ID 0509

Parliament of Western Australia, Legislative Assembly election

Election of 21 March 1959


Show only vote and seat summary details

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General election for the Legislative Assembly
Western Australia
Date of election (or first day of voting at elections held over more than one day)
21 March 1959

Government in office and parliamentary support before and after the election

Government in office at election

Premier in office at date of election. (check notes to see if change of Premier since previous election)
Premier's party affiliation
Australian Labor Party
Legislative Assembly support for government at election
Majority
If coalition, coalition partner(s)

Government in office after election

Premier in office after election.
Premier's party affiliation
Liberal and Country League
Legislative Assembly support for government after election
Coalition Minority
If coalition, coalition partner(s)
Country and Democratic League

Enrolment and voting

Total number of voters on the roll
361,629
Number of Assembly seats
50
Number of uncontested seats
11
If uncontested seats, number of voters on the roll in uncontested seats
70,033
Number of voters on the roll in contested seats
291,596
Total ballots cast (may differ from number of votes in multiple voting systems)
269,322
Turnout (rate of voting in contested seats)
92.36%
Total valid votes
262,385
Rate of informal (invalid) voting
2.58%
Informal (invalid) ballots in multiple voting system
Not applicable
Electoral system
Adult franchise at 21 years; single member districts; preferential voting (AV), compulsory preferences; compulsory voting


Western Australia, Legislative Assembly votes and seats won

Display Chart

Election held on 21 March 1959
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 n Uncontested seats held n Seat share %
Australian Labor Party  115,266  43.93  -4.87  23  46.00 
Liberal & Country League  94,181  35.89  +4.57  17  34.00 
Country and Democratic League  18,112  6.90  +1.66  16.00 
Democratic Labor Party  13,672  5.21     
Independent Liberal  11,307  4.31  -4.54  4.00 
Independents  3,008  1.15  -1.19     
Independent Labor  2,701  1.03  -1.71     
Communist Party  2,216  0.84  +0.13     
Independent Country Party  1,922  0.73     
Votes for other than listed parties 0 0.00 0.00       
Totals 262,385  100.00    50  11  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

Government in office after election: Although the Hawke Australian Labor Party government had lost its majority in the Legislative Assembly at this election (1959), there was some uncertainty about the nature of the government which would succeed it. After negotiations were successfully concluded between the Liberal Country League and the Country and Democratic League for the formation of a coalition government, Premier Hawke resigned and Brand was commissioned on 2 April 1959 as Premier of a Liberal Country League and Country and Democratic League coalition minority government; see Crowley, State Election, pp 71-74, in 'References' below. The government was supported in office by the two Independent Liberal members, W L Grayden (Perth South) and E P Oldfield (Mt Lawley).

Change in parliamentary support after election: By December 1960, at the end of the first parliamentary session after the general election for the Legislative Assembly on 21 March 1959, W L Grayden, who had been elected as an Independent Liberal, had decided to join the Liberal and Country League, giving the Brand coalition government majority support in the Legislative Assembly; see Robert Orr, 'Western Australia', Australian Journal of Politics and History, Australian Political Chronicle, 6 (1) May 1960: 106-108 at p. 106.

Australian Labor Party: For a study of the Australian Labor Party in Western Australia which includes this period, see Ralph Pervan and Douglas Mitchell, 'The Changing Nature of the Australian Labor Party', in Ralph Pervan and Campbell Sharman (editors), Essays on Western Australian Politics, pp 129-158, (Perth: University of Western Australia Press, 1979, ISBN 0855641495), and see 'References', below.

Liberal and Country League: In 1949, a public meeting '... attended by several hundred people from various parts of the state approved the formation of the Liberal and Country League (LCL) .... The Liberal Party agreed to submerge its identity in the new party...' David Black, 'The Liberal Party and its Predecessors', in Ralph Pervan and Campbell Sharman (editors), Essays on Western Australian Politics, pp 191-232, at p.218 (Perth: University of Western Australia Press, 1979, ISBN 0855641495). Black argues that this change of name was part of a continuing struggle between the Liberal Party and the Country Party; see 'References', below.

Country Party and Country and Democratic League: The Country Party had changed its name in 1944 to the Country and Democratic League as a sign of the party's intention to widen its electoral appeal (see the notes for the 1947 Legislative Assembly elections); the parliamentary party -- but not the organization -- reverted to the name Country Party in 1949. Nonetheless, after the electoral changes of 1947, demographic trends and competition from the Liberals, the party struggled to maintain its representation; see Lenore Layman, 'The Country Party: Rise and Decline', in Ralph Pervan and Campbell Sharman (editors), Essays on Western Australian Politics, pp 159-190, (Perth: University of Western Australia Press, 1979, ISBN 0855641495), and 'References', below

Democratic Labor Party: The Australian Labor Party and the trade union movement suffered major internal divisions in the 1950s which came to a head in 1955 with a split in some state branches of the Party and the creation of what was to become the Democratic Labor Party; for an extensive study of this period, see Robert Murray, The Split: Australian Labor in the Fifties, (Melbourne: Cheshire, 1972, ISBN 0701516755). For the formation of the party in Western Australia and its continuing effect on Labor politics into the 1970s, note Ralph Pervan and Douglas Mitchell, 'The Changing Nature of the Australian Labor Party', in Ralph Pervan and Campbell Sharman (editors), Essays on Western Australian Politics, pp 129-158, at pp 140-143 (Perth: University of Western Australia Press, 1979, ISBN 0855641495), and see Crowley, State Election, in 'References', below.

References: A detailed study of this election and its context can be found in F K Crowley, State Election:The Fall of the Hawke Government, A Brief Account, (Perth: published by the author, 1959); a summary version can be found in F K Crowley, 'Western Australia', Australian Journal of Politics and History, Australian Political Chronicle, 5 (2) November 1959: 243-245.

For the political context of this election (1959), see David Black, 'The Liberals Triumphant: The Politics of Development 1947-1980', in C T Stannage (editor), A New History of Western Australia, pp 441-470, at pp 445-447, (Perth: University of Western Australia Press, 1981, ISBN 0855641819); for an overview of the context of Western Australian parliamentary and electoral politics in this period, see Lenore Layman, 'Continuity and Change 1947-1965', in David Black (editor), The House on the Hill: A History of the Parliament of Western Australia 1832-1990, pp 153-183, (Perth: Western Australian Parliamentary History Project, Parliament of Western Australia, 1991, ISBN 0730939839).

Sources

Colin A Hughes and B D Graham, A Handbook of Australian Government and Politics 1890-1964, (Canberra: Australian National University Press, 1968, SBN 708102700); Colin A Hughes and B D Graham, Voting for the South Australian, Western Australian and Tasmanian Lower Houses 1890-1964, (Canberra: Department of Political Science, Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University, 1976, ISBN 0708113346); David Black, Election Statistics Legislative Assembly of Western Australia 1890-1996, Listed Alphabetically by Constituency, (Perth: Parliament of Western Australia and Western Australian Electoral Commission, 1997); and David Black. An Index to Parliamentary Candidates in Western Australian Elections State and Federal 1890-2006, 2nd edition, (Perth: Parliament of Western Australia, 2006, ISBN 1920830774).



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