ID 0751

Commonwealth Parliament, Senate election

Election of 13 December 1919


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General election for the Senate
Commonwealth of Australia
Date of election
13 December 1919
Type of Senate election
Half Senate with House of Representatives

Government in office at Senate election

Prime Minister in office at date of Senate election. (check notes to Senate national summary table to see if change of Prime Minister since previous election)
Prime Minister's party affiliation
Nationalist Party
Government majority in Senate at date of election
Yes
Change of government
No
Government majority in new Senate
Yes
If coalition, coalition partner(s)

Senate enrolment and voting

Total number of voters on the roll
2,937,091
Total ballots cast (may differ from number of votes in multiple voting systems)
2,032,937
Turnout (rate of voting in contested seats)
71.33%
Total valid votes
1,857,823
Rate of informal (invalid) voting
8.61%

Electoral composition of the Senate for this election

Total number of seats in the Senate
36
Total number of seats for each state
6
Number of seats for each territory
Seats to be filled at this Senate election
19
Casual vacancies/additional seats included in seats to be filled
1
Electoral System
Adult franchise at 21 years; multimember districts; preferential voting (AV); optional preferences beyond one more than twice the number of vacancies to be filled

Senate votes and seats won, and seats held, national summary

Display Chart

Election held on 13 December 1919
Criteria for the inclusion of parties in this table are set out in the Glossary under 'listed party'

* to view table drag left or right.
Party Name First preference vote n First preference vote share % Change from previous election % Seats won by ticket n Seats won by ticket % Seats won by party n Seats won by party % Seats held by party n Seats held by party %
Nationalist Party (Nationalists)  861,990  46.40  -8.97  18  94.74  18  94.74  35  97.22 
Australian Labor Party   795,858  42.84  -0.89  5.26  5.26  2.78 
Country Party  163,293  8.79           
Independents  28,077  1.51           
Votes for other than listed parties 8,605 0.46 -0.44             
Totals 1,857,823  100.00    19  100.00  19  100.00  36  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

This election in 1919 was a regular election for half the members of the Senate held at the same time as a general election for the House of Representatives; see terms of senators. The 1919 House of Representatives results can be seen here.

An additional senator had to be elected for Tasmania to fill a casual vacancy; note Narelle Miragliotta & Campbell Sharman, 'Managing Midterm Vacancies: Institutional Design and Partisan Strategy in the Australian Parliament 1901–2013', Australian Journal of Political Science, 52(3) 2017: 351-366.

In the table above, see the Glossary distinctions between Seats won by ticket and Seats won by party, and between Seats won by party and Seats held by party.

Electoral system: The Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (No.27 of 1918) had changed the electoral system for the House of Representatives to provide for preferental voting (the alternative vote) in single member districts, with the voter required to rank all candidates on the ballot paper (compulsory preferences).

A similar preferental voting system was applied to the Senate for this election in 1919 under the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1919 (No.31 of 1919) with each state being a multimember district. Section 7 provided that, for a valid ballot paper, voters had to rank at least one more than twice as many candidates as there were vacancies to be filled, and could rank more if they wished. This was a form of optional preferential voting; for the half-Senate election of 1919, it meant each voter had to rank at least 7 candidates (9 for Tasmanian voters).

Ballot design: The design of the Senate ballot paper for the election of senators from each state was set out in Form E of the 1919 Electoral Act (Section 11). As with the previous electoral system, candidates were ranked in a single list in alphabetical order of surname; no party affiliation or additional information about candidates was provided unless there were two candidates with the same name and then a geographical location was provided to distinguish them.

Country Party: The perceived urban bias of the existing federal parties reinforced the belief of some rural groups that neither the Labor Party nor the Nationalists represented the interests of many non-metropolitan voters. This movement led to the creation of the Country Party; the prospect of third party competition at federal elections had prompted the adoption of preferental voting systems for the House of Representatives and the Senate (see preceding note).

In the national summary for this Senate election in 1919, the votes assigned to the Country Party are comprised of votes for the Country Party in Western Australia, votes for Farmers and Settlers Party in New South Wales, and votes for the Victorian Farmers Union in Victoria.

References: For the emergence of the Country Party, see B D Graham, The Formation of the Australian Country Parties, (Canberra: Australian National University Press, 1966), available for download here.

For general Senate reference, see: J.R. Odgers, Australian Senate Practice, 5th edition (Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service, 1976); a more recent version is online here [accessed 20 May 2020]; and note Stanley Bach, Platypus and Parliament: The Australian Senate in Theory and Practice (Canberra: Department of the Senate, 2003), online here [accessed 21 May 2020].

Sources

Colin A Hughes and B D Graham, A Handbook of Australian Government and Politics 1890-1964, (Canberra; Australian National University Press, 1968 SBN 708112700); Commonwealth Parliament, Department of the Senate.



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