ID 0329

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) 19 September 1981

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) Neville Kenneth Wran
Premier's party affiliation Australian Labor Party 
Assembly support for government at election Majority 
If coalition, coalition partner(s)  

Government in office after election

Premier in office after election. Neville Kenneth Wran
Premier's party affiliation Australian Labor Party
Assembly support for government after election Majority 
If coalition, coalition partner(s)  
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Enrolment and voting

Total number of voters on the roll 3,212,657 
Number of Assembly seats 99 
Number of uncontested seats
If uncontested seats, number of voters on the roll in uncontested seats 34,432 
Number of voters on the roll in contested seats 3,178,225 
Total ballots cast (may differ from number of votes in multiple voting systems) 2,897,033 
Turnout (rate of voting in contested seats) 91.15% 
Total valid votes 2,807,727 
Rate of informal (invalid) voting 3.08%
Informal (invalid) ballots in multiple voting system Not applicable
Electoral system Universal franchise at 18 years (from 1973); single member districts; preferential voting (AV); optional preferences; compulsory voting (see notes) 

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New South Wales, Assembly votes and seats won

Election held on 19 September 1981
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 1,564,622  55.73  -2.04     69  69.70 
Liberal Party 775,463  27.62  +0.64     14  14.14 
National Country Party 314,841  11.21  +1.31     14  14.14 
Independents 78,399  2.79  +0.55     2.02 
Australian Democrats 68,252  2.43  -0.22        
Communist Party 6,150  0.22  -0.08        
Votes for other than listed parties 0.00  -0.16          
Totals 2,807,727  100.00    99  100.00 


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Notes

Electoral legislation: The electoral system was altered in 1979 to permit the optional expression of preferences for Legislative Assembly elections, to remove of the distinction between city and country electoral districts in calculating the number of voters to be included in an electoral district for the Assembly, and to grant final authority in determining electoral district boundaries to an Electoral Districts Commission; see Turner, p.193 (see 'Reference', below).

Public funding for election campaigns: Legislation was passed in 1981 to provide for public funding for parties and candidates at New South Wales state elections; see Turner, pp. 194-195 (see 'Reference', below).

Referendums on four year parliamentary terms and the pecuniary interests of members of parliament: Two referendums were held on the same day as the 1981 general election, one to extend the maximum period between elections for the Legislative Assembly from three to four years (from 1984), and the other to establish a register of the pecuniary interests of parliamentarians; see Turner, p.193 (see 'Reference', below). The referendum on the extension of parliamentary terms passed by 1,951,455 votes to 874,944; the referendum on registering the pecuniary interests of parliamentarians passed by 2,391,036 votes to 388,791: see Anne Twomey, The Constitution of New South Wales, p. 319 (Sydney: Federation Press, 2004, ISBN 1862875162).

Independents: Two independents were elected at this election; John Hatton was elected unopposed in the electoral district of South Coast, and Ted Mack defeated the opposition leader and leader of the Liberal Party, Bruce McDonald, in North Shore; see Turner, p. 207 (see 'Reference', below).

Reference: For a comprehensive survey of this election and the preceding period, see Ken Turner, '1981', in Michael Hogan and David Clune (editors), The People's Choice: Electoral Politics in 20th Century New South Wales, vol. 3 (1968-1999), pp. 181-214, (Sydney: Parliament of New South Wales and University of Sydney, 2001, ISBN 0909907412), and note Richard Lucy, 'Wran Acts: The NSW Election of 1981', Politics, 17(1) May 1982: 100-110.

Sources

Colin A Hughes, A Handbook of Australian Government and Politics 1975-1984, pp. 189-196, (Rushcutters Bay, NSW: Australian National University Press, 1986, ISBN 008033038X); 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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