1982 South Australian state election

State elections were held in South Australia on 6 November 1982. All 47 seats in the South Australian House of Assembly were up for election. The incumbent Liberal Party of Australia led by Premier of South Australia David Tonkin was defeated by the Australian Labor Party led by Leader of the Opposition John Bannon.

1982 South Australian state election

← 1979 6 November 1982 (1982-11-06) 1985 →

All 47 seats in the South Australian House of Assembly
24 seats were needed for a majority
11 (of the 22) seats in the South Australian Legislative Council
  First party Second party
  John Charles Bannon 1943-2015.jpg David Tonkin.jpg
Leader John Bannon David Tonkin
Party Labor Liberal
Leader since 18 September 1979 24 July 1975
Leader's seat Ross Smith Bragg
Last election 20 seats 24 seats
Seats won 24 seats 21 seats
Seat change Increase4 Decrease3
Percentage 50.9% 49.1%
Swing Increase5.9 Decrease5.9

Premier before election

David Tonkin

Elected Premier

John Bannon

A referendum on daylight saving was held on the same day, and was passed.[1]


Parliamentary elections for both houses of the Parliament of South Australia were held in South Australia in 1982, which saw John Bannon and the Australian Labor Party defeat the incumbent Liberal Party of Australia led by David Tonkin, after one term in power.

As Premier, Tonkin combined fiscal conservatism with socially progressive reforms. In the former, Tonkin made significant cuts to the public service, earning him the enmity of the unions, while an example of the latter was the passage of the land rights bill and the return to the Pitjantjatjara people of 10 per cent of South Australia's area.

Prior to the election, Tonkin removed Robin Millhouse (a former Liberal member who had defected to the Liberal Movement and then the Australian Democrats, and whose popularity enabled him to hold his seat of Mitcham) with an offer of a vacant seat in the Supreme Court.[citation needed] However the subsequent by-election saw the seat retained by Democrats candidate Heather Southcott.

One potential election factor was the copper and uranium mine at Olympic Dam, near Roxby Downs. Enabling legislation had been passed earlier in 1982, despite the opposition of the Labor Party, only when Norm Foster quit the Labor party to support it. Considered a controversial move in Labor circles, Bannon defused this as an election issue by promising that development would go ahead under a Labor government (a commitment which was honoured), despite having previously opposed it.

The Liberals also had to contend with the early 1980s recession.


Labor achieved a 5.9% swing, and won 4 seats from the Liberals (Brighton, Henley Beach, Mawson and Newland). The Liberals won the seat of Mitcham from the Democrats, so overall lost 3 seats. The House of Assembly numbers were Labor 24, Liberal 21, National Party 1 and Independent Labor 1, giving Labor a narrow majority.

In the Legislative Council, Liberal and Labor won 5 seats each, and the Democrats 1; giving a chamber of 11 Liberal, 9 Labor and 2 Democrats. Labor lost one seat to the Democrats, but regained the seat they had lost when Norm Foster resigned from the Labor party earlier that year. Foster stood as an Independent Labor member in the Legislative Council, but was not re-elected.


After the election loss, Tonkin resigned as Liberal leader and was succeeded by John Olsen, who won a leadership ballot against Dean Brown. A heart complaint caused Tonkin to leave parliament soon after at which a 1983 Bragg by-election was triggered, with the Liberals easily retaining the seat.

A 1984 Elizabeth by-election saw Independent Labor candidate Martyn Evans win the seat from Labor. This gave Labor a minority government (23 out of 47 seats), though it continued to govern with the support of Independent Labor members Evans and Norm Peterson.[2]

Key datesEdit

  • Issue of writ: 18 October 1982
  • Close of nominations: 26 October 1982
  • Polling day: 6 November 1982
  • Return of writ: On or before 4 December 1982


House of AssemblyEdit

South Australian state election, 6 November 1982[3]
House of Assembly
<< 19791985 >>

Enrolled voters 871,235
Votes cast 811,783 Turnout 93.18 +0.14
Informal votes 46,921 Informal 5.78 +1.35
Summary of votes by party
Party Primary votes % Swing Seats Change
  Labor 353,999 46.28 +5.43 24 +4
  Liberal 326,372 42.67 –5.27 21 –3
  Democrats 54,457 7.12 –1.18 0 –1
  National 17,782 2.32 +0.42 1 0
  Independent 12,252 1.60 +0.60 1 0
Total 764,862     47  
  Labor 389,625 50.94 +5.94
  Liberal 375,237 49.06 –5.94

Seats changing handsEdit

Seat Pre-1982 Swing Post-1982
Party Member Margin Margin Member Party
Brighton   Liberal Dick Glazbrook 4.7 5.5 0.8 June Appleby Labor  
Henley Beach   Liberal Bob Randall 1.0 5.0 4.0 Don Ferguson Labor  
Mawson   Liberal Ivar Schmidt 3.0 9.6 6.6 Susan Lenehan Labor  
Mitcham   Democrats Heather Southcott 4.7 15.1 10.4 Stephen Baker Liberal  
Newland   Liberal Brian Billard 6.2 9.8 3.6 John Klunder Labor  

Legislative CouncilEdit

South Australian state election, 6 November, 1982[4]
Legislative Council
<< 19791985 >>

Enrolled voters 871,215
Votes cast 808,363 Turnout 92.8 +0.2
Informal votes 81,400 Informal 10.1 +5.7
Summary of votes by party
Party Primary votes % Swing Seats
  Labor 345,936 47.6 +7.9 5 9
  Liberal 301,090 41.4 –9.2 5 11
  Democrats 40,405 5.6 –0.9 1 2
  National 14,514 2.0 +0.9 0 0
  Communist 11,837 1.6 +1.6 0 0
  Other 13,181 1.8 * 0 0
Total 726,963     11 22

Post-election pendulumEdit

Labor seats (24)
Brighton June Appleby ALP 0.8%
Newland John Klunder ALP 3.6%
Henley Beach Don Ferguson ALP 4.0%
Whyalla Max Brown ALP 4.1% v IND
Fairly safe
Mawson Susan Lenehan ALP 6.6%
Unley Kym Mayes ALP 6.6%
Norwood Greg Crafter ALP 9.1%
Ascot Park John Trainer ALP 9.3%
Hartley Terry Groom ALP 10.0%
Mitchell Ron Payne ALP 10.7%
Gilles Jack Slater ALP 10.7%
Albert Park Kevin Hamilton ALP 11.1%
Florey Bob Gregory ALP 13.2%
Playford Terry McRae ALP 14.7%
Adelaide Jack Wright ALP 15.6%
Price George Whitten ALP 16.1%
Baudin Don Hopgood ALP 16.2%
Napier Terry Hemmings ALP 19.2%
Peake Keith Plunkett ALP 19.5%
Elizabeth Peter Duncan ALP 20.0%
Stuart Gavin Keneally ALP 20.0%
Salisbury Lynn Arnold ALP 22.5%
Ross Smith John Bannon ALP 25.7%
Spence Roy Abbott ALP 27.9%
Liberal seats (21)
Coles Jennifer Adamson LIB 1.3%
Todd Scott Ashenden LIB 1.4%
Morphett John Oswald LIB 1.5%
Mount Gambier Harold Allison LIB 2.2%
Torrens Michael Wilson LIB 4.5%
Fairly safe
Hanson Heini Becker LIB 8.2%
Fisher Stan Evans LIB 9.8%
Rocky River John Olsen LIB 10.3%
Mitcham Stephen Baker LIB 10.4% v AD
Murray David Wotton LIB 10.6%
Eyre Graham Gunn LIB 12.1%
Glenelg John Mathwin LIB 12.4%
Light Bruce Eastick LIB 15.2%
Chaffey Peter Arnold LIB 15.4%
Victoria Allan Rodda LIB 16.6%
Kavel Roger Goldsworthy LIB 16.7%
Bragg David Tonkin LIB 18.1%
Alexandra Ted Chapman LIB 19.0%
Goyder John Meier LIB 25.1%
Davenport Dean Brown LIB 26.5%
Mallee Peter Lewis LIB 30.0%
Crossbench seats (2)
Semaphore Norm Peterson IND 10.3% v ALP
Flinders Peter Blacker NAT 23.7% v ALP

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ History of South Australian elections 1857–2006, volume 1: ECSA Archived 2 March 2014 at the Wayback Machine, Dean Jaensch
  2. ^ John Trainer, Letters to the Editor, March 29, 2014, Adelaide Advertiser
  3. ^ "Details of SA 1982 Election". Australian Politics and Elections Database.
  4. ^ Dean Jaensch. "History of South Australian elections 1857–2006, volume 2 Legislative Council". ECSA. Archived from the original on 8 March 2016. Retrieved 22 May 2016.

External linksEdit