ID 1287

Parliament of Western Australia, Legislative Council election

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Election for the Legislative Council Western Australia 
Date of election 19 February 1983
Type of Legislative Council election Half of Council to be elected (see notes) 
Related or previous Assembly election Assembly 19 February 1983

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 No

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

Total number of seats in the Legislative Council 34
If the Legislative Council has staggered terms, the number of seats to be filled at this election 17
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 17
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Enrolment and voting

Total number of voters on the roll 754,225 
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 754,225 
Total number of candidates 45 
Total ballots cast (may differ from number of votes in multiple voting systems) 671,102 
Turnout (rate of voting in contested seats) 88.98% 
Total valid votes 646,140 
Rate of informal (invalid) voting 3.72%
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; 17 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 19 February 1983
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 %
Australian Labor Party 16  327,129  50.63  +5.85     41.18    11  32.35 
Liberal Party 17  268,626  41.57  -5.93     52.94    21  61.76 
National Country Party 20,553  3.18  -0.64         2.94 
National Party 20,336  3.15  -0.28     5.88    2.94 
Australian Democrats 9,356  1.45  *            
Independents 140  0.02  *            
Totals 45  646,140  100.00    17  100.00    34  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.

Increase in the membership of the Legislative Council: The Constitution Acts Amendment Act of 1981 increased the membership of the Legislative Council to 34 with the addition of a seventeenth two-member province; David Black, Legislative Council, p. 7 (see 'Sources', below).

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', 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).

Australian Democrats: The Australian Democrats emerged as a centre party immediately preceding the 1977 federal election to capture the support of voters who were dissatisfied with both the Labor and Liberal parties; see John Warhurst (editor), Keeping the Bastards Honest: The Australian Democrats' First Twenty Years, (St. Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin, 1997, ISBN 1864484209). The Australian Democrats fielded candidates for House of Representatives and Senate seats in Western Australia from 1977. This was the first Legislative Council election contested by the party.

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.

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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