) 1.88% (1) 7.16% 54.3% 45.7%
1962 53.98% (19) 34.51% (18) 3.15% (2) 8.37% 54.3% 45.7%
1959 49.35% (17) 36.95% (20) 5.93% (2) 7.77% 49.7% 50.3%
1956 47.37% (15) 36.69% (21) 7.34% (3) 8.60% 48.7% 51.3%
1953 50.84% (15) 36.45% (20) 11.10% (4) 1.60% 53.0% 47.0%
1950 48.09% (12) 40.51% (23) 10.07% (4) 1.34% 48.7% 51.2%
1947 48.64% (13) 40.38% (23) 6.20% (3) 4.77%
1944 42.52% (16) 45.84% (20) 6.64% (3) 5.00%
1941 33.25% (11) 37.55% (20) 29.20% (8) 0.00%
1938 26.16% (9) 33.44% (15) 39.73% (14) 0.66% (1)
1933 27.78% (6) 34.62% (29) 13.41% (3) 24.20% (8)
Source: Australian Government and Politics Database (1890 onward)

Rural overweighting known as the Playmander resulted in LCL lower house minority and majority governments for decades. Upper house elections since 1941 have held 16 LCL and 4 ALP; voting rights were limited to the wealthier classes; suffrage was dependent on certain property and wage requirements. The electoral districts were drawn to favour regional areas with a 2:1 bias in place.

In the 2006 election, metro Adelaide held 35 metro districts representing 1.1 million people, with 12 rural districts representing 0.4 million people. In the 1965 election, 13 metro districts represented 0.7 million people and 26 rural districts represented 0.4 million people.

Legislative Council Results[edit]

1965 Legislative Council Result
Party Seats
  Australian Labor Party 50.6% 2
  Liberal and Country League 42.2% 8
  Independents/Other 7.2%
1965-1968 Legislative Council
Party Seats
  Liberal and Country League 16
  Australian Labor Party 4

See also[edit]