ID 0505

Parliament of Western Australia, Legislative Assembly election

Election of 15 March 1947

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Western Australia, Legislative Assembly votes and seats won

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Election held on 15 March 1947
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  61,059  37.35  -5.93  23  15  46.00 
Liberal Party   57,621  35.24  13  26.00 
Country and Democratic League  26,416  16.16  12  24.00 
Independents  10,469  6.40  -2.60  2.00 
Independent Labor  3,318  2.03  -0.64     
Independent Liberal  2,321  1.42  +0.54     
Communist Party  1,641  1.00  +0.61     
West Australia Party  556  0.34     
Progressive Party  89  0.05     
Independent Nationalists      -2.96  2.00 
Votes for other than listed parties 0 0.00 0.00       
Totals 163,490  100.00    50  20  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.


Premier in office at election: There had been a change of Premier since the previous Legislative Assembly election in 1936. Premier Willcock resigned on the grounds of ill health; the Labor caucus elected Wise as leader of the party and he was commissioned as Premier of an Australian Labor Party majority government. 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.

Government in office after election: 'Following the election on 15 March 1947 there was a possible deadlock in the Legislative Assembly. ... On 28 March it was confirmed that the two Opposition parties would have an absolute majority [when supported by at least one of the two Independent members], and on 1 April Wise resigned and the Governor sent for McLarty', Hughes and Graham, Handbook, p. 235 (see 'Sources', below). McLarty became Premier of a Liberal Party and Country and Democratic League coalition minority government.

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 and Liberal Party: Delegates from the Western Australian Nationalist Party had attended a national conference of anti-socialist organizations held in Albury late in 1944 which had decided on the formation of a new Liberal Party of Australia to replace the patchwork of anti-Labor groups across Australia. The new party would be based on shared principles but its organization would rely on largely autonomous state branches. The party would have a broadly based membership, and be responsible for raising its own funds. A Western Australian branch of the new Liberal Party was established in 1945; 'Despite the difficulty of shaking off its image as an oligarchical, predominantly metropolitan party, the Liberal Party gradually became something more than the old National[ist] Party renamed', 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 212 (Perth: University of Western Australia Press, 1979, ISBN 0855641495).

Country Party and Country and Democratic League: At the 1944 conference of the Primary Producers Association (PPA), a motion was passed which terminated the administrative arrangements through which the Country Party had been the political wing of the PPA. Its newly acquired political autonomy required the party to create its own organization and source of funds. As part of this reorganization, the party changed its name to the Country and Democratic League as a sign of the party's intention to widen its electoral appeal; 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 167-170 (Perth: University of Western Australia Press, 1979, ISBN 0855641495).

Independent Nationalist: The only Independent Nationalist candidate was Harry Shearn who won the seat of Maylands at this election without a contest (he had held the seat without any party endorsement since 1936); no party nominated a candidate to run against him at this election (1947).

References: For the political context of this election (1947), 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).