ID 0307

Parliament of New South Wales, Assembly election

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General election for the Assembly New South Wales 
Date of election (or first day of voting at elections held over more than one day) 20 March 1920

Government in office and parliamentary support before and after the election

Government in office at election

Premier in office at date of election. (check notes to see if change of Premier since previous election) William Arthur Holman
Premier's party affiliation Nationalist Party 
Assembly support for government at election Majority 
If coalition, coalition partner(s)  

Government in office after election

Premier in office after election. John Storey
Premier's party affiliation Australian Labor Party
Assembly support for government after election Minority 
If coalition, coalition partner(s)  
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Enrolment and voting

Total number of voters on the roll 1,154,437 
Number of Assembly seats 90 
Number of uncontested seats
If uncontested seats, number of voters on the roll in uncontested seats  
Number of voters on the roll in contested seats 1,154,437 
Total ballots cast (may differ from number of votes in multiple voting systems) 648,709 
Turnout (rate of voting in contested seats) 56.19% 
Total valid votes 585,809 
Rate of informal (invalid) voting 9.7%
Informal (invalid) ballots in multiple voting system Not applicable
Electoral system Universal franchise at 21 years; eight and five member districts; proportional representation by STV; preferences for at least five candidates required (see notes) 

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New South Wales, Assembly votes and seats won

Election held on 20 March 1920
Criteria for the inclusion of parties in this table are set out in the Glossary under 'listed party'

Party Name First preference vote n First preference vote share % Change from previous election % Seats won n Uncontested seats held n Seat share %
Australian Labor Party 252,371  43.08  +0.17     43  47.78 
Nationalist Party (Nationalists) 175,280  29.92  -17.52     28  31.11 
Progressive Party 88,557  15.12  *     15  16.67 
Independents 39,377  6.72  +2.57     3.33 
Democratic Party (Catholic Federation) 14,026  2.39  *        
Socialist Party 6,143  1.05  +1.00     1.11 
Votes for other than listed parties 10,055  1.72  +1.72          
Totals 585,809  100.00    90  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

Electoral System: This was the first of three general elections in New South Wales to use the single transferable vote system of proportional representation (PR-STV). The 90 members were to be elected from 24 multimember districts; 'Eight electoral districts in metropolitan areas were represented by five Members each and 15 regional and rural districts were represented by three Members each. Voters were required to give preferences for at least five candidates and could give preferences for additional candidates if they chose', Anne Twomey, The Constitution of New South Wales, p. 343 (Sydney: Federation Press, 2004, ISBN 1862875162).

For the circumstances prompting the adoption of this system and its consequences for parties and voters at this election, see Michael Hogan, '1920', in Michael Hogan and David Clune (editors), The People's Choice: Electoral Politics in 20th Century New South Wales, vol. 1 (1901 to 1927), pp. 181-234, at pp. 183-189, (Sydney: Parliament of New South Wales and University of Sydney, 2001, ISBN 0909907390). Hogan observes that the change to a more complicated ballot structure is likely to have been a factor in the increase in the informal vote (number of spoiled ballots) and may have contributed to the decline in voter turnout.

Minority government: Storey was commissioned to form a Labor Party minority government; even though the Labor Party had won only 43 of the 90 seats in the assembly, Storey could rely on the support of the Socialist Party member, one of the independent members, and the casting vote of the Speaker who, although elected as a Nationalist, was willing to support Storey's ministry.

Defeat of premier: Premier Holman lost his seat at this election and George Fuller became leader of the Nationalist Party.

Progressive Party: This party broke away from the Nationalists and, while its primary focus concerned the protection of the interests of rural New South Wales, it included members who were suspicious of party politics and favoured increased citizen participation in the political process; see Hogan, '1920', pp. 199-204 (see 'Reference', below), and note Don Aitkin, The Country Party of New South Wales: A Study of Organisation and Survival, (Canberra: Australian National University Press, 1972, ISBN 0708100333).

Democratic Party (Catholic Federation): The Democratic Party was a Roman Catholic sectarian party; see Hogan, '1920', p. 223 (reference in following paragraph),

Reference: For a comprehensive survey of this election and the preceding period, see Michael Hogan, '1920', in Michael Hogan and David Clune (editors), The People's Choice: Electoral Politics in 20th Century New South Wales, vol. 1 (1901 to 1927), pp. 181-234, (Sydney: Parliament of New South Wales and University of Sydney, 2001, ISBN 0909907390).

Sources

Colin A Hughes and B D Graham, A Handbook of Australian Government and Politics 1890-1964, pp. 423-460, (Canberra: Australian National University Press, 1968, SBN 708102700); New South Wales, Parliament, The New South Wales Parliamentary Record: Legislative Council and Legislative Assembly, 1824-1999, vol. VI, pp. 7-15, (Sydney: Parliament of New South Wales, 1999).



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