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Australian federal election, 1996

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Title: Australian federal election, 1996  
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Subject: Australian Greens, One Nation (Australia), Keating Government, Howard Government, Division of Namadgi
Collection: 1996 Elections in Australia, Federal Elections in Australia
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Australian federal election, 1996

Federal elections were held in Australia on 2 March 1996. 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, in government for 5 terms totaling 13 years, led by Bob Hawke (1983–1991) and Paul Keating (1991–1996), was defeated by the opposition Liberal Party of Australia led by John Howard and Coalition partner the National Party of Australia led by Tim Fischer.


  • Results 1
  • House of Reps preference flows 2
  • Seats changing hands 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5


Popular Vote

House of Reps preference flows

  • The Democrats contested 138 electorates with preferences slightly favouring Labor (54.02%)
  • The Greens contested 102 electorates with preferences favouring Labor (67.10%)

Seats changing hands

Seat Pre-1996 Swing Post-1996
Party Member Margin Margin Member Party
Bass, Tas   Labor Silvia Smith 0.03 4.60 4.57 Warwick Smith Liberal  
Bowman, Qld   Labor Hon Con Sciacca 8.14 9.03 0.89 Andrea West Liberal  
Calare, NSW   Labor David Simmons N/A N/A 13.32 Peter Andren Independent  
Canberra, ACT   Liberal Brendan Smyth 6.58 14.1 7.52 Bob McMullan Labor  
Canning, WA   Labor Hon George Gear 0.19 0.88 0.69 Ricky Johnston Liberal  
Capricornia, Qld   Labor Marjorie Henzell 2.78 6.40 3.62 Paul Marek National  
Curtin, WA   Liberal Allan Rocher N/A N/A 7.28 Allan Rocher Independent  
Dickson, Qld   Labor Hon Michael Lavarch 2.55 5.72 3.17 Tony Smith Liberal  
Eden-Monaro, NSW   Labor Jim Snow 4.27 9.03 4.76 Gary Nairn Liberal  
Gilmore, NSW   Labor Peter Knott 0.45 6.69 6.24 Joanna Gash Liberal  
Griffith, Qld   Labor Ben Humphreys 5.90 7.37 1.47 Graeme McDougall Liberal  
Herbert, Qld   Labor Hon Ted Lindsay 3.31 9.90 6.59 Peter Lindsay Liberal  
Hughes, NSW   Labor Hon Robert Tickner 6.42 11.31 4.89 Danna Vale Liberal  
Kalgoorlie, WA   Labor Graeme Campbell N/A N/A 10.35 Graeme Campbell Independent  
Kingston, SA   Labor Gordon Bilney 1.45 3.46 2.01 Susan Jeanes Liberal  
Leichhardt, Qld   Labor Peter Dodd 1.33 5.51 4.18 Warren Entsch Liberal  
Lilley, Qld   Labor Wayne Swan 6.18 6.91 0.73 Elizabeth Grace Liberal  
Lindsay, NSW   Labor Ross Free 10.22 11.80 1.58 Jackie Kelly Liberal  
Lowe, NSW   Labor Mary Easson 5.01 7.48 2.47 Paul Zammit Liberal  
Macarthur, NSW   Labor Chris Haviland 1.28 11.97 10.69 John Fahey Liberal  
Macquarie, NSW   Labor Maggie Deahm 0.12 6.48 6.36 Kerry Bartlett Liberal  
Makin, SA   Labor Peter Duncan 3.71 4.79 1.08 Trish Draper Liberal  
McEwen, Vic   Labor Peter Cleeland 0.69 1.50 2.19 Fran Bailey Liberal  
McMillan, Vic   Labor Barry Cunningham 0.53 2.60 2.07 Russell Broadbent Liberal  
Moore, WA   Liberal Paul Filing N/A N/A 15.48 Paul Filing Independent  
Moreton, Qld   Labor Garrie Gibson 0.21 5.30 5.09 Gary Hardgrave Liberal  
Murray, Vic   National Bruce Lloyd N/A N/A 3.70* Sharman Stone Liberal  
North Sydney, NSW   Independent Ted Mack 1.8 17.4 15.6 Joe Hockey Liberal  
Northern Territory, NT   Labor Warren Snowdon 5.31 5.68 0.37 Nick Dondas Country Liberal  
Oxley, Qld   Labor Les Scott 14.65 19.31** 4.66 Pauline Hanson Independent  
Page, NSW   Labor Harry Woods 0.13 4.44 4.31 Ian Causley National  
Parramatta, NSW   Labor Paul Elliott 3.24 7.11 3.87 Ross Cameron Liberal  
Paterson, NSW   Labor Bob Horne 3.30 3.73 0.43 Bob Baldwin Liberal  
Petrie, Qld   Labor Gary Johns 2.15 9.85 7.70 Teresa Gambaro Liberal  
Richmond, NSW   Labor Neville Newell 1.78 8.53 6.75 Larry Anthony National  
Robertson, NSW   Labor Frank Walker 5.56 9.12 3.56 Jim Lloyd Liberal  
Swan, WA   Labor Kim Beazley 0.22 3.93 3.71 Don Randall Liberal  
Wills, Vic   Independent Phil Cleary n/a 4.37 n/a Kelvin Thomson Labor  
  • *Figure is Liberal against Nationals.
  • **Figure is a swing compared to Liberal vote at the last election.

Overall the coalition won 29 seats from Labor while the ALP won 4 seats from the Liberals. These 4 seats were Canberra and Namadgi in the ACT and Isaacs in Victoria and the Division of Bruce in Victoria. The ACT seats fell to Labor due to a strong return to the ALP in a traditional Labor town by public servants fearing conservative cuts. The division of Brendan Smyth's seat of Canberra into the two new (of the three) ACT seats limited his campaign to the southernmost Tuggeranong seat of Namadgi where the ACT Labor right wing stood former MLA Annette Ellis who ran a tight grassroots campaign. Isaacs fell to Labor due to demographic changes due to a redistribution of electoral boundaries.

The Gallagher Index result: 11.14

John Howard, who had previously led the Liberal Party from 1985 to 1989, had returned to the leadership in January 1995 following a disastrous 8 months under the leadership of Alexander Downer. Downer and Peter Costello had succeeded Dr. John Hewson and Michael Wooldridge early in 1994 and were touted as the leaders of the new-generation Liberals. In the end, the party opted for the seasoned Howard, perhaps an acknowledgment that he was the only one left standing after a decade of party infighting.

Howard approached the campaign with a determination to present as small a target as possible. Throughout 1995, he refused to detail specific policy proposals, focusing the Coalition's attacks mainly on the longevity and governing record of the Labor government. By 1996, however, it was clear that the electorate had tired of Labor and Paul Keating in particular. "The recession we had to have" line resonated with deadly force throughout the electorate. Although Keating's big picture approach to republicanism, reconciliation and engagement with Asia galvanised support within Labor's urban constituencies, Howard was able to attract support amongst disaffected mainstream Australians – including traditionally Labor-voting blue collar workers and middle class suburban residents. He also promised to retain Medicare and hold a constitutional convention to decide whether Australia would become a republic.

Labor lost five percent of its two-party vote from 1993, and tallied its lowest primary vote since 1934 (an additional eight percent coming from preferences). While the swing against Labor was not in and of itself a large one, Labor lost 13 of its 33 seats in New South Wales, and all but two of its 13 seats in Queensland. The 29-seat swing was the second-largest defeat, in terms of seats lost, by a sitting government in Australia. Three members of Keating's government—all outside Cabinet—lost their seats. Keating resigned as Labor leader on the night of the election, and was succeeded by former Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Kim Beazley.

Due in part to this large swing, Howard entered office with a 45-seat majority, the second-largest in Australian history (behind only the 55-seat majority won by Malcolm Fraser in 1975). The Liberals actually won a majority in their own right at this election with 75 seats, the most the party had ever won. Although Howard had no need for the support of the Nationals, the Coalition was retained.

See also


  • Australian Electoral Commission Results
  • University of WA election results in Australia since 1890
  • AEC 2PP vote
  • election details
  • Preference flows – ABC

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