ID 0480

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) 5 May 1979

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 2,350,407 
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 2,350,407 
Total ballots cast (may differ from number of votes in multiple voting systems) 2,193,037 
Turnout (rate of voting in contested seats) 93.30% 
Total valid votes 2,127,021 
Rate of informal (invalid) voting 3.01%
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 5 May 1979
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 962,123  45.23  +3.00     32  39.51 
Liberal Party 881,366  41.44  -4.64     41  50.62 
National Party 119,385  5.61  -1.49     9.88 
Australian Democrats 114,053  5.36  *        
Independents 22,919  1.08  -0.11        
Democratic Labor Party 10,907  0.51  -2.08        
Independent Labor 7,183  0.34  -0.03        
Australia Party 5,222  0.25  +0.08        
Marxist Party 2,305  0.11  *        
Socialist Workers Party 1,558  0.07  *        
Votes for other than listed parties 0.00  0.00          
Totals 2,127,021  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

Government in office after election: The Hamer majority Liberal government was returned at this Victorian Assembly election in 1979 but, after the loss of 11 seats, with its majority in the Assembly reduced to one. The government's first preference vote fell by 4.6 percent after a campaign which highlighted a series of government vulnerabilities; see the commentaries by Hudson and Holmes in 'References' below.

Australian Labor Party: The Australian Labor Party made major gains at this Assembly election in 1979, increasing its primary vote by 3.0 percent to 45.2 percent and winning 11 additional seats (see Carr in 'Sources' below for details). On the evolution of the Labor Party in Victoria during this period, see James Jupp, 'Victoria: Left, Right and Centre', in Andrew Parkin and John Warhurst (editors), Machine Politics in the Australian Labor Party, ch. 3 (North Sydney: George Allen & Unwin, 1983 ISBN 0868613096).

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 1979, the National Party lost 1.5 percent of its first preference votes for a total of 5.6 percent, but it won a seat giving it 8 members in the Assembly. The Liberal government's narrow win gave the National Party hope that its support might be required for some future non-Labor coalition government

Australian Democrats: Founded by Don Chipp, a former federal Liberal minister, during the polarized politics of the 1977 federal election, the Australian Democrats aimed to be a centre party, drawing support from the moderate wings of both the Australian Labor Party and the Liberal Party. For the following 25 years, the Australian Democrats played an important role as a minor party in the Senate and those state elections using proportional representation; see generally, John Warhurst (editor), Keeping the Bastards Honest: The Australian Democrats' First Twenty Years, (St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin, 1997, ISBN 1864484209).

At this Assembly election in 1979, the Australian Democrats fielded 48 candidates but secured only 5.4 percent of the first preference vote, less than half of the party's vote share for the 1977 House of Representatives election, and only a third of the first preference votes it had secured for the 1977 Senate election.

Independents: In Hughes 1986 (see 'Sources', below), 16 candidates are categorized as Independents although he notes that this includes the votes for 2 Independent Liberals and 2 Independent Labor candidates. Carr (in 'Sources', below) does not identify these candidates, but one long term Independent Labor MLA can be identified (see 'Independent Labor', below) and his votes are deducted from Hughes's total and listed separately.

Democratic Labor Party: The Democratic Labor Party (DLP) had ceased to be a significant player in Victorian Assembly elections by 1976. At this Assembly election in 1979, it fielded 9 candidates and gained only 0.5 percent of the first preference vote. 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.

Independent Labor: John P Mutton, the longtime Independent Labor member for the Assembly seat of Coburg, was finally defeated at this election in 1979 after holding the seat since 1967, continuing a family tradition begun by Charles Mutton who first won the seat in 1940.

Australia Party: Eleven Australia Party candidates contested this Assembly election in 1979; most of the party's policies had been adopted by the Australian Democrats and the party could only attract 0.3 percent of the first preference votes. The Australia Party had contested seats at state and federal elections between 1969 and 1979 (see Richmond, pp 344-351, in 'References', below; and Jaensch and Mathieson, pp 32-33, in 'Sources', below).

Marxist Party and Socialist Workers Party: The votes for these two parties are calculated from Hughes 1986, and Jaensch and Mathieson, as noted in 'Sources', below. Jaensch and Mathison, p.138 give details of the goals and policies of the Socialist Workers Party.

References: For an analysis of the 1979 Victorian elections, see Graham Hudson, 'The Politics of High Expectations: The 1979 Victorian State Election', Politics, 14 (2) November 1979: 271-275; and note the survey of the election found in Jean Holmes, 'Victoria', Political Chronicle, January-June 1979, Australian Journal of Politics and History, 25 (3) December 1979: 399-403.

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 (1979), there is agreement between the two sources below (Hughes 1986, and Carr) on the totals of first preference votes for the larger party groupings. Hughes gives more information on the smaller parties, and these figures are subtracted from Carr's 'Others' category. More information is provided in some of the 'Notes', above.

The first preference votes for two Socialist Workers Party candidates and two Marxist Party candidates shown in the table above are derived from the note in Hughes on votes for the Marxist Party, coupled with the total votes at this Victorian Assembly election in 1979 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..

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-eighth Parliament Elected 5 May 1979', in 'Legislative Assembly Elections', Victorian Elections Since 1843, Psephos: Adam Carr's Election Archive, online here [accessed 5 March 2018].

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



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