ID 0754

Commonwealth Parliament, Senate election

Election of 17 November 1928


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General election for the Senate
Commonwealth of Australia
Date of election
17 November 1928

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)
Country Party

Senate enrolment and voting

Total number of voters on the roll
3,975,379
Total ballots cast (may differ from number of votes in multiple voting systems)
3,224,500
Turnout (rate of voting in contested seats)
93.61%
Total valid votes
2,905,833
Rate of informal (invalid) voting
9.88%

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; compulsory voting

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

Display Chart

Election held on 17 November 1928
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 %
Australian Labor Party   1,422,418  48.95  +3.93  36.84  36.84  19.44 
Nationalist Party (Nationalists)  1,141,405  39.28  -6.07  10  52.63  10  52.63  24  66.67 
Country Party  324,918  11.18  +1.73  10.53  10.53  13.89 
Independents  17,092  0.59  +0.42           
Votes for other than listed parties 0 0.00 0.00             
Totals 2,905,833  100.00    19  100.00  19  100.00  36  100.00 


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Notes

This election in 1928 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 1928 House of Representatives results can be seen here.

At this Senate election in 1928, an additional senator had to be elected for Queensland 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: A preferental voting system had been adopted for Senate elections since 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 this half-Senate election in 1928, it meant each voter had to rank at least 7 candidates (9 in Queensland with a casual vacancy).

Ballot design: Important changes were made to Senate ballot papers by the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1922 (No.14 of 1922). The previous single list of candidates had made it hard for voters to vote for a party ticket unless they knew the surnames of the relevant candidates. In the 1922 Electoral Act, section 4 permitted candidates to be grouped, implicitly by party, although the basis of the grouping was not specified. Candidates within each group were listed alphabetically. Those candidates who ran as Independents were in a separate, unmarked, group at the bottom of the ballot paper.

Section 11 of the 1922 Act stipulated that the groups were to be printed in the order of the average alphabetical value of the surnames in each group (see section 11(c)(i)-(iii) for the method of calculation). The groups were then printed on the ballot paper as groups A, B, C, ... so that the ballot paper looked like the model set out in section 28 Form E. Again, there was no explicit reference to party names so that voters had to rely on election publicity and party how-to-vote cards to find out the party affiliation of the groups.

Parties: Although the various branches of the Country Party had won votes in several states at Senate elections in 1919 and 1922 they had not been successful in wining any Senate seats. By February 1923, the Nationalist Party had formed a coalition government with the Country Party under Prime Minister Bruce. This spurred cooperation between the Nationalist Party and the Country Party with the Country Party winning four Senate seats at the 1925 elections (one each in New South Wales, South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia). Tensions within the various state parties prevented such close arrangements being repeated in 1928 but the Country Party was successful in winning a Senate seat in Victoria and in Western Australia.

Arrangements between the two anti-Labor parties for close cooperation at Senate elections in some states were not formalized as joint tickets until 1931. 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.

References: 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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