South Australian state election, 1979
State elections were held in Australia on 15 September 1979. 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 Des Corcoran was defeated by the Liberal Party of Australia led by Leader of the Opposition David Tonkin.
A Norwood by-election was held due to the seat's election result being overturned by a court decision, which saw the seat lost from the Liberals to Labor, which meant the Liberals held 24 seats with Labor on 20 seats.
|Liberal Party of Australia||352,343||47.94||+6.73||24||+7|
|Australian Labor Party||300,277||40.86||-10.78||20||-7|
|Liberal Party of Australia||WIN||55.00||+8.40||26||+6|
|Australian Labor Party||45.00||-8.40||21||-6|
Independent: Norm Peterson
Spurred by positive opinion polls and seeking to escape the shadow of Dunstan, Corcoran called a snap election (without pre-informing the party apparatus) in order to gain a mandate of his own. The election campaign was plagued by problems, which allowed an opening for the Liberals under Tonkin. It didn't help matters that The Advertiser was biased toward the Liberal campaign. Labor suffered a large swing, losing eight seats to the Liberals. The Liberals also won 55 percent of the two-party vote to Labor's 45 percent. It was the first time the main non-Labor party in South Australia had won the most seats while also winning a majority of the vote since the Liberal and Country League won 50.3 percent of the two-party vote in 1959.
Corcoran was bitter in defeat, believing sections of the ALP had undermined him during the campaign. He resigned as leader soon after the election, and retired from politics in 1982.
One of the seats lost to the Liberals had been Dunstan's old seat of Norwood. However, in 1980, a court overturned Liberal Frank Webster's victory, triggering a 1980 Norwood by-election. Greg Crafter regained the seat for Labor, reducing the Liberal government to 24 seats, a one-seat majority. A 1982 Mitcham by-election and 1982 Florey by-election were triggered, the Democrats retained Mitcham by 45 votes, Labor increased their margin in Florey.
|LIBERAL SEATS (24)|
|Henley Beach||Bob Randall||LIB||1.0%|
|Mount Gambier||Harold Allison||LIB||5.6%|
|Mallee||Peter Lewis||LIB||7.3% v NAT|
|Rocky River||John Olsen||LIB||13.1%|
|LABOR SEATS (20)|
|Ascot Park||John Trainer||ALP||1.7%|
|Albert Park||Kevin Hamilton||ALP||3.9%|
|Ross Smith||John Bannon||ALP||18.4%|
|CROSSBENCH SEATS (3)|
|Mitcham||Robin Millhouse||DEM||4.7% v LIB|
|Semaphore||Norm Peterson||IND||12.2% v ALP|
|Flinders||Peter Blacker||NAT||20.1% v LIB|
Legislative Council results
The two Liberal Movement members elected in 1975 had rejoined the Liberal Party.
|1979 Legislative Council Result (STV)|
|Liberal Party of Australia||50.6%||6|
|Australian Labor Party||39.7%||4|
|1979-1982 Legislative Council|
|Liberal Party of Australia||11|
|Australian Labor Party||10|
- Results of the South Australian state election, 1979 (House of Assembly)
- Members of the South Australian House of Assembly, 1979-1982
- Members of the South Australian Legislative Council, 1979-1982
- History of South Australian elections 1857-2006, volume 1: ECSA
- Historical lower house results
- Historical upper house results
- State and federal election results in Australia since 1890