ID 0759

Commonwealth Parliament, Senate election

Election of 21 August 1943


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General election for the Senate
Commonwealth of Australia
Date of election
21 August 1943
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
Australian Labor Party
Government majority in Senate at date of election
No
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
4,525,767
Total ballots cast (may differ from number of votes in multiple voting systems)
4,301,655
Turnout (rate of voting in contested seats)
96.31%
Total valid votes
3,883,170
Rate of informal (invalid) voting
9.73%

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); compulsory preferences; compulsory voting

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

Display Chart

Election held on 21 August 1943
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   2,139,164  55.09  +17.57  19  100.00  19  100.00  22  61.11 
United Australia Party - Country Party (joint ticket)  995,910  25.65  -18.05           
Country - National Party (Qld)  184,181  4.74           
Liberal & Country League (SA)  148,419  3.82           
Nationalist Country Party (WA)  101,738  2.62           
Christian New Order Party (NSW)  101,247  2.61           
Country Party  37,350  0.96        5.56 
United Australia Party      -6.71        12  33.33 
Votes for other than listed parties 175,161 4.51 +1.98             
Totals 3,883,170  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 1943 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 1943 House of Representatives results can be seen here.

At this Senate election in 1943, an additional senator had to be elected for Western Australia 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 1919 under the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1919 (No.31 of 1919) with each state being a multimember district. From the 1934 Senate election, 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: Two important changes were made to Senate ballot papers in the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1940 (No.19 of 1940). Section 7 of the 1940 Electoral Act enabled candidates who ran in a party grouping on the ballot paper to agree on the order in which their names would be ranked in the group rather than an alphabetical listing (although no party labels were attached to the groups). Those candidates who ran as Independents were listed in an unmarked group at the end of the ballot paper.

The second change dealt with the placing of the party groups on the Senate ballot paper. Under section 17(b) of the 1940 Act, the placing of the groups was decided by lot organized by the Commonwealth Electoral Officer in each state. Section 17(c) applied the same process to decide the order of any Independent candidates within their unmarked group. In addition, the groups of candidates were arranged horizontally on the ballot paper rather than vertically so that the ballot followed the model set out in Form E in the Act.

United Australia Party and Country Party: At the 1940 House of Representatives elections, the Menzies United Australia Party and Country Party coalition government had lost its majority but remained in office as a minority coalition government with the support of two independent minded MHAs; Arthur Coles elected as an Independent from the electoral district of Henty, and Alexander Wilson elected as a member of the breakaway Victorian United Country Party from the electoral district of Wimmera.

Transition to Labor Party government: Dissent within the coalition ministry prompted Menzies to resign as Prime Minister on 29 August 1941 and Fadden, the leader of the Country Party, was commissioned to lead a Country Party and United Australia Party coalition minority government with the continuing support of Coles and Wilson. On 7 October 1941, disagreements over the government's ability to mount an effective war effort prompted Coles and Wilson to vote against the government's budget proposals. The government's defeat on a matter of confidence led Fadden to resign as Prime Minister; Curtin was then commissioned as Prime Minister of an Australian Labor Party minority government supported by Coles and Wilson and led the government at this election in August 1943.

The results of the 1943 elections confirmed the popularity of the new Australian Labor Party government in mobilizing the country for wartime conditions, returning the Labor government with a substantial majority in the House of Representatives. .

In the Senate, the Labor Party won 55 percent of the first preference votes and all the available Senate seats in all states; when the new senators took their seats on 1 July 1944 (see terms of senators) the Labor Party held more than 60 percent of the seats in the Senate.

Joint tickets: Both the United Australia Party and Country Party were breaking into a series of state-based regional and factional groupings. In the Senate, the United Australia Party and the Country Party had run conventional joint tickets in New South Wales and Victoria. But in other states there were new anti-Labor groupings; in Queensland, the Country-National Party, in Western Australia, the Nationalist Country Party, and South Australia reverted to its state party name, the Liberal and Country League. None of these changes prevented a clean sweep of Senate seats for the Labor Party at the 1943 election.

References: For a study of government and politics in the tumultuous period from 1937 to 1943, see Geoffrey Sawer, Australian Federal Politics and Law 1929-1949, pp 96-120, 123-151, (Canberra: Australian National University Press, 1963, ISBN 522837328), and Paul Hasluck, The Government and the People 1942-1945, particularly pp 305-370, (Canberra: Australian War Memorial, 1970 SBN 64299367X) also online here [accessed 31 July 2020]. Note also 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).

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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