South Australian state election, 1975

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South Australian state election, 1975
South Australia
1973 ←
12 July 1975 → 1977

All 47 seats in the South Australian House of Assembly
24 seats were needed for a majority
11 (of the 21) seats of the South Australian Legislative Council
  First party Second party Third party
Leader Don Dunstan Bruce Eastick Robin Millhouse
Party Labor Liberal Liberal Movement
Leader since 1 June 1967 1972 1973
Leader's seat Norwood Light Mitcham
Last election 26 seats 20 seats 0 seats
Seats won 23 seats 20 seats 2 seats
Seat change Decrease3 Steady0 Increase2
Percentage 46.32% 31.53% 18.27%
Swing Decrease5.2 Decrease8.26 N/A

Premier before election

Don Dunstan

Resulting Premier

Don Dunstan

State elections were held in South Australia on 12 July 1975. All 47 seats in the South Australian House of Assembly were up for election. The incumbent Australian Labor Party led by Premier of South Australia Don Dunstan won a third term in government, defeating the Liberal Party of Australia led by Leader of the Opposition Bruce Eastick.

House of Assembly (IRV) — Turnout 93.56% (CV) — Informal 3.85%
Party Votes  % Swing Seats Change
  Australian Labor Party 321,481 46.32 -5.20 23 -3
  Liberal Party of Australia 218,820 31.53 -8.26 20 0
  Liberal Movement 126,820 18.27 * 2 +2
  Nationals SA 19,208 2.77 -1.18 1 0
  Independent 6,281 0.91 -3.41 1 +1
  Other 1,375 0.20 0 0
  Total 693,985     47
  Australian Labor Party WIN 49.20 -5.30 24 -2
  Liberal Party of Australia 50.80 +5.30 23 +2

Independent: Ted Connelly


The drop in major party primary votes was due to the socially progressive Liberal Movement (LM) led by Robin Millhouse who achieved 18.3 percent of the primary vote and 2 seats. The party was a breakaway faction of the Liberal and Country League (LCL) which disbanded in 1973, the party which was the predecessor to the South Australian Division of the Liberal Party of Australia. Stemming from discontent within the ranks of the LCL, it was first formed by former Premier Steele Hall as an internal group in 1972 in response to a lack of social and acceptance of electoral reform within the LCL. A year later, when tensions heightened between the LCL's conservative wing and the LM, it was established on its own as a progressive liberal party. When still part of the league, it had eleven representatives; on its own, it initially had three.

The election was fought with the Liberal Party, the Liberal Movement, and the Nationals all competing for votes against Labor, in the background of the Labor Prime Minister Gough Whitlam scandals, with this election taking place six months before the Governor General dismissed the Whitlam government resulting in his defeat at the December 1975 federal election.

The Liberals received a 50.8 percent two-party vote to Labor on 49.2 percent. The Liberals, Liberal Movement, and Nationals held a combined 23 seats, as did Labor. The balance of power was held by independent MP Ted Connelly, the Mayor of Port Pirie. Connelly sided with Dunstan and accepted his offer of Speaker of the South Australian House of Assembly. Following the close result of the election where Labor formed minority government, initial one vote one value electoral reform was enacted by Dunstan which would later be amended by future Labor premier John Bannon, after winning the 1989 election on 48.1 percent of the two-party vote. However, these winning minorities were closer than those of the Playmander period and did not occur as a result of malapportionment or weighting. Indeed, some metropolitan seats saw more than three times the number of voters than in some rural seats, something that would be rectified by the one vote one value electoral reform. It became the first and only state from 1989 to legislate the Electoral Commission of South Australia should redraw boundaries after each election with the objective that the party which receives over 50 percent of the statewide two-party vote at the forthcoming election should win the two-party vote in a majority of seats. One element of the Playmander still exists to this day − the change from multi-member to single-member seats.

The 1975 election saw permanent large two-party swings away from Labor in a few rural seats − 13.5 percent in Chaffey, 15.5 percent in Mount Gambier and 16.4 percent in Millicent.

It was the first time that a Labor government in South Australia had been re-elected for a third term, and would be the first seven-year-incumbent Labor government.

The election was also the first in South Australia where both major parties contested all lower house seats.

Upper house reforms[edit]

This election would also see the introduction of universal suffrage for the Legislative Council and the introduction of a statewide single electorate, resulting in 11 members being elected around each election to the 22 member house, an increase from 20 seats which was dominated by an LCL 16 seat majority for decades due to the Playmander electoral malapportionment as well as the limit on upper house voting rights to the wealthier classes with suffrage dependent on certain property and wage requirements. However they were highly independent and often obstructive to both major parties. Originally the Legislative Council had fixed staggered terms and elections were held separately from lower house elections, which would later be changed by the introduction of joint elections in the 1980s.

The Liberal Movement, forerunner to the Australian Democrats, elected two members to the South Australian Legislative Council and held the sole balance of power. The Democrat hold would be unbroken until the late 1990s. Though the Democrats would exceed 16 percent of the vote at the 1997 election, during the following term the Democrats would lose the sole balance of power for the first time, sharing the balance of power with independent members, slowly losing numbers and influence, until they were eventually without parliamentary representation as of the 2010 election.

Post-election pendulum[edit]

Gilles Jack Slater ALP 2.8%
Brighton Hugh Hudson ALP 3.8%
Henley Beach Glen Broomhill ALP 4.0%
Coles Des Corcoran ALP 4.2%
Unley Gil Langley ALP 5.0%
Mawson Don Hopgood ALP 5.6% v LM
Fairly safe
Mitchell Ron Payne ALP 6.3%
Peake Don Simmons ALP 6.3%
Norwood Don Dunstan ALP 6.9%
Tea Tree Gully Molly Byrne ALP 7.3%
Ascot Park Geoff Virgo ALP 9.9%
Adelaide Jack Wright ALP 12.2%
Playford Terry McRae ALP 12.3% v LM
Price George Whitten ALP 12.3%
Florey Charles Wells ALP 13.3%
Albert Park Charles Harrison ALP 13.4%
Pirie Ted Connelly IND 13.9% v ALP
Salisbury Reg Groth ALP 13.9%
Ross Smith Joe Jennings ALP 16.6%
Whyalla Max Brown ALP 18.3%
Elizabeth Peter Duncan ALP 19.6%
Stuart Gavin Keneally ALP 19.9%
Semaphore Jack Olson ALP 21.3%
Spence Roy Abbott ALP 22.3%
Mount Gambier Harold Allison LIB 1.5%
Hanson Heini Becker LIB 5.7%
Fairly safe
Torrens John Coumbe LIB 6.1%
Glenelg John Mathwin LIB 7.9%
Millicent Murray Vandepeer LIB 9.9%
Rocky River Howard Venning LIB 10.9% v NAT
Murray Ivon Wardle LIB 12.0%
Light Bruce Eastick LIB 12.9%
Goyder David Boundy LM 13.6% v LIB
Frome Ernest Allen LIB 14.6%
Heysen David Wotton LIB 14.8% v LM
Fisher Stan Evans LIB 16.4%
Gouger Keith Russack LIB 16.4%
Chaffey Peter Arnold LIB 17.1%
Mitcham Robin Millhouse LM 17.8% v ALP
Bragg David Tonkin LIB 20.1%
Flinders Peter Blacker NAT 21.7% v ALP
Davenport Dean Brown LIB 22.3%
Alexandra Ted Chapman LIB 26.8%
Kavel Roger Goldsworthy LIB 28.7%
Eyre Graham Gunn LIB 29.3%
Victoria Allan Rodda LIB 29.4%
Mallee William Nankivell LIB 31.5%

Legislative Council results[edit]

From this election, the electoral system used for the Legislative Council was a party-list proportional representation system, with elements of the single transferable vote. Voters voted preferentially for party lists. All parties below the threshold of 50% of the Droop quota had their votes transferred to the next preference on the ballot paper for a party above the threshold. Seats were then distributed to parties using the largest remainder method with the Droop quota.

1975 Legislative Council result
Party Seats
  Australian Labor Party 47.3% 6
  Liberal Party of Australia 27.8% 3
  Liberal Movement 18.8% 2
  Nationals SA 2.1%
  Independents/Other 4.0%
1975-1979 Legislative Council
Party Seats
  Australian Labor Party 10
  Liberal Party of Australia 9
  Liberal Movement 2

See also[edit]