House of Representatives by-elections 1901-2008


Research Paper Index

Research Paper no. 7 2008-09

House of Representatives by-elections 1901 2008

Scott Bennett, Politics and Public Administration Section
Gerald Newman, Formerly Statistics and Mapping Section
22 September 2008

Contents

Party abbreviations
Introduction
  The organisation of Commonwealth by-elections
  The reasons why by-elections have been held
  The timing of by-elections
    By-elections 1994 95
    Vacancies for which no by-election was held 1901 2008
  Number of nominations
    Candidates per by-election
  Voter turnout
Party performance
  Seats lost at by-elections 1901 2005
    Impact upon party
    Impact upon Government/Opposition
    Party win/loss performance at by-elections 1901 2008
    By-elections caused by resignation safeness of seat 1949 2005
  Analysing by-election swings since 1949
  Average swings against government: by-elections 1949 2005
  Two-party preferred swings, By-elections 1949 2005
Personal and political matters
  The changing of the old guard
  Future Prime Ministers
  The passing of Prime Ministers
  The passing of leaders of the Opposition
  Family matters
  Famous entries into the House
  Kicked upstairs?
  A matter of treason
  By-elections that caused ripples
  Voided elections
Appendix 1: House of Representatives by-elections, 1901 2008
Appendix 2: Electoral division details
  First past the post electoral system
  Preferential voting electoral system
Appendix 3: Notes on Commonwealth by-elections
Appendix 4: By-election timing
Appendix 5: Sources on by-elections in Australia
  General studies
  Case studies

Executive Summary

  • This paper details of House of Representatives by-elections held from that for Darling Downs on 14 September 1901 to the most recent held on 6 September 2008 for Lyne and Mayo:
  • There have been 144 by-elections, an average of 3.5 per parliament.
  • The number of nominations has grown over the years from 2.2 per by-election
    to 10.4 per by-election.
  • In only four cases was a by-election contested by just a single candidate.
  • An increasing tendency has been for governments to avoid contesting by-elections in their opponents’ safe seats.
  • In only seven cases has the Opposition party failed to contest a by-election.
  • Sixty-seven of the by-elections followed the death of the member, 71 members resigned, there have been five voided elections, and one MP was expelled from the House.
  • Since 1949 most by-elections have been caused by the resignation of the sitting member and have occurred in safe seats.
  • On 35 occasions the party complexion of a seat has altered at a by-election.
  • Five of the losses have been by the Opposition of the day.
  • The average two-party preferred swing against the government of the day has been 4.0 per cent.
  • Since 1949 the largest two-party swing against a government occurred in Canberra in 1995. The largest swing to a government occurred in McPherson in 1981.

Party abbreviations

AAP       Advance Australia Party
AC Australian Constitutionalis
AFI Australians Against Further Immigration
ALP Australian Labor Party
ANAG Australian National Action Group
AntiSoc Anti-Socialist
AP Australia Party
APPG Australian Pensioner Pressure Group
AR Australian Republican
ARM Australian Reform Movement
ASP Australian Shooters Party
Atok Atokist
CDP Christian Democratic Party
CCE Conservatives for Climate and Environment
CEC Citizens Electoral Council
Com Communist Party
Cons Conservative
Const Constitutionalist
CP Country Party
CRep Constitutional Republican
CTA Call to Australia
Dem Australian Democrats
DLP Democratic Labor Party
DOGS Council for the Defence of Government Schools
DSP Deadly Serious Party
EcRef Economic Reform
FF Family First
FishP The Fishing Party
FLP Federal Labor Party
FLR Family Law Reform Party
FP Farmers' Party
FPA Federal Party of Australia
FST Australia First Party
FT Free Trade
Grn Greens
Gry Grey Power
GWA The Greens (WA)
HAN Pauline Hanson s One Nation
HMP Help End Marijuana Prohibition
HPA Hope Party Australia
ICP Independent CP
ILab Independent Labor
ILCL Independent Liberal Country League
ILib Independent Liberal
INat Independent Nationalist
Ind Independent
LDP Liberty and Democracy Party
LFF Liberals for forests
Lib Liberal Party
LibF Liberal Forum
LLab Lang Labor
LP Liberal Party
LRG Liberal Reform Group
NA National Alliance
NAP New Australian Party
Nat Nationalist
NCPP Non-Custodial Parents Party
NGST No GST Party
NHP National Humanitarian Party
NLP Natural Law Party
NP National Party
NSP National Socialist Party
ON One Nation
ONNSW One Nation NSW Division
PCP Progressive Conservative Party
PLP Progressive Labour Party
PORP Property Owners Rights Party
PP Progress Party
Prot Protectionist
ProtLab Protestant Labor
RARI Reclaim Australia: Reduce Immigration
RPA Republican Party of Australia
RSNP Returned Soldiers National Party
SA Socialist Alliance
SC Social Credit
SLib State Liberal
Soc Socialist
SPA Socialist Party of Australia
SWP Socialist Workers Party
TA Taxpayers' Association
UAP United Australia Party
UM Uninflated Movement
Unite Unite Australia Party
UTG United Tasmanian Group
UWU Unemployed Workers Union
VFU Victorian Farmers Union
VOTE Voice of the Elderly

Introduction

This Research Paper details the 144 by-elections for the House of Representatives held to date, and includes some of the factors involved in their being held.

It also discusses relevant factors such as the timing of by-elections, the number of nominations, the voter turnout and party performance over the years, and the swings that have occurred.

The paper concludes with a general discussion of some of the personal and political aspects of the by-elections.

The organisation of Commonwealth by-elections

By-elections are held to fill vacancies in the House of Representatives resulting from the death, resignation, absence without leave, expulsion, disqualification or ineligibility of a Member:

  • There have been 144 Commonwealth by-elections held since Federation.
  • The first was held in the Queensland electorate of Darling Downs, on 14 September 1901, barely four months after the opening of the new Commonwealth Parliament.
  • The most recent by-elections were held in the electorates of Lyne (NSW) and Mayo (SA) on 6 September 2008.

The reasons why by-elections have been held

Of the 144 by-elections, 67 (46.5 per cent) have occurred because of the death of the member, 71 (49.3 per cent) as the result of the resignation of the member, five (3.5 per cent) because of voided elections, and one (0.7 per cent) because of the expulsion of the member from the House (Kalgoorlie 1920).

The pattern has altered quite markedly, however:

  • From 1901 to 1970, 63.3 per cent of all by-elections were brought about by death.
  • By contrast, since 1971 86.7 per cent of all by-elections have been brought about by resignation.
  • Murray Goot has noted a similar phenomenon in New South Wales by-elections, with 1969 the first year in which more by-elections were brought by resignation than by death in Commonwealth elections this occurred just five years earlier.[1]

Years

Vacancy due to
death
(%)

Vacancy due to
resignation
(%)

Other
(%)

1901 70

63.3

31.6

5.1

Since 1971

11.1

86.7

2.2

Various factors are probably relevant here.

Members today enter the House of Representatives at a significantly younger age than used to be the case. Of the 41 parliaments to date, the second quarter s intake (1929 51) was the oldest, averaging 48.3 years per new Member. By contrast, the fourth quarter's intake (1977 2005) was the youngest at 42.2 years per new Member.[2] Another factor is the greater preparedness of Members to leave Parliament before death, quite often to pursue another career. This has been aided by a third consideration, namely the general increase in longevity of male Australians.

The timing of by-elections

The Constitution (s. 33) confers on the Speaker of the House of Representatives the power to issue a writ for the election of a new Member. The Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 specifies that the election must be held between 33 and 68 days from the date the writ is issued.

There is no prescribed time period within which a by-election writ must be issued, and, in fact, there is no accepted view as to the period that should elapse between vacancy and polling day.

Perhaps surprisingly, this has not become a matter of any long-term political debate, allowing governments a great deal of freedom in the setting of by-election dates. The length of time from a vacancy until polling day has therefore varied considerably, with the maximum number of days being the 82 days for Moreton in 1983, and the minimum being the 17 days for East Sydney in 1903.[3] The total elapsed time from vacancy to election has increased since 1901. Between 1901 and 1949, the average was 40.3 days, whereas during the period 1949 to 2008 the average has been 51.5 days. The average figure for all by-elections has been 47.0 days.

Ideally, by-elections are held as early as possible after a seat becomes vacant, so that the electors are not left without representation any longer than is necessary .[4] In fact, such a consideration is occasionally pushed aside by short-term political factors. On 22 October 1982, the member for Flinders (Phillip Lynch) resigned his seat. The Speaker fixed 4 December as the date for a by-election, but also declared that there would be a delay of three almost three weeks before the writs for the by-election would be issued. According to Anne Summers, this gave the Fraser Government the option of calling a general election for 4 or 11 December. The by-election could therefore have been pushed aside.[5]

In the cases of the eight by-elections held during 1994 5, the delay between the date of the seat becoming vacant and the date of the issuing of the writ varied considerably. The cases of Mackellar (35 days) and Kooyong (27 days) contrasted with the virtually instantaneous issuing of writs for by-elections in Fremantle, Boynthon and Warringah:

By-elections 1994 95

Division

Held by

Date of vacancy

Date of writ

Delay in issuing writ

Elapsed time from vacancy to election

Werriwa (NSW)

ALP

22.12.93

24.12.93

2 days

38 days

Fremantle (WA)

ALP

04.02.94

04.02.94

None

36 days

Bonython (SA)

ALP

11.02.94

11.02.94

None

36 days

Mackellar (NSW)

LP

14.01.94

18.02.94

35 days

71 days

Warringah (NSW)

LP

18.02.94

18.02.94

None

36 days

Kooyong (Vic)

LP

17.09.94

14.10.94

27 days

63 days

Canberra (ACT)

ALP

30.01.95

17.02.95

18 days

54 days

Wentworth (NSW)

LP

28.02.95

03.03.95

3 days

39 days

The variation that is allowed in regard to by-election dates is thus an anomaly in an electoral system that is generally highly regulated.

Appendix 4 provides details of the timing of all by-elections held between September 1901 and September 2008. It also shows the number of days elapsed between the seat becoming vacant and the by-election date, as well as the number of days elapsed since the previous general election, and the number of days between the by-election and the next general election.

There have been 20 occasions when the Speaker has in fact declined to issue such a writ for a by-election due to a pending general election. The longest period a seat has been without a member prior to a general election was 128 days in the case of Hindmarsh in 1909 10. The shortest period was the 39 days between the plane crash on 13 August 1940 that killed three MPs, and the election of 21 September 1940.

Vacancies for which no by-election was held 1901 2008

Division

Vacant

Next election

Days

Hunter (NSW)

30.09.03

16.12.03

77

Indi (Vic)

12.10.06

12.12.06

61

Northern Melbourne (Vic)

13.10.06

12.12.06

60

Hindmarsh (SA)

06.12.09

13.04.10

128

East Sydney (NSW)

24.12.09

13.04.10

110

West Sydney (NSW)

06.09.28

17.11.28

72

Wimmera (Vic)

14.10.31

19.12.31

66

Martin (NSW)

05.06.34

15.09.34

102

Ballarat (Vic)

31.07.34

15.09.34

46

Werriwa (NSW)

02.08.34

15.09.34

44

Henty (Vic)

13.08.40

21.09.40

39

Flinders (Vic)

13.08.40

21.09.40

39

Corangamite (Vic)

13.08.40

21.09.40

39

West Sydney (NSW)

14.08.46

28.09.46

45

Hindmarsh (SA)

14.08.46

28.09.46

45

McMillan (Vic)

14.10.55

10.12.55

57

Leichhardt (Qld)

11.10.58

22.11.58

42

Warringah (NSW)

03.08.66

26.11.66

110

Bonython (SA)

30.09.77

10.12.77

71

Wills (Vic)

25.11.92

13.03.93

108

Number of nominations

The 141 by-elections have been contested by an average of 4.8 candidates. Over the years, however, there has been a steady increase in the number of nominations.

In the 24 First-past-the-post cases between 1901 and October 1918 the average number of nominations was 2.2 per contest.

In the 120 Preferential Voting cases there have been an average of 5.5 nominations per by-election:

  • Between the introduction of Preferential Voting in December 1918 to the start of 1970, there was an average of 3.7 nominations per by-election.
  • The 1970s and 1980s saw the first of two significant increases in candidate numbers, with 6.2 candidates per by-election over these decades.
  • This was exceeded during the 1990s, with the average climbing to 8.1 candidates per contest.
  • Since 2000 a further climb to 10.4 candidates per by-election has occurred.

The record number of nominations occurred in the 1992 by-election in the Victorian electorate of Wills, when 22 nominations were received to fill the seat vacated by former Prime Minister Hawke. The 2005 Werriwa by-election had 16 nominations, the second-highest on record.

Candidates per by-election

Years

By-elections

Average number of candidates

Largest number of candidates

1901 2008

141

4.8

22 (Wills 1992)

1901 18 (First-past-the-post)

24

2.2

4 (Tasmania 1902)

1918 2008 (Preferential voting)

117

5.5

22 (Wills 1992)

       

Preferential voting

     

1918 29

15

3.1

5 (3 cases)

1930 39

12

3.7

6 (Wilmot 1939)

1940 49

7

4.0

7 (Wimmera 1946)

1950 59

16

3.7

6 (3 cases)

1960 69

22

3.9

5 (8 cases)

1970 79

8

6.5

12 (Parramatta 1973)

1980 89

18

6.1

12 (Lowe 1982)

1990 99

14

8.1

22 (Wills 1992)

2000 08

8

10.4

16 (Werriwa 2005)

In only four cases, or 2.8 per cent, was a by-election contested by just a single candidate (Kalgoorlie 1913, Dalley 1915, Wide Bay 1928, Cunningham 1956).

In recent years there has been a tendency for governments to avoid contesting by-elections in their opponents' safe seats. Since 1990 the incumbent government has failed to contest 13 of the 22 by-elections held. In all cases bar one this has meant an easy win to the party holding the seat. In the case of Cunningham in 2002, however, the absence of a Liberal candidate helped the Australian Green candidate win the seat from the ALP.[6]

By contrast, the official Opposition has contested every by-election since Bradfield in 1952. In seven cases (4.9 per cent), over the whole period the Opposition has failed to contest a by-election (Darling Downs 1901, Echuca 1907, Dalley 1915, Echuca 1919, Wide Bay 1928, Balaclava 1929, Bradfield 1952).

Voter turnout

  • During the period of voluntary voting (1901 24) the average turnout was just 54.0 per cent.[7] The lowest figure was 15.1 per cent (East Sydney 1903).
  • Since the introduction of compulsory voting in 1924, the average by-election turnout figure has been 87.6 per cent. This contrasts with a 94.5 per cent turnout in general elections over that period.
  • During the compulsory voting years, there has been a slight fall in the by-election turnout figure. Prior to 1970 the turnout in 62 by-elections was 88.5 per cent; the turnout for the 47 by-elections since 1970 has been 86.6 per cent. In the 22 contests between 1991 and 2008 the turnout has been 86.2 per cent.
  • The lowest turnout figure for the compulsory voting period has been 69.5 per cent (Wentworth 1981). Remarkably, there have been three by-elections in this electorate in 1956, 1981 and 1995, with an average turnout of only 75.9 per cent.

Party performance

In 35 of the 144 by-elections (24.3 per cent) a seat has altered its party complexion:

Seats lost at by-elections 1901 2005

Division

Government

Sitting party

Winning party

Melbourne (Vic) 1904

Prot

Prot

ALP

Riverina (NSW) 1904

ALP

FT

Prot

Adelaide (SA) 1908

Prot

Prot

ALP

Boothby (SA) 1911

ALP

ALP

Lib

Grampians (Vic) 1915

ALP

ALP

Lib

Wide Bay (Qld) 1915

ALP

ALP

Lib

Swan (WA) 1918

Nat

Nat

ALP

Corangamite (Vic) 1918

Nat

Nat

VFU

Echuca (Vic) 1919

Nat

Nat

VFU

Ballarat (Vic) 1920

Nat

Nat

ALP

Kalgoorlie (WA) 1920

Nat

ALP

Nat

Maranoa (Qld) 1921

Nat

ALP

CP

Wide Bay (Qld) 1928

Nat

Nat

CP

Franklin (Tas) 1929

ALP

Ind

ALP

Parkes (NSW) 1931

ALP

ALP

Nat

East Sydney (NSW) 1932

UAP

UAP

LLab

Darling Downs (Qld) 1936

UAP

UAP

CP

Gwydir (NSW) 1937

UAP/CP

CP

ALP

Wakefield (SA) 1938

UAP/CP

UAP

ALP

Wilmot (Tas) 1939

UAP/CP

UAP

ALP

Corio (Vic) 1940

UAP

UAP

ALP

Henty (Vic) 1946

ALP

Ind

LP

Flinders (Vic) 1952

LP/CP

LP

ALP

Calare (NSW) 1960

LP/CP

LP

CP

Dawson (Qld) 1966

LP/CP

CP

ALP

Corio (Vic) 1967

LP/CP

LP

ALP

Bass (Tas) 1975

ALP

ALP

LP

Lowe (NSW) 1982

LP/NP

LP

ALP

Adelaide (SA) 1988

ALP

ALP

LP

Groom (Qld) 1988

ALP

NP

LP

Wills (Vic) 1992

ALP

ALP

Ind

Canberra (ACT) 1995

ALP

ALP

LP

Ryan (Qld) 2001

LP/NP

LP

ALP

Cunningham (NSW) 2002

LP/NP

ALP

Grn

Lyne (NSW) 2008

ALP

NP

Ind

Note: By the time of the Grampians by-election of 1917, the Liberal Party had been subsumed by the Nationalist Party. This by-election is therefore not included as an occasion when the seat changed party hands.

Impact upon party

  • Twenty-seven (18.8 per cent) by-elections have been lost by a major party to another major party.
  • Four (2.8 per cent) have been lost by a major party to a minor party (Corangamite 1918, Echuca 1919, East Sydney 1932, Cunningham 2002).
  • One (0.7 per cent) has been lost by a major party to an independent (Wills 1992).
  • Two (1.4 per cent) previously held by independents were won by a major party (Franklin 1929, Henty 1946).

Impact upon Government/Opposition

In twenty-four by-elections (16.7 per cent) the seat has been lost by the government of the day.

  • Five seats (3.5 per cent) have been lost by the opposition of the day (Riverina 1904, Kalgoorlie 1920, Maranoa 1921, Cunningham 2002, Lyne 2008).
  • Four seats (2.8 per cent) have been lost by one Coalition partner to another (Wide Bay 1928, Darling Downs 1936, Calare 1960, Groom 1988). Note that the losses of Corangamite in 1918 and Echuca in 1919 by the Nationalist Party were both to the Victorian Farmers Union which shortly thereafter formed the Country Party. However, as there was no formal anti-Labor coalition at this time, these are not included here.
  • Two seats (1.4 per cent) that had been held by an independent MP were won by the government of the day (Franklin 1929, Henty 1946).

In terms of winning seats from other parties, over the long haul the major non-Labor parties of the day have not done quite as well as their rivals:

Party win/loss performance at by-elections 1901 2008

Party

Seats gained

Seats lost

ALP

14

11

Major non-Labor parties*

11

18

CP/NP

4

3

Other

5

2

* These figures include Riverina 1904, won by the Protectionists from the Free Traders.

On nine of the 34 occasions where a seat has changed party hands at a by-election (Boothby 1911, Swan 1918, Kalgoorlie 1920, Wakefield 1938, Wilmot 1939, Flinders 1952, Adelaide 1988, Canberra 1995 and Ryan 2001), the party that won the seat at the by-election lost the seat at the next general election.

The fact that relatively few seats have changed party hands in by-elections is probably due more to the propensity for by-elections to occur in safe seats, rather than any other factor. Political parties and individual members are only too aware of the possible political consequences of losing a seat at a by-election, and thus try to ensure that by-elections caused by resignation occur only in relatively safe seats. For example, since 1949, of the 56 by-elections that were caused by the resignation of the sitting member, only nine have been in marginal seats (i.e. seats requiring a swing of less than 6.0 per cent to change hands). By far the largest number of by-elections, 32, have occurred in safe seats (i.e. seats requiring a swing of over 10 per cent to change hands).

By-elections caused by resignation safeness of seat 1949 2005

 

No

% of total

Marginal

9

16.4

Fairly Safe

14

25.5

Safe

32

58.2

Total

55

100.0

Of the 67 seats vacated by death, 15 have been lost by the party holding the seat, identical figures for the 71 seats vacated by resignation.

Analysing by-election swings since 1949[8]

Apart from a party s success or defeat in a by-election, the most important aspect of a by-election is the swing that takes place. Conventional wisdom holds that there is usually a swing against the government of the day at a by-election. The success or otherwise of a government, opposition, or party leader at the by-election is often measured by the size of the swing in comparison with the average swing recorded in past by-elections. However, by-elections occur in varied and disparate electoral divisions, with different numbers and mixes of candidates, and with a variety of local, state and national issues involved. It could therefore be argued that given the variety of factors involved, there is no 'normal' by-election swing. By-elections are held in such varying circumstances that none can be regarded as typical, and it is generally agreed that any swing that occurs, is usually explained by the special factors pertaining to each by-election.[9]

By-election swings can be calculated by comparing the first preference and two-party preferred votes received by the various parties at the by-election, with the votes at the previous general election. The two-party preferred swing is more commonly used, as it overcomes some of the difficulties inherent in using first preference swings. First preference swings can be affected by the number and nature of candidates and parties contesting the by-election when compared with the previous general election.

Average first preference and two-party preferred vote swings for by-elections held between 1949 and September 2008 are given below. Swings cannot be calculated where one of the major parties (i.e. ALP or LP/NP Coalition) did not stand a candidate at the by-election or the preceding general election, or where the division was uncontested at the by-election or the preceding general election.

Average swings against government: by-elections 1949 2005

 

First Preference Swing

Average swing

Two-party Preferred Swing

All By-elections

-5.7%

-4.0%

Government held seats

-6.6%

-5.0%

LP/NP Governments

-4.8%

-3.4%

ALP Governments

-8.2%

-5.4%

By-elections caused by death

-3.0%

-2.5%

By-elections caused by resignation

-7.2%

-5.0%

The average two-party preferred swing against the government of the day in all by-elections held during the period 1949 to 2008 was 4.0 per cent. The swing against ALP governments, 5.4 per cent, was somewhat higher than the swing against LP/NP Coalition governments, 3.4 per cent, while the swing against the government of the day in government-held seats was 5.0 per cent. The average two-party preferred swing in by-elections caused by the death of the sitting member was half the swing in by-elections caused by the resignation of the member.

Two-party preferred swings at by-elections during the period have varied from an anti-government swing of 16.1 per cent (Canberra 1995) to a swing of 16.2 per cent to the government (McPherson 1981). The largest swing against an ALP Government was the Canberra figure, while the largest swing against a LP/(CP)NP Coalition Government was achieved when Gough Whitlam won Werriwa in 1952 with a 12.4 per cent swing. Two-party preferred swings to the government of the day are a rare event in by-elections, with only ten being recorded during the period. The largest swing to an ALP Government was in Wills in 1992 with a 5.9 per cent swing (although the ALP lost the seat to an independent candidate, P. Cleary) while the largest swing to a LP/NP Coalition Government was in McPherson, referred to above. Because the number of candidates contesting a by-election is generally larger than the number contesting the previous general election, first preference swings against the government tend to be higher than two-party preferred swings.

Two-party preferred swings, By-elections 1949 2005

ALP Government

 

LP/NP Government

Division

Swing

Division

Swing

Parramatta 1973

-6.6

Balaclava 1951

-3.4

Bass 1975

-14.6

Macquarie 1951

+0.1

Wannon 1983

-1.5

Lyne 1952

-8.8

Bruce 1983

-3.8

Flinders 1952

-11.0

Moreton 1983

-1.2

Werriwa 1952

-12.4

Corangamite 1984

-1.3

Bradfield 1952

n.a.

Hughes 1984

-5.0

Dalley 1953

n.a.

Richmond 1984

+0.5

Lang 1953

-2.5

Scullin 1986

-4.4

Corangamite 1953

-6.5

Adelaide 1988

-8.4

Gwydir 1953

-0.4

Port Adelaide 1988

-11.1

Cook 1955

n.a.

Groom 1988

-5.2

Cunningham 1956

n.a.

Oxley 1988

-11.8

Barker 1956

-9.9

Gwydir 1989

n.a.

Wentworth 1956

n.a.

Menzies 1991

n.a.

Richmond 1957

n.a.

Wills 1992

+5.9

Parramatta 1958

-6.4

Werriwa 1994

-6.3

Hunter 1960

n.a.

Fremantle 1994

+1.0

La Trobe 1960

-7.5

Bonython 1994

-7.8

Balaclava 1960

-4.6

Mackellar 1994

n.a.

Bendigo 1960

+0.1

Warringah 1994

n.a.

Calare 1960

+1.0

Kooyong 1994

n.a.

Higinbotham 1960

-9.2

Canberra 1995

-16.1

Batman 1962

n.a.

Wentworth 1995

n.a.

Grey 1963

+4.9

Gippsland 2008

-6.1

East Sydney 1963

n.a.

Lyne 2008

n.a.

Denison 1964

-1.9

Mayo 2008

n.a.

Angas 1964

-2.1

 
                                                         

Parramatta 1964

-3.0

Robertson 1964

-1.4

Riverina 1965

-0.9

Dawson 1966

-11.9

Kooyong 1966

-3.8

Corio 1967

-11.1

Capricornia 1967

+1.5

Higgins 1968

-0.3

Curtin 1969

-7.1

Bendigo 1969

+2.1

Gwydir 1969

-7.7

Australian Capital Territory 1970

+13.8

Chisholm 1970

-2.8

Murray 1971

-0.4

Cunningham 1977

-0.3

Werriwa 1978

-11.3

Grayndler 1979

-6.9

McPherson 1981

+16.2

Boothby 1981

-1.2

Curtin 1981

-7.5

Wentworth 1981

-6.2

Lowe 1982

-8.5

Flinders 1982

-3.3

Blaxland 1996

n.a.

Lindsay 1996

+5.0

Fraser 1997

n.a.

Holt 1999

n.a.

Isaacs 2000

n.a.

Ryan 2001

-9.7

Aston 2001

-3.7

n.a. not applicable

Personal and political matters[10]

A stark listing of 144 electoral contests can disguise the fact that many of them involved noteworthy personal and political matters that are part of Australia s political history. Some of these are referred to below.

The changing of the old guard

A number of members were senior politicians before they entered the national Parliament, with this latter service being the swan-song for a number of them:

  • The death on 8 August 1910 of the only convict to enter the Parliament, William Groom, caused the first Commonwealth by-election to be held less than six months after the opening of Parliament (Darling Downs 1901).
  • Three Constitution-writers died in the first decade after Federation, prompting by-elections: Edward Braddon (Wilmot 1904), Charles Cameron Kingston (Adelaide 1908) and Frederick Holder (Wakefield 1909). John Forrest (Swan 1918), by contrast, had enjoyed a much longer Commonwealth career, which included several ministries, with four periods as Treasurer.

Future Prime Ministers

Six future Prime Ministers entered the House of Representatives via by-elections. For Stanley Melbourne Bruce (Flinders 1918), Harold Holt (Fawkner 1935), Arthur Fadden (Darling Downs 1936) and Gough Whitlam (Werriwa 1952) this saw their entry into Parliament for the first time. James Scullin (Yarra 1922) had already served a term during 1910 13, while John Gorton (Higgins 1968) had recently retired from the Senate.

The passing of Prime Ministers

The passing from Parliament of fifteen of the twenty-five MPs who have held the office of Prime Minister has been the trigger for a by-election:

  • In two cases (Wilmot 1939, Fremantle 1945) the by-election followed the death of the Prime Minister while in office Joe Lyons and John Curtin, respectively. The by-election in Higgins in 1968 was caused by the disappearance while swimming, of Prime Minister Harold Holt.
  • Ben Chifley (Macquarie 1951) and Billy Hughes (Bradfield 1952) remained in Parliament after losing office, and both died while still MPs.
  • Some early Prime Ministers resigned from Parliament to assume other positions. Andrew Fisher (Wide Bay 1915) and Joseph Cook (Parramatta 1921) both became Australian High Commissioner in London. S. M. Bruce had lost his seat in 1929, returned to the House in 1931, and left Parliament for good when he was appointed as Resident Minister in London (Flinders 1933).
  • Since the departure of Robert Menzies (Kooyong 1966), John Gorton and John Howard have been the only former Prime Ministers not to have caused a by-election by their departure from the House of Representatives. John McEwen (Murray 1971), William McMahon (Lowe 1982) and Gough Whitlam (Werriwa 1978) all remained in Parliament for a time after ceasing to be Prime Minister before resigning from the House. By contrast, Malcolm Fraser (Wannon 1983), Bob Hawke (Wills 1992) and Paul Keating (Blaxland 1996) all resigned their seats very soon after their loss of office.

The passing of leaders of the Opposition

Of the thirteen Leaders of the Opposition who have never become Prime Minister, the passing from Parliament of seven has caused a by-election:

  • Frank Tudor (Yarra 1922) died in office.
  • H. V. Evatt (Hunter 1960), Bill Snedden (Bruce 1983), Bill Hayden (Oxley 1988), Andrew Peacock (Kooyong 1994), John Hewson (Wentworth 1995) and Mark Latham (Werriwa 2005) all left Parliament between general elections.

Family matters

The retirement of both Alexander Downer sen. (Angas 1964) and Alexander Downer jun. (Mayo 2008) were both the occasion for a by-election to be held.

Many retiring MPs have been replaced by family members. In four by-elections such a generational transfer has been from father to son:

  • Three were caused by death Littleton Groom replacing William Groom (Darling Downs 1901), Bernard Corser replacing Edward Corser (Wide Bay 1928) and David Oliver Watkins replacing David Watkins (Newcastle 1935).
  • The fourth father to son replacement was when Harry Jenkins senior became Ambassador to Spain in 1986. He was replaced by Harry Jenkins junior (Scullin 1986).

In two cases the family transfer has been from uncle to nephew:

  • Herbert Pratten to Frederick Pratten (Martin 1928), and David Riordan to William Riordan (Kennedy 1936).

Famous entries into the House

Some MPs have achieved a national prominence prior to their election to the House of Representatives via a by-election:

  • William Spence (Darwin 1917) had been a co-founder and long-time President of the Australian Workers' Union.
  • Successive Queensland Labor Premiers, T. J. Ryan (1915 19) and Edward Theodore (1919 25) entered the House of Representatives as MPs for New South Wales seats Ryan in 1921 for West Sydney, and Theodore for Dalley in 1925.
  • Archie Grenfell Price (Boothby 1941), Master of St Mark's College, University of Adelaide, was a noted Australian geographer.
  • Garfield Barwick KC (Parramatta 1958) was a leading Australian barrister.
  • John Gorton (Higgins 1968), former prominent member of the Senate, entered following his replacement of Harold Holt as Prime Minister.
  • Steele Hall (Boothby 1981) had been Premier of South Australia 1968 70, as well as a Senator for South Australia.
  • Carmen Lawrence (Fremantle 1994) had been Premier of Western Australia 1990 3. Lawrence's success was the first by-election victory by a woman candidate.

Kicked upstairs?

Many MPs have been appointed to prominent positions, thus ending their parliamentary careers. Some have seen this as an ideal way in which to leave the political hurly-burly, while for others there has been a suggestion that this was a means to push a potential leadership contender out of the picture:

  • By-elections were caused when Paul Hasluck (Curtin 1969) and Bill Hayden (Oxley 1988) accepted the office of Governor-General.
  • Charles Abbott (Gwydir 1937) and Roger Dean (Robertson 1964) were both appointed Administrator of the Northern Territory, while Alex Wilson (Wimmera 1946) was appointed Administrator of Norfolk Island.
  • Some sudden departures have been caused by appointment to the judiciary. Edward McTiernan (Parkes 1931) and Garfield Barwick (Parramatta 1964) joined the High Court. Supreme Court appointments have also been made: William Irvine (Flinders 1918) in Victoria, H. V. Evatt (Hunter 1960) in New South Wales, and Percy Joske (Balaclava 1960) in the Australian Capital Territory. Bob Ellicott (Wentworth 1981) was appointed to the Federal Court, while Lionel Bowen (Parramatta 1973) joined the New South Wales Court of Appeal.
  • Various people have accepted ambassadorships: Richard Casey (Corio 1940) and Howard Beale (Parramatta 1958) to the USA, Hugh Roberton (Riverina 1965) to Ireland, Lance Barnard (Bass 1975) to Norway, Finland and Sweden, and Harry Jenkins senior (Scullin 1986) to Spain.
  • By far the most-used diplomatic position for appointments of former MPs has been the High Commissioner position in London, with the appointment of eight former Members forcing by-elections. Former Prime Ministers Fisher (Wide Bay 1915) and Cook (Parramatta 1921) began the list, followed by Granville Ryrie (Warringah 1927), Thomas White (Balaclava 1951), E. J. Harrison (Wentworth 1956), Alexander Downer sen. (Angas 1964), Vic Garland (Curtin 1981) and Neal Blewett (Bonython 1994). Hubert Opperman (Corio 1967) became High Commissioner to Malta, while Les Johnson (Hughes 1984) became High Commissioner to New Zealand.
  • Perhaps the most unusual of such official appointments was of A. I. Allan (Gwydir 1969) to the Secretary-Generalship of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Alexander Downer jun. (Mayo 2008) moved to the position of United Nations Special Envoy for Cyprus.

A matter of treason

On 7 November 1920 Hugh Mahon chaired a public meeting in Melbourne sponsored by the Irish Ireland League, and in a speech attacking the British presence in Ireland, spoke of this bloody and accursed Empire . His expulsion from the House of Representatives four days later for his 'seditious and disloyal utterances', was due to the House finding that he had been guilty of conduct unfitting him to remain a member of this House . Mahon's is the only expulsion to have occurred from the Parliament, and it forced a by-election (Kalgoorlie 1920). The House of Representatives lost this power with the passage of the Parliamentary Privileges Act 1987.

By-elections that caused ripples

Occasionally by-elections can be seen as having an importance beyond the immediate contest to fill a vacancy in the House of Representatives.

Some are a sign of things to come electorally:

  • The by-election to replace Deputy Prime Minister, Lance Barnard (Bass 1975), gave a very clear indication of the decline in popularity of the Whitlam Government that was confirmed in the December 1975 election.[11]
  • The by-election to replace former Hawke and Keating Minister, Ros Kelly (Canberra 1995), presaged the Keating Government's defeat in the March 1996 election.[12]

Other by-elections have had a different type of political impact:

  • In late 1939, coalition negotiations between the United Australia Party and the Country Party broke down over Prime Minister Menzies insistence on his right to choose all ministers. The 1940 Corio by-election to fill the place of Richard Casey unexpectedly produced a Labor victory. According to former Country Party leader Earle Page this was instrumental in Menzies' weakening his stance and offering five Cabinet positions to the Country Party, with the leader of each party to choose his own party's representatives.[13]
  • The Dawson by-election of 26 February 1966 was fought largely for Labor by the candidate, Rex Patterson, and the party's deputy leader, Gough Whitlam. The national leader, Arthur Calwell, was convinced that Labor could not win and took little part. To the surprise of many, Patterson was successful. Whitlam was due to come before the Federal Executive of the ALP on 2 March to face possible disciplinary treatment, possibly even expulsion. According to Graham Freudenberg, the last-minute change of stance of the Queensland delegates grateful to Whitlam for the Dawson result, saved his position and possibly his political career.[14]
  • Labor s failure to win the seat of Flinders in a by-election of late 1982 was said to have had a double impact. Bill Hayden s position as Labor leader became increasingly insecure, while Prime Minister Fraser apparently became convinced of the need for an early election before there was any chance of Hayden s replacement by Bob Hawke. The consequential replacement of Hayden and the announcement of an early election on the same day were thus intimately connected with the by-election's outcome.[15]
  • During 1993 4 much media discussion focussed on the possibility of Senator Bronwyn Bishop eventually assuming the leadership of the Liberal Party. When the seat of Mackellar fell vacant in 1994, Bishop secured Liberal preselection in an apparent move to clear the way for a push to the leadership. Labor did not contest the by-election and Bishop s main rival was the writer, Bob Ellis, standing as an independent. Although Bishop won the seat comfortably with 52.2 per cent of first preferences, the Liberal first preference vote had fallen by 4.4 per cent. Although this was hardly a major loss of votes, her failure to increase her vote in the absence of a Labor candidate, was enough to end any chance she may have had for the Liberals' top job. As fellow Liberal, Peter Reith, put it, Most people within the parliamentary party were of the opinion that Bronwyn didn't have any votes within the parliamentary party if she didn t have many before Saturday [i.e. the by-election], she hasn t got any more today. [16]

Voided elections

Some by-elections have been caused by the voiding of particular results after a general election: Melbourne and Riverina in 1904, Echuca 1907, Ballarat 1920 and Lindsay 1996.

The Wills by-election of 1992 was itself voided, but another by-election was not held because of the proximity of the next general election.

Appendix 1: House of Representatives by-elections, 1901 2008

No.

Date

Division

Member Elected

Previous Member

Reason for Vacancy

1

14.09.01

Darling Downs (Qld)

Groom LE (Prot)

Groom WH (Prot)

Died

2

26.03.02

Tasmania

Hartnoll W (FT)

Piesse FW (FT)

Died

3

04.09.03

East Sydney (NSW)

Reid GH (FT)

Reid GH (FT)

Resigned in protest against rejection of proposals for redistribution of NSW

4

26.02.04

Wilmot (Tas)

Cameron DN (FT)

Braddon ENC (FT)

Died

5

30.03.04

Melbourne (Vic)

Maloney WRN (ALP)

McEacharn MD (Prot)

Election declared void

6

18.05.04

Riverina (NSW)

Chanter JM (Prot)

Blackwood RO (FT)

Election declared void

7

10.07.07

Echuca (Vic)

Palmer AC (Prot)

Palmer AC (Prot)

Election declared void

8

13.06.08

Adelaide (SA)

Roberts EA (ALP)

Kingston CC (Prot)

Died

9

28.08.09

Wakefield (SA)

Foster,RW (AntiSoc)

Holder FW (AntiSoc)

Died

10

24.08.10

Kooyong (Vic)

Best RW (Lib)

Knox W (Lib)

Resigned

11

08.02.11

Batman (Vic)

Brennan F (ALP)

Beard HE (ALP)

Died

12

11.03.11

North Sydney (NSW)

Ryrie GdeL (Lib)

Edwards GB (Lib)

Died

13

11.11.11

Boothby (SA)

Gordon DJ (Lib)

Batchelor EL (ALP)

Died

14

01.06.12

Werriwa (NSW)

Bennett BH (ALP)

Hall DR (ALP)

Resigned. Appointed MLC (NSW)

15

22.12.13

Kalgoorlie (WA)

Mahon H (ALP)

Frazer CE (ALP)

Died

16

10.01.14

Adelaide (SA)

Yates GE (ALP)

Roberts EA (ALP)

Died

17

06.02.15

Bendigo (Vic)

Hampson AJ (ALP)

Arthur JA (ALP)

Died

18

20.02.15

Grampians (Vic)

Salmon CC (Lib)

Jolly EFG (ALP)

Died

19

06.05.15

Dalley (NSW)

Mahony WG (ALP)

Howe R (ALP)

Died

20

11.12.15

Wide Bay (Qld)

Corser EBC (Lib)

Fisher A (ALP)

Resigned. Appointed Australian High Commissioner to Great Britain

21

30.06.17

Darwin (Tas)

Spence WG (Nat)

Howroyd CR (Nat)

Died

22

27.10.17

Grampians (Vic)

Jowett E (Nat)

Salmon CC (Lib)

Died

23

11.05.18

Flinders (Vic)

Bruce SM (Nat)

Irvine WH (Nat)

Resigned. Appointed Victorian Supreme Court

24

26.10.18

Swan (WA)

Corboy EW (ALP)

Forrest J (Nat)

Died

25

14.12.18

Corangamite (Vic)

Gibson WG (VFU)

Manifold JC (Nat)

Died

26

20.09.19

Echuca (Vic)

Hill WC (VFU)

Palmer AC (Nat)

Died

27

10.07.20

Ballaarat (Vic)

McGrath DC (ALP)

Kerby ETJ (Nat)

Election declared void

28

18.12.20

Kalgoorlie (WA)

Foley GJ (Nat)

Mahon H (ALP)

Expelled

29

30.07.21

Maranoa (Qld)

Hunter JAJ (CP)

Page J (ALP)

Died

30

03.09.21

West Sydney (NSW)

Lambert WH (ALP)

Ryan TJ (ALP)

Died

31

10.12.21

Parramatta (NSW)

Pratten HE (Nat)

Cook J (Nat)

Resigned. Appointed Australian High Commissioner to Great Britain

32

18.02.22

Yarra (Vic)

Scullin JH (ALP)

Tudor FG (ALP)

Died

33

06.03.26

Eden-Monaro (NSW)

Perkins JA (Nat)

Chapman A (Nat)

Died

34

26.02.27

Dalley (NSW)

Theodore EG (ALP)

Mahony WG (ALP)

Resigned

35

21.05.27

Warringah (NSW)

Parkhill RA (Nat)

Ryrie GdeL (Nat)

Resigned. Appointed High Commissioner to Great Britain.

36

16.06.28

Martin (NSW)

Pratten FG (Nat)

Pratten HE (Nat)

Died

37

03.09.28

Wide Bay (Qld)

Corser BH (CP)

Corser EBC (Nat)

Died

38

03.08.29

Balaclava (Vic)

White TW (Nat)

Watt WA (Nat)

Resigned

39

14.12.29

Franklin (Tas)

Frost CW (ALP)

McWilliams WJ (Ind)

Died

40

31.01.31

Parkes (NSW)

Marr CWC (Nat)

McTiernan EA (ALP)

Resigned. Appointed to High Court

41

07.03.31

East Sydney (NSW)

Ward EJ (ALP)

West JE (ALP)

Died

42

06.02.32

East Sydney (NSW)

Ward EJ (LLab)

Clasby JJ (UAP)

Died

43

11.11.33

Flinders (Vic)

Fairbairn JV (UAP)

Bruce SM (UAP)

Resigned. Appointed Resident Minister in London.

44

01.06.35

Newcastle (NSW)

Watkins DO (FLP)

Watkins D (FLP)

Died

45

17.08.35

Fawkner (Vic)

Holt HE (UAP)

Maxwell GA (UAP)

Died

46

12.12.36

Kennedy (Qld)

Riordan WJF (FLP)

Riordan D (FLP)

Died

47

19.12.36

Darling Downs (Qld)

Fadden AW (CP)

Groom LE (UAP)

Died

48

08.05.37

Gwydir (NSW)

Scully WJ (ALP)

Abbott CLA (CP)

Resigned. Appointed Administrator of Northern Territory

49

10.12.38

Wakefield (SA)

McHugh S (ALP)

Hawker CAS (UAP)

Died

50

20.05.39

Griffith (Qld)

Conelan WP (ALP)

Baker FMJ (FLP)

Died

51

27.05.39

Wilmot (Tas)

Spurr LT (ALP)

Lyons JA (UAP)

Died

52

02.03.40

Corio (Vic)

Dedman JJ (ALP)

Casey RG (UAP)

Resigned. Appointed Australian Ambassador to United States of America

53

16.11.40

Kalgoorlie (WA)

Johnson HV (ALP)

Green AE (ALP)

Died

54

21.12.40

Swan (WA)

Marwick TW (CP)

Gregory H (CP)

Died

55

24.05.41

Boothby (SA)

Price AG (UAP)

Price JL (UAP)

Died

56

18.08.45

Fremantle (WA)

Beazley KE (ALP)

Curtin J (ALP)

Died

57

09.02.46

Wimmera (Vic)

Turnbull WG (CP)

Wilson A (CP)

Resigned. Appointed Administrator of Norfolk Island

58

30.03.46

Henty (Vic)

Gullett HBS (Lib)

Coles AW (Ind)

Resigned

59

28.07.51

Balaclava (Vic)

Joske PE (LP)

White TW (LP)

Resigned. Appointed High Commissioner to Great Britain.

60

28.07.51

Macquarie (NSW)

Luchetti AS (ALP)

Chifley JB (ALP)

Died

61

22.03.52

Lyne (NSW)

Lucock PE (CP)

Eggins EJ (CP)

Died

62

18.10.52

Flinders (Vic)

Ewert KWW (ALP)

Ryan RS (LP)

Died

63

29.11.52

Werriwa (NSW)

Whitlam EG (ALP)

Lazzarini HP (ALP)

Died

64

20.12.52

Bradfield (NSW)

Turner HB (LP)

Hughes WM (LP)

Died

65

09.05.53

Dalley (NSW)

Greenup AE (ALP)

Rosevear JS (ALP)

Died

66

29.08.53

Corangamite (Vic)

Mackinnon ED (LP)

McDonald AM (LP)

Died

67

29.08.53

Lang (NSW)

Stewart FE (ALP)

Mulcahy D (ALP)

Died

68

19.12.53

Gwydir (NSW)

Allan AI (CP)

Treloar TJ (CP)

Died

69

21.05.55

Cook (NSW)

Cope JF (ALP)

Sheehan T (ALP)

Died

70

11.04.56

Cunningham (NSW)

Kearney VD (ALP)

Davies W (ALP)

Died

71

13.10.56

Barker (SA)

Forbes AJ (LP)

Cameron AG (LP)

Died

72

08.12.56

Wentworth (NSW)

Bury LHE (LP)

Harrison EJ (LP)

Resigned. Appointed High Commissioner to Great Britain.

73

14.09.57

Richmond (NSW)

Anthony JD (CP)

Anthony HL (CP)

Died

74

08.03.58

Parramatta (NSW)

Barwick GEJ (LP)

Beale OH (LP)

Resigned. Appointed Ambassador to USA.

75

09.04.60

Hunter (NSW)

James AW (ALP)

Evatt HV (ALP)

Resigned. Appointed NSW Supreme Court

76

09.04.60

La Trobe (Vic)

Jess JD (LP)

Casey RG (LP)

Resigned

77

16.07.60

Balaclava (Vic)

Whittorn RH (LP)

Joske PE (LP)

Resigned. Appointed ACT Supreme Court.

78

16.07.60

Bendigo (Vic)

Beaton NL (ALP)

Clarey PJ (ALP)

Died

79

05.11.60

Calare (NSW)

England JA (CP)

Howse JB (LP)

Resigned

80

10.12.60

Higinbotham (Vic)

Chipp DL (LP)

Timson TF (LP)

Died

81

01.09.62

Batman (Vic)

Benson SJ (ALP)

Bird AC (ALP)

Died

82

01.06.63

Grey (SA)

Mortimer J (ALP)

Russell EHD (ALP)

Died

83

28.09.63

East Sydney (NSW)

Devine LT (ALP)

Ward EJ (ALP)

Died

84

15.02.64

Denison (Tas)

Gibson A (LP)

Townley AG (LP)

Died

85

20.06.64

Angas (SA)

Giles GO (LP)

Downer AR (LP)

Resigned. Appointed High Commissioner to Great Britain.

86

20.06.64

Parramatta (NSW)

Bowen NH (LP)

Barwick GEJ (LP)

Resigned. Appointed to High Court.

87

05.12.64

Robertson (NSW)

Bridges-Maxwell CW (LP)

Dean RL (LP)

Resigned. Appointed Administrator of NT.

88

27.02.65

Riverina (NSW)

Armstrong AA (CP)

Roberton HS (CP)

Resigned. Appointed Ambassador to Ireland.

89

26.02.66

Dawson (Qld)

Patterson RA (ALP)

Shaw GW (CP)

Died

90

02.04.66

Kooyong (Vic)

Peacock AS (LP)

Menzies RG (LP)

Resigned

91

22.07.67

Corio (Vic)

Scholes GGD (ALP)

Opperman HF (LP)

Resigned. Appointed High Commissioner to Malta.

92

30.09.67

Capricornia (Qld)

Everingham DN (ALP)

Gray GH (ALP)

Died

93

24.02.68

Higgins (Vic)

Gorton JG (LP)

Holt HE (LP)

Presumed dead

94

19.04.69

Curtin (WA)

Garland RV (LP)

Hasluck PM (LP)

Resigned. Appointed Governor-General.

95

07.06.69

Bendigo (Vic)

Kennedy AD (ALP)

Beaton NL (ALP)

Resigned

96

07.06.69

Gwydir (NSW)

Hunt RJD (CP)

Allan AI (CP)

Resigned. Appointed Secretary-General Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

97

30.05.70

Australian Capital Territory (ACT)

Enderby KE (ALP)

Fraser JR (ALP)

Died

98

19.09.70

Chisholm (Vic)

Staley AA (LP)

Kent Hughes WS (LP)

Died

99

20.03.71

Murray (Vic)

Lloyd EB (CP)

McEwen J (CP)

Resigned

100

22.09.73

Parramatta (NSW)

Ruddock PM (LP)

Bowen NH (LP)

Resigned. Appointed to NSW Court of Appeal.

101

28.06.75

Bass (Tas)

Newman KE (LP)

Barnard LH (ALP)

Resigned. Appointed Ambassador to Norway, Finland and Sweden

102

15.10.77

Cunningham (NSW)

West SJ (ALP)

Connor RFX (ALP)

Died

103

23.09.78

Werriwa (NSW)

Kerin JC (ALP)

Whitlam EG (ALP)

Resigned

104

23.06.79

Grayndler (NSW)

McLeay LB (ALP)

Stewart FE (ALP)

Died

105

21.02.81

Boothby (SA)

Hall S (LP)

McLeay JE (LP)

Resigned. Appointed Consul-General in Los Angeles.

106

21.02.81

Curtin (WA)

Rocher AC (LP)

Garland RV (LP)

Resigned. Appointed High Commissioner to Great Britain.

107

21.02.81

McPherson (Qld)

White PND (LP)

Robinson EL (LP)

Died

108

11.04.81

Wentworth (NSW)

Coleman WP (LP)

Ellicott RJ (LP)

Resigned. Appointed to Federal Court.

109

13.03.82

Lowe (NSW)

Maher MJ (ALP)

McMahon W (LP)

Resigned

110

04.12.82

Flinders (Vic)

Reith PK (LP)

Lynch PR (LP)

Resigned

111

07.05.83

Wannon (Vic)

Hawker DPM (LP)

Fraser JM (LP)

Resigned

112

28.05.83

Bruce (Vic)

Aldred KJ (LP)

Snedden BM (LP)

Resigned

113

05.11.83

Moreton (Qld)

Cameron DM (LP)

Killen DJ (LP)

Resigned

114

18.02.84

Corangamite (Vic)

McArthur FS (LP)

Street AA (LP)

Resigned

115

18.02.84

Hughes (NSW)

Tickner RE (ALP)

Johnson LR (ALP)

Resigned. Appointed High Commissioner to NZ.

116

18.02.84

Richmond (NSW)

Blunt CW (NP)

Anthony JD (NP)

Resigned

117

08.02.86

Scullin (Vic)

Jenkins HA (ALP)

Jenkins HA (ALP)

Resigned. Appointed Ambassador to Spain.

118

06.02.88

Adelaide (SA)

Pratt MP (LP)

Hurford CJ (ALP)

Resigned. Appointed Consul-General in New York.

119

26.03.88

Port Adelaide (SA)

Sawford RW (ALP)

Young MJ (ALP)

Resigned

120

09.04.88

Groom (Qld)

Taylor WL (LP)

McVeigh DT (NP)

Resigned

121

08.10.88

Oxley (Qld)

Scott LJ (ALP)

Hayden WG (ALP)

Resigned. Appointed Governor-General.

122

15.04.89

Gwydir (NSW)

Anderson JD (NP)

Hunt RJD (NP)

Resigned

123

11.05.91

Menzies (Vic)

Andrews KJ (LP)

Brown NA (LP)

Resigned

124

11.04.92

Wills (Vic)

Cleary PR (Ind)

Hawke RJL (ALP)

Resigned

125

29.01.94

Werriwa (NSW)

Latham M (ALP)

Kerin JC (ALP)

Resigned

126

12.03.94

Fremantle (WA)

Lawrence C (ALP)

Dawkins J (ALP)

Resigned

127

19.03.94

Bonython (SA)

Evans M (ALP)

Blewett N (ALP)

Resigned. Appointed High Commissioner to the UK

128

26.03.94

Warringah (NSW)

Abbott T (LP)

MacKellar M (LP)

Resigned

129

26.03.94

Mackellar (NSW)

Bishop B (LP)

Carlton J (LP)

Resigned

130

19.11.94

Kooyong (Vic)

Georgiou P (LP)

Peacock AS (LP)

Resigned

131

25.03.95

Canberra (ACT)

Smyth B (LP)

Kelly R (ALP)

Resigned

132

08.04.95

Wentworth (NSW)

Thomson A (LP)

Hewson J (LP)

Resigned

133

15.06.96

Blaxland (NSW)

Hatton M (ALP)

Keating P (ALP)

Resigned

134

19.10.96

Lindsay (NSW)

Kelly J (LP)

Kelly J (LP)

Election declared void

135

01.02.97

Fraser (ACT)

Dargavel S (ALP)

Langmore J (ALP)

Resigned

136

06.11.99

Holt (Vic)

Byrne A (ALP)

Evans G (ALP)

Resigned

137

12.08.00

Isaacs (Vic)

Corcoran A (ALP)

Wilton G (ALP)

Died

138

17.03.01

Ryan (Qld)

Short L (ALP)

Moore J (LP)

Resigned

139

14.07.01

Aston (Vic)

Pearce C(LP)

Nugent P(LP)

Died

140

19.10.02

Cunningham (NSW)

Organ M (Grn)

Martin S (ALP)

Resigned

141

19.05.05

Werriwa (NSW)

Hayes C (ALP)

Latham M (ALP)

Resigned

142

28.06.08

Gippsland (Vic)

Chester D (NP)

McGauran P (NP)

Resigned

143

06.09.08

Lyne (NSW)

Oakeshott R (Ind)

Vaile M (NP)

Resigned

144

06.09.08

Mayo (SA)

Briggs J (LP)

Downer A (LP)

Resigned

Note that seats which changed party hands at a by-election are highlighted. By the time of the Grampians by-election of 1917, the Liberal Party had effectively been subsumed by the Nationalist Party. Henceforth, this by-election is not regarded as an occasion when the division changed parties.

For votes received in each contest, see Appendix 2.

Appendix 2: Electoral division details

First past the post electoral system

Preferential voting electoral system

Appendix 3: Notes on Commonwealth by-elections

  1. Darling Downs 1901 The first by-election, which followed the death of W. H. Groom, was won by his son, L. E. Groom.
  2. Tasmania 1902 This was caused by the death of Frederick Piesse. This has been the only by-election held at-large, due to the first Tasmanian members being elected from the State as a whole rather than from individual electorates.
  3. East Sydney 1903 The sitting member, Sir George Reid, resigned in protest against the proposals for the redistribution of New South Wales divisions, forcing the by-election. Reid won the resulting by-election.
  4. Wilmot 1904 Former Tasmanian Premier and Constitution-writer, Sir Edward Braddon, remains the oldest person elected to the House of Representatives. He was 74 when he died, forcing this by-election.
  5. Melbourne 1904 By-election caused by the voiding of the general election result on the grounds of irregularities by electoral officials.
  6. Riverina 1904 By-election caused by the voiding of the general election result on the grounds of irregularities by electoral officials.
  7. Echuca 1907 By-election caused by the voiding of the general election result on the grounds of irregularities by electoral officials. The Opposition did not contest the seat.
  8. Adelaide 1908 Death of former Premier and Constitution-writer, Charles Cameron Kingston.
  9. Wakefield 1909 Death of former Premier and Constitution-writer, Sir Frederick Holder.
  10. Kooyong 1910 The winner of this by-election, Sir Robert Best, had been a Senator during the first decade until his defeat in 1910.
  11. Batman 1911 Well-known lawyer, Frank Brennan, won this seat for the Labor Party.
  12. North Sydney 1911 Major-General Sir Granville Ryrie, who had seen military service in South Africa, at Gallipoli and in Egypt, won this seat for the Liberal Party.
  13. Boothby 1911 The Fisher Labor Government lost this seat to the Liberal Party, but regained it at the 1913 general election.
  14. Werriwa 1912 D. R. Hall resigned to take up an appointment to the New South Wales Legislative Council.
  15. Kalgoorlie 1913 The first by-election for which there was just a single nomination.
  16. Adelaide 1914 The winner of this by-election, George Yates, soon left Australia to serve in the World War, though he retained his seat while he did so.
  17. Bendigo 1915 This by-election was caused by the death of the Minister for External Affairs, John Arthur.
  18. Grampians 1915 Sir Charles Carty Salmon, second Speaker of the House of Representatives (1909-10) returned to the Parliament at this by-election.
  19. Dalley 1915 The death of Robert Howe, first secretary of the Labor Federation of Australia caused this by-election. Not contested by the Opposition, and only one candidate nominated.
  20. Wide Bay 1915 Former Prime Minister, Andrew Fisher, resigned to take up an appointment as Australian High Commissioner to Great Britain. The Labor Party lost the seat, which it did not win back until 1961.
  21. Darwin 1917 Former Tasmanian MHA, C. R. Howroyd, died five days after winning the seat at the 1917 general election.
  22. Grampians 1917 Sir Charles Carty Salmon's death caused this by-election. He was replaced by Edmund Jowett, later elected first deputy leader of the Country Party.
  23. Flinders 1918 Upon the appointment of Sir William Irvine as Chief Justice of the Victorian Supreme Court, the by-election for his seat saw the victory of future Prime Minister S. M. Bruce.
  24. Swan 1918 By-election caused by the death of former Premier and Constitution-writer, Sir John Forrest. The Nationalist Party failed to hold the seat, though it won it back at the 1919 general election.
  25. Corangamite 1918 This by-election saw the first use of preferential voting for a House election of any type. The Victorian Farmers' Union won the seat from the Nationalists. The defeated Labor candidate was future Prime Minister, James Scullin.
  26. Echuca 1919 This seat was also won by the Victorian Farmers' Union from the Nationalists. Not contested by the Opposition.
  27. Ballaarat 1920 In the 1919 general election, Edwin Kerby had defeated sitting member David McGrath by a single vote. Upon challenge, a Court of Disputed Returns declared void the general election result on the ground of irregularities by electoral officials. McGrath won the resulting by-election.
  28. Kalgoorlie 1920 Labor's Hugh Mahon remains the only Member or Senator to be expelled. The Labor Party failed to hold the seat in this by-election, though it won it back at the 1922 general election.
  29. Maranoa 1921 The Country Party won its first by-election taking the seat from the Labor Party.
  30. West Sydney 1921 Former Queensland Premier, T. J. Ryan, had been invited by the ALP Conference to contest this New South Wales division at the 1919 general election. Less than two years later he died causing this by-election.
  31. Parramatta 1921 Former Prime Minister, Sir Joseph Cook caused the by-election by accepting appointment as Australian High Commissioner to Great Britain.
  32. Yarra 1922 By-election caused by the death of the Labor Leader of the Opposition, Frank Tudor. The by-election was won by future Prime Minister, James Scullin.
  33. Eden-Monaro 1926 This by-election was caused by the death of Sir Austin Chapman, former Minister for Defence, Postmaster-General and Minister for Trade and Customs.
  34. Dalley 1927 By-election won by former Queensland Premier, E. G. Theodore.
  35. Warringah 1927 By-election caused by the resignation of Sir Granville Ryrie to accept the position of Australian High Commissioner to Great Britain.
  36. Martin 1928 Frederick Pratten replaced his uncle, the late Herbert Pratten, in this by-election.
  37. Wide Bay 1928 By-election in which Bernard Corser (CP) replaced his father Edward Corser (Nat). Not contested by the Opposition, and only one candidate nominated.
  38. Balaclava 1929 By-election to replace W. A. Watt, former Victorian Premier, Commonwealth Treasurer and Speaker. His replacement was (Sir) Thomas White, son-in-law of Alfred Deakin and later a Menzies Government minister. Not contested by the Opposition.
  39. Franklin 1929 By-election caused by death of the independent W. J. McWilliams, previously the first parliamentary leader of the Country Party. His replacement, Charles Frost, was later a minister under both Prime Ministers Curtin and Chifley.
  40. Parkes 1931 By-election caused by the appointment of Edward McTiernan to the High Court.
  41. East Sydney 1931 By-election won by E. J. Ward for the ALP. Ward lost the seat to J. Clasby (UAP) at the 1932 general election.
  42. East Sydney 1932 Sitting member John Clasby (UAP) died before taking his seat and former member E. J. Ward won the by-election, now as a Lang Labor candidate. Ward is the only person to win two by-elections.
  43. Flinders 1933 Former Prime Minister S. M. Bruce caused the by-election when he was appointed Resident Minister in England.
  44. Newcastle 1935 By-election at which David Oliver Watkins replaced his father, David Watkins.
  45. Fawkner 1935 By-election won by future Prime Minister, Harold Holt, for the UAP.
  46. Kennedy 1936 By-election at which David Riordan replaced his uncle, William Riordan.
  47. Darling Downs 1936 By-election won by future Prime Minister and Country Party leader, Arthur Fadden, for the Country Party.
  48. Gwydir 1937 By-election following the appointment of Charles Abbott to the position of Administrator of the Northern Territory. Three Country Party candidates nominated.
  49. Wakefield 1938 By-election at which the ALP won the seat from the UAP, following the death of Charles Hawker in a plane crash. The UAP retained the seat at the 1940 general election.
  50. Griffith 1939 By-election following death of Francis Baker.
  51. Wilmot 1939 By-election caused by the death of Prime Minister J. A. Lyons. The field included three UAP and two ALP candidates. The ALP won the seat from the UAP, but lost it in the 1940 general election.
  52. Corio 1940 J. J. Dedman (ALP) won this seat from the UAP after R. G. Casey was appointed Australian Ambassador to the United States of America.
  53. Kalgoorlie 1940 By-election caused by the death of former Minister for Defence Albert Green.
  54. Swan 1940 By-election won by former Senator Thomas Marwick.
  55. Boothby 1941 By-election won by (Sir) Archie Grenfell Price, Master of St Mark's College, University of Adelaide, and noted Australian geographer.
  56. Fremantle 1945 By-election caused by the death of Prime Minister John Curtin. The by-election was won by Kim Beazley senior.
  57. Wimmera 1946 After a battle between seven contenders, including two from the Country Party and one described as 'Independent Country Party', (Sir) Winton Turnbull narrowly won this by-election.
  58. Henty 1946 By-election to replace Arther Coles, former managing director of G. J. Coles & Co., Lord Mayor of Melbourne and independent, who had shared the balance of power after the 1941 election with Alex Wilson. This was the first by-election won by the re-formed Liberal Party. It was won by Henry Gullett, son of Sir Henry who had held the seat between 1925 and 1940.
  59. Balaclava 1951 P. E. Joske retained this seat for the Liberal Party following the appointment of T. W. White as High Commissioner in London.
  60. Macquarie 1951 By-election held following the death of the former Prime Minister Ben Chifley. The ALP retained the seat despite a small (0.4 per cent) swing to the LP/CP Coalition Government.
  61. Lyne 1952 The Country Party, which stood two candidates in this by-election, retained the seat (Phil Lucock successful candidate) despite a large swing to the ALP (8.8 per cent).
  62. Flinders 1952 The Liberal Party lost the seat to the ALP as the result of a large (11.0 per cent) swing against the LP/CP Coalition Government. The successful candidate, Keith Ewert, lost the seat at the next general election.
  63. Werriwa 1952 The ALP achieved its largest by-election swing in the post-war period (12.4 per cent) at this by-election. The successful ALP candidate was future Prime Minister Gough Whitlam.
  64. Bradfield 1952 No ALP candidate contested this safe Liberal seat, previously held by former Prime Minister and longest serving member of the House of Representatives, W. M. Hughes.
  65. Dalley 1953 The Liberal Party did not contest this safe ALP seat, retained for the ALP by A. E. Greenup.
  66. Corangamite 1953 E. D. Mackinnon retained this seat for the Liberal Party despite a 6.5 per cent swing against the Coalition Government.
  67. Lang 1953 F. E. Stewart retained this seat for the ALP following the death of D. Mulcahy.
  68. Gwydir 1953 Two Country Party candidates contested this by-election together with candidates from the ALP and Liberal Party. The seat was won by the Country Party's A. I. Allan.
  69. Cook 1955 The Liberal Party did not contest this safe ALP seat, retained for Labor by Jim Cope. Typically of inner-city electorates there was a low voter turnout (76.0 per cent) at this by-election.
  70. Cunningham 1956 V. D. Kearney retained this safe seat for the ALP, in the only uncontested by-election since the Second World War.
  71. Barker 1956 Following the death of long-term member and Speaker of the House of Representatives, A. G. Cameron, the Liberal Party retained this seat despite a 9.9 per cent swing against the government.
  72. Wentworth 1956 L. H. E. Bury retained this seat for the Liberal Party following the appointment of E. J. Harrison as High Commissioner in London.
  73. Richmond 1957 Four Country Party candidates contested this by-election, including the eventual winner, Doug Anthony, the son of the former member, H. L. Anthony.
  74. Parramatta 1958 Garfield Barwick retained this seat for the Liberal Party following the appointment of former member O. H. Beale as Ambassador to the United States of America.
  75. Hunter 1960 The Liberal Party did not stand a candidate for this safe ALP seat, formerly held by H. V. Evatt.
  76. La Trobe 1960 Seat retained for the Liberal Party by J. D. Jess following the resignation of the Minister for External Affairs, R. G. Casey.
  77. Balaclava 1960 P. E. Joske, resigned to become a Judge of the ACT Supreme Court. The seat was retained for the Liberal Party by R. H. Whittorn.
  78. Bendigo 1960 This marginal seat was retained for the ALP by N. L. Beaton following the death of sitting member P. J. Clarey.
  79. Calare 1960 Seat won by J. A. England for the Country Party from the Liberal Party. This has been the only occasion when the Country Party has won a seat from the Liberal Party at a by-election.
  80. Higinbotham 1960 Don Chipp just retained this seat for the Liberal Party following the death of T. F. Timson.
  81. Batman 1962 Captain Sam Benson retained this safe seat for the Labor Party following the death of sitting member, A. C. Bird. Benson subsequently retained Batman as an Independent at the 1966 general election
  82. Grey 1963 Retained for the ALP by J. Mortimer following the death of E. H. D. Russell.
  83. East Sydney 1963 This by-election resulted in the second lowest voter turnout (71.9 per cent) since the introduction of compulsory voting. The ALP retained the seat. The Liberal Party did not stand a candidate.
  84. Denison 1964 Athol Townley was re-elected at the 1963 general election but died before the opening of the Parliament. The seat was retained for the Liberal Party by A. Gibson.
  85. Angas 1964 Alexander Downer senior resigned to become High Commissioner in London. The seat was retained for the Liberal Party by G. O'H. Giles.
  86. Parramatta 1964 Garfield Barwick resigned to become Chief Justice of the High Court. The seat was retained for the Liberal Party by Nigel Bowen.
  87. Robertson 1964 Roger Dean resigned to become Administrator of the Northern Territory. The seat was retained for the Liberal Party by C. W. Bridges-Maxwell.
  88. Riverina 1965 Hugh Roberton resigned to become Ambassador to Ireland. The seat was retained for the Country Party by A. A. Armstrong.
  89. Dawson 1966 The ALP candidate, Rex Patterson, achieved a large swing (11.9 per cent) against the LP/CP Coalition Government to win the seat from the Country Party.
  90. Kooyong 1966 The Liberal Party candidate, Andrew Peacock, retained this safe Liberal seat in the by-election following the resignation of Prime Minister Robert Menzies.
  91. Corio 1967 A large swing against the LP/CP Coalition Government (11.1 per cent) resulted in the ALP candidate, Gordon Scholes, winning the seat from the Liberal Party, following the retirement of popular sporting personality, Hubert Opperman.
  92. Capricornia 1967 Following the death of sitting member G. W. Shaw, this seat was retained by the ALP by Doug Everingham.
  93. Higgins 1968 This by-election was held following the presumed death of Prime Minister Harold Holt. The seat was retained for the Liberal Party by new Prime Minister (and ex-Senator) John Gorton.
  94. Curtin 1969 The sitting member, Minister for External Affairs, Paul Hasluck, resigned to become Governor-General. The seat was retained for the Liberal Party by R. Garland, despite a 7.1 per cent swing against the Coalition Government.
  95. Bendigo 1969 Noel Beaton resigned because of ill health. The seat was retained for the ALP by David Kennedy.
  96. Gwydir 1969 Allan Armstrong resigned to become Secretary-General of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. The seat was retained for the Country Party by Ralph Hunt, despite a 7.7 per cent swing against the Coalition Government.
  97. Australian Capital Territory 1970 Despite a large swing against it, the ALP retained this seat held for 18 years by popular member, Jim Fraser. The Australia Party candidate, Alan Fitzgerald, received 17.5 per cent of the first preference votes.
  98. Chisholm 1970 Tony Staley retained this seat for the Liberal Party. The ALP candidate was F. X. Costigan, later Royal Commissioner investigating the activities of the Federated Ship Painters' and Dockers' Union, and tax evasion matters.
  99. Murray 1971 Bruce Lloyd retained this seat for the Country Party following the resignation of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade and Industry John McEwen.
  100. Parramatta 1973 Nigel Bowen resigned to become a Judge of the NSW Court of Appeal. Philip Ruddock retained the seat for the Liberal Party. Twelve candidates contested the by-election, a record to that time.
  101. Bass 1975 The second largest swing recorded against any government to that time (14.6 per cent) occurred at this by-election held following the appointment of former Deputy Prime Minister, Lance Barnard, to be Ambassador to Norway, Finland and Sweden. The Liberal Party candidate, Kevin Newman, won the seat from the ALP.
  102. Cunningham 1977 Following the death of sitting member, R. F. X. Connor, this seat was retained by the ALP by S. West.
  103. Werriwa 1978 The ALP candidate, John Kerin, achieved a large swing (11.3 per cent) against the LP/NP Coalition Government in this by-election, held following the resignation of former Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam.
  104. Grayndler 1979 Retained for the ALP by Leo McLeay following the death of Frank Stewart.
  105. Boothby 1981 Retained for the Liberal Party by Steele Hall, former Premier of South Australia and Senator, following the resignation of J. E. McLeay, who became Consul-General in Los Angeles.
  106. Curtin 1981 R. V. Garland resigned to become High Commissioner in London. The seat was retained for the Liberal Party by A. C. Rocher.
  107. McPherson 1981 The Liberal Party candidate, Peter White, achieved a swing to the LP/NP Coalition Government of 16.2 per cent, the largest swing to any government since 1949. The National Party candidate (future Senator Glen Sheil) outpolled the ALP candidate.
  108. Wentworth 1981 The former leader of the New South Wales Liberal Party, Peter Coleman, comfortably retained the seat despite a 6.2 per cent swing to the ALP candidate, Robert Tickner. The voter turnout (69.5 per cent) was the lowest since the introduction of compulsory voting in 1924.
  109. Lowe 1982 This marginal Liberal Party seat became vacant following the resignation of former Prime Minister Sir William McMahon. The ALP candidate, Michael Maher, won the seat from the Liberal Party with an 8.5 per cent swing.
  110. Flinders 1982 The Liberal Party retained this marginal seat despite a 3.3 per cent swing against the LP/NP Coalition Government. However, new member, Peter Reith, was unable to take up his seat in the House of Representatives as the Parliament was dissolved before he could be sworn in and he was defeated at the subsequent general election.
  111. Bruce 1983 The seat was retained for the Liberal Party by K. J. Aldred, following the resignation of sitting member, former Opposition Leader and Speaker B. M. Snedden.
  112. Wannon 1983 The seat was retained for the Liberal Party by D. P. M Hawker, following the resignation of sitting member, former Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser.
  113. Moreton 1983 The Liberal Party retained this marginal Liberal seat with a small swing in its favour. The successful candidate, Don Cameron, had lost the neighbouring seat of Fadden at the previous general election.
  114. Corangamite 1984 The seat was retained for the Liberal Party by F. S. McArthur. Labor candidate G. M. O'Connor subsequently became member for Corio.
  115. Hughes 1984 The seat was retained for ALP by Robert Tickner, following the resignation of L. R. Johnson, who became High Commissioner to New Zealand.
  116. Richmond 1984 The seat was retained for the National Party by Charles Blunt, following the resignation of former Deputy Prime Minister, Doug Anthony.
  117. Scullin 1986 The seat was retained for ALP by H. A. Jenkins who succeeded his father H. A. Jenkins.
  118. Adelaide 1988 The ALP lost this seat with a swing of 8.4 per cent against the ALP Government. The successful Liberal Party candidate, Michael Pratt, lost the seat at the next general election.
  119. Port Adelaide 1988 An 11.1 per cent swing against the ALP Government was insufficient for the Liberal Party to win the seat. The ALP's Rod Sawford was the winning candidate.
  120. Groom 1988 The Liberal Party candidate, Bill Taylor, won the seat previously held by the National Party.
  121. Oxley 1988 The prospective appointment of Bill Hayden as Governor-General caused the vacancy in this safe ALP seat. The ALP candidate, Les Scott, was successful despite an 11.8 per cent swing against the ALP Government.
  122. Gwydir 1989 John Anderson retained this seat for the National Party following the resignation of sitting member Ralph Hunt. Anderson defeated two independent candidates to win the seat.
  123. Menzies 1991 Kevin Andrews retained this seat for the Liberal Party following the resignation of sitting member Neil Brown.
  124. Wills 1992 A record 22 candidates contested this ALP seat vacated by the former Prime Minister, Bob Hawke. Prominent local identity, Phil Cleary, won the seat to become the only independent candidate to win a Commonwealth by-election. The by-election result was voided by a Court of Disputed Returns. A subsequent by-election was not held because of the impending general election.
  125. Werriwa 1994 The ALP retained this safe seat despite a swing against the ALP Government of 6.3 per cent. The successful candidate was Mark Latham.
  126. Fremantle 1994 Former Western Australian Premier, Carmen Lawrence, retained this seat for the ALP with a swing of 1.0 per cent to the government.
  127. Bonython 1994 Despite a swing of 7.8 per cent against the ALP, Martyn Evans retained this seat for the government.
  128. Warringah 1994 The seat was retained for the Liberal Party by Tony Abbott.
  129. Mackellar 1994 Liberal candidate, ex-Senator Bronwyn Bishop, easily retained this safe Liberal Party seat. Prominent writer, Bob Ellis (Ind), received 23.1 per cent of the first preference vote in the absence of a Labor Party candidate.
  130. Kooyong 1994 The seat was retained for the Liberal Party by Petro Georgiou, following the resignation of sitting member and former Leader of the Opposition Andrew Peacock. In the absence of an ALP candidate the Greens candidate, Peter Singer, received 28.0 per cent of the vote.
  131. Canberra 1995 After initially considering not to contest this fairly safe ALP seat, the LP ultimately decided to enter the race and won the seat from the government with a record swing of 16.1 per cent. The successful candidate, Brendan Smyth, lost the seat at the following general election.
  132. Wentworth 1995 Despite being classified as a marginal Liberal seat the ALP did not contest this by-election caused by former Leader of the Opposition, John Hewson. The winning Liberal candidate was Andrew Thomson.
  133. Blaxland 1996 The seat was retained for the ALP by Michael Hatton, following the resignation of former Prime Minister Paul Keating.
  134. Lindsay 1996 The 1996 general election result for Lindsay was voided by a Court of Disputed Returns. At the by-election the successful Liberal candidate at the general election, Jackie Kelly, won with a swing of 5.0 per cent to the Government.
  135. Fraser 1997 The seat was retained for the ALP by Steve Dargavel, following the resignation of sitting member John Langmore. At the subsequent general election, the ACT's representation in the House of Representatives was reduced to two seats. Dargavel did not contest ALP pre-selection so that Bob McMullan, member for Canberra, could contest Fraser.
  136. Holt 1999 The seat was retained for the ALP by Anthony Byrne, following the resignation of sitting member Gareth Evans.
  137. Isaacs 2000 This was the first by-election since McPherson 1981 which was caused by the suicide of the sitting member. The LP did not contest this fairly safe Labor seat. Retained for the ALP by Ann Corcoran.
  138. Ryan 2001 The ALP candidate, Leonie Short, won this fairly safe Liberal seat following the retirement of John Moore. The swing of 9.7 per cent against the government was just sufficient for Short to succeed. She lost the seat in the following general election.
  139. Aston 2001 The third highest number of candidates (15) to contest a by-election stood in this marginal government seat. It was retained for the Liberal Party by Chris Pearce, following the death of sitting member Peter Nugent.
  140. Cunningham 2002 Greens candidate, Michael Organ, won this safe Labor seat following the resignation of sitting member Stephen Martin. For the first time since Maranoa in 1921 an Opposition-held seat was lost in a by-election. The winning candidate received 23.0 per cent of the vote, the lowest winning vote first preference of any Commonwealth by-election. This was the first by-election victory by a minor party candidate since Echuca in 1919.
  141. Werriwa 2005 Mark Latham had won Werriwa for the ALP in a by-election in 1994. It was his resignation from the seat soon after his resignation as Leader of the Opposition that caused this by-election. Sixteen candidates contested the by-election, the second-highest total since 1901, with the seat being retained by the ALP.
  142. Gippsland 2008 Peter McGauran (NP) had held Gippsland for 25 years, the longest term of the Federation electorate s eight members to that time. The by-election was contested by National, Liberal, Labor and Green candidates, but Darren Chester continued the Country/National Party hold of the seat that dated back to 1922.
  143. Lyne 2008 First contested in 1949, Lyne had been held by four Country/National MPs, including Mark Vaile, the party leader between 2005 and 2007. Former National, and later independent MLA Rob Oakeshott (1996 2008), was elected as an independent with a first preference vote of 63.8 per cent. The Labor Party did not contest the by-election.
  144. Mayo 2008 Former Liberal Party leader and later Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer, had been the first and only member for Mayo when he retired after serving 23 years. Labor did not contest the by-election which was won for the Liberal Party by Jamie Briggs.

Appendix 4: By-election timing

         

 

 

Division

Previous Election

Date Vacated

By-election date

Next Election

Vacated to by-election

After previous election

Before next election

Reason

Darling Downs (Qld)

30.03.01

08.08.01

14.09.01

16.12.03

37

168

823

Died

Tasmania

29.03.01

06.02.02

26.03.02

16.12.03

48

362

630

Died

East Sydney (NSW)

29.03.01

18.08.03

04.09.03

16.12.03

17

889

103

Resigned

Wilmot (Tas)

16.12.03

02.02.04

26.02.04

12.12.06

24

72

1020

Died

Melbourne (Vic)

16.12.03

10.03.04

30.03.04

12.12.06

20

105

987

Election voided

Riverina (NSW)

16.12.03

13.04.04

18.05.04

12.12.06

35

154

938

Election voided

Echuca (Vic)

12.12.06

10.06.07

10.07.07

13.04.10

30

210

1008

Election voided

Adelaide (SA)

12.12.06

11.05.08

13.06.08

13.04.10

33

549

669

Died

Wakefield (SA)

12.12.06

23.07.09

28.08.09

13.04.10

36

990

228

Died

Kooyong (Vic)

13.04.10

26.07.10

24.08.10

31.05.13

29

133

1011

Resigned

Batman (Vic)

13.04.10

18.12.10

08.02.11

31.05.13

52

301

843

Died

North Sydney (NSW)

13.04.10

04.02.11

11.03.11

31.05.13

35

332

812

Died

Boothby (SA)

13.04.10

08.10.11

11.11.11

31.05.13

34

577

567

Died

Werriwa (NSW)

13.04.10

01.04.12

01.06.12

31.05.13

61

780

364

Resigned

Kalgoorlie (WA)

31.05.13

25.11.13

22.12.13

05.09.14

27

205

257

Died

Adelaide (SA)

31.05.13

02.12.13

10.01.14

05.09.14

39

224

238

Died

Bendigo (Vic)

05.09.14

09.12.14

06.02.15

05.05.17

59

154

819

Died

Grampians (Vic)

05.09.14

01.01.15

20.02.15

05.05.17

50

168

805

Died

Dalley (NSW)

05.09.14

02.04.15

06.05.15

05.05.17

33

243

880

Died

Wide Bay (Qld)

05.09.14

26.10.15

11.12.15

05.05.17

46

462

511

Resigned

Darwin (Tas)

05.05.17

10.05.17

30.06.17

13.12.19

51

56

896

Died

Grampians (Vic)

05.05.17

15.09.17

27.10.17

13.12.19

42

175

777

Died

Flinders (Vic)

05.05.17

05.04.18

11.05.18

13.12.19

36

371

581

Resigned

Swan (WA)

05.05.17

02.09.18

26.10.18

13.12.19

54

539

413

Died

Corangamite (Vic)

05.05.17

23.10.18

14.12.18

13.12.19

52

588

364

Died

Echuca (Vic)

05.05.17

14.08.19

20.09.19

13.12.19

37

868

84

Died

Ballaarat (Vic)

13.12.19

02.06.20

10.07.20

16.12.22

38

210

889

Election voided

Kalgoorlie (WA)

13.12.19

12.11.20

18.12.20

16.12.22

36

371

728

Expelled

Maranoa (Qld)

13.12.19

03.06.21

30.07.21

16.12.22

57

595

504

Died

West Sydney (NSW)

13.12.19

01.08.21

03.09.21

16.12.22

33

630

469

Died

Parramatta (NSW)

13.12.19

11.11.21

10.12.21

16.12.22

29

728

371

Resigned

Yarra (Vic)

13.12.19

10.01.22

18.02.22

16.12.22

39

798

301

Died

Eden-Monaro (NSW)

14.11.25

12.01.26

06.03.26

17.11.28

53

113

987

Died

Dalley (NSW)

14.11.25

18.01.27

26.02.27

17.11.28

39

469

630

Resigned

Warringah (NSW)

14.11.25

13.04.27

21.05.27

17.11.28

38

553

546

Resigned

Martin (NSW)

14.11.25

07.05.28

16.06.28

17.11.28

40

945

154

Died

Wide Bay (Qld)

14.11.25

31.07.28

03.09.28

17.11.28

34

1024

75

Died

Balaclava (Vic)

17.11.28

05.07.29

03.08.29

12.10.29

29

259

70

Resigned

Franklin (Tas)

12.10.29

22.10.29

14.12.29

19.12.31

53

63

735

Died

Parkes (NSW)

12.10.29

19.12.30

31.01.31

19.12.31

43

476

322

Resigned

East Sydney (NSW)

12.10.29

05.02.31

07.03.31

19.12.31

30

511

287

Died

East Sydney (NSW)

19.12.31

15.01.32

06.02.32

15.09.34

22

49

952

Died

Flinders (Vic)

19.12.31

06.10.33

11.11.33

15.09.34

36

693

308

Resigned

Newcastle (NSW)

15.09.34

08.04.35

01.06.35

23.10.37

54

259

875

Died

Fawkner (Vic)

15.09.34

25.06.35

17.08.35

23.10.37

53

336

798

Died

Kennedy (Qld)

15.09.34

15.10.36

12.12.36

23.10.37

58

819

315

Died

Darling Downs (Qld)

15.09.34

06.11.36

19.12.36

23.10.37

43

826

308

Died

Gwydir (NSW)

15.09.34

28.03.37

08.05.37

23.10.37

41

966

168

Resigned

Wakefield (SA)

23.10.37

25.10.38

10.12.38

21.09.40

46

413

651

Died

Griffith (Qld)

23.10.37

28.03.39

20.05.39

21.09.40

53

574

490

Died

Wilmot (Tas)

23.10.37

07.04.39

27.05.39

21.09.40

50

581

483

Died

Corio (Vic)

23.10.37

30.01.40

02.03.40

21.09.40

32

861

203

Resigned

Kalgoorlie (WA)

21.09.40

02.10.40

16.11.40

21.08.43

45

56

1008

Died

Swan (WA)

21.09.40

15.11.40

21.12.40

21.08.43

36

91

973

Died

Boothby (SA)

21.09.40

23.04.41

24.05.41

21.08.43

31

245

819

Died

Fremantle (WA)

21.08.43

5.07.45

18.08.45

28.09.46

44

728

406

Died

Wimmera (Vic)

21.08.43

31.12.45

09.02.46

28.09.46

40

903

231

Resigned

Henty (Vic)

21.08.43

11.02.46

30.03.46

28.09.46

47

952

182

Resigned

Balaclava (Vic)

28.04.51

20.06.51

28.07.51

29.05.54

38

53

1036

Resigned

Macquarie (NSW)

28.04.51

13.06.51

28.07.51

29.05.54

45

46

1036

Died

Lyne (NSW)

28.04.51

28.01.52

22.03.52

29.05.54

54

275

798

Died

Flinders (Vic)

28.04.51

26.08.52

18.10.52

29.05.54

53

486

588

Died

Werriwa (NSW)

28.04.51

01.10.52

29.11.52

29.05.54

59

522

546

Died

Bradfield (NSW)

28.04.51

28.10.52

20.12.52

29.05.54

53

549

525

Died

Dalley (NSW)

28.04.51

21.03.53

09.05.53

29.05.54

49

693

385

Died

Corangamite (Vic)

28.04.51

10.06.53

29.08.53

29.05.54

80

774

273

Died

Lang (NSW)

28.04.51

13.07.53

29.08.53

29.05.54

47

807

273

Died

Gwydir (NSW)

28.04.51

15.11.53

19.12.53

29.05.54

34

932

161

Died

Cook (NSW)

29.05.54

26.03.55

21.05.55

10.12.55

56

301

203

Died

Cunningham (NSW)

10.12.55

17.02.56

11.04.56

22.11.58

54

69

955

Died

Barker (SA)

10.12.55

09.08.56

13.10.56

22.11.58

65

243

770

Died

Wentworth (NSW)

10.12.55

17.10.56

08.12.56

22.11.58

52

312

714

Resigned

Richmond (NSW)

10.12.55

12.07.57

14.09.57

22.11.58

64

580

434

Died

Parramatta (NSW)

10.12.55

10.02.58

08.03.58

22.11.58

26

793

259

Resigned

Hunter (NSW)

22.11.58

10.02.60

09.04.60

09.12.61

59

445

609

Resigned

La Trobe (Vic)

22.11.58

10.02.60

09.04.60

09.12.61

59

445

609

Resigned

Balaclava (Vic)

22.11.58

02.06.60

16.07.60

09.12.61

44

558

511

Resigned

Bendigo (Vic)

22.11.58

01.05.60

16.07.60

09.12.61

76

526

511

Died

Calare (NSW)

22.11.58

28.09.60

05.11.60

09.12.61

38

676

399

Resigned

Higinbotham (Vic)

22.11.58

16.10.60

10.12.60

09.12.61

55

694

364

Died

Batman (Vic)

09.12.61

21.07.62

01.09.62

30.11.63

42

224

455

Died

Grey (SA)

09.12.61

31.03.63

01.06.63

30.11.63

62

477

182

Died

East Sydney (NSW)

09.12.61

31.07.63

28.09.63

30.11.63

59

599

63

Died

Denison (Tas)

30.11.63

24.12.63

15.02.64

26.11.66

53

24

1015

Died

Angas (SA)

30.11.63

23.04.64

20.06.64

26.11.66

58

145

889

Resigned

Parramatta (NSW)

30.11.63

24.04.64

20.06.64

26.11.66

57

146

889

Resigned

Robertson (NSW)

30.11.63

30.09.64

05.12.64

26.11.66

66

305

721

Resigned

Riverina (NSW)

30.11.63

21.01.65

27.02.65

26.11.66

37

418

637

Resigned

Dawson (Qld)

30.11.63

09.01.66

26.02.66

26.11.66

48

771

273

Died

Kooyong (Vic)

30.11.63

17.02.66

02.04.66

26.11.66

44

810

238

Resigned

Corio (Vic)

26.11.66

10.06.67

22.07.67

25.10.69

42

196

826

Resigned

Capricornia (Qld)

26.11.66

02.08.67

30.09.67

25.10.69

59

249

756

Died

Higgins (Vic)

26.11.66

19.12.67

24.02.68

25.10.69

67

388

609

Presumed dead

Curtin (WA)

26.11.66

10.02.69

19.04.69

25.10.69

68

807

189

Resigned

Bendigo (Vic)

26.11.66

09.04.69

07.06.69

25.10.69

59

865

140

Resigned

Gwydir (NSW)

26.11.66

30.04.69

07.06.69

25.10.69

38

886

140

Resigned

Aust Cap Territory (ACT)

25.10.69

01.04.70

30.05.70

02.12.72

59

158

917

Died

Chisholm (Vic)

25.10.69

31.07.70

19.09.70

02.12.72

50

279

805

Died

Murray (Vic)

25.10.69

01.02.71

20.03.71

02.12.72

47

464

623

Resigned

Parramatta (NSW)

02.12.72

11.07.73

22.09.73

18.05.74

73

221

238

Resigned

Bass (Tas)

18.05.74

02.06.75

28.06.75

13.12.75

26

380

168

Resigned

Cunningham (NSW)

13.12.75

22.08.77

15.10.77

10.12.77

54

618

56

Died

Werriwa (NSW)

10.12.77

31.07.78

23.09.78

18.10.80

54

233

756

Resigned

Grayndler (NSW)

10.12.77

16.04.79

23.06.79

18.10.80

68

492

483

Died

Boothby (SA)

18.10.80

22.01.81

21.02.81

05.03.83

30

96

742

Resigned

Curtin (WA)

18.10.80

22.01.81

21.02.81

05.03.83

30

96

742

Resigned

McPherson (Qld)

18.10.80

07.01.81

21.02.81

05.03.83

45

81

742

Died

Wentworth (NSW)

18.10.80

17.02.81

11.04.81

05.03.83

53

122

693

Resigned

Lowe (NSW)

18.10.80

04.01.82

13.03.82

05.03.83

68

443

357

Resigned

Flinders (Vic)

18.10.80

22.10.82

04.12.82

05.03.83

43

734

91

Resigned

Wannon (Vic)

05.03.83

31.03.83

07.05.83

01.12.84

37

26

574

Resigned

Bruce (Vic)

05.03.83

21.04.83

28.05.83

01.12.84

37

47

553

Resigned

Moreton (Qld)

05.03.83

15.08.83

05.11.83

01.12.84

82

163

392

Resigned

Corangamite (Vic)

05.03.83

18.01.84

18.02.84

01.12.84

31

319

287

Resigned

Hughes (NSW)

05.03.83

19.12.83

18.02.84

01.12.84

61

289

287

Resigned

Richmond (NSW)

05.03.83

18.01.84

18.02.84

01.12.84

31

319

287

Resigned

Scullin (Vic)

01.12.84

20.12.85

08.02.86

11.07.87

50

384

518

Resigned

Adelaide (SA)

11.07.87

31.12.87

06.02.88

24.03.90

37

173

777

Resigned

Port Adelaide (SA)

11.07.87

08.02.88

26.03.88

24.03.90

47

212

728

Resigned

Groom (Qld)

11.07.87

29.02.88

09.04.88

24.03.90

40

233

714

Resigned

Oxley (Qld)

11.07.87

17.08.88

08.10.88

24.03.90

52

403

532

Resigned

Gwydir (NSW)

11.07.87

24.02.89

15.04.89

24.03.90

50

594

343

Resigned

Menzies (Vic)

24.03.90

25.02.91

11.05.91

13.03.93

75

338

672

Resigned

Wills (Vic)

24.03.90

20.02.92

11.04.92

13.03.93

51

698

336

Resigned

Werriwa (NSW)

13.03.93

22.12.93

29.01.94

02.03.96

38

284

763

Resigned

Fremantle (WA)

13.03.93

04.02.94

12.03.94

02.03.96

36

328

721

Resigned

Bonython (SA)

13.03.93

11.02.94

19.03.94

02.03.96

36

335

714

Resigned

Warringah (NSW)

13.03.93

18.02.94

26.03.94

02.03.96

36

342

707

Resigned

Mackellar (NSW)

13.03.93

14.01.94

26.03.94

02.03.96

71

307

707

Resigned

Kooyong (Vic)

13.03.93

17.09.94

19.11.94

02.03.96

63

553

469

Resigned

Canberra (ACT)

13.03.93

30.01.95

25.03.95

02.03.96

54

688

343

Resigned

Wentworth (NSW)

13.03.93

28.02.95

08.04.95

02.03.96

39

717

329

Resigned

Blaxland (NSW)

02.03.96

23.04.96

15.06.96

03.10.98

53

52

840

Resigned

Lindsay (NSW)

02.03.96

11.09.96

19.10.96

03.10.98

38

193

714

Election void

Fraser (ACT)

02.03.96

06.12.96

01.02.97

03.10.98

57

279

609

Resigned

Holt (Vic)

03.10.98

30.09.99

06.11.99

10.11.01

37

362

735

Resigned

Isaacs (Vic)

03.10.98

14.06.00

12.08.00

10.11.01

59

620

455

Died

Ryan (Qld)

03.10.98

05.02.01

17.03.01

10.11.01

40

856

238

Resigned

Aston (Vic)

03.10.98

24.04.01

14.07.01

10.11.01

81

1015

119

Died

Cunningham (NSW)

10.11.01

16.08.02

19.10.02

09.10.04

64

279

721

Resigned

Werriwa (NSW)

09.10.04

21.01.05

19.03.05

24.11.07

57

161

980

Resigned

Gippsland (Vic)

24.11.07

09.04.08

28.06.08

 

80

217

 

Resigned

Lyne (NSW)

24.11.07

30.07.08

06.09.08

 

38

287

 

Resigned

Mayo (SA)

24.11.07

14.07.08

06.09.08

 

54

287

 

Resigned

Appendix 5: Sources on by-elections in Australia

General studies

Australia. Electoral Office, Commonwealth By-Elections 1901-82, Canberra, AGPS, 1983

Scott Bennett, Winning and Losing. Australian National Elections, MUP, Melbourne, 1996, pp. 67 70

Nick Economou, A New Constituency or a Glitch in the System? A Note on Recent AAFI Federal By-election Results , People and Place, vol. 2, no. 2, 1994

Nicholas M. Economou, The Trouble-maker s Ballot Box? A Note on the Evolving Role of the Australian Federal By-election , Australian Journal of Political Science, Vol. 34, No. 2, July 1999

Frank B. Feigert and Pippa Norris, Do By-elections Constitute Referenda? A Four-country Comparison, Legislative Studies Quarterly, May 1990, pp. 183-200

Murray Goot, Swings and Roundabouts: New South Wales By-elections 1941 to 1986, New South Wales Parliamentary Library Background Paper 1987/1, Sydney, 1987

Crispin Hull, By-elections: maybe its time to get by without , Canberra Times, 17 January 2002

Malcolm Mackerras, Shifting sands of by-elections , Canberra Times, 25 April 2001

Pippa Norris and Frank Feigert, Government and Third-Party Performance in Mid-Term By-Elections: The Canadian, British and Australian Experience , Electoral Studies, vol. 8, no. 2, August 1989

Mike Steketee, Viable remedies for voter fatigue , Australian, 22 March 2001

Case studies

Commonwealth

Scott Bennett, The Cunningham by-election 2002 , Research Note, no. 18, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 2002 03

Damien Cahill, The Rise and Fall of the Australian Greens: The 2002 Cunningham By-election and its Implications , Australian Journal of Political Science, vol. 43, no. 2, June 2008

Creighton Burns, Parties and People. A survey based on the La Trobe Electorate, MUP, Melbourne, 1961

Michelle Gratton, The Kooyong By-election, 1966 , Supplement to Politics, Vol. I, no. 2, November 1966.

Colin A. Hughes, The Capricornia By-Election, 1967, Australian Quarterly, December 1967, pp 7 20

Colin A. Hughes, The Dawson By-Election, 1966, Australian Journal of Politics and History, April 1966, pp 12 23

Paul Kelly, The battle for Bass , The Unmaking of Gough, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 1994, ch. 14

Henry Mayer and Joan Rydon, The Gwydir By-election 1953. A Study in Political Conflict, Australian National University Social Science Monographs, Canberra, 1954

State

Don Aitkin, The Liverpool Plains by-election , APSA News, vol. 6, no. 3, August 1961

R. J. May, ALP versus Communist: the Paddington-Waverley by-election , APSA News, vol. 6, no. 2, May 1961



[1]. Murray Goot, Swings and Roundabouts: New South Wales By-elections 1941 to 1986, New South Wales Parliamentary Library Background Paper 1987/1, Sydney, 1987, vol. 1, p. 5.

[2]. Figures from Chamber Research Office, Department of House of Representatives.

[3]. Such a short period is no longer possible under the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918.

[4]. Australian Electoral Commission, Electoral Pocketbook, Canberra, 2002, p. 72.

[5]. Anne Summers, Gamble for power: how Bob Hawke beat Malcolm Fraser, the 1983 Federal election, Melbourne, Nelson, 1983, p. 63.

[6]. Scott Bennett, The Cunningham by-election 2002 , Research Note, no. 18, Department of the Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 2002.

[7]. The enrolment figure for the first by-election in Darling Downs in 1901 is not available and turnout therefore cannot be calculated.

[8]. No effort is made to look at two-party preferred figures between the introduction of preferential voting in 1918 and 1949, due to the difficulty in establishing such figures for the earlier period. All swing figures used in the paper are calculated on two-party preferred votes unless where otherwise indicated.

[9]. Perhaps surprisingly, the academic literature on by-elections in Australia is quite sparse, see Appendix 5.

[10]. For general notes on by-elections, see Appendix 2.

[11]. Paul Kelly, The Unmaking of Gough, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 1994, pp. 234 5.

[12]. Michael Gordon, A True Believer: Paul Keating, University of Queensland Press, St Lucia, 1996, pp. 297 301.

[13]. Sir Earle Page, Truant Surgeon: The Inside Story of Forty Years of Australian Political Life, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1963, pp. 284 6.

[14]. Graham Freudenberg, A Certain Grandeur: Gough Whitlam in Politics, Macmillan, Melbourne, 1977, pp. 31 5.

[15]. Summers, op. cit., pp. 13, 63.

[16]. Lenore Taylor, Poll result a blow to Bishop Libs , Australian, 29 March 1994.


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