Australian federal election, 1977

Australian federal election, 1977
10 December 1977

All 124 seats of the Australian House of Representatives
63 seats were needed for a majority in the House
34 (of the 64) seats of the Australian Senate
  First party Second party
Leader Malcolm Fraser Gough Whitlam
Party Liberal/National coalition Labor
Leader since 21 March 1975 8 February 1967
Leader's seat Wannon Werriwa
Last election 91 seats 36 seats
Seats won 86 seats 38 seats
Seat change Decrease5 Increase2
Percentage 54.60% 45.40%
Swing Decrease1.10 Increase1.10

Prime Minister before election

Malcolm Fraser
Liberal/National coalition

Subsequent Prime Minister

Malcolm Fraser
Liberal/National coalition

Federal elections were held in Australia on 10 December 1977. All 124 seats in the House of Representatives, and 34 of the 64 seats in the Senate, were up for election.

The incumbent Liberal Party of Australia led by Malcolm Fraser with coalition partner the National Country Party led by Doug Anthony, in government since 1975, was elected to a second term over the Australian Labor Party Opposition led by Opposition Leader Gough Whitlam. While the Coalition suffered a five-seat swing, it still had a substantial 48-seat majority in the House. Whitlam was unable to recover much of the ground Labor had lost in its severe defeat of two years prior, and resigned as leader shortly after the election.


House of Reps (IRV) — 1977–80—Turnout 95.08% (CV) — Informal 2.52%
Party Votes % Swing Seats Change
  Australian Labor Party 3,141,051 39.65 −3.20 38 +2
  Liberal Party of Australia 3,017,896 38.09 −3.71 67 −1
  National Country Party 793,444 10.01 −1.24 19 −4
  Australian Democrats 743,365 9.38 * 0 0
  Other 227,098 2.87 0 0
  Total 7,922,854     124 −3
  Liberal/National coalition WIN 54.60 −1.10 86 -5
  Australian Labor Party   45.40 +1.10 38 +2
Popular Vote
Two Party Preferred Vote
Parliament Seats
Senate (STV) — 1977–80—Turnout 95.08% (CV) — Informal 9.00%
Party Votes % Swing Seats Won Seats Held Change
  Australian Labor Party 2,718,876 36.76 −4.15 14 27 0
  Liberal/National (Joint Ticket) 2,533,882 34.26 −5.60 7
  Australian Democrats 823,550 11.13 * 2 2 +2
  Liberal Party of Australia 783,878 10.60 −0.48 10 27 +1
  National Country Party 36,619 0.50 −0.04 0 6 2
  Country Liberal Party 15,463 0.21 −0.01 1 1 0
  Independents 127,850 1.73 +0.13 0 1 0
  Other 356,089 4.81 +2.75 0 0 1
  Total 7,396,207     34 64

Independent: Brian Harradine

Seats changing hands

Seat Pre-1977 Swing Post-1977
Party Member Margin Margin Member Party
Capricornia, Qld   National Country Colin Carige 0.1 2.7 1.2 Doug Everingham Labor  
Griffith, Qld   Liberal Don Cameron 8.0 5.0 3.5 Ben Humphreys Labor  
Indi, Vic   National Country Mac Holten N/A 22.3 5.1 Ewen Cameron Liberal  

Background and issues

The Gallagher Index result: 15.16

The government offering tax cuts to voters and ran advertisements with the slogan "fistful of dollars". The tax cuts were never delivered; instead a "temporary surcharge" was imposed in 1978. The election coincided with the retirement of the Governor-General, Sir John Kerr. Kerr had appeared drunk at the Melbourne Cup in November and the public outcry resulted in the cancellation of his appointment as Ambassador to UNESCO.

The 1977 election was held a year earlier than required, partly to bring elections for the House and Senate back into line. A half-Senate election had to be held by the middle of 1978, since the double dissolution election of 1975 had resulted in the terms of senators being backdated to July 1975.


Liberal Don Chipp had been dropped from the ministry after the 1975 election. He had formed a new political party, the Australian Democrats, and had announced his intention to run for the Senate. Liberal Movement senator Steele Hall resigned and was replaced by Janine Haines, but she lost her seat; however, the party gained Chipp in Victoria and Colin Mason in New South Wales, with Haines being re-elected at the next election as the new party's popularity grew.

The ALP made limited gains in the election. The second Fraser Government had the second-largest parliamentary majority in Australian history after the majority it won in the 1975 election. Gough Whitlam resigned as the leader of the ALP in 1978.

This was the last Australian federal election for the House of Representatives at which no women were elected, although there were a number of women candidates. Women have been elected at every federal election from 1980 onwards.

See also


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