1990 Australian federal election

The 1990 Australian federal election was held in Australia on 24 March 1990. All 148 seats in the House of Representatives and 40 seats in the 76-member Senate were up for election. The incumbent Australian Labor Party, led by Bob Hawke, defeated the opposition Liberal Party of Australia, led by Andrew Peacock, with its coalition partner, the National Party of Australia, led by Charles Blunt, despite losing the nationwide popular and two-party-preferred vote. The result saw the re-election of the Hawke government for a fourth successive term.

1990 Australian federal election

← 1987 24 March 1990 (1990-03-24) 1993 →

All 148 seats in the House of Representatives
75 seats were needed for a majority in the House
40 (of the 76) seats in the Senate
Registered10,728,435 Increase 3.62%
Turnout10,225,800 (95.31%)
(Increase1.47 pp)
  First party Second party
Leader Bob Hawke Andrew Peacock
Party Labor Liberal/National coalition
Leader since 8 February 1983 9 May 1989
Leader's seat Wills (Vic.) Kooyong (Vic.)
Last election 86 seats 62 seats
Seats won 78 seats 69 seats
Seat change Decrease 8 Increase 7
First preference vote 3,904,138 4,302,127
Percentage 39.44% 43.46%
Swing Decrease 6.46% Decrease 2.44%
TPP 49.90% 50.10%
TPP swing Decrease 0.93 Increase 0.93

Results by division for the House of Representatives, shaded by winning party's margin of victory.

Prime Minister before election

Bob Hawke

Subsequent Prime Minister

Bob Hawke

It was the first and, to date, only time the Labor party won four consecutive elections. As of 2023 it is the most recent federal election in which leaders of both the largest parties represented divisions outside New South Wales, the last to have both major party leaders from the same city other than Sydney, the last to have a rematch just six years earlier and until 2001, thus was the last for the 20th century, which unlike 13 years earlier in 1977 when it's the last rematch with the same major party leaders appeared consecutively after the previous federal election in the 20th century just 2 years earlier, and the last to have both major party leaders born prior to World War II.

Background edit

After John Howard lost the 1987 election to Hawke, Andrew Peacock was elected Deputy Leader in a show of party unity. In May 1989, Peacock's supporters mounted a party room coup which returned Peacock to the leadership. Hawke's Treasurer, Keating, ridiculed Peacock by asking: "Can the soufflé rise twice?" and calling him "all feathers and no meat".

Hawke's government was in political trouble, with high interest rates and a financial crisis in Victoria. The controversy over the Multifunction Polis boiled over during the federal election campaign. Peacock, declared that a future Coalition Government would abandon the project.[1] He shared the Asian "enclave" fears of RSL president Alf Garland and others.[2] The following day, The Australian newspaper ran a headline "Peacock a 'danger in the Lodge'".[3]

Voting intention edit


Date Brand Primary vote
24 March 1990 election 39.44% 43.46 11.26% 5.83%
22 March 1990 Newspoll 41.5% 39.5% 14% 5%
4 March 1990 Newspoll 42% 39% 13% 6%
10 December 1989 Newspoll 44.5% 40% 9.5% 6%
27 March 1988 Newspoll 38% 48% 9% 5%
23 August 1987 Newspoll 49% 41% 8% 2%
18 July 1987 election 45.90% 45.90% 6.00% 2.18%

Results edit

House of Representatives results edit

Government (78)
  Labor (78)

Opposition (69)
  Liberal (55)
  National (14)

Crossbench (1)
  Independent (1)
House of Reps (IRV) — 1990–93 — Turnout 95.32% (CV) — Informal 3.19%
Party Votes % Swing Seats Change
    Liberal 3,440,902 34.76 +0.44 55   12
  National 833,557 8.42 –3.10 14   5
  Country Liberal 27,668 0.28 +0.05 0  
Liberal–National coalition 4,302,127 43.46 –2.44 69   7
  Labor 3,904,138 39.44 –6.46 78   8
  Democrats 1,114,216 11.26 +5.26
  Greens (state-based)[a] 137,351 1.37
  Independents[b] 257,139 2.60 +0.94 1   1
  Others 184,703 1.86 +1.67
Total 9,899,674 148  
Two-party-preferred vote
  Labor 4,930,837 49.90 −0.93 78   8
  Liberal–National coalition 4,950,072 50.10 +0.93 69   7
Invalid/blank votes 326,126 3.19 –1.75
Turnout 10,225,800 95.32
Registered voters 10,728,131
Source: Federal Elections 1990
Popular vote
Two-party-preferred vote
Parliament seats

Senate results edit

Government (32)
  Labor (32)

Opposition (34)
  Liberal (29)
  National (4)
  CLP (1)

Crossbench (10)
  Democrats (8)
  WA Greens (1)
  Independent (1)
Senate (STV GV) — 1990–93 — Turnout 95.81% (CV) — Informal 3.40%
Party Votes % Swing Seats won Seats held Change
    Liberal–National joint ticket 2,429,552 24.47 +10.71 5 N/A N/A
  Liberal 1,445,872 14.56 –6.41 12 29   2
  National 258,164 2.60 −4.49 1 4   2
  Country Liberal 29,045 0.29 +0.08 1 1  
Liberal–National coalition 4,162,633 41.92 –0.12 19 34  
  Labor 3,813,547 38.41 −4.42 15 32  
  Democrats 1,253,807 12.63 +4.15 5 8   1
  Greens[c] 208,157 2.10 +1.66 1 1   1
  Nuclear Disarmament[d] 38,079 0.38 –0.71   1
  Independents[e] 29,974 0.30 –1.59 1   1
  Others 423,568 4.25 +2.07
Total 9,929,765     40 76
Invalid/blank votes 349,065 3.40 –0.64
Turnout 10,728,830 95.81
Registered voters 10,728,131
Source: Federal Elections 1990

Seats changing hands edit

Members listed in italics did not contest their seat at this election. Where redistributions occurred, the pre-1990 margin represents the redistributed margin.

Seat Pre-1990 Swing Post-1990
Party Member Margin Margin Member Party
Adelaide, SA   Liberal Mike Pratt 6.5* N/A 3.7 Bob Catley Labor  
Aston, Vic   Labor John Saunderson 2.6 7.2 4.6 Peter Nugent Liberal  
Ballarat, Vic   Labor John Mildren 2.1 4.0 1.9 Michael Ronaldson Liberal  
Bendigo, Vic   Labor John Brumby 4.0 5.1 1.1 Bruce Reid Liberal  
Corinella, Vic   Labor notional – new seat 5.3 6.0 0.7 Russell Broadbent Liberal  
Dunkley, Vic   Labor Bob Chynoweth 5.6 6.8 1.2 Frank Ford Liberal  
Fairfax, Qld   National Evan Adermann N/A N/A 7.5 Alex Somlyay Liberal  
Hawker, SA   Labor Elizabeth Harvey 1.2 1.2 0.0 Chris Gallus Liberal  
Kennedy, Qld   National Bob Katter 3.0 4.4 1.4 Rob Hulls Labor  
La Trobe, Vic   Labor Peter Milton 4.2 4.6 1.4 Bob Charles Liberal  
McEwen, Vic   Labor Peter Cleeland 2.9 6.1 3.2 Fran Bailey Liberal  
McMillan, Vic   Labor Barry Cunningham 3.0 7.4 4.4 John Riggall Liberal  
Moreton, Qld   Liberal Don Cameron 0.7 3.0 2.3 Garrie Gibson Labor  
North Sydney, NSW   Liberal John Spender N/A N/A 7.7 Ted Mack Independent  
Page, NSW   National Ian Robinson 4.5 5.2 0.7 Harry Woods Labor  
Richmond, NSW   National Charles Blunt 6.6 7.1 0.5 Neville Newell Labor  

Notes edit

  • Adelaide, SA, won by Labor at the previous election, was won by Liberal in a by-election. The margin listed above is the by-election margin.
  • Deakin, Vic, won by Liberal at the previous election, was made notionally Labor in the redistribution and is considered a Liberal gain.
  • Isaacs, Vic and Moore, WA, won by Labor at the previous election, were made notionally Liberal in the redistribution and are considered Liberal retains.
  • Henty, Vic and Streeton, Vic, won by Labor at the previous election, were abolished.

Outcome edit

The Gallagher Index result: 12.7

The 1990 election resulted in a modest swing to the opposition Coalition. Though Labor had to contend with the late 80s/early 90s recession, they won a record fourth successive election and a record 10 years in government with Bob Hawke as leader, a level of political success not previously seen by federal Labor. The election was to be Hawke's last as Prime Minister and Labor leader, he was replaced by Paul Keating on 20 December 1991 who would go on to lead Labor to win a record fifth successive election and a record 13 years (to the day) in government resulting from the 1993 election.

At the election, the Coalition won a slim majority of the two-party vote, and slashed Labor's majority from 24 seats to nine, most of the gains made in Victoria.[5] However, it only managed a two-party swing of 0.9 percent, which was not nearly enough to deliver the additional seven seats the Coalition needed to make Peacock Prime Minister. Despite having regained much of what the non-Labor forces had lost three years earlier, Peacock was forced to resign after the election.

This election saw the peak of the Australian Democrats' popularity under Janine Haines, and a WA Greens candidate won a seat in the Australian Senate for the first time – although the successful candidate, Jo Vallentine, was already a two-term senator, having previously won a seat for the Nuclear Disarmament Party at the 1984 election, and the Vallentine Peace Group at the 1987 election. Until 2010, this was the only post-war election where a third party (excluding splinter state parties and the Nationals) has won more than 10% of the primary vote for elections to the Australian House of Representatives.

After the 1918 Swan by-election, which Labor unexpectedly won with the largest primary vote, a predecessor of the Liberals, the Nationalist Party of Australia, changed the federal lower house voting system from first-past-the-post to full-preference preferential voting for the subsequent 1919 election, and it has remained in place since, allowing the Coalition parties to safely contest the same seats. Full-preference preferential voting re-elected the Hawke government, the first time in federal history that Labor had obtained a net benefit from preferential voting.[6]

It also saw the Nationals' leader, Charles Blunt, defeated in his own seat of Richmond by Labor challenger Neville Newell—only the second time that a major party leader had lost his own seat. Newell benefited from the presence of independent and anti-nuclear activist Helen Caldicott. Her preferences flowed overwhelmingly to Newell on the third count, allowing Newell to win despite having been second on the primary vote.

See also edit

Notes edit

  1. ^ There was no federal Australian Greens party at this election. The Greens total includes Greens Western Australia (67,164), NSW Green Alliance[f] (45,819), Queensland Greens (10,054), United Tasmania Group (6,367), Greens South Australia (1,878) and ACT Green Democratic Alliance (6,069).
  2. ^ The independent member was Ted Mack (NSW).
  3. ^ The Greens total in the Senate includes Greens Western Australia (76,381 and elected one senator), NSW Green Alliance (64,583), Victorian Greens (23,420), Greens South Australia (19,499), United Tasmania Group (14,160), ACT Green Democratic Alliance (5,288), Greens New South Wales (4,826) and Australian Gruen (4,826).
  4. ^ The election of Nuclear Disarmament Senator Robert Wood was void. Irina Dunn was declared elected in his place but was expelled from the party and served out the remainder of her term as an independent.
  5. ^ Jo Vallentine had been re-elected in 1987 as an independent however she joined the Greens for this election. The sitting independent was Brian Harradine.
  6. ^ At this election the Greens in New South Wales were a loose alliance largely organised by local groups, with 18 candidates running under a variety of names: Australian Gruen Party (Fowler, Macarthur, Mackellar, Macquarie, Prospect, St George, Throsby and Werriwa), the Greens (Phillip and Wentworth), Illawarra Greens (Cunningham and Hughes), Sydney Greens, South Sydney Greens (Kingsford Smith), Central Coast Green Party (Dobell and Robertson), Greens in Lowe and Cowper Greens.

References edit

  1. ^ Hamilton, "Serendipity City", pp. 152-55.
  2. ^ Jupp, James (2 April 2007). From White Australia to Woomera: The Story of Australian Immigration. Cambridge University Press. pp. 107–219. ISBN 978-0-521-69789-7. Retrieved 12 January 2008.
  3. ^ Washington, David (23 May 2016). "The more opinion, the less it matters". Crikey. Retrieved 23 July 2023.
  4. ^ "Federal Newspoll Archive - Infogram". infogram.com. Retrieved 8 April 2023.
  5. ^ Megalogenis, George (25 June 2021). "Hard lessons: On unis, Coalition has embraced Howard's way". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 27 June 2021.
  6. ^ Green, Antony (23 September 2015). "The Origin of Senate Group Ticket Voting, and it didn't come from the Major Parties". Blogs.abc.net.au. Retrieved 30 July 2016.

External links edit