Martin Lumb, Politics and Public Administration Section
House of Representatives
The 2010 election saw the election of 29 new members to the
House of Representatives, together with the return of three
Coalition members who did not retain their seats at the 2007
election, Warren Entsch (LNP, Leichhardt, Qld), Teresa Gambaro
(LNP, Brisbane, Qld) and Ross Vasta (LNP, Bonner, Qld). This new
component constitutes approximately 20 per cent of the chamber.
This compares with 39 new members at the 2007 election (26 per cent
of the chamber). Of the 32 members who left the House of
Representatives, 20 retired and 12 were defeated at the
Of the 40 senators up for re-election, who will begin their
terms on 1 July 2011, all but 12 were re-elected. Six did not
contest the election and six were defeated. The 12 new senators,
including David Fawcett (LP, SA) the former Member for Wakefield
from 2004 to 2007, will comprise approximately 16 per cent of the
new Senate. This compares with 14 new Senators (18 per cent) after
the 2007 election.
Following the election, the number of women in the House of
Representatives has declined from 41 (27 per cent) to 37 (25 per
cent). When the new Senators take up their places on 1 July 2011,
the number of women in the Senate will rise slightly from 27 (35
per cent) to 29 (38 per cent). Overall the number of women in
Parliament will decline from 68 (30 per cent) to 66 (29 per cent).
The figure below illustrates trends in the number of women in the
House of Representatives since 1983.
Number of women in the House of
Representatives 1983-2010 - Text version
The election produced a number of milestones:
- The 43rd Parliament is the first
hung Parliament since the election of 21 September 1940.
- Julia Gillard becomes the first elected female Prime
- 20-year old Wyatt Roy (LNP, Longman, Qld) becomes the youngest
member of the House of Representatives since Federation. The
previous youngest members of the House of Representatives were
Edwin Corboy (ALP, Swan, WA), 22 years two months when elected in
1918, and Andrew Jones (LIB, Adelaide, SA), 22 years six months
when elected in 1966.
- Ken Wyatt (LIB, Hasluck, WA) becomes the first indigenous
member of the House of Representatives. Former Senators Neville
Bonner (LIB, IND, Qld) and Aden Ridgeway (AD, NSW) remain the only
indigenous members elected to the upper house.
- Ed Husic (ALP, Chifley, NSW) becomes the first Muslim elected
to the House of Representatives.
- The election of Adam Bandt (Greens, Melbourne, Vic.) marks the
first time the Greens won a seat in the House of Representatives at
a general election. Michael Organ (Greens, Cunningham, NSW) won at
a by-election in 2002 but was subsequently defeated at the general
election of 2004.
- The election of four Independents and one Green to the House of
Representatives constitutes the highest number of elected
independent/minor party MPs in the House of Representatives since
1996, when there were five Independents.
- The election of Tony Crook (Nationals, O’Connor, WA)
marks the first time the party has held a Western Australian seat
in the lower house since the departures of John Hallett (Country
Party, Canning, WA) and Donald Maisey (Country Party, Moore, WA) in
- John Madigan (DLP, Vic) is the first successful Democratic
Labor Party candidate since the November 1970 half-Senate election
at which five DLP Senators were elected. These Senators served
until the double dissolution of May 1974.
Library publications and key documents
Parliamentary Library, Parliamentary
Handbook of the Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra,
S Miskin and M Lumb, The 41st Parliament:
middle-aged, well-educated and (mostly) male, Research
no. 24, 2005-06, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 2006,
Images courtesy of the Parliamentary Education