Australian federal election, 1996

Australian federal election, 1996

Independents: Mal Colston (resigned from ALP in August 1996)

House of Reps preference flows

* The Democrats contested 138 electorates with preferences slightly favouring Labor (54.02%)
* The Greens contested 102 electorates with preferences favouring Labor (67.10%)

eats changing hands

* *Figure is Liberal against Nationals.
* **Figure is a swing compared to Liberal vote at the last election.

Overall the coalition won 29 seats from Labor while the ALP won 3 seats from the Liberals. These 3 seats where Canberra and Namadgi in the ACT and Isaacs in Victoria. The ACT seats fell to Labor due to a strong return to the ALP in a traditional Labor town by public servants fearing conservative cuts. The division of Brendan Smyth's seat of Canberra into the two new (of the three) ACT seats limited his campaign to the southernmost Tuggeranong seat of Namadgi where a lean and hungry ACT Labor right wing stood a not so lean but still very hungry Annette Ellis who ran a tight grassroots campaign. Isaacs fell to Labor due to demographic changes due to a redistribution of electoral boundaries.

Labor's primary vote was the lowest recorded by the ALP since 1934 (an additional eight percent coming from preferences). The Liberal Party leader, John Howard, had resumed the leadership of his party in January 1995, following a disastrous 8 months under the leadership of Alexander Downer. Downer and Peter Costello had succeeded Dr. John Hewson early in 1994 and were touted as the leaders of the new-generation Liberals. In the end, the party opted for the seasoned Howard, perhaps an acknowledgment that he was the only one left standing after a decade of party infighting.

Howard approached the campaign with a determination to present as small a target as possible. Throughout 1995, he refused to detail specific policy proposals. By 1996, however, it was clear that the electorate had tired of the Labor government and Paul Keating in particular. "The recession we had to have" line resonated with deadly force throughout the electorate. Although Keating's big picture approach to republicanism, reconciliation and engagement with Asia galvanized support within Labor's urban constituencies, Howard was able to attract support amongst disaffected mainstream Australians - including traditionally Labor-voting blue collar workers and middle class suburban residents.


* [ Australian Electoral Commission Results]
* [ University of WA] election results in Australia since 1890
* [ AEC 2PP vote]
* [ election details]
* [ Preference flows - ABC]

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