ID 0786

Commonwealth Parliament, Senate election

Election of 25 November 1967


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General election for the Senate
Commonwealth of Australia
Date of election
25 November 1967
Type of Senate election
Half Senate without 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
Liberal Party
Government majority in Senate at date of election
No
Change of government
No
Government majority in new Senate
No
If coalition, coalition partner(s)
Country Party

Senate enrolment and voting

Total number of voters on the roll
6,191,921
Total ballots cast (may differ from number of votes in multiple voting systems)
5,889,129
Turnout (rate of voting in contested seats)
95.11%
Total valid votes
5,529,888
Rate of informal (invalid) voting
6.1%

Electoral composition of the Senate for this election

Total number of seats in the Senate
60
Total number of seats for each state
10
Number of seats for each territory
Seats to be filled at this Senate election
30
Casual vacancies/additional seats included in seats to be filled
0
Electoral System
Adult franchise at 21 years; multimember districts; proportional representation by the single transferable vote method (STV); compulsory preferences; compulsory voting

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

Display Chart

Election held on 25 November 1967
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   2,489,990  45.03  +0.36  13  43.33  13  43.33  27  45.00 
Liberal Party - Country Party (joint ticket)  1,870,057  33.82  -2.43  20.00         
Democratic Labor Party  540,006  9.77  +1.38  6.67  6.67  6.67 
Liberal Party  450,454  8.15  -0.10  23.33  10  33.33  21  35.00 
Australian Reform Movement  58,679  1.06           
Independents  55,192  1.00  +0.80  3.33  3.33  1.67 
Country Party  44,862  0.81  -0.40  3.33  13.33  11.67 
Communist Party  20,648  0.37  -0.36           
Votes for other than listed parties 0 0.00 -0.32             
Totals 5,529,888  100.00    30  100.00  30  100.00  60  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 1967 was a regular election for half the members of the Senate but, unlike most Senate elections, it was not held at the same time as a general election for the House of Representatives.

The previous election for the Senate in December 1964 had been not been held at the same time as an election for the House of Representatives because of an early election for the House called by the Menzies Liberal Party and Country Party coalition government in November 1963 (for the circumstances of this early election, see the notes to the 1964 Senate election).

Prime Minister Menzies retired from office in January 1966 and Harold Holt was chosen by the Liberal Party caucus to be Prime Minister of the Liberal Party and Country Party coalition government and was commissioned as Prime Minister on 26 January 1966. An election for the House of Representatives alone was held in November 1966 and the Holt government was returned with a comfortable majority (the result can bee seen here; note House of Representatives election without the Senate).

The fixed six year term of senators (see terms of senators) required a Senate election to be held before July 1968. Rather than call an early general election for House of Representatives so that elections for the House and Senate could be held at the same time, the Holt government chose to hold this separate election for the Senate in November 1967 (see Senate elections without House of Representatives). The next general election for the House was to be held in October 1969.

This was to be the second of three consecutive Senate elections held without a simultaneous general election for the House of Representatives.

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 1948 (No.17 of 1948) changed the electoral system for the Senate from preferential block voting to proportional representation by the single transferable vote (STV) method for Senate elections from 1949 (for the details and context of this change, see the notes for the 1949 Senate election).

Ballot design: The move to proportional representation for Senate elections from 1949 did not require any change in the design of ballot papers. Both the previous preferential block voting and the proportional representation by the single transferable vote method (STV) required a voter to rank the individual candidates on the ballot in the order of the voter's choice. The electoral systems differed only in the way the ranked order of candidates on each ballot was counted.

This meant that changes made to Senate ballot papers in the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1940 (No.19 of 1940) continued to apply. 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.

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.

Voting continued to be compulsory and voters were required to rank all candidates on the ballot paper for their votes to be valid. The membership of the Senate had been increased from 36 to 60 for the 1949 and subsequent elections, with 5 seats to be elected from each state at half Senate elections (for details and context, see the notes to the 1949 Senate election).

The number of candidates on the ballot paper in each state -- an average of 13 at this Senate election in 1967 -- coupled with the absence of party labels for the party groupings on the ballot, presented voters with a challenging task. Political parties aimed to remedy this by issuing how-to-vote cards to aid their supporters to vote for their chosen party and to encourage them to rank party candidates in the party preferred order. Notwithstanding these cards, the task of ranking all the candidates was too much for many voters and contributed to a rate of informal (invalid) voting of 6 percent of ballots cast at this election in 1967.

Senate election campaign: The Holt Liberal Party and Country Party coalition government faced a series of controversies over domestic and defense policy in the months leading up to the Senate election in November. These problems were compounded by public disagreements within the ministry over the government's economic policy and the impression that Prime Minister Holt was not providing effective leadership for the government (for details, see C A Hughes, 'Australian Political Chronicle' in 'References', below).

Australian Labor Party: The national first preference vote for the Labor Party was increased by less that a percentage point over the previous Senate election in 1964 but, only in New South Wales, did the Labor Party managed to win 3 of the 5 seats. When the new senators took their seats on 1 July 1968 (see terms of senators), the Labor Party's Senate contingent was unchanged at 27.

Liberal Party, Country Party and joint tickets: Three states -- New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria -- combined Liberal Party and Country Party candidates on joint tickets, with both the Liberal Party and the Country Party winning three seats each. In Western Australia, the Country Party continued to run its own ticket, electing one senator.

In the two states without branches of the Country Party -- South Australia and Tasmania -- the Liberal Party won 3 of the 5 seats in South Australia but only two in Tasmania. When the new Senate met, the coalition parties' share of seats in the Senate dropped to 28, giving the opposition potential control of the chamber.

Democratic Labor Party: The Democratic Labor Party's national first preference vote increased to just under 10 percent at this Senate election in 1967. At the previous Senate election in 1964, Frank McManus had won back his seat from Victoria and Vince Gair had been elected to the Senate from Queensland. After this Senate election in 1967, these two Democratic Labor Party senators were joined by Jack Little from Victoria and Condon Byrne from Queensland. When the new Senate first met in July 1968 (see terms of senators), the Democratic Labor Party's four senators held the balance of power in the chamber.

This election marked the second of three Senate elections (1964, 1967 and 1970) after which the Democratic Labor Party shared (1964) or held (1967 and 1970) the balance of power in the Senate and participated in changes to Senate procedures that enhanced the influence of the chamber (note Bach, chapter 3, pp 79-81, in 'References', below). For a study of the Democratic Labor Party's performance at Senate elections from 1955 to 1970, see Reynolds, pp 52-56 in 'References', below.

Independents: The first preference votes assigned to Independents in the table above are votes for 8 candidates who were not listed in a party grouping on state ballot papers but in the 'ungrouped' section of the ballots (see 'Ballot design, above). At this Senate election in 1967, Independent senator R J (Reg) Turnbull who had been first elected as a senator from Tasmania in 1961, was returned for a second six year term.

Australian Reform Movement: The Australian Reform Movement grew out of the Liberal Reform Group, an association of disaffected Liberal voters critical of Australia's involvement with the Vietnam war. The group contested the 1969 House of Representatives election as the Australia Party with a broad commitment to government reform (see Richmond, 344-351, and Smith, pp 84-85, in 'References', below.

References: A detailed account of the 1967 federal election and its context can be found in C A Hughes, 'Commonwealth', Australian Political Chronicle, September-December 1967, Australian Journal of Politics and History, 14 (1) April 1968: 101-116 (this publication can be viewed online through Wiley-Blackwell Journals at subscribing libraries).

General information on the Liberal Party during the period of Holt's period in office as Prime Minister can be found in Graeme Starr, The Liberal Party of Australia: A Documentary History, pp 221-230, (Richmond, Victoria: Drummond/Heinemann, 1980 ISBN 0858592231). Additional information on the life, brief period in office and untimely death of Prime Minister Holt can be found in Australian Dictionary of Biography, volume 14 (Melbourne University Press, 1996), online here. [accessed 17 January 2021]

Useful references on the Democratic Labor Party are P L Reynolds, The Democratic Labor Party, (Milton, Queensland: Jacaranda Press, 1974 ISBN 0701607033), and Keith Richmond, 'Minor Parties in Australia', in Graeme Starr, Keith Richmond and Graham Maddox (editors), Political Parties in Australia, pp 317-374, especially pp 335-344, (Richmond, Victoria: Heinemann, 1978 ISBN 0858591782); Richmond's chapter also has information on the Australian Reform Movement, pp 344-351 as does Rodney Smith, Against the Machines: Minor Parties and Independents in New South Wales 1910-2006, pp 84-85, (Sydney: Federation Press, 2006, ISBN 9781862876231).

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 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, A Handbook of Australian Government and Politics 1965-1974, Canberra: Australian National University Press, 1977 (ISBN 0708113400); Gerard Newman, Federal Election Results 1949-2001, Canberra: Commonwealth Parliament, Department of the Parliamentary Library, Information and Research Services, Research Paper 9 2001-02, 2002 (ISSN 13287478).



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