ID 0479

Parliament of Victoria, Assembly election

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General election for the Assembly Victoria 
Date of election (or first day of voting at elections held over more than one day) 20 March 1976

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) Rupert James (Dick) Hamer
Premier's party affiliation Liberal Party 
Assembly support for government at election Majority 
If coalition, coalition partner(s)  

Government in office after election

Premier in office after election. Rupert James (Dick) Hamer
Premier's party affiliation Liberal 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 2,267,282 
Number of Assembly seats 81 
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 2,267,282 
Total ballots cast (may differ from number of votes in multiple voting systems) 2,101,414 
Turnout (rate of voting in contested seats) 92.68% 
Total valid votes 2,038,799 
Rate of informal (invalid) voting 2.98%
Informal (invalid) ballots in multiple voting system Not applicable
Electoral system Adult franchise at 18 years, single member districts, preferential voting (AV), compulsory preferences, compulsory voting 

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Victoria, Assembly votes and seats won

Election held on 20 March 1976
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 %
Liberal Party 939,481  46.08  +3.74     52  64.20 
Australian Labor Party 860,987  42.23  +0.62     21  25.93 
National Party 144,818  7.10  *     8.64 
Democratic Labor Party 52,765  2.59  -5.21        
Independents 24,303  1.19  +0.97        
Independent Labor 7,452  0.37  +0.04     1.23 
Australia Party 3,430  0.17  -1.41        
Workers Party 3,074  0.15  *          
Tenants' Rights Party 2,128  0.10  *        
Koorie Independent Party 361  0.02  *        
Votes for other than listed parties 0.00  0.00          
Totals 2,038,799  100.00    81  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 and voting: The Electoral Provinces and Districts Act of 1974 had increased the number of Legislative Assembly seats to 83 and divided the state into two regions (see Hughes, pp 109-110 in 'Sources', below). This arrangement reduced the degree of malapportionment but enabled the National Party (see below) to maintain a similar number of rural seats in the Assembly. Summary details of the 1975 redistribution of seats can be found in Carr (see 'Sources', below).

Government in office after election: The Hamer majority Liberal government was returned at this Victorian Assembly election in 1976 with an increase of 3.7 percent in the Liberal Party's first preference vote and, by winning 52 of the 81 Assembly seats, the highest proportion of Assembly seats (64.2 percent) held by the party since 1914.

Australian Labor Party: While the first preference vote for the Australian Labor Party was almost unchanged from the previous Assembly election in 1973, the party gained 3 seats and slightly increased its seat share at this election in 1976. On the evolution of the Labor Party in Victoria during this period, see James Jupp, 'Victoria: Left, Right and Centre', in Adrew Parkin and John Warhurst (editors), Machine Politics in the Australian Labor Party, ch. 3 (North Sydney: George Allen & Unwin, 1983 ISBN 0868613096).

From Country Party to National Party: The declining fortunes of the Country Party across much of Australia had prompted discussions within the party about broadening its electoral base; see generally, Brian Costar and Dennis Woodward (editors), Country to National: Australian Rural Politics and Beyond, (North Sydney: George Allen & Unwin, 1985 ISBN 0868617164). One strategy was to change the party's name but the process was complicated by the party's federal structure; between 1975 and 1982, the federal party and some state parties had slightly differing names. In Victoria, the party was renamed the National Party in 1975 but, at the federal level, the party name was the National Country Party until 1982.

At this election in 1976, the National Party gained 7.1 percent of the first preference votes , an increase over the Country Party's vote share of 6.0 percent at the previous Assembly election in 1973, but it lost a seat with a consequent decline in its seat share in an enlarged Assembly.

Democratic Labor Party: The Democratic Labor Party (DLP) strategy of preventing the Australian Labor Party from gaining office had been undermined by reforms adopted by the Australian Labor Party, the Labor Party's success in winning office at the federal election of 1972 and changes to the terms of political debate since the emergence of the DLP in 1955. In spite of these problems, the party managed to field 43 candidates at this Victorian Legislative Assembly election in 1976, but its share of first preference votes dropped to 2.6 percent and the party ceased to be a significant player in Victorian Assembly elections.

On the role of the DLP in Australian politics leading up to this period, see Richmond, pp 335-344 in 'References', below, and Michael Lyons, 'Defence, the Family and the Battler: The Democratic Labor Party and its Legacy', Australian Journal of Political Science, 43 (3) September 2008: 425-442.

Independents: Some 21 Independent candidates ran without any association with a party grouping at this Assembly election in 1976, although there is some dispute over the exact number (see 'Sources', below). Eight Independents contested the seat of Brunswick although one or two of these could have been members of minor parties (see 'Sources', below); no Independent candidate was elected.

Independent Labor: John P Mutton was returned to the seat of Coburg at this Assembly election in 1976 as an Independent Labor candidate continuing a family tradition begun by Charles Mutton's tenure of the seat from 1940 to 1967.

Australia Party: This party was founded by Gordon Barton as the Liberal Reform Group in 1966 and supported a range of progressive policies including liberalizing abortion laws and censorship. Three candidates contested this Assembly election in 1976 as Australia Party candidates; none was elected and, from 1977, the emergence of the Australian Democrats adopted most of the policies adopted by the Australia Party.

The Australia Party had contested seats at state and federal elections between 1969 and 1977 (see Richmond, pp 344-351, in 'References', below; and Jaensch and Mathieson, pp 32-33, in 'Sources', below).

Workers Party: Four candidates contested this elections as members of the Workers Party. In spite of its name, this party was strongly anti-socialist under the slogan of 'Less tax, less government, more freedom' and was supported by a number of wealthy entrepreneurs; see Richmond, pp 357-360, in 'References', below. After 1977, the party changed its name to the Progress Party.

Tenants Rights Party: Two candidates ran under the name of the Tenants Rights Party; neither was elected (see note in 'Sources', below).

Koorie Independent Party: A single candidate, Jennifer M Reif, ran in the seat of Hawthorn as a candidate for the Koorie Independent Party; she was not elected (see note in 'Sources', below).

References: For an analysis of the 1976 Victorian elections, see Graham Hudson, 'The Politics of Low Expectations: The 1976 Victorian State Election', Politics, 11 (2) November 1976: 190-194; and John Warhurst, 'A Review of the 1976 Victorian State Elections', The Australian Quarterly, 48 (2) June 1976: 120-128; and note the survey of the election found in Kate White and Jean Holmes, 'Victoria', Political Chronicle, January-June 1976, Australian Journal of Politics and History, 22 (3) December 1976: 405-410.

For a review of Victorian government and politics in this period see, Jean Holmes, The Government of Victoria, (St Lucia, Qld: University of Queensland Press, 1976). Premier Hamer's period in office is surveyed in Paul Rodan, 'Rupert "Dick" Hamer: The Urbane Liberal', in Brian Costar and Paul Strangio (editors), The Victorian Premiers 1856-2006, ch. 22 (Sydney: Federation Press, 2006, ISBN 9781862876019), and in Tim Colebatch, Dick Hamer: The Liberal Liberal, (Brunswick, Vic.: Scribe, 2014, ISBN 9781925106138). A study of Victorian parliamentary politics during this period of Liberal dominance can be found in Wright, ch. 10 (in 'Sources', below).

The organization and history of the Liberal Party in Victoria leading to this period is surveyed in Peter Aimer, Politics, Power and Persuasion: The Liberals in Victoria, (East Hawthorn, Vic.: James Bennett, 1974, ISBN 0909595011), and details of selected minor parties can be found in Keith Richmond, 'Minor Parties' in Grame Starr, in Keith Richmond and Graham Maddox, Political Parties in Australia, (Richmond, Vic.: Heinemann, 1978, ISBN 0858591782).

Sources

For this Assembly election (1976), there is agreement between the two sources below (Hughes 1986, and Carr) on the totals of first preference votes for the larger party groupings with the exception of the Australian Labor Party (ALP); Hughes lists the ALP vote as 869,021, while Carr shows it as 862,602. The figure used in the table above is 860,987 derived from summing the electoral district votes for the 80 ALP candidates listed in Carr, and adding the 6,149 first preference votes for candidate Geoffrey A Cox in Gippsland East who was almost certainly the endorsed ALP candidate, even if shown as without a party affiliation in Carr (Carr includes a note indicating that Cox was the endorsed candidate at the 1973 Assembly election).

The first preference votes for the Tenants Rights, and Koorie Independent parties shown in the table above are derived from the note in Hughes on Independent candidates, coupled with the total votes at this Victorian Assembly election in 1976 for these parties (not individual candidates) shown in Dean Jaensch and David Mathieson, A Plague On Both Your Houses: Minor Parties in Australia, (St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin, 1998, ISBN 1864484217) under the name of each party. As only one candidate ran for the Koorie Independent Party, the candidate can be identified by the number of votes won listed in Carr.

Colin A Hughes, A Handbook of Australian Government and Politics 1975-1984, (Rushcutters Bay, NSW: Australian National University Press, 1986, ISBN 0 08 033038 X).

Adam Carr, 'Forty-seventh Parliament Elected 20 March 1976', in 'Legislative Assembly Elections', Victorian Elections Since 1843, Psephos: Adam Carr's Election Archive, online here [accessed 1 February 2018].

Raymond Wright, A People's Counsel: A History of the Parliament of Victoria 1856-1990, (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1992, ISBN 0195533593)

Victoria, Office of the Chief Parliamentary Counsel, 'Victorian Historical Acts', online here [accessed 1 February 2018].



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