1983 Queensland state election

Elections were held in the Australian state of Queensland on 22 October 1983 to elect the 82 members of the state's Legislative Assembly.

1983 Queensland state election

← 1980 22 October 1983 (1983-10-22) 1986 →

All 82 seats in the Legislative Assembly of Queensland
42 Assembly seats were needed for a majority
  First party Second party Third party
  Joh Bjelke-Petersen.jpg
Leader Joh Bjelke-Petersen Keith Wright Terry White
Party National Labor Liberal
Leader since 8 August 1968 20 October 1982 (1982-10-20) August 1983
Leader's seat Barambah Rockhampton Redcliffe
Last election 35 seats 25 seats 22 seats
Seats won 41 seats 32 seats 8 seats
Seat change Increase6 Increase7 Decrease14
Percentage 38.93% 43.98% 14.88%
Swing Increase10.99 Increase2.49 Decrease12.04

Premier before election

Joh Bjelke-Petersen

Elected Premier

Joh Bjelke-Petersen

The election resulted in a sixth consecutive term of office for the National Party under Joh Bjelke-Petersen. It was the tenth election win for the National Party in Queensland since it first came to office in 1957.


The election was triggered when a number of Liberal MLAs, including Welfare Services Minister Terry White, crossed the floor of the Parliament in order to support a Labor motion to create an Expenditure Review Committee. White was sacked from cabinet for supporting the motion. In response, he launched a party-room coup against Liberal leader and deputy premier Llewellyn Edwards and became Liberal leader with Angus Innes as his deputy.

In the normal course of events, White would have succeeded Edwards as deputy premier. However, White and Innes' progressive leanings didn't sit well with Bjelke-Petersen, and he refused to make White deputy premier. In response, White tore up the Coalition agreement and led the Liberals to the crossbench. However, Bjelke-Petersen prorogued Parliament ahead of the election, allowing him to govern for nine weeks without fear of being toppled on the floor of the legislature.

Labor, under the leadership of new leader Keith Wright, hoped to make use of the division between the conservative parties to make gains, while the Liberals hoped to win enough seats to force the Nationals back into Coalition under more favourable terms. The Nationals sought to gain enough seats to form a majority government in their own right. Indeed, Bjelke-Petersen directed his campaign mainly at right-leaning Liberal voters, suggesting that the alternative was a Labor government propped up by White's Liberals.

Key datesEdit

Date Event
13 September 1983 The Parliament was dissolved.[1]
13 September 1983 Writs were issued by the Governor to proceed with an election.[2]
22 September 1983 Close of nominations.
22 October 1983 Polling day, between the hours of 8am and 6pm.
7 November 1983 The Bjelke-Petersen Ministry was reconstituted.
18 November 1983 The writ was returned and the results formally declared.
22 November 1983 Parliament resumed for business.[3]


The Nationals were returned to office, one seat short of a majority. Labor also made gains, although not enough to challenge Bjelke-Petersen's continued dominance. The Liberals were decimated, falling from 22 seats to a rump of eight seats. Of the Liberals who crossed the floor, only White and Innes were reelected.

Queensland state election, 22 October 1983[4][5]
Legislative Assembly
<< 19801986 >>

Enrolled voters 1,458,205
Votes cast 1,336,985 Turnout 91.69% +2.76%
Informal votes 19,591 Informal 1.47% –0.04%
Summary of votes by party
Party Primary votes % Swing Seats Change
  Labor 579,363 43.98% +2.49% 32 + 7
  Nationals 512,890 38.93% +10.99% 41 + 6
  Liberal 196,072 14.88% –12.04% 8 –14
  Democrats 10,926 0.83% –0.55% 0 ± 0
  Progress 741 0.06% –0.31% 0 ± 0
  Independent 16,994 1.29% –0.49% 1 + 1
  Others 408 0.03% –0.09% 0 ± 0
Total 1,317,394     82  
  National/Liberal 53.4%
  Labor 46.6%

Seats changing handsEdit

Seat Pre-1983 Swing Post-1983
Party Member Margin Margin Member Party
Ashgrove   Liberal John Greenwood 0.4 -2.0 1.6 Tom Veivers Labor  
Aspley   Liberal Beryce Nelson 13.9 -24.4 10.4 Brian Cahill National  
Callide   National Lindsay Hartwig 15.8 N/A 9.3 Lindsay Hartwig Independent  
Greenslopes   Liberal Bill Hewitt 12.3 -16.6 4.3 Leisha Harvey National  
Ipswich   Liberal Llewellyn Edwards 5.1 -14.8 9.7 David Hamill Labor  
Kurilpa   Liberal Sam Doumany 2.7 -4.7 2.0 Anne Warner Labor  
Mansfield   Liberal Bill Kaus 8.3 N/A 6.1 Bill Kaus National  
Maryborough   Labor Brendan Hansen 0.6 -0.6 0.03 Gilbert Alison National  
Mount Gravatt   Liberal Guelfi Scassola 15.7 -23.6 7.9 Ian Henderson National  
Mount Isa   National Angelo Bertoni 0.9 -3.7 2.8 Bill Price Labor  
Pine Rivers   Liberal Rob Akers 7.5 -7.9 0.4 Yvonne Chapman National  
Salisbury   Liberal Rosemary Kyburz 2.3 -3.4 1.1 Wayne Goss Labor  
Stafford   Liberal Terry Gygar 0.7 -0.8 0.1 Denis Murphy Labor  
Toowong   Liberal Ian Prentice 13.1 -18.3 5.2 Earle Bailey National  
Toowoomba North   Liberal John Lockwood 5.5 -9.1 3.6 Sandy McPhie National  
Townsville   Liberal Norman Scott-Young 6.0 -7.5 1.5 Ken McElligott Labor  
Windsor   National Bob Moore* 1.3 -3.4 2.1 Pat Comben Labor  
  • Members in italics did not recontest their seats.
  • Bob Moore was elected as a Liberal in the previous election, but changed to the National party in 1983.

Post-election pendulumEdit

Maryborough Gilbert Alison NAT 0.03%
Pine Rivers Yvonne Chapman NAT 0.4%
Barron River Martin Tenni NAT 3.2%
Caboolture Bill Newton NAT 3.3%
Toowoomba North Sandy McPhie NAT 3.6%
Redlands John Goleby NAT 4.0%
Greenslopes Leisha Harvey NAT 4.3%
Flinders Bob Katter NAT 5.2%
Toowong Earle Bailey NAT 5.2%
Fairly safe
Mansfield Bill Kaus NAT 6.1%
Hinchinbrook Ted Row NAT 6.2%
Albert Ivan Gibbs NAT 6.5%
Fassifern Kev Lingard NAT 6.5%
Whitsunday Geoff Muntz NAT 6.5%
Mirani Jim Randell NAT 6.6%
Burdekin Mark Stoneman NAT 6.7%
Isis Lin Powell NAT 7.1%
Mulgrave Max Menzel NAT 7.5%
South Coast Russ Hinze NAT 7.5%
Warrego Neil Turner NAT 7.7%
Mount Gravatt Ian Henderson NAT 7.9%
Toowoomba South John Warner NAT 10.0%
Aspley Brian Cahill NAT 10.4%
Peak Downs Vince Lester NAT 10.4%
Somerset Bill Gunn NAT 11.0%
Cooroora Gordon Simpson NAT 12.1%
Gregory Bill Glasson NAT 12.8%
Landsborough Mike Ahern NAT 13.9%
Southport Doug Jennings NAT 13.9%
Carnarvon Peter McKechnie NAT 14.3%
Gympie Len Stephan NAT 14.5%
Roma Russell Cooper NAT 15.5%
Burnett Claude Wharton NAT 16.1%
Surfers Paradise Rob Borbidge NAT 17.4%
Warwick Des Booth NAT 17.9%
Auburn Neville Harper NAT 23.3%
Condamine Brian Littleproud NAT 23.8%
Lockyer Tony Fitzgerald NAT 24.1%
Balonne Don Neal NAT 24.4%
Barambah Joh Bjelke-Petersen NAT 28.5%
Cunningham Tony Elliott NAT 28.7%
Stafford Dennis Murphy ALP 0.1%
Salisbury Wayne Goss ALP 1.1%
Townsville Ken McElligott ALP 1.5%
Ashgrove Tom Veivers ALP 1.6%
Kurilpa Anne Warner ALP 2.0% v LIB
Windsor Pat Comben ALP 2.1%
Cairns Keith De Lacy ALP 2.2%
Mourilyan Bill Eaton ALP 2.7%
Mount Isa Bill Price ALP 2.8%
Port Curtis Bill Prest ALP 3.6%
Woodridge Bill D'Arcy ALP 5.1%
Murrumba Joe Kruger ALP 5.2%
Bundaberg Clem Campbell ALP 5.3%
Fairly safe
Mackay Ed Casey ALP 6.0%
Townsville West Geoff Smith ALP 6.3%
Everton Glen Milliner ALP 6.5%
Townsville South Alex Wilson ALP 7.0%
Chatsworth Terry Mackenroth ALP 7.6% v LIB
Wynnum Eric Shaw ALP 8.3%
South Brisbane Jim Fouras ALP 8.7%
Brisbane Central Brian Davis ALP 8.9% v LIB
Ipswich West David Underwood ALP 9.4%
Ipswich David Hamill ALP 9.7%
Bulimba Ron McLean ALP 10.0%
Rockhampton North Les Yewdale ALP 10.4%
Rockhampton Keith Wright ALP 11.4%
Nudgee Ken Vaughan ALP 12.4% v LIB
Sandgate Nev Warburton ALP 12.8%
Cook Bob Scott ALP 13.5%
Wolston Bob Gibbs ALP 14.3% v LIB
Lytton Tom Burns ALP 21.4%
Archerfield Kevin Hooper ALP 21.6%
Wavell Brian Austin LIB 1.3%
Yeronga Norm Lee LIB 2.9%
Ithaca Col Miller LIB 3.3%
Redcliffe Terry White LIB 5.0%
Fairly safe
Nundah William Knox LIB 6.2%
Merthyr Don Lane LIB 7.7%
Mount Coot-tha Bill Lickiss LIB 10.5% v NAT
Sherwood Angus Innes LIB 16.7%
Callide Lindsay Hartwig IND 9.3% v NAT


After the election, Bjelke-Petersen openly invited Liberal MLAs to defect to the Nationals. On 25 October, two Liberal MLAs, Brian Austin (Wavell) and Don Lane (Merthyr) took up Bjelke-Petersen's offer and joined the Nationals. This gave them 43 seats, a majority of two—the first time that the Nationals had governed in majority at any level in Australia.

This left only six Liberals, and marked the end of Terry White's leadership and Angus Innes' deputy leadership. Former leader Sir William Knox (Nundah) was returned to lead what remained of the party.

Labor had performed well, but not well enough, especially in North Queensland. Still, Labor strategists hoped that they had recovered enough seats to put them within striking distance of winning in 1986.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "A Proclamation". Queensland Government Gazette. 13 September 1983. p. 274:187.
  2. ^ "Untitled". Queensland Government Gazette. 13 September 1983. p. 274:189.
  3. ^ "Untitled". Queensland Government Gazette. 10 November 1983. p. 274:1011.
  4. ^ Australian Government and Politics Database. "Parliament of Queensland, Assembly election, 22 October 1983". Retrieved 22 February 2009.
  5. ^ Hughes, Colin A. (1986). A handbook of Australian government and politics, 1975-1984. ANU Press. pp. 206–207. ISBN 978-0-08-033038-9.