ID 0513

Parliament of Western Australia, Assembly election

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General election for the Assembly Western Australia 
Date of election (or first day of voting at elections held over more than one day) 20 February 1971

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) David Brand
Premier's party affiliation Liberal Party 
Assembly support for government at election Coalition  
If coalition, coalition partner(s) Country Party  

Government in office after election

Premier in office after election. John Trezise Tonkin
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 537,122 
Number of Assembly seats 51 
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 537,122 
Total ballots cast (may differ from number of votes in multiple voting systems) 490,467 
Turnout (rate of voting in contested seats) 91.31% 
Total valid votes 471,570 
Rate of informal (invalid) voting 3.85%
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 (see notes) 

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Western Australia, Assembly votes and seats won

Election held on 20 February 1971
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 230,653  48.91  +3.56     26  50.98 
Liberal Party 137,115  29.08  *     17  33.33 
Democratic Labor Party 50,508  10.71  +7.45        
Country Party 26,604  5.64  +0.57     15.69 
Independents 14,654  3.11  +2.23        
Independent United Farmers and Graziers Assoc. 3,511  0.74  *        
Independent Liberal 2,750  0.58  -0.26        
Communist Party 2,265  0.48  -0.05        
Independent Country Party 1,527  0.32  +0.09        
Council for Defence of Government Schools (DOGS) 650  0.14  *        
Law Reform and Social Justice Party 604  0.13  *        
Independent Labor 554  0.12  *        
Australia Party 175  0.04  *        
Votes for other than listed parties 0.00  0.00          
Totals 471,570  100.00    51  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

Premier in office after election: The Brand Liberal Party (for change of name see below) and Country Party coalition government was defeated at this general election for the Legislative Assembly on 20 February 1971, with the Australian Labor Party gaining a majority of one seat in the Assembly. After the election results were finalized, Premier Brand resigned and Tonkin was commissioned on 3 March 1971 as Premier of an Australian Labor Party majority government.

Reduction of voting age: The Electoral Act Amendment Act of 1970 had reduced the minimum age of voting to 18 years; see Hughes, Voting, p. 121 in 'Sources', below.

Australian Labor Party: For a study of the Australian Labor Party in Western Australia which includes this period, see Ralph Pervan and Douglas Mitchell, 'The Changing Nature of the Australian Labor Party', in Ralph Pervan and Campbell Sharman (editors), Essays on Western Australian Politics, pp 129-158, (Perth: University of Western Australia Press, 1979, ISBN 0855641495), and see 'References', below. Note also Douglas Mitchell, 'Western Australia: The Struggle to Adapt', in Andrew Parkin and John Warhurst (editors), Machine Politics in the Australian Labor Party, pp 165-185, (Sydney: George Allen & Unwin, 1983).

Liberal Party and Liberal and Country League: The Liberal and Country League had reverted to its earlier name of Liberal Party at the party conference in 1968; see David Black, 'The Liberal Party and its Predecessors', in Ralph Pervan and Campbell Sharman (editors), Essays on Western Australian Politics, pp 191-232, at p.218 (Perth: University of Western Australia Press, 1979, ISBN 0855641495).

Country Party: Facing unfavorable demographic trends and competition from the Liberals, the Country Party struggled to maintain its representation; see Lenore Layman, 'The Country Party: Rise and Decline', in Ralph Pervan and Campbell Sharman (editors), Essays on Western Australian Politics, pp 159-190, at 181-183,(Perth: University of Western Australia Press, 1979, ISBN 0855641495), and 'References', below.

Democratic Labor Party: For the formation of the party in Western Australia and its continuing effect on Labor politics into the 1970s, see the notes for the 1959 Legislative Assembly elections. The party endorsed candidates for all 51 Assembly seats at this election, inflating its vote share and '... being useful in Senate elections', Watt, p. 294 in 'References', below.

Independent United Farmers and Graziers Association: The existence of the [Independent] United Farmers and Graziers Association during this period is recognized by Dean Jaensch and David Mathieson, A Plague on Both Your Houses: Minor Parties in Australia, p.129 (St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin, 1998, ISBN 1864484217), and is noted in passing as '... a breakaway rural group', in David Black, 'Financial Relations Between the Two Houses', in David Black (editor), The House on the Hill: A History of the Parliament of Western Australia 1832-1990, pp 429-459, at p. 443 (Perth: Western Australian Parliamentary History Project, Parliament of Western Australia, 1991, ISBN 0730939839).

Defence of Government Schools Council: This single issue party endorsed two candidates at this election (1971) and fielded candidates at a number of elections across Australia between 1969 and 1985 campaigning against state aid to non-government schools; see Keith Richmond, 'Minor Parties in Australia', in Graeme Starr, Keith Richmond and Graham Maddox (editors), Political Parties in Australia, pp 317-384, at pp 351-353.

Australia Party: This party emerged as a group to reform the federal Liberal Party in 1966; while its primary focus was on national politics, it fielded candidates at various state elections in all mainland states between 1971 and 1979; see Keith Richmond, 'Minor Parties in Australia', in Graeme Starr, Keith Richmond and Graham Maddox (editors), Political Parties in Australia, pp 317-384, at 344-351, and note Dean Jaensch and David Mathieson, A Plague on Both Your Houses: Minor Parties in Australia, pp 32-33, (St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin, 1998, ISBN 1864484217). The party fielded one candidate at this Assembly election (1971).

References: For a brief survey of this election and its context, see E D Watt, 'Western Australia', Australian Journal of Politics and History, Australian Political Chronicle, 17 (2) August 1971: 294-296.

For the political context of this election (1971), see David Black, 'The Liberals Triumphant: The Politics of Development 1947-1980', in C T Stannage (editor), A New History of Western Australia, pp 441-470, (Perth: University of Western Australia Press, 1981, ISBN 0855641819); for an overview of the context of Western Australian parliamentary and electoral politics in this period, 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 185-262, at pp 201-210,(Perth: Western Australian Parliamentary History Project, Parliament of Western Australia, 1991, ISBN 0730939839).

Sources

Colin A Hughes, A Handbook of Australian Government and Politics 1965-1974, (Canberra: Australian National University Press, 1977, ISBN 0708113400); Colin A Hughes, Voting for the Australian State Lower Houses 1965-1974, (Canberra: Department of Political Science, Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University, 1981, ISBN 909596735); David Black, Election Statistics Legislative Assembly of Western Australia 1890-1996, Listed Alphabetically by Constituency, (Perth: Parliament of Western Australia and Western Australian Electoral Commission, 1997); and David Black. An Index to Parliamentary Candidates in Western Australian Elections State and Federal 1890-2006, 2nd edition, (Perth: Parliament of Western Australia, 2006, ISBN 1920830774).



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