ID 1047

Parliament of New South Wales Legislative Council election

Election of 25 May 1991

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Election for the Legislative Council
New South Wales
Date of election
25 May 1991
Type of Legislative Council election
Third of Council to be elected (see note)
Related or previous Assembly election

Government support in Legislative Council at and after election

Government majority in Legislative Council at date of election
Government majority in new Legislative Council

Composition of the Legislative Council and seats to be filled at this election

Total number of seats in the Legislative Council
If the Legislative Council has staggered terms, the number of seats to be filled at this election
Casual vacancies (by-elections) and additional seats to be filled at this election (see notes)
Not applicable
Total seats to be filled at this election

Enrolment and voting

Total number of voters on the roll
Number of uncontested seats
If uncontested seats, number of voters on the roll in uncontested seats
Not applicable
Number of voters on the roll in contested seats
Total number of candidates
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
Informal (invalid) ballots in multiple voting system
Not applicable
Electoral system
Adult franchise (at 18 years), statewide (at large) voting with a third of the seats to be elected at each election, proportional representation by STV, optional preferences (but a minimum of 10 preferences to be indicated), above the line voting permitted, compulsory voting (see notes)

New South Wales, Legislative Council votes and seats won, and seats held

Display Chart

Elections held in 25 May 1991
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 Candidates n First preference vote n First preference vote share % Change from previous election % Seats won by party n Seats won by party % Seats held by party n Seats held by party %
Liberal Party - National Party (joint ticket)  10  1,453,441  45.34  -0.81  46.67     
Australian Labor Party  10  1,195,324  37.29  -0.23  40.00  19   42.22 
Australian Democrats  214,682  6.70  +3.99  6.67  4.44 
Call to Australia  114,648  3.58  -2.13  6.67  4.44 
Greens  106,325  3.32       
EFF & Grey Power & CEC  49,077  1.53       
Independents  14  32,001  1.00  -0.86       
Country Residents Party  21,628  0.67       
No Toxic Incinerator Group  18,706  0.58       
Liberal Party              13  28.89 
National Party              17.78 
Totals 54  3,205,832  100.00    15  100.00  44  97.78 

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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.


History of the Legislative Council: For information and references on the evolution of the Legislative Council, see the note for the 1978 Legislative Council election.

Referendum on the composition of the Legislative Council: 'A referendum to change the composition of the Legislative Council was conducted in conjunction with the election. The Council was to be cut from 45 to 42 members, terms of Councillors were to be shortened from a maximum of 12 to 8 years (from three to two terms of the Legislative Assembly), and procedures for filling casual vacancies would be brought in line with the method used for the Senate' (Green, p. 316, see 'References', below). These changes were to take effect immediately after the 1991 election if the referendum proposal gained sufficient votes. The referendum passed with 1,864,529 votes in favour (57.74 percent) and 1,364,863 votes (42.26 percent) against (Twomey, p. 319, see 'References', below).

Electoral system: At the time of the 1991 Legislative Council, the members of the Legislative Council were elected for three Legislative Assembly terms (a maximum of 12 years), a third of the membership (15 members) retiring every Legislative Council election which was held at the same time as general elections for the Assembly. The state was one electoral district (see at large election) and members were elected using proportional representation by the single transferable vote method (STV) with optional preferences above a minimum of 10 ranked candidates, and above the line voting.

As a consequence of the success of the referendum proposal on the composition of the Legislative Council (see previous note), the electoral system for the Legislative Council was amended so that the membership of the Council was reduced to 42, the maximum term of members became 8 years with half the membership (21 members) retiring at each election. Apart from the filling of casual vacancies, all other characteristics of the electoral system were retained except that a minimum of 15 preferences had to indicated on the ballot if a voter chose not to make use of above the line voting; see Clune and Griffith, pp. 503-515, and Twomey, pp. 346-350, (see 'References', below), and Green (in 'Sources', below).

Seats held by party: Although the figures under the 'Seats held by party' column in the table above were correct at the time of the 1991 election, the passage of the referendum on the composition of the Legislative Council (see notes above) meant that there was a change in the numbers at the end of the 1991 parliamentary session. The referendum, in addition to the changes noted above, specified that the three members of the Legislative Council last elected at the 1984 election were to lose their seats to reduce the membership of the chamber to 42. Those members were Mick Ibbert (Australian Labor Party), Judy Jenks (National Party) and Marie Bignold (Independent; Ms Bignold had originally been appointed to replace a member of the Call to Australia group late in 1984, but had fallen out with other members of the group; see Clune and Griffith, p. 571, and Green p. 317; see 'References', below).

The removal of these three members meant that, of the 42 seats remaining in the Legislative Council after the 1991 election, the seats held by parties were: Australian Labor Party 18 (42.86 percent); Australian Democrats 2 (4.76 percent); Call to Australia 2 (4.76 percent); Liberal Party 13 (30.95 percent); National Party 7 (16.67 percent).

Liberal and National parties: As with Senate contests in New South Wales, the Liberal Party and the National Party ran a joint ticket for the Legislative Council election, combining candidates from both parties; see seats won by ticket, seats won by party, and seats held by party.

Greens: This was the first Legislative Council election contested by the Greens, although an Environment Group had run candidates at the 1988 Legislative Council election.

Independents and quasi-parties: The opportunity for voters to use above the line voting for Legislative Council elections provided a strong motivation for independent candidates to form into groups. In addition to the 4 ungrouped candidates (2,633 votes), the candidates and votes shown for Independents for this Legislative Council election in the table above includes the 4 candidates of the 'Marie Bignold Team' (14,403 votes), the 4 candidates of Group E headed by Andy Hart (8,080 votes), and the 2 candidates of Group I headed by Patricia Poulos (6,885 votes).

The 4 candidates of the EFF (Enterprise, Freedom and Family)/ Grey Power/ CEC (Citizens Electoral Council) amalgamated groups are regarded as standing for quasi-parties and given a party listing in the table above even though the candidates maintained an anti-party stance; see Rodney Smith, Against the Machines: Minor Parties and Independents in New South Wales 1910-2006, pp. 96-97 (Sydney: Federation Press, 2006, ISBN 9781862876231). Note that the Independent EFF group had run as a separate group at the 1988 Legislative Council election, and was to run again as a separate group at the 1995 election.

References: A comprehensive study of the Legislative Council's history and operation can be found in David Clune and Gareth Griffith, Decision and Deliberation: The Parliament of New South Wales 1856-2003, (Sydney: Federation Press, 2006, ISBN 186287591X), and Anne Twomey, The Constitution of New South Wales, (Sydney: Federation Press, 2004, ISBN 1862875162).

For a survey of this election and the preceding period, see Antony Green, '1991', in Michael Hogan and David Clune (editors), The People's Choice: Electoral Politics in 20th Century New South Wales, vol. 3 (1968-1999), pp. 283-322, (Sydney: Parliament of New South Wales and University of Sydney, 2001, ISBN 0909907412); pp. 316-318, deal with issues directly relating to the Legislative Council election.


Antony Green, Electing the New South Wales Legislative Council 1978 to 1995: Past Results and Future Prospects, (Sydney: New South Wales Parliamentary Library, Background Paper No. 1995/2, ISSN 8017-3796; ISBN 724095686); Colin A Hughes, A Handbook of Australian Government and Politics 1985-1999, pp. 303-304, (Sydney: Federation Press, 2002, ISBN 1862874344).