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1962 South Australian state election

State elections were held in South Australia on 3 March 1962. 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 defeated the Australian Labor Party led by Leader of the Opposition Frank Walsh.[1][2]

1962 South Australian state election

← 1959 3 March 1962 (1962-03-03) 1965 →

All 39 seats in the South Australian House of Assembly
20 seats were needed for a majority
  First party Second party
  ThomasPlayford1963crop.jpg FrankWalsh1963.jpg
Leader Thomas Playford Frank Walsh
Party Liberal and Country League Labor
Leader since 5 November 1938 1960
Leader's seat Gumeracha Edwardstown
Last election 20 seats 17 seats
Seats won 20 seats 19 seats
Seat change Steady0 Increase2
Percentage 45.7% 54.3%
Swing Decrease4.6 Increase4.6

Premier before election

Thomas Playford
Liberal and Country League

Resulting Premier

Thomas Playford
Liberal and Country League


The Playford government, in power since 1938, went into the 1962 elections in a precarious position. At the time the writs were issued, South Australia was dogged by a massive recession. This led observers to think that Labor would finally have a chance at power. Longtime opposition leader Mick O'Halloran had died suddenly in 1960, and Labor was led into the election by former deputy leader Frank Walsh.[1][2]

The Labor opposition won in excess of 54 percent of the statewide two-party vote, however the LCL retained government with the assistance of the Playmander − an electoral malapportionment in which there were two country seats for every one seat in Adelaide. This system resulted in Labor being denied government in 1944, 1953 and 1968 despite winning clear statewide two-party majorities.[1][2]

While O'Halloran had despaired of ever becoming Premier, Walsh made a concerted effort to end the LCL's three-decade grip on government. Knowing that the Playmander made a statewide campaign fruitless, Walsh instead decided to target marginal LCL seats. In the election, Labor scored 54.3 percent of the two-party vote to only 45.7 percent for the LCL, a 4.6 percent swing to Labor. In most other states, this would have made Walsh premier with a landslide majority. However, due to the Playmander, the election resulted in a hung parliament. Labor won 19 seats, one seat short of a majority, while the LCL won 18 seats, two seats short of a majority. Even with this to consider, speculation was rampant on election night that Playford's long tenure was finally over.[1][2]

Labor took the seats of Chaffey and Unley off the LCL (and later Glenelg and Barossa at the 1965 election). The LCL won only four metropolitan seats – Burnside, Glenelg, Mitcham and Torrens.[1][2]

However, Playford refused to concede, instead saying he would wait to see how the chamber lined up once the legislature reassembled. Both crossbench independent MPs, Tom Stott and Percy Quirke, held the balance of power. They announced confidence and supply support for an LCL minority government with a bare one-seat parliamentary majority. Stott became Speaker of the South Australian House of Assembly following the election, while Quirke joined the LCL and entered the ministry in 1963. Walsh lobbied Governor Edric Bastyan not to reappoint Playford, to no avail.[1][2]

The furore over the 1962 election illustrated how distorted the Playmander had become. By this time some two-thirds of the state's population resided in and around Adelaide, but they only elected one-third of the members of the legislature. In many cases, a rural vote was worth at least double a vote in Adelaide. In one of the more extreme cases, the rural seat of Frome had 4,500 formal votes in 1968, while at the same election the metropolitan seat of Enfield had 42,000 formal votes.[1][2]


South Australian state election, 3 March 1962[3]
House of Assembly
<< 19591965 >>

Enrolled voters 531,228
Votes cast 417,461 Turnout 93.98% +0.03%
Informal votes 10,267 Informal 2.46% -0.43%
Summary of votes by party
Party Primary votes % Swing Seats Change
  Labor 219,790 53.98% +4.63% 19 + 2
  Liberal and Country 140,507 34.51% –2.44% 18 – 2
  Democratic Labor 31,543 7.75% +2.09% 0 ± 0
  Communist 2,528 0.62% –0.80% 0 ± 0
  Independent 12,827 3.15% –2.78% 2 ± 0
Total 407,195     39  
  Liberal and Country 45.70% –4.60%
  Labor 54.30% +4.60%
  • The primary vote figures were from contested seats, while the state-wide two-party-preferred vote figures were estimated from all seats.

Post-election pendulumEdit

Glenelg Baden Pattinson LCL 3.3%
Flinders Glen Pearson LCL 3.5%
Victoria Leslie Harding LCL 3.7%
Torrens John Coumbe LCL 3.9%
Fairly Safe
Onkaparinga Howard Shannon LCL 6.4%
Burra Percy Quirke IND 6.5% v LCL
Ridley Tom Stott IND 7.3% v LCL
Light John Freebairn LCL 10.9%
Alexandra David Brookman LCL 13.5%
Burnside Joyce Steele LCL 14.2%
Stirling William Jenkins LCL 16.2% v IND
Mitcham Robin Millhouse LCL 18.8%
Gumeracha Thomas Playford LCL 31.1% v DLP
Barossa Condor Laucke LCL 35.9% v COM
Albert Bill Nankivell LCL unopposed
Angas Berthold Teusner LCL unopposed
Eyre George Bockelberg LCL unopposed
Gouger Steele Hall LCL unopposed
Rocky River James Heaslip LCL unopposed
Yorke Peninsula Cecil Hincks LCL unopposed
Chaffey Reg Curren ALP 0.1%
Millicent Des Corcoran ALP 3.3%
Unley Gil Langley ALP 3.6%
Fairly safe
Frome Tom Casey ALP 6.2%
West Torrens Fred Walsh ALP 8.1%
Norwood Don Dunstan ALP 8.8%
Wallaroo Lloyd Hughes ALP 12.9%
Gawler John Clark ALP 16.9%
Mount Gambier Ron Ralston ALP 18.7%
Murray Gabe Bywaters ALP 20.6%
Edwardstown Frank Walsh ALP 21.6% v DLP
Enfield Joe Jennings ALP 27.7% v DLP
Adelaide Sam Lawn ALP 30.3% v DLP
Port Adelaide John Ryan ALP 36.0% v DLP
Whyalla Ron Loveday ALP 37.3% v IND
Stuart Lindsay Riches ALP 38.0% v IND
Port Pirie Dave McKee ALP 40.8% v IND
Hindmarsh Cyril Hutchens ALP unopposed
Semaphore Harold Tapping ALP unopposed

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Jaensch, Dean (March 2007). "The 1962 General Election - Formed the 37th Parliament". History of South Australian elections 1857-2006: House of Assembly, Volume 1. State Electoral Office South Australia. pp. 281–284. ISBN 9780975048634. Archived from the original on 2014-03-02. Retrieved 2015-07-27 – via Electoral Commission of South Australia. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Tilby Stock, Jenny (1996). "The 'Playmander', Its origins, operation and effect on South Australia". In O'Neil, Bernard; Raftery, Judith; Round, Kerrie (eds.). Playford's South Australia: essays on the history of South Australia, 1933-1968. Association of Professional Historians. pp. 73–90. ISBN 9780646290928 – via Professional Historians Association (South Australia).
  3. ^ "Details of SA 1962 Election". Australian Politics and Elections Database.

External linksEdit