1968 Higgins by-election

A by-election was held for the Australian House of Representatives seat of Higgins on 24 February 1968. It was triggered by the presumed drowning death of the Prime Minister and Liberal Party MP Harold Holt on 17 December 1967.

1968 Higgins by-election

← 1966 24 February 1968 1969 →

The Higgins seat in the House of Representatives
Turnout35,158 (84.87%)
  First party Second party
  JohnGorton1968.jpg No image.png
Candidate John Gorton David Bennett
Party Liberal Labor
Popular vote 24,067 9,601
Percentage 69.40% 27.69%
Swing Increase6.12 Increase2.53

MP before election

Harold Holt

Elected MP

John Gorton


On 15 January 1968, the speaker stated that there was conclusive evidence that Holt had died, and that a writ would be issued for the by-election. Senator John Gorton, who had been elected party leader and Prime Minister by his party colleagues on 9 January, was preselected unopposed to run for the Liberal Party on 31 January. The Australian Labor Party nominated David Bennett, a research officer with the Australian Council for Educational Research, whilst the Democratic Labor Party, who had received 11.56% of the vote at the November 1966 election in the seat, opted not to contest the election. The other two candidates were Dr Leonard Webber for the Australia Reform Movement, and a Sydney journalist, Frank Courtis.[1]

Gorton won the by-election for the Liberals with an increased primary vote.


Higgins by-election, 1968[2]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal John Gorton 24,067 69.40 +6.12
Labor David Bennett 9,601 27.69 +2.53
Reform Movement Leonard Weber 662 1.91 +1.91
Independent Frank Courtis 347 1.00 +1.00
Total formal votes 34,677 98.63 +1.39
Informal votes 481 1.37 –1.39
Turnout 35,158 84.87 –9.45
Liberal hold Swing +6.12

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Hughes, Colin (August 1968). "Australian Political Chronicle: January–April 1968". Australian Journal of Politics and History. 14 (2): 235–236. ISSN 0004-9522.
  2. ^ "By-elections 1966-1969". Psephos.