ID 0503

Parliament of Western Australia, Legislative Assembly election

Election of 18 March 1939

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Western Australia, Legislative Assembly votes and seats won

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Election held on 18 March 1939
Criteria for the inclusion of parties in this table are set out in the Glossary under 'listed party'

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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  92,585  45.02  +3.63  27  54.00 
Nationalist Party (Nationalists)  49,307  23.97  -8.39  14.00 
Country Party  24,681  12.00  -2.60  12  24.00 
Independents  19,890  9.67  +4.92  4.00 
Independent Nationalists  13,977  6.80  +4.80  4.00 
Independent Country Party  3,540  1.72  -0.53     
Independent Labor  1,383  0.67  -0.33     
Communist Party  308  0.15  +0.06     
Votes for other than listed parties 0 0.00 0.00       
Totals 205,671  100.00    50  10  100.00 

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Premier in office at election: There had been a change of Premier since the previous Legislative Assembly election in 1936. Six months after the Legislative Assembly election in February 1933, Collier resigned as Premier on the grounds of ill health. The Labor caucus selected Willcock in his place; Willcock became Premier of an Australian Labor Party majority government on 19 August 1936 which was returned with an increase in votes and seats at this election (1939). For the context and summary details of the change of Premier and references on their careers, see the entries for each Premier in the 'Periods in office' component of this website.

Compulsory voting: This was the first Legislative Assembly election held with compulsory voting; it had been introduced by the Electoral Act Amendment Act of 1938 (see Hughes and Graham, Handbook, p. 565, in 'Sources', below [misprint corrected]).

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 note R F Pervan, 'Cabinet and Caucus: Labor in Western Australia, 1933-1947', University Studies in History, [University of Western Australia], 5(1) 1967: 1-37, and 'References', below.

Nationalist Party (Nationalists): The defeat at this election (1939) continued the Nationalists' electoral problems; see David Black, 'The Liberal Party and its Predecessors', in Ralph Pervan and Campbell Sharman (editors), Essays on Western Australian Politics, pp 191-232, at pp 206-211, (Perth: University of Western Australia Press, 1979, ISBN 0855641495).

In 1931, the federal Parliamentary Labor Party in Canberra had split over Depression finance policies, and some members of Labor Party joined with the Nationalist Party to form the United Australia Party under the leadership of Joseph Lyons (see generally, Clem Lloyd, 'The Rise and Fall of the United Australia Party', in J R Nethercote (editor), Liberalism and the Australian Federation pp 113-133, (Sydney: Federation Press, 2001, ISBN 1862874026). The political context of Western Australian politics did not lead to the creation of a WA branch of the the United Australia Party; the Nationalist Party retained its name but cooperated with the federal party at federal elections. As elsewhere in this database, the name Nationalist Party (Nationalists) is used for the Western Australian party even though some references -- and contemporary commentary -- referred to the party in Western Australia as the National Party; the use of the label 'Nationalist' is used to distinguish the party from the National Party which emerged in the 1970s.

Country Party: Organizational changes to the Country Party as a consequence of its major split in 1923 (for details, see the notes for the 1924 Legislative Assembly elections) had strengthened the party even though defeat at this election (1939) had condemned it to another stint on the opposition benches; see Lenore Layman, 'The Country Party: Rise and Decline', in Ralph Pervan and Campbell Sharman (editors), Essays on Western Australian Politics, pp 159-190, at pp 164-167 (Perth: University of Western Australia Press, 1979, ISBN 0855641495).

References: For the political context of this election (1939), see David Black, 'The Era of Labor Ascendancy 1924-1947', in C T Stannage (editor), A New History of Western Australia, pp 406-440, (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 David Black, 'Factionalism and Stability, 1911-1947', in David Black (editor), The House on the Hill: A History of the Parliament of Western Australia 1832-1990, pp 97-151, (Perth: Western Australian Parliamentary History Project, Parliament of Western Australia, 1991, ISBN 0730939839).


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).