Policy Debates in Federal Election Campaigns, 1972-96

Research Paper 10 1997-98

Dr Rodney Sullivan
Politics and Public Administration Group
24 November 1997


Major Issues Summary


An Historical Overview

Case Study One: The 1972 Federal Election

Case Study Two: Federal Elections in the 1980s

Case Study Three : Federal Elections in the 1990s



Major Issues Summary

'How can a Government suffer such problems from a few thousand in wrongly claimed travel allowance that had already been paid back?' This question was posed by Michael Warby.(1) Public Affairs Manager for the Tasman Institute and former Liberal Party Federal Councillor, as he analysed the parliamentary travel allowance allegations and subsequent ministerial resignations of late September 1997. That such an essentially trivial matter (given the magnitude of the national and international challenges facing Australia) loomed so large suggests a lack of proportionality. The Howard Government revealed its vulnerability to destabilisation by relatively minor matters, the 'inevitable alarums of political life'. According to Warby the Government's preoccupation with such trivia is symptomatic of a 'lack of a central policy purpose.' The allegation is, perhaps, to be expected, given that the Coalition won its historic March 1996 election victory in a clever campaign that was, as far as possible, 'policy-free'.

This is a remarkable development given that the major political parties exist primarily to win government so that they are able to implement policies which reflect their core values and the aspirations of their members and voters. A national election, in this tradition, is an opportunity for voters to decide on competing policy packages. The relative attractiveness of Whitlam's broad array of highly-publicised policies largely determined the change of government in 1972. By 1996 the place of policy in federal electioneering had undergone substantial change. Labor, too, had become policy-shy during election campaigns. Some of the most far-reaching decisions of the Hawke-Keating Governments, such as deregulation of financial markets and privatisation of the Commonwealth Bank, were conspicuously absent from election presentations. Moreover, both parties have retreated from 'policy as outcome' (universal health insurance, abolition of tertiary fees) in favour of less testable propositions (leadership, credibility), community consensus issues (literacy, crime, family values) or 'big picture' items (a republic, Asian engagement).

Some of the changes in the role of policy in national elections since 1972 reflect evolution of both the Liberal and Labor Parties towards the 'catch-all' model. This points to a decreasing role for class and ideology in Australian political life and enhanced influence for interest groups. Party leaders grow more remote from members as they strive to construct linkages with the wider society. Groups which have had relatively fixed political affiliations in the past become more mobile with their loyalties as the 1996 swing to the Coalition by blue-collar voters showed.

From the early 1970s international pressures-strategic, economic, intellectual-helped transform Australian politics. The Vietnam War forced Australian governments to become more self-reliant in defence policy. The end of the Cold War and East Asian economic dynamism have encouraged bipartisan support for Asian engagement. The hegemony of economic liberalism from the early 1980s reflected the operation of a global market in ideas as well as goods and services. The major Australian political parties converged on substantive economic policy issues while an increasingly post-modern electorate exhibited discontinuity in its political loyalties and scepticism of inflated policy claims. Electorally persuasive policy promises in forthcoming elections are likely to be modest proposals for renovation of community services and infrastructure.


This paper focuses on the major parties, the Liberal-National Coalition and Labor, although it recognises the need for research into the policy impact of the minor parties and independents. It is an historical study which selectively examines the contribution of policy issues and debate to the changes of government in 1972, 1983 and 1996.

By international standards Australians have a remarkably successful democratic political system. It is a two-party system (or two and a half if the National Party is granted an identity separate from its dominant Liberal Coalition partner) founded on social and ideological divisions. The parties, the Australian Labor Party (ALP) and its conservative opponents, grew out of the gulf between the haves and have-nots in Australian society in the closing decades of the last century. They embodied two different ideologies or approaches to the pursuit of human happiness. Labor's core value was equality and it favoured collective action and outcomes. The Liberal's core value was freedom and the Party has emphasised individual freedom and responsibility. From these deeply embedded values Australia's major political parties have generated policies designed to improve the nation by aligning it more closely with an ideal where core values are realised.

There were eleven federal elections between 1972 and 1996 but only four consequential changes of government: the defeat of Labor in 1975 and 1996 and of the Liberal-led coalition in 1972 and 1983. Many factors interacted to determine such outcomes. These included policy proposals, campaign strategy and implementation, party leadership, organisation, image, resources and the economic and political cycles. The most important of these in a democracy is policy because governments are mandated by the electorate to implement policies presented during election campaigns.

A dictionary of Australian politics defines 'policy' as the goals, and means to achieve them, of our political parties. The set of policies presented to the electorate constitute the party's platform. Party policies in an election campaign are selected from the party platform by the campaign committee and party leader to win public support. Historically policies were fundamental to the very existence of political parties as they were grounded in the shared values of party members, and furthermore, represented an attempt to align society more closely with an ideal model in which those values were fully realised. Policies were the engines of politics, mobilising party members and supporters and providing elected governments with an agenda to implement.(2) Opposition parties were able to generate alternative policies from those of the government and place them before the electorate at election time.

In real political life, however, things are never quite so rational and ordered as theoretical definitions can suggest. Indeed the very phrases 'party policy' or 'government policy' convey a degree of intentionality and control rarely achieved in the public sphere. Governing, in the sense of implementing policy successfully presented at an election, is difficult.(3) It became markedly more difficult after the election of the Whitlam Government in 1972. To investigate the part played by policy in federal election campaigns between 1972 and 1996 it is helpful to place the ALP and the Liberal Party in an historical context.(4)

An Historical Overview

The Labor Party emerged from colonial labour movements in the late 1880s and early 1890s determined to improve the lot of working people. It exhibited many of the characteristics of a mass political party based on strong central organisation, ideological commitment, internal discipline and a carefully mobilised popular following. The Labor parliamentarian was viewed as a servant of the organisation, pledged to carry out its program. It was an efficient political machine delivering the first national labor government in the world by April 1904; by 1914 a Labor government had held office in every Australian state.

Other political parties found it necessary to coalesce around the mission of keeping Labor out of office. By 1910 electoral and parliamentary competition between two parties, Labor and Liberal, was the central dynamic of Australian democracy. Until 1944 the Liberal Party (including its conservative predecessors) was a loosely organised group concerned primarily with winning elections. Its parliamentarians valued independence and freedom from external coercion. They constituted the core of the party with its extra-parliamentary organisation and membership subordinate to elected politicians. The price was an instability reflected in the variety of party names constituting the lineage of the Liberal Party since 1890-Protection, Free Trade, Independents, Nationals and United Australia Party (UAP). Organisational instability contributed to poor electoral results and a rout in the August 1943 Federal election precipitated the formation of the modern Liberal Party, 'Menzies' child', in 1944.

In leading the re-organisation Robert Menzies borrowed some, but not all, of Labor's mass party characteristics which he credited with the ALP's political dominance at national and state levels in the early 1940s. A Federal Council was established with the objective of recruiting one million members. Liberal parliamentarians, though, preserved their independence from the organisational wing and eschewed any commitment to ideological conformity. However they ascribed to a set of objectives which emphasised individual freedom and enterprise.

The Australian two-party system was remarkably stable until the early 1970s. Its stability was underpinned, as Don Aitkin (former Professor of Politics at the Australian National University, now Vice-Chancellor, University of Canberra) has shown, by the very large number of Australians who faithfully identified with one of the two major parties and transmitted their political allegiance to succeeding generations.(5) But that stability declined in the period under review, culminating in the defection of a significant number of traditional Labor voters in the federal election of 1996. While Liberal Party campaign strategists rightly claim much of the credit for this development, the increased volatility of the Australian electorate is clearly related to the impact of global forces on the Australian community. It is true that the boundary between domestic politics and global events is yearly less distinct but, for convenience, the international and domestic contexts of the Australian elections under review can be considered separately.

Case Study One: The 1972 Federal Election

The 1972 federal election was held on 2 December. Labor won office with 49.6 per cent of the vote compared to the Liberal's 32.1 per cent and the Country Party's 9.4 per cent.(6) The election result can be largely attributed to a policy-making vacuum in the Liberal Party and a policy resurgence in the Federal Labor Party. The 1972 result stands out as one largely determined by policy. Geoffrey Barker pinpointed the policy exhaustion and poverty of the McMahon Government of 1972 which contrasted with the new, timely policy horizons offered by a renovated Labor Party:

By 1972, Australia had reached the fag-end of the Menzies age with the ludicrous Billy McMahon resisting the demands of a new generation for more realistic approaches to social and foreign policy in a changing world ... Gough Whitlam, who towered over McMahon physically and intellectually, swept Labor back to office with his promises of urban renewal, universal medical insurance and a new realism in foreign policy for a nation deeply split by the Vietnam War.(7)

To some extent the McMahon-led coalition was the victim of international events as well as its own policy ineptitude. Gerald Henderson has shown how, after its long ascendancy in the 1950s and 1960s, the Liberal Party in the early 1970s lacked policy-making capacity and relied too heavily on the public service for policy advice. Developments overseas, especially with regard to the Vietnam War and United States-China rapprochement, caught the McMahon Government unprepared and allowed the Labor Opposition to present itself as an alternative government more able to cope with a changing international environment.(8)

Labor's victory in 1972, though, was not achieved by default. It was, above all, a product of Gough Whitlam's leadership and the priority he gave to policy. Whitlam defeated Eddie Ward to become Deputy Leader of the Opposition after Labor's defeat in 1963 and succeeded Arthur Calwell as Leader of the Opposition in 1967. His zeal for policy renovation was not always appreciated by his party colleagues but he treated internal resistance as disdainfully as criticism from external foes. Indeed his leadership necessarily involved party as well as policy reform. Race Matthews, a former Fabian Society president who became Whitlam's private secretary in 1967, recorded the preoccupation with policy development and communication which preceded Labor's electoral victories in the 1970s. Whitlam's political biographer, James Walter, traced in more detail the intimate connection between Whitlam's attention to policy and his political success, including party reform and the development of new constituencies like the 'graduate vote'.(9)

The policy platform on which Labor based its 1972 victory was the product of an intensive policy development process, more than a decade of painstaking work with Whitlam at the centre. It began with Whitlam in the mid-1950s sketching a vision for the renovation of Australia around the three great themes of improved schools, health and urban development through the activism of the financially dominant federal government. In his period as Opposition leader from 1967 to 1972 Whitlam led his Party in 'an extraordinary generation of policy'.(10) He was able to transcend the prevailing framework for policy debate and place new items on the political agenda. As a shadow Cabinet member he was told by colleagues that there was no constituency in the electorate for urban improvement as it was not an issue. Whitlam's response was that he would make it one, rebuking his more cautious colleagues: 'Don't slavishly follow opinion polls, Comrades. Get out there and make the issues which are important to the future'.(11)

While Whitlam was at the centre of 'the policy-making explosion' of this era, he was supported by talented members of the Parliamentary Labor Party, notably Rex Connor, whose passion was minerals and energy policy and Lance Barnard who worked on defence issues. In some cases Whitlam recruited Labor parliamentarians because of their policy expertise. Into this category fell Rex Patterson, a PhD in agricultural science and a senior administrator in the federal Department of National Development who had resigned from his post in protest at what he alleged was the government's neglect of northern Australia. Whitlam supported Patterson's preselection for a 1966 by-election in the north Queensland electorate of Dawson, regarded as a safe Country Party seat. In campaigning with Patterson on regional issues, especially northern development, Whitlam mastered another policy brief, while drawing Patterson with his specialist expertise into the ALP's policy process. The gambit had an electoral bonus when Patterson won Dawson with a 12 per cent swing to Labor.(12)

As well, Whitlam and his close colleagues established an extensive policy network of outside experts, in universities, the professions, para-professions and other walks of life, to contribute to policy development. Whitlam addressed their conferences and wrote for their journals. Labor was politically courting these diverse groups-teachers, doctors, urban planners, academics-opening up new constituencies as well as drawing them into its policy process. The policy returns, in the electorally potent area of health care for example, were significant. John Deeble and Dick Scotton from the University of Melbourne's Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research laid the foundations for Medibank. Other parliamentary outsiders contributed invaluable policy advice in such areas as education, social welfare, science, agriculture, transport, Commonwealth-State financial relations, cities and the arts.(13)

By the end of the 1960s Labor had established a formidable policy bank from which could be drawn new, carefully researched, policy ideas and initiatives as well as critiques of the status quo. This constituted a crucial intellectual and political resource which contributed to Whitlam's ascendancy in parliament and enabled Labor to control, even create, the agenda for community debate on public issues. As Matthews proudly recalled:

Well before 1969, the point was reached where authoritative views in any area of policy could be tapped at short notice, to provide the substance for a major address, respond to a government attack or shape parliamentary question-without-notice as the case might be.(14)

Whitlam opened Labor's campaign at the Blacktown Civic Centre in Sydney's west on 13 November, 1972. His 12 000 word election manifesto promised to abolish conscription, recognise mainland (communist) China and close the embassy in Taipei, seek an International Court injunction on French nuclear tests in the Pacific and end the Australian garrison in Singapore. His policy blueprint offered a carefully researched vision of national renewal through an expansion of Commonwealth activity unprecedented in peacetime. Its range of commitments included Medibank, an Interstate Commission to rationalise transport, an expanded Commonwealth Grants Commission to promote regional equality in Australia, the abolition of higher education fees, as well as Commissions for pre-schools, schools, hospitals, fuel and energy, conservation and construction, and land development. There were to be new ministries for urban affairs and northern development, and an Australian assistance plan with an emphasis on the provision of social workers. Commonwealth responsibilities were to be expanded in Aboriginal affairs, national parks, company takeovers, tax evasion, prices justification and the arts. The new age of scarcity had yet to dawn and Whitlam pledged no tax rises; his ambitious program was to be funded from automatic increases in Commonwealth tax revenue and detailed economic planning.(15)

The vision of a better Australia, which Whitlam and Labor had so painstakingly developed and promulgated, won public acceptance. Its promise of radical change and philosophical coherence set a new benchmark in Australian post-war electoral history. In an editorial response to his policy speech, headed 'Whitlam's Exciting Proposals' The Australian, typically, 'found much in the programme to get excited about'. It commented:

There is no question that there is a vision and a sense of direction about Mr Whitlam's programme. It is thorough-going and comprehensive: the full version of his speech last night was probably the most comprehensive policy speech to have been presented by an Australian political party since the Liberals came to power in 1949.(16)

By 1972 Whitlam had moved his collectivist vision for a better and more independent Australian society from the peripheries of the public imagination to conventional wisdom. It was a tribute to public communication as much as policy generation. Universal medical insurance, or Medibank from 1973, stands out as a key Whitlam policy innovation which the Liberal Party opposed but, in deference to public opinion, promised to retain during the 1975 election campaign. Public attachment to Medibank derived, at least in part, from the deluge of information, explanation and propaganda on the subject which Labor disseminated in Opposition and Government between 1967 and 1972. According to Matthews:

The real strength of Medibank ... [was] that it had been explained to the electorate more thoroughly than any other Opposition policy proposal in our history.(17)

While Labor in the late 1960s and early 1970s enjoyed one of the most creative policy eras in its history, the Liberal-Country Party Coalition locked itself into the status quo, prepared to consider only minimalist and incremental policy change. Thus the McMahon Government withdrew some combat troops from Vietnam but retained unpopular, and probably unnecessary, conscription legislation which Labor readily turned to its political advantage.

In launching the Coalition's campaign on 14 November 'from that tired old set the office desk' William McMahon did not attempt to match Whitlam's policy firepower but offered electors 'a continuation of the route we have been travelling'. He ran on the Liberal party's record of twenty three years in office and his own twenty months as Prime Minister. Incumbency carried its own policy inhibitions. The Australian noted 'the shortage of brand-new novelties in the policy speech' but hinted at McMahon's handicap in countering Labor's blitz:

The Prime Minister is inhibited against suggesting dramatic new changes to catch the voter's eye: a sheaf of sensational new proposals would in fact be an implicit criticism of his own record in office.(18)

What was left unsaid was increasing voter dissatisfaction with the status quo. Moreover, the Liberal Party lacked the policy capacity to match Labor and the public service, on which the Coalition had come to rely, was culturally unequipped to generate the radical new policy directions required to counter the Labor challenge.

Why then was the Whitlam interregnum, 1972-1975, so brief? The full answer would be lengthy and complex but from a policy perspective it succumbed to the same weakness as the Coalition it supplanted, though in a very much shorter and more difficult time: its policy posture hardened into inflexibility while the contexts in which it operated, domestic, international and especially economic, changed rapidly. The unheralded appearance of 'stagflation' (low growth, high inflation, high unemployment) in the developed world coincided with the election of the first Labor government in Australia for a generation. Whitlam and his Ministers would not deviate from their policies for which they claimed a treasured 'mandate'. A chasm developed between promise and performance. There is much truth in Paul Keating's verdict on the Whitlam Government's policy predicament:

the gap between ideals and outcomes grew to a chasm over that three-year period ... . The ideals and objectives were constant but the economic growth upon which the 'program' was based, was disappearing'.(19)

Case Study Two: Federal Elections in the 1980s

The 1980s began electorally with the return of the Coalition Government on 18 October 1980 with the loss of twelve seats in the House of Representatives and three Senators. To unseat the Government, Labor would have had to achieve a swing of six per cent; it achieved just over four per cent. There was never much prospect that the Government could regain lost ground, or indeed retain office, when Malcolm Fraser, the Liberal Prime Minister, called a snap poll for an early election on 5 March 1983. Fraser hoped to capitalise on leadership instability in the Labor Party but was outwitted by Bill Hayden who resigned as leader to make way for the more popular Bob Hawke. The political cycle was running against a Government carrying the baggage of three terms in office and confronted by a hostile Senate. Most significantly the global recession of 1981-1982, coupled with a severe drought, pushed the Australian economy into the worst recession since the 1930s. Fraser's policy responses were inconsistent and, for the most part, ineffectual. The Government faced the 1983 poll with unemployment and inflation both above ten per cent.(20) A pre-poll portrait of the Coalition was unflattering:

The Government has had a series of scandals, ministerial resignations, policy about-turns and-most important of all-has failed to deliver jobs and an improved standard of living.(21)

Fraser ran a negative campaign though his mostly correct assertions that Australia's economic problems were the result of global and climatic forces beyond Australian jurisdiction were ignored. His resort to 'commie kicking ... rhetoric'(22) could not disguise his lack of policy development. The Australian Financial Review summed up his policy speech as 'vintage Menzies', an undertaking 'to continue to muddle through' apart from a wages pause 'and the promise of a bit of union bashing'.(23)

In opening his successful campaign Opposition Leader Bob Hawke declared the class struggle an obsolete indulgence of the Fraser Government, which he blamed for the 'politics of division, the politics of confrontation-the deliberate setting of Australian against Australian'. Hawke presented himself as the architect of reconciliation, consensus and accord. His policy speech pledged a 'genuine co-operative approach between governments, business and unions' and heralded a national economic summit and the establishment of an Economic Planning Advisory Council (EPAC) 'representing all governments, business, unions, farmers and consumers' in the country.(24)

Hawke did not repeat Whitlam's policy formula of a myriad of specific government initiatives to improve national standards and welfare. Where he offered a promise it was never unconditional. Rather he offered a new style and process for policy determination. The key words in his policy speech were not so much policy outcomes as procedures: co-operation, consultation, summit conference, and accord. This was the language of Western European corporatism, a technique for incorporating powerful sectional forces into the policy-making and marketing process. By emphasising processes rather than outcomes Hawke minimised pledges of specific policy outcomes.

Indeed policy as outcome played little role in the 1983 federal election. The election campaign was post-modern in its lack of substance: it was a contest not of policy but of images and style. A contemporary analyst noted:

... the election campaign is not even about politics or even records at all. It is about the electorate's judgement between two personalties and how each might perform as head of government ... the contest is not one of policies ... .(25)

Such a contest favoured the more popular, photogenic, Hawke rather than the dour Fraser, who carried the burden of office and recession. According to Graham Richardson, an influential member of Labor's campaign committee, the Party promoted a personality cult rather than its policies 'because the Hawke of 1983 was everything that the Australia of 1983 wanted'.(26) The Government was decisively defeated with a swing of five per cent to Labor. In difficult times voters had opted for an image of national reconciliation in preference to the divisiveness of Fraser's combative style.

For the remainder of the 1980s Labor in Government appeared to turn further away from traditional policy objectives. Indeed corporatism, globalisation and the spread of economic rationalism narrowed the policy gap between Labor and Liberal and doubtlessly contributed to the decade's decline in party identification. Thus one scholar claimed that Labor pursued Liberal policies in its 1984 federal election campaign.(27) Such a complaint merely reflected the extent to which the new intellectual and international current had detached Labor's policy development from its Whitlam-era moorings in the Party and civil society. That the Hawke Government developed election policy with little recourse to the Labor Party is borne out, at least for 1984, by the Campaign Director's complaint that the Party lacked knowledge of 'the Government's intentions with regard to major policy areas ... the content and tone of the policy speeches'.(28)

By the end of the 1980s both Liberal and Labor Parties, in line with global trends, had accepted economic rationalism as an overarching management technique for public policy. Under its 'user pays' aegis people were conditioned to look to market purchase of services formerly provided by government. This reduced the scope for domestic (and Party) policy participation and development, and, at the same time, narrowed the parameters for government activity.

Case Study Three : Federal Elections in the 1990s

The changes in the policy process by the end of the 1980s suggest that the major Australian political parties had mutated into some new form, shedding some important traditional characteristics. Another explanatory model, the 'catch-all' political party, developed by the German-born, Columbia University political scientist, Otto Kirchheimer prior to his death in 1965, became increasingly relevant to Australian politics in the 1980s and certainly illuminates the role of policy in federal elections during the 1990s. The catch-all party, which could grow out of mass and class-based antecedents was marked by:

  • reduced ideological commitment; party propaganda concentrated on leadership and broad issues where there is a large measure of community agreement, for example, the environment, law and order, employment and literacy
  • concentration of power in leadership groups; leaders increasingly rely on external interest rather than party members for finance and contact with the electorate
  • leadership groups seek to identify with the wider society rather than their party membership
  • a downgrading of the role of the individual party member
  • a move away from a social-class base to attract votes from the broader population
  • the courting of interest groups as a means to win electoral support; transformation of collateral party organisations, such as trade unions for the Labor Party into interest groups with weaker, less formal party links.(29)

The federal elections of 1990, 1993 and 1996 displayed remarkable fluidity in the interactions among the major political parties, their policies, and voters. During these six years the electoral and economic cycles began to tell against Labor although the pattern of decline was distorted by an aberrant set of election results in 1993 in which there was an unexpected swing to Labor. The example of environmental policy in the three elections is instructive as the substantial advantage it delivered to Labor in 1990 was dramatically trimmed back to a quite marginal asset by 1996.(30)

Environmental policy was crucial in determining the outcome of the federal election on 24 March 1990. The Liberal-National Coalition came very close to winning office. It achieved 43.2 per cent of the primary vote compared to Labor's 38.4. But Labor had recognised the environment as a potent issue in the late 1980s. Hawke delivered a dramatic environment statement at Wentworth on the junction of the ecologically-threatened Murray and Darling Rivers in July 1989. He committed the Government to a collaborative land care program with the Australian Conservation Foundation and the National Farmers Federation. Other pro-environment policy decisions, especially the pre-election undertaking to ban substantial mining activity in the symbolically rich Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory, paid rich dividends in preference votes. Labor won ten seats despite losing on the primary vote count. Democrat and green preferences flowed overwhelmingly to the ALP. A Liberal strategist has claimed that an environmental group, the Australian Conservation Foundation, cost them victory in 1990 by dishonouring a promise to Liberal leader, Andrew Peacock, not to press environmentalists to vote Labor.(31) Graham Richardson, Labor's Environment Minister, who was largely responsible for his Party's environment-centred second-preferences strategy, explained the result as the:

culmination of three years' hard yakka convincing the conservation movement of our bona fides, shepherding through Cabinet a series of hotly contested and controversial pro-environment decisions and promoting the issue at every opportunity. This was not the only factor-there never is only one-but it was a very big one in a great Labor victory.(32)

The crucial impact of environmental policy in determining the outcome of the 1990 election pointed to Labor's success in reaching beyond its trade union base to build coalitions of voters through crafting policy to appeal to identifiably significant groups in the electorate such as women, immigrants, Aborigines, youth and social movements like greens and gays. Traditionally this party-constituency embrace had been a feature of Labor's ties with the labour movement and the Country/National Party's relationship with the bush.

James Jupp and Marian Sawer have traced Labor's development of this strategy while in office during the decade leading up to the 1993 election. Special national agencies were established to service and cultivate these new constituencies such as the Offices of the Status of Women, Youth Affairs and Multicultural Affairs and Commissions responsible for Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders and Human Rights and Equal Opportunity. Such bodies were able to feed back into the Government's policy process through the development of strategies, statements and reports.(33) The nexus thus established between the party leadership and interest groups was very much in keeping with the catch-all party model. It carried the risk of leaving the ALP's traditional blue-collar constituency feeling out of the public policy loop, neglected by trade union leaders and the Government busy cultivating new interest groups. There was the more fundamental danger that the government-interest group nexus was undermining responsible government, transferring responsibility for policy determination from elected members of the government to un-elected interest group officials.(34)

The federal election of 13 March 1993 was notable on two counts. The Coalition lost the 'unlosable election' and the outcome was indisputably determined by policy. It was a remarkable election because much of the campaign focussed on Opposition leader John Hewson and his policy document Fightback!(35) Hewson had replaced Andrew Peacock as leader after the Coalition's loss in 1990 and set about demonstrating that the Liberal Party could no longer be accused of lacking policy capacity. However, the contracting-out of the preparation of Fightback! to a private consultancy was interpreted by some as an extraordinary abdication of a core party role.(36) Permeated by economic liberalism's individualistic, 'small government' ethos Fightback! proposed a radical goods and services tax [GST] and a major restructuring of the health care and industrial relations system.

Labor leader Bob Hawke, under challenge from within his own caucus, had difficulty in matching Hewson's aggressive presentation of his plan. Paul Keating defeated Hawke in the party room to become Prime Minister in December 1991. Early in 1992 Keating responded with his One Nation(37) statement. Clive Bean(38) has pointed out how early the policy battle that constituted the 1993 election campaign was foreshadowed, how unusually clear the policy divide between the two parties and how skilfully Keating focussed attention on unpopular aspects of Fightback! rather than the Government's policy proposals or record in office, including unemployment of over 11 per cent.

The 1993 election has entered public mythology as the one that John Hewson lost because he frightened the electorate with a GST. This is a gross simplification because it overlooks the impact of other issues, especially health care. Bean's detailed analysis of the impact of issues on the outcome showed that four issues: unemployment, health care, industrial relations and the GST were particularly important. Labor's advantage derived from the fact that the last three issues, health care, industrial relations and the GST worked for it while only one, unemployment, favoured the Coalition. Health care slightly shaded the effect of the GST in tilting the overall balance of party support towards Labor.(39)

Paul Keating won the 'unwinnable' election of 1993 narrowly, with a majority of 13 seats in the House of Representatives and a two-party preferred swing of 1.5 per cent to Labor.(40) There was rhetorical evidence that the Keating vision was unlikely to appeal to an electorate without some alarming alternative like Fightback! There were signs that Keating was locked into the grand vision of an ever-improving future more typical of the high modernism of the 1890s when European power was at its zenith, the promise of science and technology was unsullied and all things seemed possible. Indeed, in the lead-up to the 1993 election he summoned up the Australia of the 1890s in an attempt to inspire the electorate with an anachronistic vision of a prosperous, almost utopian future:

If we Australians are bold, determined and faithful to our beliefs and aspirations I believe the 1990s will be a great watershed in our history. As the 1890s were, so will this decade become a watershed. I believe we will emerge a robust social democracy, a player of substance in the world, integrated with our region and prosperous in a way that we have never been before: prosperous not only in material comforts but also in ideas and innovations, in our capacity to make things and sell them to the world, in opportunity, prosperous in our faith: our faith in ourselves and the life we have created here.(41)

There is much to admire in this passage's national self-confidence and vision of a beckoning future. But the perspective would be difficult to transmit to a jaded post-modern electorate. Its long vista of progress, its faint promise of earthly bliss, might well have resonated with the political culture of Europe and its settlement societies in the closing decade of the nineteenth century but was out of kilter with the scepticism of a generation digesting the twentieth century's failures to deliver on utopias, whether of the communist, fascist, capitalist, social democratic or any other variety. Labor's, or Keating's, triumphal optimism was unlikely to sway Australians plagued by uncertainty and disbelief that any political platform, or even budget, would bring home the too-often-promised bacon. One lesson from the 1993 campaign was that little visions, like better health care, are more persuasive than the big visions which John Hewson and Paul Keating offered to the electorate.

John Howard regained the leadership of the Liberal Party in January 1995 and by April he and federal director Andrew Robb were developing strategy for the forthcoming electoral showdown with Keating. While policy played a determining role in the 1993 election the 1996 campaign was remarkable for the extent of hard policy avoidance by both major parties. Given the degree of major party policy convergence on economic liberalism since 1983, the market-oriented, internationally-open values underpinning the Australian economy were not available as campaign material. This helps to explain the pushing of non-economic issues such as the Liberal emphasis on families and the declining standards of public life, or some of Labor's 'big picture' items like Aboriginal reconciliation or an Australian republic. Into the same category can be put Paul Keating's prophecy when he announced the election: 'This will be an election about leadership' or Howard's response that credibility was the crucial issue.(42) The possibility of debate was further narrowed by the Coalition's decision to run a 'policy-free' election campaign as long as possible.(43) Robb was convinced the early release of Fightback! in 1993, with its politically vulnerable GST, had lost the Coalition the election. He was also wary of 'the particular demolition skills of our opponent'.(44)

Although the 2 March 1996 election was not announced until 27 January, a 'phoney campaign' ran through the last half of 1995 in which the Opposition leader maintained his silence on policy detail despite trenchant media and Labor criticism. Howard signalled the beginning of the real electoral battle in his 8 January address to the Young Liberals National Convention when he unveiled a new industrial relations policy far more moderate than either that contained in Fightback! or the one Labor was anticipating. This set the stage for the presentation of a series of Coalition policies, on communications and the environment for example, which repositioned the Opposition on the middle ground. Howard's unexpectedly green environment policy, funded through the part sale of Telstra, helped neutralise the environment as an issue in 1996. Other policies, on small business and families for example, were directed more to traditional Liberal voters. They were also released in rapid succession and without notice to journalists so that sustained scrutiny or questioning was minimised.(45)

Liberal policy design and presentation in 1995-1996 was premised on the fragility of the coalition which maintained Labor in office from 1983. Liberal strategists planned to split Labor's traditional working class voters from the various new interest groups which had gathered behind the ALP's banner. They also sought either to detach interest groups from Labor or neutralise their electoral impact. In his analysis of the 1993 election results Peter Costello, the Federal Liberal Party Shadow Minister for Finance, identified 'a group of blue-collar voters that is open to switching from Labor.' He argued that they were receptive to persuasion that Labor had deserted them in pursuing the graduate vote and wooing the adherents of various minority and social movements-blacks, women, greens and gays.(46) The clever Liberal slogan 'For All Of Us' carried the message that Labor looked after peripheral groups while the Coalition would govern for the whole community:

It was a negative couched in a positive designed to drive a wedge into Labor's support and appeal to swing voters.(47)

In their analysis of voting behaviour in the 1996 election Clive Bean and Ian McAllister found that the issues that particularly worked to Labor's advantage in 1993-health care, tax policy GST, industrial relations-had either been reversed or substantially neutralised. On unemployment the Coalition was able to extend the advantage it held in 1993. Their research also showed that Keating was unwise to select leadership as a major election issue given his failure to deliver the tax cuts promised in 1993 and the electorate's relatively negative view of him.(48)

Labor's coalition-building had contained a fatal flaw in that the loyalty of traditional supporters had been taken for granted. Bill Hayden, perhaps with the benefit of hindsight, reflected how Labor's courting of the greens in the early 1990s, to the extent of sanctioning traditional Labor voters in marginal seats to cast their primary vote for an environmental candidate while directing preferences to Labor, unwittingly eroded the loyalty of Labor's traditional supporters.(49)

Trust was further eroded by the disjunction between election policy promises and subsequent policy decisions. The post-election 1993 Budget tax hikes were particularly damaging for Labor's relationship with its traditional supporters in marginal seats.(50) But there was a broader pattern of political behaviour in the 1980s and 1990s in which government policy bore little relation to what had been promised during election campaigns. The communication lapses tended to be matters of omission rather than commission but their contribution to voters' political cynicism was probably substantial. Barry Jones, for example, pointed out that there was no mention in policy speeches of many of the major changes introduced by the Hawke-Keating Governments including:

  • the phase out of tariffs
  • deregulation of financial markets
  • entry of foreign banks
  • restructuring government (1987)-creation of super-departments
  • 'Dawkinisation' of tertiary education
  • reintroduction of tertiary fees
  • privatisation of Commonwealth Bank and QANTAS.(51)

The Coalition's win on 2 March was decisive. It received 47.3 per cent of first preference votes nationally for the House of Representatives (44.2 per cent in the Senate) compared to Labor's 38.7 per cent (36 per cent in the Senate) The Liberal-National parties won 94 seats in the House of Representatives, an increase of 29 with Labor's representation plummeting from 80 to 49 seats.(52)

Andrew Robb claimed that the Coalition won the majority of blue-collar votes, 47.5 per cent compared to Labor's 39 per cent. Another traditional Labor voting bloc, Catholics, deserted the ALP with 47 per cent of their vote going to the Coalition compared to Labor's 37 per cent. The Liberals could also point to majority support from women, Anglo-Celtic Australians, the aged and the young.(53) There is some evidence that a general dislike of Labor and Keating, rather than policy on a specific issue, led a significant number of voters to defect from Labor to the Coalition.(54) But underneath the distaste was, at best, a sense of disconnection with Labor's policies quite unlike the degree of palpable community excitement generated by Whitlam's policies in 1972.

It is possible, as Barry Jones suggested, that in attempting to mobilise interest groups and draw them into its policy process, Labor allowed its policies to become excessively segmented and unrepresentative. There was little integration into a format that could resonate with the whole community and counter the Coalition's position as speaking 'For All Of Us'. Tony Blair made a similar complaint about the British Labour Party:

When the old blocs of Labour declined, they were supplanted by interest groups, and the result of that was a committee would set itself up calling itself the race committee and decide your race policy, or a women's committee would decide your women's policy, and [an] environment committee would decide your environment policy, and before you know it what you have is a conglomeration of policies that do not appeal to the broad mass of the country at all.(55)


From the 1970s the Australian community faced new challenges to its secular faith in national progress. The Australian past had been widely configured as a story of progress, exploration, conquest (sometimes), settlement, and economic, political and social achievements which could be scarcely matched in any other part of the world. This optimistic history bound the community together with a vision of endless improvement. The task of political parties was to materialise the vision. Some influential new interpretations of Australian history have been more negative and emphasised the story of deemed victims of progress, Aborigines, women, the unemployed and lowly paid, and the environment.(56)

Australian political parties and governments from 1972 have had to operate in an electorate that was losing its consensual vision of the national past and future. This was, in part, an expression of a wider crisis of confidence in Western civilisation. The belief in progress, one of the most basic tenets of Euro-American (Australasian) culture, has been challenged by post-modernism, a doctrine of scepticism which denies objective knowledge of the world, and therefore the possibility of its gradual improvement through rational problem-solving. While self-conscious post-modernists are most often encountered in university arts and social science faculties their intellectual currency has been widely dispersed. There is little doubt that the post-modernist ethos has seeped from elite into popular culture and been widely disseminated throughout the community. Politicians have to communicate now with voters who will be swayed, to a greater or lesser degree, by post-modernism's lack of idealism, its scepticism that the political process can and will pursue the common good. There is relevance for Australian politics in the American historian Christopher Lasch's complaint that today's elites, based in the financial and information sectors of the post-industrial economy, have withdrawn from the 'common life'. They have deserted democratic politics as the pursuit of the common good for limitless private possibilities.(57) Australians are now more inclined to doubt the capacity of their governments to maintain the progress for which previous generations have claimed credit. Indeed, intuitive knowledge that this is the case, might explain the complaint that political campaigns in recent elections are not so much about policy substance as they are about style and image.

There is a distinctly post-modern ring to the title of Paul Kelly's book about Australian politics in the 1980s, The End of Certainty. That 'certainty' disintegrated under the solvent of the interacting transformations-geopolitical, economic, intellectual-to which Australians have been subjected. There is considerable validity in Kelly's argument that the decade was marked by the collapse of a broad policy consensus-the Australian Settlement-forged around Federation in 1901. The Settlement included White Australia, Industry Protection, Wage Arbitration, State Paternalism, and Imperial Benevolence. These five pillars of federated Australia trembled in the 1960s, cracked in the 1970s and 'in the 1980s the builders were on site fighting about the framework for the new Australia'. Kelly ended his book with an act of, as yet, untested faith in the possibility of a new Settlement which will combine an internationalised economy with domestic social justice.(58)

Such a dispensation would retain the old Settlement's preoccupation with equity, though shorn of its racial exclusiveness. It jettisons the old Settlement's suspicion of outside forces, especially economic and racial ones, and abandons the institutionalised controls in favour of deregulation and openness. There is promise here of a new certainty, a new history, which the Australian people might find hard to accept so soon after the dissolution of their old history and certainty. While Kelly acknowledged the challenge his analysis poses for political leaders, they might well treat him cautiously in so far as he is another visionary with a 'new Britannia' to replace the one that inspired our nineteenth century forebears.

If nothing else The End of Certainty underlined the extent to which 'economic rationalism' or market liberalism had become, by the 1980s, the orthodoxy of Australia's policy-making community, including its political leadership. This narrowed the range of policy options available to the two major political parties. Both assimilated, in varying degrees, the individualistic, anti-protection, indeed anti-communitarian tenets of economic liberalism and converged, at least in economic policy, at a position on the ideological spectrum formerly occupied by the extreme right. Martin Painter(59) (Department of Government, University of Sydney) has argued persuasively that market liberalism is best understood as a problem solving and management technique with a certain 'shelf life as a set of organising principles for institutional policy and practice'. He has also highlighted its contemporary status as conventional wisdom in 1996, by posing the question:

What can explain the ascendancy under a Commonwealth Labor Government of a set of economic ideas associated at first with the fringes of the political right?

Indeed the intellectual victory of economic liberalism challenged both the Liberal and Labor Parties since, historically, they both ascribed to the Australian Settlement. The Liberals underwent an internal ideological struggle after the defeat of the Fraser Government in 1983 in which the economic rationalists, the 'drys', emerged as the dominant grouping. In Kelly's words:

It was a revolt, though not always fully grasped at the time, against the Deakin-inspired Australian settlement of the early post-federation period, which, in the post-war context, was embodied in the Menzies-McEwen-Fraser heritage.(60)

Yet economic liberalism, as the name suggests, was ideologically compatible with key Liberal Party values-freedom, individualism, enterprise and its core constituency, especially business. Despite resistance from the 'wets', the Liberal Party digested economic rationalism with less internal stress than Labor, though this was initially concealed by Labor's monopoly of federal government between 1983 and 1996.

Had the Labor Party decisively rejected economic rationalism in the 1980s as antithetical to its core values and constituency, it would not have enjoyed its long period in office, the Hawke-Keating years. It would have been deemed obsolescent, at least by elites, and lacking in the management concepts which seemed best to answer the needs of the day. By embracing the new wisdom it successfully competed for government, but at the risk of political implosion as it distanced itself from its collectivist ideology and core blue collar constituency. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, though, economic rationalism was a peripheral fad and Labor was able to win government after almost a quarter of a century in opposition by generating new issues and policies embedded in a communitarian philosophy of government and society.

This survey of federal elections between 1972 and 1996 has shown an increasingly volatile electorate. To some extent this is in keeping with evidence unearthed by David Kemp (former professor of politics at Monash University, now Minister for Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs) in the 1970s suggesting the decline of social cleavages, especially class, as the basis of the Australian two-party system, including party identification. Kemp hypothesised that cultural and social homogenisation was producing convergence in electoral behaviour among voters on both sides of the cleavage systems from which the major Australian parties emerged a century ago. More recent research by political scientists Ian McAllister and Clive Bean has borne out Kemp's conclusions. Their study of long-term Australian electoral trends including the 1996 federal election revealed the declining salience of party identification and class self-image for voting behaviour. Yet, it must be noted that the party is far from over. Even in 1996, 77 per cent of Australian voters identified with either the Labor or Liberal (including the National) Party, though the strength of party attachment is waning.(61)

Policy alone has not determined the outcome of an election campaign between 1972 and 1996, with Fightback! in 1993 being no exception. But it has always been an ingredient in the mix of elements that conspire to change governments in Canberra. Shortly before the 1996 federal election Geoffrey Barker compiled a list of three preconditions that must be met before an Australian federal government loses office. These, with some adaptations, are:

  • the exhaustion of incumbency. Extended tenure has left a government tired, bereft of new, relevant ideas and out of touch with the electorate
  • economic and social malaise. The country is widely perceived to be beset by intractable problems in the economy with unemployment a particularly sensitive issue. Social disharmony appears to be loud and increasing, giving the sense that the national middle ground is crumbling, that the centre cannot hold
  • an invigorated opposition with competent leadership. The alternative government must offer a 'qualitative change in national direction' which at least appears likely to lead the country out of the impasse.

After the 1996 election another two preconditions for loss of office might be added, namely:

  • the electorate's loss of confidence that Government policies are relevant to their needs
  • the disintegration, or dismemberment, of the coalition of voters whose aggregated votes delivered office to the incumbent government.

The history of Australian elections from 1972 points to, at least, a correlation between a major party's policy capacity and its prospects of retaining or winning government. A party's policy capacity is a measure of the degree to which it possesses the will, resources and skills required for generating and communicating policy that rallies its own membership and traditional supporters, maximises its support in the community, attracts new voters and destabilises the coalition of supporters available to its major competitor. It is important also that a party's election policy be deemed by a majority of the electorate as relevant to their personal concerns and their perceptions of the national interest.

Parties, increasingly catch-all, will have to fight for possession of the middle ground. As the new millennium approaches grand policy visions and long vistas of progress are unlikely to sell to a sceptical, post-modern electorate. Labour's Tony Blair in Britain and Republican Christine Todd Whitman in the American state of New Jersey exemplify a new non-ideological politics of the centre where policy is focussed on keeping the public house in good order-transport, utilities, schools and an economy as healthy as a government can make it. The limits of the state are admitted with education recognised as the most important arena where governments can make a difference.(62) The major Australian political parties are still the chief players in national policy formulation. But their future products are likely to be both less predictable and more modest as they seek to answer the concerns of as many voters as possible while alienating as few as possible. At the same time they will be bound by the 'politics of modest improvement' and will have to cut their policy cloth accordingly.


  1. Michael Warby, 'The Loss of Moral Mandate', Australian Financial Review, 1 October 1997, p. 11.

  2. Dean Jaensch and Max Teichmann, The Macmillan Dictionary of Australian Politics, 4th edn, Melbourne, 1995, pp. 164-163; D. A. Kemp, Foundations for Australian Political Analysis: Politics and Authority, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1988, pp. 227-228.

  3. Hugh V. Emy and Owen E. Hughes, Australian Politics: Realities in Conflict, 2nd edn, Macmillan, Melbourne, 1991, p. 532.

  4. Historical and other material has been drawn from Gerald Henderson, Menzies' Child; The Liberal Party of Australia, 1944-1994, Allen and Unwin, St Leonards, NSW, 1994; Dean Jaensch, The Politics of Australia, 2nd edn, Macmillan Education Australia, South Melbourne, 1997; Ross McMullin, The Light on the Hill: The Australian Labor Party, 1891-1991, Oxford University Press, South Melbourne, 1992; and Stuart Macintyre, The Oxford History of Australia, 1901-1942: The Succeeding Age, vol. 4, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1986.

  5. Don Aitkin, Stability and Change in Australian Politics, 2nd edn, Australian National University Press, Canberra, 1982, pp. 347-354.

  6. Unless otherwise indicated, voting figures cited in this paper are taken from the Appendix 'Election results 1949-1996' in Scott Bennett, Winning and Losing: Australian National Elections, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 1996, pp. 190-194.

  7. Geoffrey Barker, 'Why There's Still Life in Labor', Australian Financial Review, 23 February 1996, p. 20.

  8. Henderson, op. cit., pp. 22, 209-210.

  9. Race Matthews, 'Whitlam Re-visited: A Personal Memoir', in Whitlam Re-visited: Policy Development, Policies and Outcomes, eds Hugh Emy, Owen Hughes and Race Matthews, Pluto Press, Leichhardt, NSW, 1993, pp. 7-15; James Walter, The Leader: A Political Biography of Gough Whitlam, University of Queensland Press, St Lucia, Qld, 1980, pp. 30-33.

  10. Walter, op. cit., p. 30.

  11. Cited in Bill Hayden, Hayden: An Autobiography, Angus and Robertson, Pymble, NSW, 1996, p. 132.

  12. Walter, op. cit., p. 31; Matthews, Whitlam Re-visited, p. 7. McMullin, op. cit., p. 311.

  13. Walter, op. cit., p. 31.

  14. ibid., p. 8.

  15. Australian Financial Review, 14 November 1972, p. 1; The Australian, 14 November 1972, p. 4.

  16. Australian, 14 November 1972, p. 8.

  17. ibid., p. 14.

  18. Australian, 15 November 1972, pp. 1, 10.

  19. Cited in Greg Whitwell, 'Economic Policy', in Judith Brett, James Gillespie and Murray Goot (eds) Developments in Australian Politics, Macmillan, South Melbourne, 1994, p. 231.

  20. Australian Financial Review, 23 February 1983, p. 3.

  21. ibid., 4 March 1973, p. 7.

  22. Katherine West, 'How Libs Misread the Writing on the Wall', Australian, 7 March 1983, p. 2.

  23. Australian Financial Review, 16 February 1983, p. 12.

  24. ibid., 17 February 1983, p. 9.

  25. 'Too Much of a Good Thing', Australian Financial Review, 17 February, 1983, p. 12.

  26. Graham Richardson, Whatever It Takes, Bantam Books, Sydney, 1994, p. 127.

  27. Graham Maddox, The Hawke Government and Labor Tradition, Penguin, Ringwood, Vic., 1988, pp. 104-105.

  28. Paul Kelly, The End of Certainty: The Story of the 1980s, Allen and Unwin, St Leonards, NSW, 1992, p. 138.

  29. Otto Kirchheimer, 'The Transformation of the Western European Party Systems', in Joseph LaPalombara and Myron Weiner (eds), Political Parties and Political Development, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, 1966, pp. 190-191. Angelo Panebianco, Political Parties: Organisation and Power, Marc Silver trans., Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1988, p. 262.

  30. Clive Bean and Ian McAllister, 'Short-term Influences on Voting Behaviour in the 1996 Election', in The Politics of Retribution: The 1996 Federal Election, (eds) Clive Bean, Marian Simms, Scott Bennett and John Warhurst, Allen and Unwin, St Leonards, NSW, 1997, pp. 198-199.

  31. Andrew Robb, cited in Pamela Williams, The Victory: The Inside Story of the Takeover of Australia, Allen and Unwin, St Leonards, NSW, 1997, p. 152.

  32. Richardson, Whatever It Takes, p. 276.

  33. James Jupp and Marian Sawer, 'Building Coalitions: The Australian Labor Party and the 1993 Election', Australian Journal of Political Science, 29 (Special Issue), 1994, pp. 10-27.

  34. Gary Johns, 'The Arrogance of the Un-Elected', Australasian Political Studies 1997: Proceedings of the 1997 APSA Conference, pp. 391-408.

  35. Fightback!: Taxation and Expenditure Reform for Jobs and Growth. The Liberal and National Parties' Plan to Rebuild and Reward Australia.

  36. Henderson, op. cit., p. 303.

  37. One Nation, Statement by The Prime Minister, The Honourable P. J. Keating, MP, 26 February 1992, Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra, 1992.

  38. Clive Bean, 'The 1993 Election and Australian Electoral Studies in the 1990s', Australian Journal of Political Science, 29 (Special Issue), 1994, pp. 1-2.

  39. Clive Bean, 'Issues in the 1993 Election', Australian Journal of Political Science, Special Issue, 1993 Federal Election, 29, 1994, p. 154.

  40. ibid., p. 153.

  41. Paul Keating, 'Election 1993-The Government's Agenda: New Visions for Australia', Australian Quarterly, Autumn 1993, p. 465.

  42. Cited in John Warhurst, 'Promises and Personalities: The House of Representatives Election in 1996', in Clive Bean et al (eds), The Politics of Retribution: The 1996 Federal Election, Allen and Unwin, St Leonards, NSW, 1997, p. 4.

  43. Pamela Williams, op. cit., pp. 98-99.

  44. Andrew Robb, 'Lessons from the 1996 Campaign', Australian Quarterly, Autumn 1996, p. 109.

  45. Political Chronicle: January-June 1996, Australian Journal of Politics and History, 42(3), 1996, pp. 402-403.

  46. Peter Costello, 'The Liberal Party and its Future', Australian Quarterly, Spring, 1993, pp. 19-20.

  47. Pamela Williams, op. cit., p. 156.

  48. Clive Bean and Ian McAllister, 'Short-term Influences on Voting Behaviour in the 1996 Election', in Clive Bean et al (eds), The Politics of Retribution: The 1996 Federal Election, Allen and Unwin, St Leonards, NSW, 1997, pp. 196-206.

  49. Hayden, op. cit., p. 476.

  50. Williams, op. cit., p. 50.

  51. Barry Jones, Work in Progress: Recent Speeches, Australian Labor Party, Victorian Branch, Carlton, Vic., 1996, p. 9.

  52. Dean Jaensch, The Politics of Australia, 2nd edn, Macmillan, South Melbourne, 1997, pp. 396-402.

  53. Robb, 'Lessons from the 1996 Campaign', p. 107; Barry Jones, Work in Progress: Recent Speeches, Australian Labor Party, Victorian Branch, Carlton, Vic., 1996, p. 10.

  54. Political Chronicle: January-June 1996, p. 404.

  55. Cited in Jones, Work in Progress, p. 10.

  56. See for example recent works on a Torres Strait Islander and women in Australian history: Noel Loos and Koiki Mabo, Edward Koiki Mabo: His Life and Struggle for Land Rights, University of Queensland Press, St Lucia, Qld, 1996 and Patricia Grimshaw et al, Creating A Nation, McPhee Gribble Penguin Books, Ringwood, Vic., 1994.

  57. Christopher Lasch, The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy, W. W. Norton, New York, 1995.

  58. Paul Kelly, The End of Certainty: The Story of the 1980s, Allen and Unwin, St Leonards, NSW, 1992, pp. 1-15, 686.

  59. Martin Painter, 'Economic Policy, Market Liberalism and the "End of Australian Politics''', Australian Journal of Political Science, 31(3), 1996, pp. 287, 298.

  60. Kelly, op. cit., p. 30.

  61. David Kemp, Society and Electoral Behaviour in Australia: A Study of Three Decades, University of Queensland Press, St Lucia, 1978, p. 348. Ian McAllister and Clive Bean, 'Long-term Electoral Trends and the 1996 Election', in The Politics of Retribution: The 1996 Federal Election, eds Clive Bean, Marian Simms, Scott Bennett and John Warhurst, Allen and Unwin, St Leonards, NSW, 1997, pp. 173-189.

  62. Alan Ryan, 'Conservatives, Nice and Nasty', New York Review of Books, 26 June 1997, pp. 27-32. Christine Todd Whitman has attracted attention has a prospective Republican presidential candidate. She wrestled the governorship of heavily Democratic New Jersey from a Democrat incumbent in 1993 and retained office, albeit with a narrow majority, in the gubernational elections in 1997.