1978 New South Wales state election

A general election was held in the state of New South Wales, Australia, on Saturday 7 October 1978. The result was a landslide victory for the Labor Party under Neville Wran, popularly known as the "Wranslide."

1978 New South Wales state election

← 1976 7 October 1978 (1978-10-07) 1981 →

All 99 seats in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly
and 15 (of the 44) seats in the New South Wales Legislative Council
50 Assembly seats were needed for a majority
  First party Second party
  Neville Wran CNZM (cropped).jpg Peter Coleman, June 2012, His Home (cropped).jpg
Leader Neville Wran Peter Coleman
Party Labor Liberal/National coalition
Leader since 17 November 1973 16 December 1977
Leader's seat Bass Hill Fuller (lost seat)
Last election 50 seats 48 seats
Seats won 63 seats 35 seats
Seat change Increase13 Decrease13
Percentage 60.7% 39.3%
Swing Increase9.1 Decrease9.1

New South Wales Legislative Assembly 1978.svg
Legislative Assembly after the election

Premier before election

Neville Wran

Elected Premier

Neville Wran

It is notable for being so successful for the Labor Party that it tallied 57 percent of the primary vote, the largest primary vote for any party in over a century. Having gone into the election with a razor-thin majority of one seat, Labor scored a 13-seat swing, giving it a strong majority of 63 seats. Labor even managed to defeat the Leader of the Opposition, Peter Coleman, in his own electorate. The seats of many other prominent Shadow Ministers fell to Labor as well. Labor also won took many seats in areas long reckoned as Coalition heartland. Among them were four seats that Labor had never won before this election--Willoughby (contested for the Liberal Party by Nick Greiner who later became Premier), Manly, Wakehurst and Cronulla. It also came within striking distance of taking several more. For instance, it pared down the margin in Pittwater, the seat of former premier Bob Askin, to only 1.4 percent.

The state's first elections to the New South Wales Legislative Council, the state parliament's upper house, were held simultaneously. Voters had approved a referendum to introduce a directly elected council in June of that year.

The election was also the first in the state to be contested by the Australian Democrats.

Labor continued to campaign heavily on the strengths of Wran himself, with the slogan "Wran's our man".

Key datesEdit

Date Event
12 September 1978 The Legislative Assembly was dissolved, and writs were issued by the Governor to proceed with an election.[1]
18 September 1978 Nominations for candidates for the election closed at noon.
7 October 1978 Polling day, between the hours of 8am and 6pm.
19 October 1978 The second Wran ministry was constituted.
3 November 1978 The writ was returned and the results formally declared.
7 November 1978 Parliament resumed for business.


Legislative AssemblyEdit

New South Wales state election, 7 October 1978[1][2][3]
Legislative Assembly
<< 19761981 >>

Enrolled voters 3,085,661
Votes cast 2,862,616 Turnout 92.77 –0.52
Informal votes 65,274 Informal 2.28 +0.52
Summary of votes by party
Party Primary votes % Swing Seats Change
  Labor 1,615,949 57.77 +8.02 63 +13
  Liberal 754,796 26.98 –9.31 18 –12
  National Country 276,984 9.90 –0.13 17 – 1
  Democrats 74,019 2.65 +2.65 0 ± 0
  Communist 8,472 0.30 +0.22 0 ± 0
  Socialist Workers 4,467 0.16 +0.07 0 ± 0
  Independent 62,655 2.24 –0.58 1 ± 0
Total 2,797,342     99  

Legislative CouncilEdit

New South Wales state election, 7 October 1978[4]
Legislative Council

Enrolled voters 3,085,661
Votes cast 2,862,616 Turnout 92.77  
Informal votes 115,995 Informal 4.05  
Summary of votes by party
Party Primary votes % Swing Seats
  Labor 1,508,078 54.91   9 23
  Liberal/National Coalition 996,463 36.28   6 20
  Communist 79,794 2.91   0  
  Democrats 76,369 2.78   0  
  Family Action Movement 36,076 1.31   0  
  Marijuana 25,055 0.91   0  
  Independent 24,786 0.90   0  
Total 2,746,621     15  

The final 2 party preferred result was 60.7% for Labor and 39.3% for the Coalition, making it one of the biggest landslide victories in New South Wales's electoral history. In 2PP terms it was a 9.1% swing to Labor from the Coalition. This was beaten by the Coalition's result of 64.2% and 35.8% for Labor in the 2011 election. However, Labor's record primary vote of 57.7 percent still stands today.

Seats changing handsEdit

Seat Pre-1978 Swing Post-1978
Party Member Margin Margin Member Party
Albury   Liberal Gordon Mackie 8.1 -8.8 0.7 Harold Mair Labor  
Armidale   National Country David Leitch 6.6 -7.2 0.6 Bill McCarthy Labor  
Burwood   Liberal John Jackett 8.4 -10.0 1.6 Phil O'Neill Labor  
Cronulla   Liberal Ian Griffith 3.8 -12.4 8.6 Michael Egan Labor  
Fuller   Liberal Peter Coleman 3.4 -8.7 5.3 Rodney Cavalier Labor  
Manly   Liberal Douglas Darby 7.7 -11.5 3.8 Alan Stewart Labor  
Miranda   Liberal Tim Walker 4.0 -10.5 6.5 Bill Robb Labor  
Nepean   Liberal Ron Rofe 2.3 -10.8 8.5 Peter Anderson Labor  
Wakehurst   Liberal Allan Viney 7.8 -14.0 6.2 Tom Webster Labor  
Willoughby   Independent* Laurie McGinty 13.1 -13.9 0.8 Eddie Britt Labor  
Wollondilly   Liberal Tom Lewis 7.6 -8.0 0.4 Bill Knott Labor  
Yaralla   Liberal Lerryn Mutton 4.4 -12.6 8.2 Garry McIlwaine Labor  
  • Members in italics did not recontest their seats.
  • The sitting member for Willoughby, Laurie McGinty, lost preselection as the Liberal candidate, but still contested the election as an Independent. Initial margin is Liberal vs. Labor at the 1976 election.
  • In addition, Labor retained the seat of Earlwood, which it had won from the Liberals at the 1978 by-election.

Post-election pendulumEdit

Wollondilly Bill Knott ALP 0.4%
Armidale Bill McCarthy ALP 0.6%
Albury Harold Mair ALP 0.7%
Willoughby Eddie Britt ALP 0.8%
Burwood Phil O'Neill ALP 1.6%
Manly Alan Stewart ALP 3.8%
Fuller Rodney Cavalier ALP 5.3%
Fairly safe
Wakehurst Tom Webster ALP 6.2%
Miranda Bill Robb ALP 6.5%
Castlereagh Jack Renshaw ALP 6.9%
Yaralla Garry McIlwaine ALP 8.2%
Nepean Peter Anderson ALP 8.5%
Cronulla Michael Egan ALP 8.6%
Cessnock Bob Brown ALP 9.1%
Monaro John Akister ALP 9.3%
Gosford Brian McGowan ALP 9.6%
Murrumbidgee Lin Gordon ALP 9.6%
Casino Don Day ALP 9.7%
Earlwood Ken Gabb ALP 11.6%
Hurstville Kevin Ryan ALP 13.7%
Blue Mountains Mick Clough ALP 14.5% v IND
Coogee Michael Cleary ALP 16.4%
Burrinjuck Terry Sheahan ALP 16.9%
Georges River Frank Walker ALP 17.0%
Charlestown Richard Face ALP 17.4%
Kogarah Bill Crabtree ALP 17.9%
Ashfield Paul Whelan ALP 18.1%
Waverley Syd Einfeld ALP 18.8%
Drummoyne Michael Maher ALP 18.9%
Parramatta Barry Wilde ALP 19.0%
Peats Keith O'Connell ALP 20.8%
Woronora Maurie Keane ALP 20.8%
Campbelltown Cliff Mallam ALP 21.5%
Newcastle Arthur Wade ALP 22.3%
Corrimal Laurie Kelly ALP 22.5%
Maroubra Bill Haigh ALP 22.5%
Lake Macquarie Merv Hunter ALP 23.5%
Wollongong Eric Ramsay ALP 23.8%
Wentworthville Ernie Quinn ALP 24.2%
Heathcote Rex Jackson ALP 25.2%
East Hills Pat Rogan ALP 25.6%
Waratah Sam Jones ALP 25.6%
Bankstown Nick Kearns ALP 25.8%
Canterbury Kevin Stewart ALP 26.0%
Penrith Ron Mulock ALP 26.2%
Lakemba Vince Durick ALP 27.0%
Broken Hill Lew Johnstone ALP 27.1%
Blacktown Gordon Barnier ALP 27.2%
Munmorah Harry Jensen ALP 27.3%
Illawarra George Petersen ALP 28.2%
Auburn Peter Cox ALP 28.4%
Fairfield Eric Bedford ALP 28.4%
Granville Pat Flaherty ALP 28.6%
Merrylands Jack Ferguson ALP 28.6%
Wallsend Ken Booth ALP 29.3%
Bass Hill Neville Wran ALP 29.7%
Phillip Pat Hills ALP 29.7%
Rockdale Brian Bannon ALP 29.7%
Marrickville Tom Cahill ALP 29.8%
Heffron Laurie Brereton ALP 30.0%
Liverpool George Paciullo ALP 30.8%
Mount Druitt Tony Johnson ALP 31.1%
Balmain Roger Degen ALP 34.2%
Hornsby Neil Pickard LIB 0.8%
Goulburn Ron Brewer CP 0.9%
Pittwater Max Smith LIB 1.4%
Orange Garry West CP 1.7%
Bathurst Clive Osborne CP 2.7%
Young George Freudenstein CP 3.0%
Tamworth Noel Park CP 3.3%
Dubbo John Mason LIB 3.4%
Byron Jack Boyd CP 3.6%
Kirribilli Bruce McDonald LIB 3.8%
Wagga Wagga Joe Schipp LIB 3.8%
Maitland Milton Morris LIB 4.3%
Upper Hunter Col Fisher CP 4.4%
Eastwood Jim Clough LIB 4.5%
Vaucluse Rosemary Foot LIB 4.5%
The Hills Fred Caterson LIB 4.6%
Hawkesbury Kevin Rozzoli LIB 5.2%
Raleigh Jim Brown CP 5.3%
Fairly safe
Davidson Dick Healey LIB 7.4%
Northcott Jim Cameron LIB 7.4%
Lane Cove John Dowd LIB 7.5%
Barwon Wal Murray CP 8.3%
Burrendong Roger Wotton CP 8.3%
Bligh John Barraclough LIB 8.4%
Gloucester Leon Punch CP 9.2%
Tenterfield Tim Bruxner CP 9.4%
Murray Mary Meillon LIB 10.1%
Clarence Matt Singleton CP 10.9%
Mosman David Arblaster LIB 11.8%
Oxley Bruce Cowan CP 12.5%
Lismore Bruce Duncan CP 13.8%
Ku-ring-gai John Maddison LIB 15.5%
Sturt Tim Fischer CP 16.0%
Temora Jim Taylor CP 17.6%
Gordon Tim Moore LIB 24.0%
South Coast John Hatton IND 20.5 v LIB

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Green, Antony. "1978 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, 7 October 1978". Retrieved 6 February 2010.
  3. ^ Hughes, Colin A. (1986). A handbook of Australian government and politics, 1975-1984. ANU Press. p. 191. ISBN 0-08-033038-X.
  4. ^ Hughes (1986), p. 192.