1957 Queensland state election
Elections were held in the Australian state of Queensland on 3 August 1957 to elect the 75 members of the state's Legislative Assembly. The major parties contesting the election were the Queensland Labor Party led by Premier Vince Gair, the Labor Party led by former Deputy Premier Jack Duggan, and the Country-Liberal coalition led by Frank Nicklin.
All 75 seats in the Legislative Assembly of Queensland
38 Assembly seats were needed for a majority
The elections, only 15 months into the parliamentary term, were made necessary by the collapse of the nine-term Labor government. Gair had formed the Queensland Labor Party after being expelled from the Labor Party, and attempted to stay in power as a minority government. However, a request for supply was denied on 12 June, forcing the election. The Country-Liberal Coalition won a decisive victory, taking 42 seats against only 31 for the two Labor factions combined.
|24 April 1957||Vince Gair was expelled from the Labor Party.|
|26 April 1957||The Queensland Labor Party was formed, and Parliament was prorogued to 11 June.|
|11 June 1957||Parliament resumed for business at noon.|
|13 June 1957||The Parliament was dissolved.|
|2 July 1957||Writs were issued by the Administrator to proceed with an election.|
|12 July 1957||Close of nominations.|
|3 August 1957||Polling day, between the hours of 8am and 6pm.|
|12 August 1957||The Gair Ministry resigned and the Nicklin Ministry was sworn in.|
|24 August 1957||The writ was returned and the results formally declared.|
|27 August 1957||Parliament resumed for business.|
On 18 April 1957, the Queensland Central Executive of the Labor Party passed a vote of no confidence in Premier Gair, and on 24 April, despite having gained a unanimous vote of support from the Cabinet, he was expelled from the Labor Party. On 26 April, Gair and 25 MLAs met and formed the Queensland Labor Party (QLP) with those present, with Gair as leader. Those at the meeting included all of the Cabinet except Deputy Premier Jack Duggan and two ex-Labor Independents. All these were also expelled from the party. Duggan resigned from the ministry on 29 April and succeeded Gair as leader of the Labor Party, which commanded the support of 22 MLAs.
Gair almost immediately began talks with Nicklin for confidence and supply support in the legislature. However, Nicklin broke them off on the advice of federal Country Party leader Arthur Fadden, who believed the ructions in Labor gave Nicklin a chance to become Premier himself, ending 22 years in opposition. On 12 June 1957, Lieutenant Governor and Chief Justice of Queensland Alan Mansfield (Governor John Lavarack was indisposed) ordered Parliament to reassemble. Shortly after 10:30 pm that night, Treasurer Ted Walsh moved that supply be granted to the Gair QLP government. The motion was defeated after the ALP and Coalition rose to vote against it, bringing the Gair government down. Gair immediately asked for new elections, which were called for 3 August.
On 1 July, Frank Nicklin delivered the Country Party's policy speech at Maroochydore, while Kenneth Morris delivered the Liberal Party's policy speech in Brisbane. The two coalition partners declared to the electorate that only they could deliver unity and effective government, an acceleration of development and civil rights, as well as court supervision of union ballots to limit strike action.
On 4 July, Jack Duggan, the Labor leader, announced Labor's campaign slogan, "A fair go for all", and promised three weeks' annual leave (the issue over which Premier Vince Gair and the party executive had split) would be implemented if his party was elected. On 8 July, Gair, the incumbent Premier representing the Queensland Labor Party (QLP), spent half his speech talking about the dispute that had led to the split, promised an attack upon Communism and a continuance of the previous government's development platform.
Nominations closed on 12 July, with a record total of 219 candidates. Four seats were uncontested, but many seats had both Labor and QLP contestants. Some contests became particularly bitter as the Labor Party accused their QLP opponents of sectarianism and alleged direct interference by ministers of the Catholic Church, despite Archbishop James Duhig's refusal to get involved. The campaigns were strongest in the leaders' and deputy leaders' own seats.
Politicians from around Australia, in particular from the Labor Party, came to Queensland during the campaign, including the federal opposition leader, Dr H. V. Evatt, Arthur Calwell, Clyde Cameron and former Victorian premier John Cain, who died of a stroke on 9 August after giving a speech in Townsville.
When the writs were dropped, the Labor forces were in a precarious position. Every ALP MP faced a QLP challenger, and every QLP MP faced an ALP challenger. This created dozens of three-cornered contests, and the first-past-the-post system left them without the option of directing preferences to each other even if they wanted to do so.
The Coalition actually suffered a swing of 1.2 percent against it. However, the ructions in Labor allowed the Coalition to win a number of three-cornered contests, assuring a comfortable majority for Nicklin, with 42 seats against only 31 for the two Labor factions combined. The ALP lost both Duggan and deputy leader Felix Dittmer, whose seats were won by Liberal candidates. The QLP lost 14 seats (two of them to the ALP), but seven of the ten ministers retained their seats. This began what would be 32 years of non-Labor government in Queensland.
|Summary of votes by party|
|NQ Labor||7,488||1.07||–0.25||1||± 0|
|Ind. Labor||2,257||0.32||+0.26||0||± 0|
|Ind. Conservative||2,723||0.39||+0.39||0||± 0|
- 1 791,719 electors were enrolled to vote at the election, but three Country seats representing 30,956 enrolled voters and one Liberal seat representing 13,308 voters were unopposed.
The Country Party's win in this election proved to be one of the major turning points in Queensland politics; they remained in power continuously until the 1989 state election.
The ALP elected Leslie Wood as party leader and Eric Lloyd as deputy leader; neither had previously served in a ministry. Wood, the member for North Toowoomba, died in office on 29 March 1958, and Duggan returned as both a member of Parliament and leader of the party at the by-election on 31 May. Dittmer, meanwhile, was elected to the Australian Senate.
Former Prime Minister Frank Forde, who lost his seat of Flinders by one vote, alleged the wrongful disallowance of some votes and successfully lodged a petition against his opponent's return at the Court of Disputed Returns; however he lost the resulting by-election.
- "A Proclamation". Queensland Government Gazette. 26 April 1957. p. 194:1467.
- "A Proclamation". Queensland Government Gazette. 24 May 1957. p. 195:347.
- "A Proclamation". Queensland Government Gazette. 13 June 1957. p. 195:975.
- "Untitled". Queensland Government Gazette. 2 July 1957. p. 195:1267.
- "Untitled". Queensland Government Gazette. 12 August 1957. p. 195:2075–2078.
- "Untitled". Queensland Government Gazette. 22 August 1957. p. 195:2459.
- Morrison, Allan Arthur (May 1958). "Australian Political Chronicle: July–December 1957". Australian Journal of Politics and History. 3 (2): 237–238. ISSN 0004-9522.
- Australian Government and Politics Database. "Parliament of Queensland, Assembly election, 3 August 1957". Archived from the original on 2017-04-13. Retrieved 25 January 2010.