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1977 Australian federal election

1977 Australian federal election

← 1975 10 December 1977 1980 →

All 124 seats of the House of Representatives
63 seats were needed for a majority in the House
34 (of the 64) seats of the Senate
Registered8,548,779 Increase 3.47%
Turnout8,127,762 (95.08%)
(Decrease0.31 pp)
  First party Second party
Leader Malcolm Fraser Gough Whitlam
Party Liberal/NCP coalition Labor
Leader since 21 March 1975 8 February 1967
Leader's seat Wannon (Vic.) Werriwa (NSW)
Last election 91 seats 36 seats
Seats won 86 seats 38 seats
Seat change Decrease 5 Increase 2
Popular vote 3,811,340 3,141,051
Percentage 48.11% 39.65%
Swing Decrease 4.95 Decrease 3.20
TPP 54.60% 45.40%
TPP swing Decrease1.10 Increase1.10

Results by division for the House of Representatives, shaded by winning party's margin of victory.

Prime Minister before election

Malcolm Fraser
Liberal/NCP coalition

Subsequent Prime Minister

Malcolm Fraser
Liberal/NCP coalition

The 1977 Australian federal election was 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-National Country Coalition led by Malcolm Fraser, in government since 1975, was elected to a second term over the opposition Labor Party led by Gough Whitlam. While the Coalition suffered a five-seat swing, it still had a substantial 48-seat majority in the House. The Liberals retained an outright majority, with 67 seats. Although Fraser thus had no need for the support of the National Country Party, the Coalition was retained.

Whitlam became the first and only person to contest four federal elections as Leader of the Opposition. He was unable to recover much of the ground Labor had lost in its severe defeat two years prior, and resigned as leader shortly after the election.

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".[1] The tax cuts were never delivered; instead a "temporary surcharge" was imposed in 1978.[citation needed] The election coincided with the retirement of the Governor-General, Sir John Kerr.[citation needed] 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.[2]

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 July 1978, since the double dissolution election of 1975 had resulted in the terms of senators being backdated to 1 July 1975, as per Section 13 of the Constitution of Australia.


House of Representatives results

Government (86)
  Liberal (67)
  NCP (18)
  CLP (1)

Opposition (38)
  Labor (38)
House of Reps (IRV) — 1977–80—Turnout 95.08% (CV) — Informal 2.52%
Party Votes % Swing Seats Change
  Liberal–NCP coalition 3,811,340 48.11 –4.95 86 –5
  Liberal 3,017,896 38.09 −3.71 67 −1
  National Country  776,982 9.81 −1.44 18 −4
  Country Liberal  16,462 0.21 +0.00 1 0
  Labor 3,141,051 39.65 −3.20 38 +2
  Democrats 743,365 9.38 +9.38 0 0
  Democratic Labor 113,271 1.43 +0.11 0 0
  Progress 47,567 0.60 –0.18 0 0
  Communist 14,098 0.18 +0.06 0 0
  Socialist 1,895 0.02 +0.02 0 0
  Independents 50,267 0.63 –0.19 0 0
  Total 7,922,854     124 −3
Two-party-preferred (estimated)
  Liberal–NCP coalition Win 54.60 −1.10 86 –5
  Labor   45.40 +1.10 38 +2
Popular vote
Two-party-preferred vote
Parliament seats

Senate results

Government (34)
  Liberal (27)
  National (6)
  CLP (1)

Opposition (27)
  Labor (27)

Crossbench (3)
  Democrats (2)
  Independent (1)
Senate (STV) — 1977–80—Turnout 95.08% (CV) — Informal 9.00%
Party Votes % Swing Seats won Seats held Change
  Liberal–NCP coalition (total) 3,369,843 45.56 –5.18 18 34 –1
  Liberal–NCP joint ticket 2,533,882 34.26 −5.60 7 * *
  Liberal 783,878 10.60 −0.48 10 27 +1
  National Country  36,619 0.50 −0.04 0 6 –2
  Country Liberal 15,463 0.21 −0.01 1 1 0
  Labor 2,718,876 36.76 −4.15 14 27 0
  Democrats 823,550 11.13 +11.13 2 2 +2
  Democratic Labor 123,192 1.67 –1.00 0 0 0
  Progress 88,203 1.19 +0.32 0 0 0
  Call to Australia 49,395 1.12 +1.12 0 0 0
  Marijuana 44,276 0.60 +0.60 0 0 0
  Socialist 42,740 0.58 +0.57 0 0 0
  Australia 8,283 0.11 –0.37 0 0 0
  Independents 127,850 1.73 +0.13 0 1 0
  Total 7,396,207     34 64

Seats changing hands

Seat 1975 Notional
margin [a]
Swing 1977
Party Member Margin Margin Member Party
Angas, SA   Liberal Geoffrey Giles 21.5 District abolished
Capricornia, Qld   National Country Colin Carige 0.1 1.5 +2.7 1.2 Doug Everingham Labor  
Darling, NSW   Labor John FitzPatrick 7.5 District abolished
Dundas, NSW New district 10.0 +0.1 10.1 Philip Ruddock Liberal  
Evans, NSW   Liberal John Abel 2.0 District abolished
Fadden, Qld New district 12.5 –6.5 6.0 Don Cameron Liberal  
Grey, SA   Labor Laurie Wallis 0.5 –2.9 [b] +2.9 0.0 Laurie Wallis Labor  
Griffith, Qld   Liberal Don Cameron 8.0 1.5 +5.0 3.5 Ben Humphreys Labor  
Hawker, SA   Labor Ralph Jacobi 1.0 –1.4 [b] +2.0 0.6 Ralph Jacobi Labor  
Indi, Vic   National Country Mac Holten 17.2 [c] N/A N/A 5.1 Ewen Cameron Liberal  
Lang, NSW   Labor Frank Stewart 7.4 District abolished
Parramatta, NSW   Liberal Philip Ruddock 9.2 –2.5 [d] +3.6 6.1 John Brown Labor  
Riverina, NSW   National Country John Sullivan 11.8 –2.4 [d] –2.3 0.1 John FitzPatrick Labor  
Robertson, NSW   Labor Barry Cohen 1.0 –0.7 [b] +3.0 2.3 Barry Cohen Labor  
Swan, WA   Liberal John Martyr 2.1 –0.5 [d] +1.0 0.5 John Martyr Liberal  
Wimmera, Vic   National Country Robert King 14.2 District abolished
  • Members listed in italics did not contest their seat at this election.


This election marks the effective parliamentary debut of the Australian Democrats. The former Liberal minister Don Chipp had resigned his seat to leave politics but was soon invited to lead the new party and decided to run as a senator for Victoria. The party's Janine Haines had briefly inherited a South Australian Senate seat when Liberal Movement senator Steele Hall had resigned to contest a lower-house seat. Haines was, however, not preselected to recontest the seat. Don Chipp was elected in Victoria and Colin Mason in New South Wales (Haines returned to the Senate at the following election.)

The second Fraser Government had the second-largest parliamentary majority in Australian history (at the time) after the majority it won in the 1975 election. Gough Whitlam resigned as the leader of the ALP in 1978, and was replaced by Bill Hayden.

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


  1. ^ For seats that were affected by the redistribution the Australian Electoral Commission calculated "notional" margins for the redistributed divisions by modelling the outcome of the previous election as if the new boundaries had been in place.[3]
  2. ^ a b c Had become a notional Liberal seat as a result of the redistribution.
  3. ^ Margin is over Labor.
  4. ^ a b c Had become a notional Labor seat as a result of the redistribution.


  1. ^ "Malcolm Fraser". Archived from the original on 14 February 2024. Retrieved 14 February 2024 – via Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House. The Australian people will not accept a return to high taxes. The Government will bring taxes down further - not increase them.
  2. ^ Hocking, Jenny (26 October 2020). "John Kerr's letters to the Queen's private secretary: 'A raw display of devastation'". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 14 February 2024. Retrieved 14 February 2024. By 1977, Kerr's behaviour at public events was also becoming a liability. That was the year he landed face-down in the mud at the Tamworth Show as he attempted to place the winning medallion around the prized cow "Lovedale Posh", all of it captured by a waiting photographer. The front-page images of the governor general pinioned under the cow's hoof won a Walkley award. There was a memorable repeat performance at the Melbourne Cup later that year when Kerr, in an ill-fitting top hat and tails, struggled to remain upright as he awarded the cup to the owners of the winning horse. It was a sad sight of a public decline (now a much-watched YouTube clip called, "the Governor-General drunk at the Melbourne Cup").
  3. ^ "National seat status". Australian Electoral Commission. Retrieved 13 May 2019.
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1977 Australian federal election
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