Australian federal election, 1990

Australian federal election, 1990
24 March 1990 (1990-03-24)

All 148 seats in the Australian House of Representatives
75 seats were needed for a majority in the House
40 (of the 76) seats in the Australian Senate
  First party Second party
Leader Bob Hawke Andrew Peacock
Party Labor Liberal/National coalition
Leader since 3 February 1983 9 May 1989
Leader's seat Wills Kooyong
Last election 86 seats 62 seats
Seats won 78 seats 69 seats
Seat change Decrease8 Increase7
Popular vote 4,930,834 4,950,069
Percentage 49.90% 50.10%
Swing Decrease0.93% Increase0.93%

Prime Minister before election

Bob Hawke

Subsequent Prime Minister

Bob Hawke

Federal elections were held in Australia on 24 March 1990. All 148 seats in the House of Representatives and 40 seats in the 76-member Senate were up for election. The incumbent Australian Labor Party led by Bob Hawke defeated the opposition Liberal Party of Australia led by Andrew Peacock with coalition partner the National Party of Australia led by Charles Blunt. The election saw the reelection of a Hawke government, the fourth successive term.


John Howard lost the 1987 election to Hawke, and Andrew Peacock was elected Deputy Leader in a show of party unity. In May 1989 Peacock's supporters mounted a party room coup which returned Peacock to the leadership. Hawke's Treasurer, Keating, ridiculed him by asking: "Can the soufflé rise twice?" and calling him "all feathers and no meat". Hawke's government was in political trouble, with high interest rates and a financial crisis in Victoria.


House of Reps (IRV) — 1990–93 — Turnout 95.31% (CV) — Informal 3.19%
Party Votes % Swing Seats Change
  Australian Labor Party 3,904,138 39.44 6.39 78 8
  Liberal Party of Australia 3,468,570 35.04 +0.48 55 +12
  Australian Democrats 1,114,216 11.26 +5.22 0 0
  National Party of Australia 833,557 8.42 3.10 14 5
  Independents 252,116 2.55 +0.94 1 +1
  Other 327,077 3.30 +2.85 0 0
  Total 9,899,674     148  
Two-party-preferred vote
  Australian Labor Party WIN 49.90 0.93 78 8
  Liberal/National coalition   50.10 +0.93 69 +7

Independents: Ted Mack

Popular Vote
Two Party Preferred Vote
Parliament Seats
Senate (STV GV) — 1990–93 — Turnout 95.81% (CV) — Informal 3.40%
Party Votes % Swing Seats Won Seats Held
  Australian Labor Party 3,813,547 38.41 4.42 15 32
  Liberal/National (Joint Ticket) 2,429,552 24.47 +10.70 5  
  Liberal Party of Australia 1,445,872 14.56 6.41 12 28
  Australian Democrats 1,253,807 12.63 +4.15 5 8
  National Party of Australia 258,164 2.60 4.49 1 5
  Australian Greens 201,618 2.03 * 0 0
  WA Greens 76,381 0.77 * 1 1
  Country Liberal Party 29,045 0.29 +0.08 1 1
  Other 421,779 4.25 0.56 0 0
  Harradine Group 1
  Total 9,929,765     40 76

Seats changing hands

Seat Pre-1990 Swing Post-1990
Party Member Margin Margin Member Party
Adelaide, SA   Liberal Mike Pratt 1.9 2.8 3.7 Bob Catley Labor  
Aston, Vic   Labor John Saunderson 2.9 7.2 4.6 Peter Nugent Liberal  
Ballarat, Vic   Labor John Mildren 1.9 4.0 1.9 Michael Ronaldson Liberal  
Bendigo, Vic   Labor John Brumby 3.4 5.1 1.1 Bruce Reid Liberal  
Corinella, Vic   Labor notional – new seat 5.3 6.0 0.7 Russell Broadbent Liberal  
Dunkley, Vic   Labor Bob Chynoweth 1.7 6.8 1.2 Frank Ford Liberal  
Fairfax, Qld   National Evan Adermann N/A 0.2 7.5 Alex Somlyay Liberal  
Hawker, SA   Labor Elizabeth Harvey 1.2 1.2 0.0 Christine Gallus Liberal  
Kennedy, Qld   National Bob Katter 3.0 4.4 1.4 Rob Hulls Labor  
La Trobe, Vic   Labor Peter Milton 7.3 4.6 1.4 Bob Charles Liberal  
McEwen, Vic   Labor Peter Cleeland 4.1 6.1 3.2 Fran Bailey Liberal  
McMillan, Vic   Labor Barry Cunningham 4.3 7.4 4.4 John Riggall Liberal  
Moore, WA   Labor Allen Blanchard 5.2 6.3 6.9 Paul Filing Liberal  
Moreton, Qld   Liberal Don Cameron 0.7 3.0 2.3 Garrie Gibson Labor  
North Sydney, NSW   Liberal John Spender N/A 57.7 7.7 Ted Mack Independent  
Page, NSW   National Ian Robinson 4.5 5.2 0.7 Harry Woods Labor  
Richmond, NSW   National Charles Blunt 6.6 7.1 0.5 Neville Newell Labor  


The Gallagher Index result: 12.7

The 1990 election resulted in a modest swing to the opposition Coalition. Though Labor had to contend with the late 80s/early 90s recession, they won a record fourth successive election and a record 10 years in government with Bob Hawke as leader, a level of political success not previously seen by federal Labor. The election was to be Hawke's last as Prime Minister and Labor leader, he was replaced by Paul Keating on 20 December 1991 who would go on to lead Labor to win a record fifth successive election and a record 13 years in government resulting from the 1993 election.

At the election, the Coalition won a slim majority of the two-party vote, and slashed Labor's majority from 24 seats to nine. However, it only managed a two-party swing of 0.9 percent, which was not nearly enough to deliver the additional seven seats the Coalition needed to make Peacock Prime Minister. Despite having regained much of what the non-Labor forces had lost three years earlier, Peacock was forced to resign after the election.

This election saw the peak of the Australian Democrats' popularity under Janine Haines, and a WA Greens candidate won a seat in the Australian Senate for the first time – although the successful candidate, Jo Vallentine, was already a two-term senator, having previously won a seat for the Nuclear Disarmament Party at the 1984 election, and the Vallentine Peace Group at the 1987 election. Until 2010, this was the only post-war election where a third party (excluding splinter state parties and the Nationals) has won more than 10% of the primary vote for elections to the Australian House of Representatives.

Since the 1918 Swan by-election which Labor unexpectedly won with the largest primary vote, a predecessor of the Liberals, the Nationalist Party of Australia, changed the lower house voting system from first-past-the-post to full-preference preferential voting as of the subsequent 1919 election which has remained in place since, allowing the Coalition parties to safely contest the same seats. Full-preference preferential voting re-elected the Hawke government, the first time in federal history that Labor had obtained a net benefit from preferential voting.[1]

It also saw the Nationals' leader, Charles Blunt, defeated in his own seat of Richmond by Labor challenger Neville Newell--only the second time that a major party leader had lost his own seat. Newell benefited from the presence of independent and anti-nuclear activist Helen Caldicott. Her preferences flowed overwhelmingly to Newell on the third count, allowing Newell to win despite having been third on the primary vote.

See also


  1. Antony Green (2015-09-23). "The Origin of Senate Group Ticket Voting, and it didn't come from the Major Parties". Retrieved 2016-07-30.


External links

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