1976 New South Wales state election

A general election for the New South Wales Legislative Assembly was held in the state of New South Wales, Australia, on Saturday 1 May 1976. The result was a narrow win for the Labor Party under Neville Wran—the party's first in the state in more than a decade.

1976 New South Wales state election

← 1973 1 May 1976 (1976-05-01) 1978 →

All 99 seats in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly
50 Assembly seats were needed for a majority
  First party Second party
  Neville Wran CNZM (cropped).jpg Sir Eric.jpg
Leader Neville Wran Eric Willis
Party Labor Liberal/Country coalition
Leader since 17 November 1973 23 January 1976
Leader's seat Bass Hill Earlwood
Last election 44 seats 52 seats
Seats won 50 seats 48 seats
Seat change Increase6 Decrease4
Percentage 49.75% 46.32%
Swing Increase6.82 Increase1.99

New South Wales Legislative Assembly 1976.svg
Legislative Assembly after the election

Premier before election

Eric Willis
Liberal/Country coalition

Elected Premier

Neville Wran


The incumbent Liberal-Country Party coalition had lost its longtime leader, Sir Robert Askin, at the end of 1974. His successor, Tom Lewis, didn't last a year as premier before his colleagues dumped him in favour of Eric Willis.

Wran successfully emerged from the shadow of the defeated Whitlam Labor government at a federal level. Labor's campaign focussed largely on the leader himself, what Australians call a "Presidential" style campaign. The state party had undergone a long process of renewal, and emerged with strong moderate credentials. Labor also offered an alternative to a long-serving government widely perceived as corrupt.

Wran's campaign slogan, "Let's put the state in better shape," delivered by the leader and key spokesmen Peter Cox and Syd Einfeld, resonated with voters.

Key datesEdit

Date Event
2 April 1976 The Legislative Assembly was dissolved, and writs were issued by the Governor to proceed with an election.[1]
8 April 1976 Nominations for candidates for the election closed at noon.
1 May 1976 Polling day, between the hours of 8am and 6pm.
14 May 1976 The Willis–Punch ministry resigned and the First Wran ministry was sworn in.
21 May 1976 The writ was returned and the results formally declared.
25 May 1976 Parliament resumed for business.


The election was in doubt for several days. Ultimately, the seats of Gosford and Hurstville fell to Labor by only 74 and 44 votes respectively. Had the Coalition retained these seats, it would have stayed in power with a one-seat majority. As it turned out, the loss of Gosford and Hurstville gave Wran a one-seat majority.

New South Wales state election, 1 May 1976[1][2][3]
Legislative Assembly
<< 19731978 >>

Enrolled voters 2,943,248[a]
Votes cast 2,745,749 Turnout 93.29 +0.78
Informal votes 48,220 Informal 1.76 –0.94
Summary of votes by party
Party Primary votes % Swing Seats Change
  Labor 1,342,038 49.75 +6.82 50 + 6
  Liberal 978,886 36.29 +2.44 30 – 4
  Country 270,603 10.03 –0.45 18 ± 0
  Workers 15,598 0.58 +0.58 0 ± 0
  Australia 7,407 0.27 –3.93 0 ± 0
  Socialist Workers 2,495 0.09 +0.09 0 ± 0
  Communist 2,220 0.08 +0.05 0 ± 0
  Democratic Labor 2,201 0.08 –5.88 0 – 1
  Independent 76,089 2.82 +0.28 1 – 1
Total 2,697,529     99  
Popular vote

Seats changing handsEdit

Seat Pre-1976 Swing Post-1976
Party Member Margin Margin Member Party
Ashfield   Liberal David Hunter 3.6 -8.7 5.1 Paul Whelan Labor  
Blue Mountains   Independent Harold Coates 6.5 -7.0 0.5 Mick Clough Labor  
Gordon   Democratic Labor Kevin Harrold N/A N/A 31.5 Tim Moore Liberal  
Gosford   Liberal Malcolm Brooks 5.7 -5.8 0.1 Brian McGowan Labor  
Hurstville   Liberal Tom Mead 3.1 -3.2 0.1 Kevin Ryan Labor  
Monaro   Liberal Steve Mauger 7.3 -8.8 1.5 John Akister Labor  
  • Members in italics did not recontest their seats.
  • In addition, Labor retained the seat of Coogee, which it had won from the Liberals at the 1974 by-election.

Post-election pendulumEdit

Gosford Brian McGowan ALP 0.1%
Hurstville Kevin Ryan ALP 0.1%
Blue Mountains Mick Clough ALP 0.5% v IND
Monaro John Akister ALP 1.5%
Casino Don Day ALP 1.6%
Castlereagh Jack Renshaw ALP 2.3%
Georges River Frank Walker ALP 2.8%
Coogee Michael Cleary ALP 3.7%
Murrumbidgee Lin Gordon ALP 3.7%
Ashfield Paul Whelan ALP 5.1%
Fairly Safe
Kogarah Bill Crabtree ALP 6.1%
Waverley Syd Einfeld ALP 7.0%
Parramatta Barry Wilde ALP 7.2%
Drummoyne Michael Maher ALP 7.3%
Woronora Maurie Keane ALP 8.1%
Peats Keith O'Connell ALP 8.7%
Burrinjuck Terry Sheahan ALP 8.8%
Campbelltown Cliff Mallam ALP 8.9%
Wentworthville Ernie Quinn ALP 10.7%
Charlestown Richard Face ALP 11.7%
Corrimal Laurie Kelly ALP 13.1%
Heathcote Rex Jackson ALP 13.2%
Penrith Ron Mulock ALP 13.9%
Maroubra Bill Haigh ALP 14.0%
Canterbury Kevin Stewart ALP 14.3%
Lake Macquarie Merv Hunter ALP 14.4%
Bass Hill Neville Wran ALP 14.6%
Blacktown Gordon Barnier ALP 14.7%
Lakemba Vince Durick ALP 14.7%
East Hills Pat Rogan ALP 14.8%
Merrylands Jack Ferguson ALP 15.1%
Auburn Peter Cox ALP 15.3%
Bankstown Nick Kearns ALP 15.5%
Wollongong Eric Ramsay ALP 16.0%
Rockdale Brian Bannon ALP 16.5%
Mount Druitt Tony Johnson ALP 17.4%
Waratah Sam Jones ALP 17.4%
Newcastle Arthur Wade ALP 17.7%
Munmorah Harry Jensen ALP 18.5%
Illawarra George Petersen ALP 18.6% v IND
Granville Pat Flaherty ALP 18.8%
Fairfield Eric Bedford ALP 19.2%
Wallsend Ken Booth ALP 19.3%
Liverpool George Paciullo ALP 19.6%
Heffron Laurie Brereton ALP 19.8%
Balmain Roger Degen ALP 24.2%
Marrickville Tom Cahill ALP 24.3%
Phillip Pat Hills ALP 26.0%
Cessnock George Neilly ALP 27.0%
Broken Hill Lew Johnstone ALP unopp.
Nepean Ron Rofe LIB 2.3%
Bathurst Clive Osborne CP 3.0%
Fuller Peter Coleman LIB 3.4%
Cronulla Ian Griffith LIB 3.8%
Miranda Tim Walker LIB 4.0%
Yaralla Lerryn Mutton LIB 4.4%
Earlwood Eric Willis LIB 4.5%
Goulburn Ron Brewer CP 4.6%
Fairly safe
Armidale David Leitch CP 6.6%
Wollondilly Tom Lewis LIB 7.6%
Manly Douglas Darby LIB 7.7%
Wakehurst Allan Viney LIB 7.8%
Burrendong Roger Wotton CP 7.9%
Albury Gordon Mackie LIB 8.2%
Burwood John Jackett LIB 8.4%
Young George Freudenstein CP 8.4%
Barwon Wal Murray CP 8.5%
Wagga Wagga Joe Schipp LIB 8.8%
Maitland Milton Morris LIB 9.8%
Orange Garry West CP 9.8%
Byron Jack Boyd CP 9.9%
Hawkesbury Kevin Rozzoli LIB 10.8%
Kirribilli Bruce McDonald LIB 11.1%
Hornsby Neil Pickard LIB 11.6%
Murray Mary Meillon LIB 12.6% v IND
Upper Hunter Col Fisher CP 12.7%
Tamworth Noel Park CP 12.8%
Willoughby Laurie McGinty LIB 13.1%
Raleigh Jim Brown CP 13.3%
Dubbo John Mason LIB 13.4%
Vaucluse Keith Doyle LIB 13.6%
Clarence Matt Singleton CP 13.7%
Bligh John Barraclough LIB 13.8%
Eastwood Jim Clough LIB 14.7%
The Hills Max Ruddock LIB 15.1%
Pittwater Bruce Webster LIB 15.2%
Tenterfield Matt Singleton CP 16.0%
Davidson Dick Healey LIB 16.4%
Lane Cove John Dowd LIB 16.4%
Northcott Jim Cameron LIB 18.2%
Sturt Tim Fischer CP 18.8%
Gloucester Leon Punch CP 19.2%
Oxley Bruce Cowan CP 19.2%
Temora Jim Taylor CP 19.2%
Mosman Lindsay Thompson LIB 20.1%
Ku-ring-gai John Maddison LIB 27.7%
Gordon Tim Moore LIB 31.5%
Lismore Bruce Duncan CP unopp.
South Coast John Hatton IND 16.2 v LIB

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ There were 2,989,786 enrolled voters but 46,538 were enrolled in electorates (one Labor and one Country) which were uncontested at the election.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Green, Antony. "1976 election totals". New South Wales Election Results 1856-2007. Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 14 August 2019.
  2. ^ Australian Government and Politics Database. "Parliament of New South Wales, Assembly election, 1 May 1976". Retrieved 6 February 2010.
  3. ^ Hughes, Colin A. (1986). A handbook of Australian government and politics, 1975-1984. ANU Press. p. 190. ISBN 0-08-033038-X.