ID 0756

Commonwealth Parliament, Senate election

Election of 15 September 1934

Show only vote and seat summary details

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General election for the Senate
Commonwealth of Australia
Date of election
15 September 1934
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
United Australia Party
Government majority in Senate at date of election
Change of government
Government majority in new Senate
If coalition, coalition partner(s)

Senate enrolment and voting

Total number of voters on the roll
Total ballots cast (may differ from number of votes in multiple voting systems)
Turnout (rate of voting in contested seats)
Total valid votes
Rate of informal (invalid) voting

Electoral composition of the Senate for this election

Total number of seats in the Senate
Total number of seats for each state
Number of seats for each territory
Seats to be filled at this Senate election
Casual vacancies/additional seats included in seats to be filled
Electoral System
Adult franchise at 21 years; multimember districts; preferential voting (AV); compulsory preferences; compulsory voting

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

Display Chart

Election held on 15 September 1934
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 %
Federal Labor Party  923,151  28.08  -1.18        8.33 
United Australia Party  679,422  20.66  -4.59  10  55.56  15  83.33  26  72.22 
United Australia Party - Country Party (joint ticket)  599,723  18.24  -11.92  33.33         
Country Party  470,283  14.30  11.11  16.67  19.44 
State (Lang) Labor Party  435,045  13.23  +1.12           
Social Credit  91,596  2.79           
Communist Party   73,506  2.24  +1.30           
Independents  15,105  0.46  -1.81           
Votes for other than listed parties 0 0.00 0.00             
Totals 3,287,831  100.00    18  100.00  18  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.


This election in 1934 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 1934 House of Representatives results can be seen here.

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 of the 1919 Act had introduced a form of optional preferential voting but, from this election in 1934, section 8 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1934 (No.9 of 1934) required voters to rank all candidates on the ballot paper for their votes to be valid (compulsory preferences).

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.

Federal Labor Party and and the State (Lang) Labor Party: The partisan turmoil that preceded the 1931 federal elections had subsided but the party system remained in flux. At these federal elections in 1934, the split in the Australian Labor Party continued, with rivalry between the Federal Labor Party and the State (Lang) Labor Party, particularly in New South Wales where the influence of former Labor Premier Lang persisted; note Nick Dyrenfurth and Frank Bongiorno, A Little History of the Australian Labor Party, pp 76-90, (Sydney: University of New South Wales Press, 2011, ISBN 978174223284)

United Australia Party: The United Australia Party, as the successor to the Nationalist Party in 1931, had formed a coalition government with the Country Party under the leadership of Prime Minister Lyons early in 1932. The government was returned at the 1934 elections with the coalition parties between them winning all 18 Senate seats giving the government control of all but 3 Federal Labor Party seats in the Senate chamber; note Clem Lloyd, 'The Rise and Fall of the United Australia Party', in J R Nethercote (editor), Liberalism and the Australian Federation, pp 134-162, (Sydney: Federation Press, 2001, ISBN 1862874026).

Joint tickets: The arrangements formalized at the 1932 Senate election of running a common list of candidates from the United Australia Party and the Country Party on a joint ticket in some states continued for this Senate election in 1934. The coalition parties won all 18 seats contested at this Senate election but only two states, Queensland and Victoria ran their candidates on joint tickets (the three seats in each state were divided two to the United Australia Party and one to the Country Party). Nonetheless, the parties in New South Wales and Western Australia coordinated their campaigns to produce a similar result with two United Australia Party candidates (running under the 'Nationalist Party' label in Western Australia) and one Country Party candidate elected in each state.

The remaining two states, South Australia and Tasmania, each elected three United Australia Party senators (in South Australia the state branch of the federal United Australia Party preserved the name Liberal and Country League that it had used for the state election in 1933).

Communist Party and Social Credit: While only gaining a small share of the Senate vote, the Communist Party and Social Credit fielded candidates at this Senate election in 1934, reflecting the range of political ideologies being debated during the Depression.

References: For a survey of party politics in 1934, see see Geoffrey Sawer, Australian Federal Politics and Law 1929-1949, pp 71-74, (Canberra: Australian National University Press, 1963, ISBN 522837328).

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].


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.