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Australian federal election, 1984


Australian federal election, 1984

Australian federal election, 1984

1 December 1984 (1984-12-01)

All 148 seats in the Australian House of Representatives
75 seats were needed for a majority in the House
46 (of the 76) seats in the Australian Senate
  First party Second party
Leader Bob Hawke Andrew Peacock
Party Labor Liberal/National coalition
Leader since 3 February 1983 (1983-02-03) 11 March 1983 (1983-03-11)
Leader's seat Wills Kooyong
Last election 75 seats 50 seats
Seats won 82 seats 66 seats
Seat change Increase7 Increase16
Percentage 51.77% 48.23%
Swing Decrease1.46 Increase1.46

Prime Minister before election

Bob Hawke

Elected Prime Minister

Bob Hawke

Federal elections were held in Australia on 1 December 1984. All 148 seats in the House of Representatives (24 of them newly created), and 46 of 76 seats in the Senate (12 of them newly created), were up for election. The incumbent Australian Labor Party led by Prime Minister Bob Hawke, defeated the opposition Liberal Party of Australia led by Andrew Peacock with coalition partner the National Party of Australia led by Ian Sinclair.

The election was held in conjunction with two referendum questions, neither of which was carried.


  • Results 1
    • Seats changing hands 1.1
  • Background and issues 2
  • See also 3
  • Notes 4
  • References 5


House of Reps (IRV) — 1984–87 – Turnout 94.19% (CV) — Informal 6.78%
  Party Votes % Swing Seats Change
  Australian Labor Party 4,120,130 47.55 −1.93 82 +7
  Liberal Party of Australia 2,951,556 34.06 −0.06 45 +12
  National Party of Australia 921,151 10.63 +1.42 21 +4
  Australian Democrats 472,204 5.45 +0.41 0 0
  Country Liberal Party 27,335 0.32 +0.08 0 0
  Other 172,576 1.99 +0.07 0 0
  Total 8,664,952     148 +23
  Australian Labor Party WIN 51.77 −1.46 82 +7
  Liberal/National coalition   48.23 +1.46 66 +16
Senate (STV GV) — 1984–87 – Turnout 94.55% (CV) — Informal 4.68%
  Party Votes % Swing Seats Won Seats Held Change
  Australian Labor Party 3,750,789 42.17 −3.32 20 34 +4
  Liberal Party of Australia 1,831,006 20.59 +8.58 14 27 +4
  Liberal/National (Joint Ticket) 1,130,601 12.71 −11.49 3  
  Australian Democrats 677,970 7.62 −2.32 5 7 +2
  Nuclear Disarmament Party 643,061 7.23 * 1 1 +1
  National Party of Australia 527,278 5.93 +0.87 2 5 +1
  Call to Australia Party 162,272 1.82 −0.04 0 0 0
  Country Liberal Party 27,972 0.31 +0.04 1 1 0
  Harradine Group 22,992 0.26 −0.32 0 1 0
  Other 120,159 1.35 −1.37 0 0 0
  Total 8,894,100     46 76 +12

Seats changing hands

Seat Pre-1984 Swing Post-1984
Party Member Margin Margin Member Party
Farrer, NSW   Liberal Wal Fife N/A N/A 13.0 Tim Fischer National  
Flinders, Vic   Labor Bob Chynoweth 1.0 1.5 1.2 Peter Reith Liberal  
Forde, Qld   Labor notional – new seat 2.7 2.7 0.0 David Watson Liberal  
Gilmore, NSW   Labor notional – new seat 0.5 1.7 1.2 John Sharp National  
Hinkler, Qld   Labor notional – new seat 0.6 0.8 0.2 Bryan Conquest National  
Hume, NSW   National Stephen Lusher N/A N/A 7.7 Wal Fife Liberal  
Macquarie, NSW   Labor Ross Free 0.5 1.9 1.4 Alasdair Webster Liberal  
Northern Territory, NT   Labor John Reeves 1.9 3.3 1.4 Paul Everingham Country Liberal  
Petrie, Qld   Labor Dean Wells 0.5 2.1 0.6 John Hodges Liberal  
Riverina-Darling, NSW   Labor notional – new seat 1.3 5.9 4.6 Noel Hicks National  
  • Members in italics did not contest their seat at this election.

Background and issues

The election had a long ten-week campaign and a high rate of informal voting for the House of Representatives, but decreased rate in the Senate (due to the introduction of the Group voting ticket). The election was held 18 months ahead of time, partly to bring the elections for the House of Representatives and Senate back into line following the double dissolution election of 1983.

The legislated increase in the size of the House of Representatives by 24 seats and the Senate by 12 seats came into effect at the 1984 election. Prior to 1984 the electoral commission did not undertake a full distribution of preferences for statistical purposes. The stored ballot papers for the previous election were put through this process prior to their destruction – therefore the figures from 1983 onwards show the actual result based on full distribution of preferences.

The results of the election surprised most analysts; the expectation had been that Bob Hawke – who had been polling a record ACNielsen approval rating of 75 percent[1] on the eve of the election – would win by a significantly larger margin. Labor instead suffered a 2-point swing against it and had its majority cut from 25 to 16. Hawke blamed the result on the changes to Senate vote cards, which he believed confused people regarding their House of Representatives votes and contributed to the relatively high informal vote, the majority of which apparently was Labor votes.[2] Andrew Peacock did well from a good performance in the one leaders' debate, held on 26 November 1984.[3] This was the first televised leaders' debate in Australia.[4]

See also


  1. ^ "The biggest hammering in history". Sydney Morning Herald. 20 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-20. 
  2. ^   "Attracted to the simplicity of the Senate ballot, a number of voters thought they could mark their Lower House ballot in exactly the same way. Unfortunately for both them and us the informal vote for the House of Representatives swelled from 2 per cent to nearly 7 per cent. On the best surmise the bulk of the informals were Labor votes."
  3. ^ Fraser, Bryce (1998). The Macquarie Reference Series: Government in Australia. Sydney: The Macquarie Library Pty Ltd. p. 44.  
  4. ^


  • University of WA election results in Australia since 1890
  • AEC 2PP vote
  • election details
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