Australian federal election, 2013

Australian federal election, 2013
7 September 2013

All 150 seats in the Australian House of Representatives
76 seats were needed for a majority
40 (of the 76) seats in the Australian Senate
Registered 13,726,070
Turnout 93.2%
  First party Second party
Leader Tony Abbott Kevin Rudd
Party Liberal/National coalition Labor
Leader since 1 December 2009 (2009-12-01) 26 June 2013 (2013-06-26)
Leader's seat Warringah Griffith
Last election 72 seats, 49.88% 72 seats, 50.12%
Seats won 90 seats 55 seats
Seat change Increase18 Decrease17
Popular vote 5,882,818 4,311,365
Percentage 45.55% 33.38%
Swing Increase1.93 Decrease4.61
TPP 53.49% 46.51%
TPP swing Increase3.61 Decrease3.61

  Third party Fourth party
Leader Christine Milne Clive Palmer
Party Greens Palmer United
Leader since 13 March 2012 (2012-03-13) 1 April 2013 (2013-04-01)
Leader's seat Senator for Tasmania Fairfax (won seat)
Last election 1 seat, 11.76% new party
Seats won 1 seat 1 seat
Seat change Steady Increase1
Popular vote 1,116,918 709,035
Percentage 8.65% 5.49%
Swing Decrease3.11 Increase5.49

  Fifth party
Leader Bob Katter
Party Katter's Australian
Leader since 3 June 2011 (2011-06-03)
Leader's seat Kennedy
Last election 0
Seats won 1 seat
Seat change Increase1
Popular vote 134,226
Percentage 1.04%
Swing Increase1.04%

Prime Minister before election

Kevin Rudd

Subsequent Prime Minister

Tony Abbott
Liberal/National coalition

A federal election to determine the members of the 44th Parliament of Australia took place on 7 September 2013. The centre-right Liberal/National Coalition opposition led by then-Opposition leader Tony Abbott of the Liberal Party of Australia and Coalition partner the National Party of Australia, led by Warren Truss, defeated the incumbent centre-left Labor Party government of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd by a 17-seat 3.6 percentage point two-party swing. Abbott was sworn in by the Governor-General, Quentin Bryce as Australia's 28th Prime Minister on 18 September 2013 along with the Abbott Ministry and the members of the House of Representatives. The 44th Parliament of Australia opened on 12 November 2013, which is taken to be the commencement of the term of members of the House of Representatives. The new senators were sworn in by the next Governor-General Peter Cosgrove on 7 July 2014, with their six-year terms commencing on 1 July.[1]

The proclamation dissolving the House of Representatives and formally beginning the election period, had been issued by the Governor-General, Quentin Bryce, on 5 August 2013. The writs of election were subsequently issued by Bryce for the election of members of the House of Representatives and the state governors for the senators for each state.

Voting in Australia's federal elections has been compulsory since 1925. For the House of Representatives, a preferential ballot system has been in use since 1919, in single-member seats. For the Senate – the proportionally representative upper house – a single transferable vote system has been in use since 1949, with optional group voting tickets since 1984. Elections are conducted by the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC).

A special half-Senate election was conducted on 5 April 2014 in Western Australia as a result of 1,375 lost ballot papers.[2]


House of Representatives

Government (90)
     Liberal (58)
     QLD LNP (22)
     National (9)
     NT CLP (1)

Opposition (55)
     Labor (55)

Crossbench (5)
     Independent (2)
     Green (1)
     PUP (1)
     Katter (1)
House of Representatives (IRV) – Turnout 93.23% (CV) – Informal 5.91%[3]
Party Votes % Swing (pp) Seats Change (seats)
  Australian Labor Party 4,311,365 33.38 −4.61 55 −17
  Liberal/National Coalition        
  Liberal Party of Australia 4,134,865 32.02 +1.56 58 +14
  Liberal National Party (QLD) 1,152,217 8.92 −0.20 22 +1
  National Party of Australia 554,268 4.29 +0.56 9 +2
  Country Liberal Party (NT) 41,468 0.32 +0.01 1 0
  Australian Greens 1,116,918 8.65 −3.11 1 0
  Palmer United Party 709,035 5.49 +5.49 1 +1
  Katter's Australian Party 134,226 1.04 +0.73 1 0
  Independents 177,217 1.37 −0.84 2 −1
  Other 583,348 4.52 +0.41 0 0
  Total 12,914,927     150
Two-party-preferred vote
  Liberal/National Coalition 6,908,710 53.49 +3.61 90 +18
  Australian Labor Party 6,006,217 46.51 −3.61 55 −17
The disproportionality of the lower house in the 2013 election was 9.66 according to the Gallagher Index, mainly between the Coalition and Green parties.

Independents: Andrew Wilkie, Cathy McGowan

Popular vote
Two-party-preferred vote


Government (33)
     Liberal (23)
     QLD LNP (6)
     National (3)
     NT CLP (1) Opposition (25)
     Labor (25) Crossbench (18)
     Greens (10)
     PUP (3)
     Motoring (1)
     LDP (1)
     Family First (1)
     DLP (1)
     Independent (1)
Senate (STV GV) – Turnout 93.88% (CV) – Informal 2.96%[4][5]
Party Votes % Swing Seats won Continuing senators Total seats Change
  Liberal/National Coalition 5,057,218 37.70 –0.59 17 16 33 –1
  Australian Labor Party 4,038,591 30.11 –5.02 12 13 25 –6
  Australian Greens 1,159,588 8.65 –4.46 4 6 10 +1
  Palmer United Party 658,976 4.91 +4.91 2 2 +2
  Liberal Democratic Party 523,831 3.91 +2.10 1 1 +1
  Xenophon Group 258,376 1.93 +1.93 1 1 0
  Family First Party 149,306 1.11 –0.99 1 1 +1
  Democratic Labour Party 112,549 0.84 –0.22 0 1 1 0
  Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party 67,560 0.50 +0.50 1 1 +1
  Australian Sports Party 2,977 0.02 +0.02 1 1 +1
  Other 1,384,027 10.32 +0.45 0 0 0
  Total 13,413,019 76

The Senate has 76 seats. Forty seats were up for election; six in each of the six states, two for the ACT and two for the Northern Territory. The terms of the four senators from the territories commenced on election day. The terms of the six longest-serving state senators ended on 30 June 2014 and the start of the terms of the new state senators commenced on 1 July 2014, and will last for six years ending on 30 June 2020.[6][7]

The Senate saw the Coalition government on 33 seats with the Labor opposition on 25 seats, the Greens on ten seats and a crossbench of 8 – Palmer United on three seats, with other minor parties and independents on five seats – the LDP's David Leyonhjelm, Family First's Bob Day, Motoring's Ricky Muir and incumbents Nick Xenophon and the DLP's John Madigan. Muir announced he would vote in line with Palmer United.[8] The initial election saw Wayne Dropulich of the Australian Sports Party win a seat in Western Australia, but the subsequent voiding of the result and ensuing special election saw the Palmer United Party gain a third seat. The Coalition government required the support of at least six non-coalition Senators to pass legislation.

A record number of candidates stood at the election.[9] Group voting tickets came under scrutiny because multiple candidates were provisionally elected with the vast majority of their 14.3 percent quotas coming from the preferences of other parties across the political spectrum. "Preference whisperer" Glenn Druery organised tight cross-preferencing between over 30 minor parties as part of his Minor Party Alliance.[10][11][12] Sports' Wayne Dropulich won a Senate seat on a record-low primary vote of 0.2 percent in Western Australia, his party placing coming 21st out of 28 groups on primary votes.[13][14][15] Motoring's Ricky Muir won a senate seat on a record-low primary vote of 0.5 percent in Victoria.[16][17] Family First's Bob Day won a seat on a primary vote of 3.8 percent in South Australia.[17][18] All three were involved with the Minor Party Alliance.[19] Previous examples of winning with low vote shares include Family First's Steve Fielding in 2004 on 1.9 percent in Victoria,[20] the Nuclear Disarmament Party's Robert Wood in 1987 on 1.5 percent in New South Wales, and the DLP's John Madigan won his seat in 2010 on a primary vote of 2.3 percent in Victoria.[21] Xenophon and larger parties including the incoming government announced they would look at changes to the GVT system.[22][23][24]

Western Australia special Senate election

Revised national totals following WA special election – Turnout 93.45% (CV) – Informal 2.93%[25]
Party Votes % Swing Seats won Continuing senators Total seats Change
  Liberal/National Coalition 4,951,196 37.00 –1.29 17 16 33 –1
  Australian Labor Party 3,965,284 29.63 –5.50 12 13 25 –6
  Australian Greens 1,234,592 9.23 –3.88 4 6 10 +1
  Palmer United Party 751,121 5.61 +5.61 3 3 +3
  Liberal Democratic Party 502,180 3.75 +1.94 1 1 +1
  Xenophon Group 258,376 1.93 +1.93 1 1 0
  Family First Party 149,994 1.12 –0.98 1 1 +1
  Democratic Labour Party 115,276 0.86 –0.20 0 1 1 0
  Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party 66,807 0.50 +0.50 1 1 +1
  Other 1,385,719 10.36 +0.49 0 0 0
  Total 13,380,545 76

Most Senate votes cast in Western Australia were subject to a formal recount.[26] During the recount it was determined that 1,375 WA Senate ballot papers could not be located.[27][28] After the final recount the result was duly declared which changed the last two predicted WA Senate spots from Palmer and Labor back to Sports and Green. Mick Keelty, a former AFP Commissioner, was requested by the AEC to investigate the issue of the misplaced ballot papers.[29][30] On 15 November, the AEC petitioned the High Court, acting as the Court of Disputed Returns, to seek an order from the court that the WA Senate election of all six senators (3 Liberal, 1 Labor, 1 Green, 1 Sport) be declared void.[31][32][33] On 18 February 2014, it was announced that the Court of Disputed Returns had found that the result of the Western Australia Senate election should be voided, meaning a fresh election for all six senate vacancies would be required.[34]

The AEC notes that the Court has advised in its written decision issued today that it finds that the only relief appropriate is for the 2013 Western Australian Senate election result to be declared void.......In accordance with the Australian Constitution and the requirements of the Western Australian Election of Senators Act 1903, an election of six senators for Western Australia would occur once a writ has been issued by His Excellency Mr Malcolm McCusker AC CVO QC, the Governor of Western Australia.
Australian Electoral Commission, 18 February 2014

On 28 February 2014 it was announced that the half-Senate election in Western Australia would take place on 5 April, which returned 3 Liberal, 1 Labor, 1 Green, 1 Palmer.

Divisions changing hands

Members in italics did not re-contest their House of Representatives seats at this election.

Seat Pre-2013 Swing Post-2013[35]
Party Member Margin Margin Member Party
Banks, NSW   Labor Daryl Melham 1.45 −3.28 1.83 David Coleman Liberal  
Barton, NSW Labor Robert McClelland 6.86 −7.17 0.31 Nickolas Varvaris Liberal
Bass, TAS Labor Geoff Lyons 6.74 −10.78 4.04 Andrew Nikolić Liberal
Braddon, TAS Labor Sid Sidebottom 7.48 −10.04 2.56 Brett Whiteley Liberal
Capricornia, QLD Labor Kirsten Livermore 3.68 −4.45 0.77 Michelle Landry Liberal National
Corangamite, VIC Labor Darren Cheeseman 0.28 −4.22 3.94 Sarah Henderson Liberal
Deakin, VIC Labor Mike Symon 0.60 −3.78 3.18 Michael Sukkar Liberal
Dobell, NSW Independent Craig Thomson 5.07 N/A 0.68 Karen McNamara Liberal
Eden-Monaro, NSW Labor Mike Kelly 4.24 −4.85 0.61 Peter Hendy Liberal
Fairfax, QLD Liberal National Alex Somlyay 6.95 N/A 0.03 Clive Palmer Palmer United
Fisher, QLD Independent Peter Slipper 4.13 N/A 9.75 Mal Brough Liberal National
Hindmarsh, SA Labor Steve Georganas 6.08 −7.97 1.89 Matt Williams Liberal
Indi, VIC Liberal Sophie Mirabella 9.94 N/A 0.25 Cathy McGowan Independent
La Trobe, VIC Labor Laura Smyth 1.66 −5.67 4.01 Jason Wood Liberal
Lindsay, NSW Labor David Bradbury 1.12 −4.11 2.99 Fiona Scott Liberal
Lyne, NSW Independent Rob Oakeshott 12.73 N/A 14.77 David Gillespie National
Lyons, TAS Labor Dick Adams 12.29 −13.51 1.22 Eric Hutchinson Liberal
New England, NSW Independent Tony Windsor 21.52 N/A 14.46 Barnaby Joyce National
O'Connor, WA National WA Tony Crook 3.56 −4.51 0.95 Rick Wilson Liberal
Page, NSW Labor Janelle Saffin 4.19 −6.71 2.52 Kevin Hogan National
Petrie, QLD Labor Yvette D'Ath 2.51 −3.04 0.53 Luke Howarth Liberal National
Reid, NSW Labor John Murphy 2.68 −3.53 0.85 Craig Laundy Liberal
Robertson, NSW Labor Deborah O'Neill 1.00 −4.00 3.00 Lucy Wicks Liberal

Key dates

On 30 January 2013, the then Prime Minister Julia Gillard had announced the election would be held on 14 September. However, following a leadership ballot in June 2013, she was replaced as leader and Prime Minister by Rudd, who then abandoned the originally planned date. A referendum on amending the constitution to allow the federal government to directly fund local councils, which was initially planned to be held on the same day as the federal election, could not go ahead on the date announced by Rudd.[38] This is because Section 128 of the Constitution of Australia requires that a referendum be submitted to electors between two and six months after its passage through Parliament. As early voting started on 20 August it could not be submitted then.

43rd Parliament

House of Representatives

House of Representatives seat numbers prior to the 2013 election

Government (71)
     Labor (71)

Coalition (72)

     Liberal (44)
     LNP (20)
     Nationals (6)
     Nat. WA (1)
     CLP (1)

Crossbench (7)
     Ind. (5)
     Greens (1)
     KAP (1)

At the 2010 federal election, Labor and the Liberal/National Coalition each won 72 seats in the 150-seat House of Representatives, four short of the requirement for majority government, resulting in the first hung parliament since the 1940 federal election. On the crossbench, one member of the Australian Greens, one member of the National Party of Western Australia, and four independent members held the balance of power. After gaining the support of the Greens and three independents on confidence and supply votes, Labor was able to form a minority government with 76 seats, the smallest possible margin in the 150-seat House.[39]

Changes in House numbers

On 24 November 2011, Harry Jenkins resigned as Speaker of the House of Representatives and returned to the Labor backbench. Later, that day, Deputy Speaker Peter Slipper was elected Speaker and quit the Liberal National Party to become an independent. This changed nominal confidence and supply numbers on the floor of the house from 75–74 to 76–73.[40][41] In January 2012, Andrew Wilkie withdrew his guarantee of confidence to the incumbent government, changing numbers to 75–73 in the event of his abstention, or 75–74 in the event of his support for a vote of no confidence in the government. In April 2012, Labor's Craig Thomson moved to the crossbenches as an independent MP, and in May, WA National Tony Crook moved from the crossbenches to the Nationals, but did not join the Coalition. Changes brought the government to 71 seats, the Coalition 72 seats, and seven crossbenchers. On 9 October 2012, after an unsuccessful vote of no confidence in the speakership, Slipper resigned as Speaker and was replaced by Labor Deputy Speaker Anna Burke. Slipper remained an independent MP.



Senate seat numbers prior to the 2013 election

Government (31)
     Labor (31)

Coalition (34)

     Liberal (24)
     LNP (6)
     Nationals (3)
     CLP (1)

Crossbench (11)
     Greens (9)
     DLP (1)
     Ind. (1)

Before the election, the 76-seat Senate was made up of senators from the Coalition (34), Australian Labor Party (31), Australian Greens (9), Democratic Labour Party (1), and one independent senator, Nick Xenophon. The Greens held the sole balance of power. Previously the Greens had held a shared balance of power with the Family First Party and Xenophon.

Of the 76 Senate seats, 40 are contested. This corresponds to half of each state's allocation as well as both senators from the two major territories. Newly elected state senators commenced their terms on 1 July 2014 and the senators of the territories began their terms immediately after their elections.[42]

SA62211 (Ind., Xenophon)
NT 2 1 1
To be contested 40181831
Elected in 2010 36 13 16 6 1 (DLP)

Election period

On 30 January 2013, at a speech at the National Press Club, Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced the election would be held on Saturday 14 September 2013, although the Governor-General was not formally advised and no writ of election was issued.[43] Kevin Rudd succeeded Julia Gillard as Prime Minister on 27 June 2013.

The Broadcasting Services Act 1992 was checked by various commercial broadcasting media outlets and media councils as a result of Gillard's announcement.[44] The Act says, in part,

"Election period" means:
(a) in relation to any other election to a Parliament – the period that starts on:
– (i) the day on which the proposed polling day for the election is publicly announced; or
- (ii) the day on which the writs for the election are issued;
whichever happens first, and ends at the close of the poll on the polling day for the election;
Broadcasting Services Act 1992, Schedule 2, Section 1


b. (i) If, during an election period, a broadcaster broadcasts election matter, the broadcaster must give reasonable opportunities for the broadcasting of election matter to all political parties contesting the election, being parties which were represented in either House of the Parliament for which the election is to be held at the time of its last meeting before the election period.
Broadcasting Services Act 1992, Schedule 2, Section 3(2)

This is interpreted as "equal time, over time" rather than equal time in the same broadcast, and that this requirement began with the announcement on 30 January 2013.[44]

Retiring MPs and senators

The terms of Members of the House of Representatives who did not renominate ended at the dissolution of the parliament (5 August 2013).

The terms of Senators who did not renominate ended on 30 June 2014, unless they represented the Australian Capital Territory or the Northern Territory, in which case their term ended on the day before polling day (6 September 2013). That date also applies to territory senators who contest the election but are defeated.

Members and senators who chose not to renominate are as follows:






WA Nationals

Electoral events timeline


The incumbent Labor-led government argued for a need for a "safe pair of hands" to manage an economic shift from mining-oriented growth to something else; while the opposition said that it would prevent a recession that could be caused by a budget deficit. The Sydney Morning Herald suggested both arguments hedged on the mining boom going bust.[116] Rudd officially began the campaign season on 1 September in his hometown of Brisbane. At the rally, he promised tax breaks for small businesses and more work for local contractors on infrastructure projects. He said: "In this election, we are now engaged in the fight of our lives. It is a fight about the values that underpin Australia's future, a fight about our vision for Australia's future. It's a fight about how we go about building Australia's future, a future for the many, not just for the few." He also dismissed the opinion polls that showed him trailing to Abbott in gaining a parliamentary plurality.[117]

Opinion polls

Primary vote.
Aggregate of voting intention polls between the 2013 election and the previous election. A moving average is shown in a solid line.

Newspaper endorsements

National daily newspapers

Newspaper 2013 Endorsement Link 2010 endorsement Link
The Advertiser Coalition Labor
The Age Labor Labor
The Australian Coalition Coalition
The Australian Financial Review Coalition Coalition
The Canberra Times Coalition Labor
The Courier-Mail Coalition Coalition
The Daily Telegraph Coalition Coalition
The Guardian Australia Labor N/A
The Herald Sun Coalition Coalition
The Mercury Coalition Labor
Northern Territory News Coalition Labor
The Sydney Morning Herald Coalition Labor
The West Australian Coalition Coalition

National Sunday newspapers

Newspaper 2013 Endorsement 2010 endorsement Link
The Sunday Age Coalition Labor
The Weekend Australian Coalition Coalition
The Sunday Mail Coalition Coalition
The Sunday Telegraph Coalition Labor
The Sunday Herald Sun Coalition Labor

International press

Newspaper Endorsement Link
The Economist Labor

Result commentary

The Labor Party recorded its lowest two-party preferred vote since 1996 and lowest primary vote since 1931. Kevin Rudd announced his resignation as party leader and confirmed he would not run again in the subsequent leadership election.[118]

With Nova Peris's victory in the Senate election in the Northern Territory, she became the first Aboriginal woman to be elected to parliament.[119] WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange failed to be elected to the Senate after running in Victoria, with his Wikileaks Party garnering 0.62% of the popular vote.[120] Former Queensland premier Peter Beattie, standing in the Liberal-held seat of Forde, also failed to enter parliament.[121]

In an unprecedented outcome in Australian electoral history, the Senate result in Western Australia was declared void after the loss of over 1,300 ballot papers, necessitating a fresh election for the Senate in that state.[114][122]


The Coalition had campaigned on a tough stance on asylum seekers who came to Australia by boat (as had the Labor Party in the final weeks leading up to the election). Immediately after the election, Abbott reiterated his party's promise and announced that his new government would begin Operation Sovereign Borders – which would turn back any vessels carrying asylum seekers – as soon as possible. He also confirmed he would abolish the carbon price that was introduced by the Gillard Government,[123] as well as lower foreign aid by A$4.5 billion.[124]


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