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1989 Australian Capital Territory general election

1989 Australian Capital Territory general election

← 1982 (House) 4 March 1989 (1989-03-04) 1992 →

All 17 seats of the unicameral Legislative Assembly
9 seats needed for a majority
  First party Second party Third party
Leader Rosemary Follett Trevor Kaine Craig Duby
Party Labor Liberal No Self Govt
Leader since 4 March 1989 4 March 1989 1989
Seats won 5 4 3
Seat change Increase 5 Increase 4 Increase 3
Popular vote 32,370 21,088 13,647
Percentage 22.8% 14.9% 11.5%

  Fourth party Fifth party
Leader Bernard Collaery Dennis Stevenson
Party Residents Rally Abolish Self Govt
Leader since 1989 1989
Seats won 4 1
Seat change Increase 4 Increase 1
Popular vote 16,274 10,641
Percentage 9.6% 7.5%

Resulting Chief Minister

Rosemary Follett

The 1989 Australian Capital Territory general election was held on 4 March 1989 to elect the 1st Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly. This was the first direct election by voters in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) for their power legislative body.

The Labor Party, led by Rosemary Follett, and the Liberal Party, led by Trevor Kaine, were the main challengers. Candidates were elected to fill seats using modified d'Hondt electoral system[1] for a multi-member single (at-large) constituency.

The result was a hung parliament. However, Labor, with the largest representation in the 17-member unicameral Assembly, formed Government with the support of various non-aligned minor parties. Follett was elected the first Chief Minister at the first sitting of the first Assembly on 11 May 1989.[2]

Key dates

  • Party Register opened for Parliamentary Parties: 7 December 1988
  • Party Register opened for non-Parliamentary Parties: 6 January 1989
  • Party Register closed: 26 January 1989
  • Pre-election period commenced/nominations opened: 27 January 1989
  • Rolls closed: 3 February 1989
  • Nominations closed: 10 February 1989
  • Polling day: 4 March 1989
  • Poll declared: 8 May 1989
  • Legislative Assembly formed: 11 May 1989[3]


Background to self-government in the ACT

The Australian Capital Territory was established in 1911, initially called the Federal Capital Territory. The Territory was carved out of the state of New South Wales to make way for the site of the capital of Australia. As the Territory grew, particularly the city of Canberra from the 1960s, there were increasing calls for some form of self-government.[4] There were a number of appointed and elected advisory bodies between 1920 and 1986. The main elected representative body of the ACT was the Australian Capital Territory House of Assembly that sat from 1975 to 1986. This House served primarily as an advisory body, with most legislative powers managed by the Federal Minister for the Territories, under section 122 of the Australian Constitution.[5] In an advisory referendum held in 1978, voters in the ACT rejected a proposal for self-government, with 63% voting in favour of the proposition that the 'present arrangements for governing the Australian capital should continue for the time being'. Thirty percent of voters favoured self-government with a locally elected body with state-like powers, and 6% voted for a locally elected body with powers and functions similar to those of local government.[6][7] In spite of the referendum outcome, in 1983, the federal Labor government of Prime Minister Bob Hawke set up a Self-Government Task Force to report on the government of the ACT.[8] Further, it wanted to force the ACT into line with the states on funding levels[7] and, in late 1988, the Australian Government passed the Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Act, allowing for the self-government of the ACT.

Political parties and election process

The Australian Capital Territory comprised one electorate for the election. However, electors were only able to cast ordinary votes within their own federal electoral seats of either Canberra or Fraser. The election was conducted by the Australian Electoral Commission, operating under Commonwealth legislation.[3] The election was notable for having a ballot paper almost one-metre wide that listed 117 candidates for election representing 22 political parties. A number of parties ran in opposition to self-government and there was a number of people taking full advantage of some of the more ludicrous or ridiculous aspects of the ballot paper.[9] The parties include the "Sun-Ripened Warm Tomato Party", "Party! Party! Party!" and "Surprise Party".[10]

The centre-left Labor Party, led by Rosemary Follett, and the centre-right Liberal Party, led by Trevor Kaine, were the main challengers. Three minor parties also played a prominent role in the campaign including Residents Rally, a self described "community-based urban green party",[11] led by Bernard Collaery, as well as two parties campaigning on platforms of opposing self-government.[9]


1989 Australian Capital Territory general election: Legislative Assembly
Party Votes % Swing Seats Change
  Labor 32,370 22.8 N/A 5 Increase 5
  Liberal 21,088 14.9 N/A 4 Increase 4
  Ungrouped independents 16,351 11.5 N/A 0 Steady
  No Self Government 16,274 11.5 N/A 3 Increase 3
  Residents Rally 13,647 9.6 N/A 4 Increase 4
  Abolish Self Government 10,641 7.5 N/A 1 Increase 1
  Fair Elections Coalition 7,765 7.5 N/A 0 Steady
  The A.C.T. Community Party 5,777 4.1 N/A 0 Steady
  Canberra First 4,918 3.5 N/A 0 Steady
  Family Movement 3,885 2.7 N/A 0 Steady
  Democrats 2,350 1.7 N/A 0 Steady
  National 1,947 1.4 N/A 0 Steady
  Sun Ripened Warm Tomato 1,666 1.2 N/A 0 Steady
  Party! Party! Party! 979 0.7 N/A 0 Steady
  Christian Alternative 846 0.6 N/A 0 Steady
  Socialist Workers 713 0.5 N/A 0 Steady
  Sleepers Wake 173 0.1 N/A 0 Steady
  Surprise Party 166 0.1 N/A 0 Steady
  Disabled & Redeployed Workers 163 0.1 N/A 0 Steady
  A Better Idea 80 0.1 N/A 0 Steady
  Home Rule OK 62 0.0 N/A 0 Steady
 Formal votes 141,861 94.3
 Informal votes 8,560 5.7
 Total 150,421 17
 Registered voters / turnout 169,493 88.8


It took almost two months after election day to determine the results of the election.[12] Four people won seats on ostensible platforms of abolishing self-government. The result was a hung parliament. First preference results of the major contenders at conclusion of the final count were: Labor Party – 22.8 per cent, Liberal – 14.9 per cent, No Self Government Party – 11.5 per cent, Residents Rally – 9.6 per cent, and Abolish Self-Government Coalition – 7.5 per cent.[13] Other candidates and parties that polled well, but failed to achieve a quota included Fair Elections Coalition (5.5%), John Haslem (4.8%), The A.C.T. Community Party (4.1%), and Bill Mackay (4.0%).

Following distribution of preferences, the membership of the first Assembly was one member from the Abolish Self-Government Coalition; five members from the Australian Labor Party; four members from the Liberal Party; three members from the No Self Government Party and four members from the Residents Rally.[14] Labor, with the largest representation in the 17-member unicameral Assembly, formed a minority Government. Follett was elected the first Chief Minister at the first sitting of the first Assembly on 11 May 1989,[2] sitting in rented premises at 1 Constitution Avenue, Canberra City. The final sitting of the first Assembly was on 17 December 1991.


The office holders of the first Assembly[2] were:


At the inaugural election, candidates were elected to fill seats using a modified D'Hondt method for a multi-member single constituency covering the entire Territory. Seventeen vacancies were available to fill the unicameral ACT Legislative Assembly. Tickets that elected at least one MLA are highlighted in the relevant colour. Successful candidates are indicated by an asterisk (*).[15]

Abolished ACT House of Assembly candidates

With the ACT House of Assembly abolished in 1986, the following elected representatives from the previous House nominated as candidates for election to the inaugural ACT Legislative Assembly:





Family Team

All candidates and parties seeking election

Labor candidates Liberal candidates NSG candidates Residents Rally candidates ASGC candidates
  1. Rosemary Follett*
  2. Paul Whalan*
  3. Wayne Berry*
  4. Ellnor Grassby*
  5. Bill Wood*
  6. Di Ford
  7. Kevin Gill
  8. Anna Robieson
  9. Martin Attridge
  10. Peta Beelen
  11. Barry Reid
  1. Gary Humphries*
  2. Trevor Kaine*
  3. Robyn Nolan*
  4. Bill Stefaniak*
  5. Greg Cornwell
  6. Lyle Dunne
  7. Peter Kobold
  8. Judith Dowson
  9. Peter Jansen
  10. Bob Winnel
  1. Craig Duby*
  2. Carmel Maher*
  3. David Prowse*
  4. John Taylor
  5. Norman Henry
  6. Peter Alabaster
  7. John Cunningham
  8. Chris Elworthy
  9. Elma Lindh
  10. Nev Aurousseau
  11. John Cantlon
  12. Ken Durie
  13. Bob Smythe
  14. Lindsay Sales
  15. Philippa Meredith
  16. Jack Wright
  17. Yvonne Hammond
  1. Bernard Collaery*
  2. Norm Jensen*
  3. Michael Moore*
  4. Hector Kinloch*
  5. Joan Kellett
  6. Chris Donohue
  7. Marion Le
  8. Kelvin Giles
  9. Catherine Rossiter
  1. Dennis Stevenson*
  2. Flo Grant
  3. Gladys Dickson
  4. Chris Tazreiter
  5. Nerolie Bush
  6. Geoff Doepel
  7. Trish Orton
  8. Gail Aiken
  9. Mike Trevethan
  10. Reg Hayward
  11. Colin Beaton
  12. John Hesketh
Democrats candidates Nationals candidates Family Team candidates FEC candidates Canberra First candidates
  1. Arminel Ryan
  2. Bill Mason
  3. Heather Jeffcoat
  1. David Adams
  2. Michael Mullins
  3. Bruce MacKinnon
  1. Bev Cains
  2. Dawn Casley-Smith
  3. Ron Gane
  4. Bill Fearon
  5. Dennis Meagher
  6. Drewe Just
  1. Tony Fleming
  2. Alan Runciman
  3. Sarah Kirschbaum
  4. Gordon McAllister
  5. Gus Petersilka
  6. Julie McCarron-Benson
  1. Allan Nelson
  2. Beryl Byrnes
  3. John McMahon
  4. Jeff Brown
  5. Michael Apps
  6. Barry Brogan
  7. Jennie Booth
  8. Arthur Hetherington
  9. Elisabeth Apps
  10. Mike McColl
  11. Matt Campbell
  12. Garry Behan
Haslem candidates Party! Party! Party! candidates SWP candidate DRWP candidates Home Rule OK candidate
  1. John Haslem
  2. Caryl Haslem
  1. Amanda Call
  2. Shane McMillan
  1. Kristian Whittaker
  1. Peter Burrows
  2. Derek Robinson
  1. Tony Boye
A Better Idea candidate Christian Alt. candidates Sleepers Wake candidate Community candidates Tomato candidates
  1. Mick Scurfield
  1. Nathan Stirling
  2. Bernadette Ibell
  1. John Bellamy
  1. Ken Fry
  2. Domenic Mico
  3. Lorne Doyle
  1. Emile Brunoro
  2. Rick Kenny
Spagnolo candidate Surprise Party candidate Ungrouped candidates
  1. Tony Spagnolo
  1. C J Burns

Frank Crnkovic (Ind)
Bill Mackey (Ind)
Bob Reid (Ind)
Kevin Robert Wise (Ind)
Gary James Pead (Ind)
Bill Pye (Ind)
John Rocke (Ind)
Harold Hird (Ind)
Lyall L Gillespie (Ind)

See also


  1. ^ Australian Capital Territory Electoral Commission, Modified d'Hondt Electoral System
  2. ^ a b c "Legislative Assembly for the ACT – Week 1" (PDF). ACT Hansard. ACT Legislative Assembly. 11 May 1989. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 March 2019. Retrieved 8 August 2010.
  3. ^ a b "Election timetable". ACT Legislative Assembly election – 1989. ACT Electoral Commission. 1989. Retrieved 3 August 2012.
  4. ^ "A brief history of self-government in the ACT". Education – fact sheets. ACT Legislative Assembly. 2010. Archived from the original on 25 March 2014. Retrieved 3 September 2010.
  5. ^ "Self-Government – Setting the Scene". Education – fact sheets. ACT Legislative Assembly. 2010. Archived from the original on 25 March 2014. Retrieved 3 September 2010.
  6. ^ "Australian Capital Territory – Parliaments". Civics and Citizenship Education. Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. 2009. Retrieved 3 September 2010.
  7. ^ a b "Canberra 1983–1993 – 8th decade". The history of Canberra. Hull, Crispin. 2010. Retrieved 3 September 2010.
  8. ^ "Australian Capital Territory". Documenting a Democracy. National Archives of Australia. Archived from the original on 16 July 2005. Retrieved 3 September 2010.
  9. ^ a b "20 Years of Self Government". Stateline. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 8 May 2009. Archived from the original on 11 November 2012. Retrieved 14 August 2010.
  10. ^ "Election compendium" (PDF). ACT Electoral Commission. 2004. Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 February 2011. Retrieved 3 September 2010.
  11. ^ Collaery, Bernard (1991). "Community policing – an ACT perspective". Australian Institute of Criminology. Retrieved 3 September 2010.
  12. ^ "04 May 1989 – The Canberra Times – p1". Retrieved 18 October 2015.
  13. ^ "First Preference Results". 1989 Election. ACT Electoral Commission. 1989. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  14. ^ "List of elected candidates". 1989 Election. ACT Electoral Commission. 1989. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  15. ^ "List of candidates". 1989 Election. ACT Electoral Commission. 1989. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
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1989 Australian Capital Territory general election
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