Western Australian state election, 1974

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Western Australian state election, 1974
Western Australia
← 1971 30 March 1974 (1974-03-30) 1977 →

All 51 seats in the Western Australian Legislative Assembly
and 15 (of the 30) seats to the Western Australian Legislative Council
26 Assembly seats were needed for a majority
  First party Second party
  Charles Court 1953.jpg
Leader Charles Court John Tonkin
Party Liberal/National coalition Labor
Leader since 5 June 1972 1 January 1967
Leader's seat Nedlands Melville
Last election 25 seats 26 seats
Seats won 29 seats 22 seats
Seat change Increase4 Decrease4
Popular vote 262,621 260,805
Percentage 50.17% 49.83%
Swing Increase2.50 Decrease2.50

Premier before election

John Tonkin

Elected Premier

Charles Court
Liberal/National coalition

Elections were held in the state of Western Australia on 30 March 1974 to elect all 51 members to the Legislative Assembly and 15 members to the 30-seat Legislative Council. The one-term Labor government, led by Premier John Tonkin, was defeated by the Liberal Party, led by Opposition Leader Charles Court.


The Liberal Party won the election after a campaign focused mostly on inflation, industrial unrest, states' rights and education.[1] The outgoing Tonkin government had had a turbulent ride in its three years of office, having only a one-seat majority in the Assembly and being outnumbered two-to-one in the Council.[2]

The 15-month-old Whitlam Labor federal government had proven unpopular in Western Australia which saw it as taking a centralist view towards federal-state affairs, and Whitlam himself was hit by a soft drink can and a tomato whilst addressing voters at Forrest Place during the campaign. The Country Party had tentatively merged with the Democratic Labor Party in the period preceding the election, going to the voters as the National Alliance which put forward a centrist platform—however, they lost both votes and seats as compared to the 1971 election in doing so. Arthur Bickerton, the member for Pilbara, became the first Minister to be defeated at an election since 1939.[1]

In order to form a parliamentary majority, the National Country Party under its new leader, Ray McPharlin, agreed to form a coalition with the Liberals after the election, and negotiated three seats in the Ministry.


Legislative Assembly[edit]

Western Australian state election, 30 March 1974
Legislative Assembly
<< 19711977 >>

Enrolled voters 597,335[1]
Votes cast 538,365 Turnout 90.13% –1.18%
Informal votes 21,966 Informal 4.08% +0.23%
Summary of votes by party
Party Primary votes  % Swing Seats Change
  Liberal 208,288 40.33% +10.67% 23 + 6
  Labor 248,395 48.10% –0.81% 22 – 4
  Alliance (CP/DLP)[2] 55,746 10.80% –5.55% 6 – 2
  Australia Party 2,052 0.40% +0.36% 0 ± 0
  Independent 1,918 0.37% –2.91% 0 ± 0
Total 516,399     51  
  Liberal/NA 262,621 50.17% +2.50%
  Labor 260,805 49.83% –2.50%


1 604,222 electors were enrolled to vote at the election, but one seat, Mount Marshall, held by the National Alliance's Ray McPharlin and representing 6,887 electors, was uncontested.
2 The Western Australian Country Party agreed to a trial merger with the Democratic Labor Party prior to the election, known as the "National Alliance". They contested 44 seats including many in the metropolitan area. The Alliance ceased to exist shortly after the 1974 election, and the National Country Party adopted a more traditional strategy for subsequent elections.

Legislative Council[edit]

Western Australian state election, 30 March 1974
Legislative Council

Enrolled voters 581,784[1]
Votes cast 523,182 Turnout 89.93% –1.28%
Informal votes 25,072 Informal 4.79% –0.33%
Summary of votes by party
Party Primary votes  % Swing Seats
  Labor 235,271 47.23% +0.45% 5 9
  Liberal 226,288 45.43% +18.07% 9 18
  Alliance (CP/DLP) 36,551 7.34% –13.66% 1 3
  Independent –5.86% 0 0
Total 498,110     15 30
  Liberal/NA 267,672 51.90%
  Labor 248,040 48.10%

1 604,222 electors were enrolled to vote at the election, but one seat, Central Province, held by the National Alliance and representing 22,438 electors, was uncontested.

Post-election pendulum[edit]

Bunbury John Sibson LIB 0.3%
Scarborough Ray Young LIB 0.5%
Pilbara Brian Sodeman LIB 1.3%
Murray Richard Shalders LIB 1.8%
Roe Geoff Grewar LIB 1.8% v NA
Toodyay Mick Nanovich LIB 2.1%
Albany Leo Watt LIB 3.0%
Karrinyup Jim Clarko LIB 4.0%
Fairly safe
Wellington June Craig LIB 6.1%
Subiaco Tom Dadour LIB 6.4%
Dale Cyril Rushton LIB 6.5%
Murchison-Eyre Peter Coyne LIB 7.0%
Merredin-Yilgarn Hendy Cowan NA 7.9%
Cottesloe Ross Hutchinson LIB 8.4%
South Perth Bill Grayden LIB 8.6%
Kimberley Alan Ridge LIB 8.7%
East Melville Des O'Neil LIB 8.9%
Mount Lawley Ray O'Connor LIB 8.9%
Kalamunda Ian Thompson LIB 12.5%
Floreat Andrew Mensaros LIB 14.8%
Gascoyne Ian Laurance LIB 15.9%
Nedlands Charles Court LIB 16.8%
Moore Walter McPharlin NA 17.7% v LIB
Narrogin Peter Jones NA 19.9%
Stirling Matt Stephens NA 20.4%
Vasse Barry Blaikie LIB 21.4%
Katanning Dick Old NA 28.7%
Greenough David Brand LIB 28.8%
Mount Marshall Ray McPharlin NA unopp.
Rockingham Mike Barnett ALP 0.9%
Clontarf Donald May ALP 1.9%
Avon Ken McIver ALP 4.1%
Warren David Evans ALP 4.5%
Geraldton Jeff Carr ALP 5.3%
Mount Hawthorn Ron Bertram ALP 5.7%
Mundaring James Moiler ALP 5.7%
Fairly safe
Mawson Tom Bateman ALP 6.2%
Morley Arthur Tonkin ALP 7.4%
Collie Tom Jones ALP 9.6%
Maylands John Harman ALP 12.1%
Perth Terry Burke ALP 12.2%
Welshpool Colin Jamieson ALP 12.6%
Kalgoorlie Tom Evans ALP 13.0%
Boulder-Dundas Tom Hartrey ALP 13.2%
Balga Brian Burke ALP 13.8%
Swan Jack Skidmore ALP 14.1%
Victoria Park Ron Davies ALP 14.4%
Fremantle Harry Fletcher ALP 16.1%
Ascot Mal Bryce ALP 17.2%
Melville John Tonkin ALP 19.5%
Cockburn Alexander Taylor ALP 21.1%

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Hamilton, Barbara (August 1974). "Australian Political Chronicle: January–April 1974". Australian Journal of Politics and History. 20 (2): 256–259. ISSN 0004-9522. 
  2. ^ Penrose, Sandra (December 1974). "Australian Political Chronicle: May–August 1974". Australian Journal of Politics and History. 20 (3): 414. ISSN 0004-9522.