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1968 New South Wales state election

The 1968 New South Wales state election was held on 24 February 1968. It was conducted in single member constituencies with compulsory preferential voting and was held on boundaries created at a 1966 redistribution. The election was for all of the 94 seats in the Legislative Assembly. The Liberal Party, led by Premier Robert Askin, in Coalition with the Country Party of Deputy Premier Charles Cutler, was elected for a second term—the first time that a non-Labor government had been reelected since before World War II.

1968 New South Wales state election

← 1965 24 February 1968 (1968-02-24) 1971 →

All 94 seats in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly
48 Assembly seats were needed for a majority
  First party Second party
  Robert Askin 1966.jpg Jack Renshaw.png
Leader Robert Askin Jack Renshaw
Party Liberal/Country coalition Labor
Leader since 17 July 1959 30 April 1964
Leader's seat Collaroy Castlereagh
Last election 47 seats 45 seats
Seats won 53 seats 39 seats
Seat change Increase6 Decrease6
Percentage 49.09% 43.10%
Swing Decrease0.73 Decrease0.21

New South Wales Legislative Assembly 1968.svg
Legislative Assembly after the election

Premier before election

Bob Askin
Liberal/Country coalition

Elected Premier

Bob Askin
Liberal/Country coalition


An extensive redistribution of electoral boundaries was undertaken in 1966 by a commission consisting of Judge Amsberg of the District Court, the Surveyor-General, G Prince and the Electoral Commissioner J McDonald. Following instructions from the government of Robin Askin, the redistribution gave an increased weighting to the votes of electors in rural New South Wales . Of the 94 electorates, 48 were to be classified as "urban" with an average enrollment of 27,531 and 46 were "country" with an average enrollment of 20,882. However, a continuing movement of population from rural to urban NSW meant that many of the "country" seats were effectively situated in the outskirts of Sydney, where the Liberal Party traditionally had strong electoral support. Four seats (Casino, Cobar, Dulwich Hill and Redfern) were abolished and four new seats (Campbelltown, Corrimal, Merrylands and Northcott) were created . A further 9 seats, Ashfield-Croydon ( renamed Ashfield), Concord (Yaralla), Hartley (Blue Mountains), Illawarra (Kembla), Kurri Kurri (Wallsend), Mudgee (Burrendong), Ryde (Fuller), Sturt (Broken Hill) and Wollongong-Kembla (Wollongong), were extensively changed and renamed. The notional net result of the redistribution was to reduce the Labor Party's representation by at least 5 and possibly 9 seats and to reduce the Country Party by 1.[1] The redistribution was unsuccessfully opposed by the Labor Party with parliamentary walkouts, legal appeals and public rallies.[2]


At the beginning of 1968, the Liberal/Country Party Coalition was perceived as a competent first-term government. With the aid of a favourable redistribution, it appeared certain that the government would be returned and subsequently the campaign failed to generate significant public interest.[3] During the term the government had controversially resolved the problem of cost over-runs and building delays at the Sydney Opera House by forcing the resignation of the architect, Jørn Utzon. However, this was seen by many as a positive action by the government.[4] New government policies during the campaign included an increase in state aid for private schools, increased spending on hospitals and a consumer affairs agency to monitor prices.[5]

In contrast to the coalition, Labor's leader and former Premier, Jack Renshaw was unable to resonate with urban voters and had a hard time adjusting to television. He had also led Labor government widely seen as tired and unfocused to defeat in the previous election three years earlier.[6] Labor's campaign promises included four weeks annual leave for all employees on state controlled award wages, the restoration of the Sydney City Council, price controls for basic food items and state control of Credit Unions. Renshaw was unable to match the government's promises of aid for private schools, which was a difficult ideological question for Labor.[7][8]


Prior to the election the Country Party had gained the seats of Bathurst from the Labor Party and Oxley from the Liberal Party at by-elections caused by the deaths of sitting members. There was a slight swing to the Labor Party in the two party preferred vote at the election. However, the effects of the redistribution resulted in a significant improvement in the position of the coalition government and changes in seats at the election reflected the effects of the re-distribution rather than a swing in voter sentiment. The government had a buffer of 6 seats in the new parliament:

The DLP contested 42 seats but achieved less than 3% of the statewide vote while the Communist party was reduced to 6 candidates who received negligible support. The New State Movement, which had suffered a devastating defeat at a plebiscite on the formation of a new state in New England in 1967, contested 4 seats and gained 0.80% of the total vote but up to 35% in individual seats.

The election marked the first time that a non-Labor government in New South Wales had been reelected since the Coalition won three consecutive elections from 1932 to 1938.

Seats changing party representationEdit

This table lists changes in party representation since the 1965 election

Seat Incumbent member Party New member Party
Ashfield New Seat David Hunter   Liberal
Ashfield-Croydon David Hunter   Liberal Abolished Seat
Bathurst   Labor Clive Osborne   Country
Blue Mountains New seat Harold Coates   Independent
Broken Hill New seat Lew Johnstone   Labor
Burrendong New seat Roger Wotton   Country
Campbelltown New Seat Max Dunbier   Liberal
Casino Richmond Manyweathers   Country Abolished Seat
Cobar Lew Johnstone   Labor Abolished Seat
Concord Thomas Murphy   Labor Abolished seat
Corrimal New Seat Laurie Kelly   Labor
Dulwich Hill Cliff Mallam   Labor Abolished seat
Fuller New seat Peter Coleman   Liberal
Hartley Harold Coates   Independent Abolished seat
Illawarra Howard Fowles   Labor Abolished Seat
Kembla New seat George Petersen   Labor
Kurri Kurri Ken Booth   Labor Abolished seat
Manly Douglas Darby   Independent Liberal Douglas Darby   Liberal
Merrylands New seat Jack Ferguson   Labor
Mudgee Leo Nott   Labor Abolished seat
Murray Joe Lawson   Country Joe Lawson   Independent
Northcott New seat Jim Cameron   Liberal
Oxley   Liberal Bruce Cowan   Country
Redfern Fred Green   Labor Abolished seat
Ryde Frank Downing   Labor Abolished seat
Sturt William Wattison   Labor Abolished seat
Sutherland Tom Dalton   Labor Tim Walker   Liberal
Wallsend New seat Ken Booth   Labor
Wollongong New seat Jack Hough   Liberal
Wollongong-Kembla Jack Hough   Liberal Abolished seat
Yaralla New seat Lerryn Mutton   Liberal

Bathurst was won by the Country Party at a 1967 by-election caused by the death of Labor's Gus Kelly

Oxley was won by the Country Party at a 1965 by-election caused by the death of the Liberal Party's Les Jordan

Key datesEdit

Date Event
23 January 1968 The Legislative Assembly was dissolved, and writs were issued by the Governor to proceed with an election.
31 January 1968 Nominations for candidates for the election closed at noon.
24 February 1968 Polling day.
22 March 1968 Last day for the writs to be returned and the results formally declared.
26 March 1968 Opening of 42nd Parliament.

Tabulated resultsEdit

New South Wales state election, 24 February 1968[9]
Legislative Assembly
<< 19651971 >>

Enrolled voters 2,356,977
Votes cast 2,219,979 Turnout 94.19 +0.28
Informal votes 58,409 Informal 2.63 +0.59
Summary of votes by party
Party Primary votes % Swing Seats Change
  Liberal 831,514 38.47 −1.12 36 +5
  Country 229,656 10.62 +0.39 17 +1
  Labor 931,563 43.10 −0.21 39 −6
  Independent 92,704 4.29 +1.17 2 +1
  Democratic Labor 49,457 2.29 +0.18 0
  New Staters 17,303 0.80 +0.80 0
  Communist 5,828 0.27 −0.37 0
  All others 3,545 0.16 +0.16 0
  Independent Liberal NSW 0 0 −1.00 0 −1
Total 2,161,570     94  

All electorates were contested


Robert Askin and Charles Cutler remained Premier and Deputy Premier throughout the term of the parliament. Renshaw was replaced as the Leader of the Labor Party by Pat Hills in December 1968. During the parliament there were 5 by-elections. These produced no change in party representation with the exception of the Liberal Party losing Georges River to Labor's, Frank Walker.


  1. ^ "How the electorate changes will operate". The Sydney Morning Herald. 16 April 1966. p. 16.
  2. ^ "Rally to protest electorate proposal". The Sydney Morning Herald. 18 April 1966. p. 5.
  3. ^ "2 Million vote today". The Sydney Morning Herald. 24 February 1968. p. 1.
  4. ^ "Mr Hughes and Mr Utzon". The Sydney Morning Herald. 24 February 1968. p. 2.
  5. ^ "2 Million vote today". The Sydney Morning Herald. 24 February 1968. p. 1.
  6. ^ Evan Whitton (19 February 1968). "Renshaw: Jack with Beanstalk and Giant". The Sydney Morning Herald. p. 2.
  7. ^ "Renshaw: lists his priorities". The Sydney Morning Herald. 19 February 1968. p. 8.
  8. ^ McMullin, Ross (1991). The Light on the Hill: The Australian Labor Party 1891-1991. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-554966-X.
  9. ^ Green, Antony. "1968 election totals". New South Wales Election Results 1856-2007. Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 12 August 2019.

See alsoEdit