ID 1286

Parliament of Western Australia, Legislative Council election

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Election for the Legislative Council Western Australia 
Date of election 23 March 1980
Type of Legislative Council election Half of Council to be elected (see notes) 
Related or previous Assembly election Assembly 23 February 1980

Government support in Legislative Council at and after election

Government majority in Legislative Council at date of election Yes
Government majority in new Legislative Council Yes

Composition of the Legislative Council and seats to be filled at this election

Total number of seats in the Legislative Council 32
If the Legislative Council has staggered terms, the number of seats to be filled at this election 16
Casual vacancies (by-elections) and additional seats to be filled at this election (see notes) Not applicable
Total seats to be filled at this election 16
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Enrolment and voting

Total number of voters on the roll 714,324 
Number of uncontested seats
If uncontested seats, number of voters on the roll in uncontested seats Not applicable 
Number of voters on the roll in contested seats 714,324 
Total number of candidates 41 
Total ballots cast (may differ from number of votes in multiple voting systems) 631,915 
Turnout (rate of voting in contested seats) 88.46% 
Total valid votes 604,223 
Rate of informal (invalid) voting 4.38%
Informal (invalid) ballots in multiple voting system Not applicable
Electoral system Universal franchise at 18 years (from 1971); preferential voting (the alternative vote), compulsory preferences; 16 multimember districts with staggered six year fixed terms; compulsory voting (see notes) 

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Western Australia, Legislative Council votes and seats won, and seats held

Elections held in 23 March 1980
Criteria for the inclusion of parties in this table are set out in the Glossary under 'listed party'

Party Name Candidates n First preference vote n First preference vote share % Change from previous election % Seats won by party n Seats won by party % Uncontested seats at this election n Seats held by party n Seats held by party %
Liberal Party 16  287,058  47.51  -2.80     10  62.50    19  59.38 
Australian Labor Party 14  270,538  44.77  +2.82     31.25    28.13 
National Country Party 23,101  3.82  -1.73     6.25    12.50 
National Party 20,704  3.43  *            
Progress Party 2,822  0.47  *            
Totals 41  604,223  100.00    16  100.00    32  100.00 


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* Party did not contest previous election or did not meet criteria for listing, or contested previous election under a different party name.

Notes

History of the Legislative Council: For information and references on the origins and early history of the Legislative Council, see the notes for the 1894 Legislative Council elections.

Franchise and qualifications for candidates: The Constitution Acts Amendment Act (No. 2) of 1963 abolished the property franchise and plural voting for the Legislative Council, making the franchise identical to that of the Legislative Assembly. 'In addition, the qualifications for membership of the Upper House were brought into line with those for the Assembly with the lowering of the minimum age from thirty to twenty-one [eighteen from 1973] and the reduction of the residential period within the state from two years to one year', David Black, Legislative Council, p. 6 (see 'Sources', below). For details of the previous franchise and candidate qualifications, see the notes to Legislative Council elections before 1965.

Electoral system and voting: The Constitution Acts Amendment Act (No. 2) of 1963 abandoned the system of three member provinces (electoral districts) with staggered biennial periodic elections which had been in place since 1894. In its place, the state was divided into fifteen Legislative Council provinces each returning two members. Members retained staggered six year fixed terms expiring in the May of the sixth year of their term, with one of the two members from each province retiring every three years; see David Black, Legislative Council, p. 6 (see 'Sources', below). For information on the previous system, see the notes to Legislative Council elections before 1965.

The Electoral Act of 1907 had introduced preferential voting (the alternative vote) with optional preferences for Legislative Council elections but the Electoral Act Amendment Act of 1911 made it compulsory to indicate '... preferences for all but the least favoured candidate', David Black, Legislative Council, p. 5 (see 'Sources', below).

By making the electoral roll and voting procedures for the Legislative Assembly the basis for Legislative Council elections, the Electoral Act Amendment Act of 1964, had the effect of introducing compulsory enrolment and voting for Legislative Council elections. The Act also provided that, with some limitations, '... in the case of a general election [for the Legislative Assembly] the polling day should be the same for all Legislative Assembly districts and Legislative Council provinces', David Black, Legislative Council, p. 6 (see 'Sources', below). This provision did not affect the fixed terms of Legislative Council members; successful candidates at an early Legislative Council election would have to wait until the following May to take up their seats.

Seats held by parties: The total number of members in the Legislative Council affiliated with each party after an election is shown in the seats held by party column of the 'Votes and seats' table, above.

National Country Party and National Party: A split within the National Country Party in 1978 led to '... the existence of two parties: the larger and more conservative National Country Party (NCP), the Liberals' coalition partner, and the smaller, more radical National Party (NP) playing a cross-bench role. The 1978 split was the culmination of a period of uncertainty as the party tried a number of strategies to arrest electoral decline', Geoff Gallop and Lenore Layman, 'Western Australia', in Brian Costar and Dennis Woodward (editors), Country to National: Australian Rural Politics and Beyond, pp 109-118, at p. 109 (North Sydney: George Allen & Unwin, 1985, ISBN 0868617084).

Progress Party: This party had previously campaigned as the Workers Party and was committed to greatly reduced state intervention in social and economic affairs; see Dean Jaensch and David Mathieson, A Plague on Both Your Houses: Minor Parties in Australia, p.146 (St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin, 1998, ISBN 1864484217).

References: For commentary on parliamentary politics in Western Australia from 1965, see Harry Phillips, 'The Modern Parliament, 1965-1989', in David Black (editor), The House on the Hill: A History of the Parliament of Western Australia 1832-1990, pp 184-262 , (Perth: Western Australian Parliamentary History Project, Parliament of Western Australia, 1991, ISBN 0730939839).

The Australian Journal of Politics and History has provided short surveys of Western Australian politics since 1955 (including parliamentary politics) in the 'Political Chronicle' section of the journal in issues of each annual volume. This publication can be viewed online through Wiley-Blackwell Journals at subscribing libraries.

A survey of electoral and party politics in Western Australia during this period can be found in David Black, 'Liberals Triumphant: The Politics of Development 1947-1980', in C T Stannage (editor), A New History of Western Australia, pp 441-470 (Perth: University of Western Australia Press, 1981, ISBN 0855641819.

Sources

Information for this election was taken from David Black, Legislative Council of Western Australia: Membership Register, Electoral Law and Statistics 1890-1989, (Perth: Western Australian Parliamentary History Project, 1989, revised 1991, ISBN 0730936414). David Black, An Index to Parliamentary Candidates in Western Australian Elections State and Federal 1890-2006, 2nd edition, (Perth: Western Australian History Project, 2006, ISBN 920830774) has been used to identify the party affiliation of some candidates. Note also, Colin A Hughes, A Handbook of Australian Government and Politics 1975-1984, pp 115-221 (Sydney: Australian National University Press, 1986, ISBN 008033038X).



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