New South Wales state election, 1988

New South Wales state election, 1988
New South Wales state election, 1988
New South Wales
1984 ←
19 March 1988 (1988-03-19)
→ 1991

All 109 seats in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly
and 21 (of the 42) seats in the New South Wales Legislative Council
  First party Second party
Replace this image male.svg
Replace this image male.svg
Leader Nick Greiner Barrie Unsworth
Party Liberal/National coalition Labor
Leader since 15 March 1983 4 July 1986
Leader's seat Ku-ring-gai Rockdale
Last election 37 seats 58 seats
Seats won 59 seats 43 seats
Seat change increase22 decrease15
Percentage 56.0% 44.0%
Swing increase8.4 decrease8.4

Premier before election

Barrie Unsworth

Elected Premier

Nick Greiner
Liberal/National coalition

Elections to the 49th Parliament of New South Wales were held on Saturday 19 March 1988. All seats in the Legislative Assembly and half the seats in the Legislative Council were up for election. The Labor government of Premier Barrie Unsworth was defeated by the Liberal-National Coalition, led by Opposition Leader Nick Greiner.

The election took place following a redistribution of seats, which resulted in the Assembly growing from 99 to 109 seats.



The Liberals' campaign slogan was "A change for the better."

The Australian Labor Party, under Neville Wran and, since 1986, Barrie Unsworth, had been in office for 12 years. A number of corruption scandals had tarnished Labor's image. Among these was the jailing of Labor's Minister for Corrective Services Rex Jackson in 1987 for accepting bribes for the early release of prisoners.

Greiner campaigned on a promise to clean up state government, foreshadowing the establishment of the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

In rural electorates, Labor's positions on gun laws and conservation alienated many voters. Health care was also a campaign issue.

Key dates

Date Event
22 February 1988 The Legislative Assembly was dissolved, and writs were issued by the Governor to proceed with an election.[1]
26 February 1988 Nominations for candidates for the election closed at noon.
19 March 1988 Polling day, between the hours of 8am and 6pm.
25 March 1988 The Unsworth Ministry resigned and the Greiner-Murray Ministry was sworn in.
22 April 1988 The writ was returned and the results formally declared.
27 April 1988 Parliament resumed for business.


The result was a landslide for the Coalition parties. Election analyst Antony Green later noted that "the 1988 result was startling, the worst Labor performance, and best Coalition result, since the Lang era of the 1930s." Labor lost heartland seats including Balmain, Newcastle and Swansea for the first time since the turn of the century.

Seven non-aligned Independents were elected to the Legislative Assembly.

See also

  • Candidates of the New South Wales state election, 1988


  1. ^ Parliament of New South Wales. "1988 Election". Retrieved 18 February 2010. 


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