Jump to content

1954 Australian federal election

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

1954 Australian federal election

← 1951 29 May 1954 1955 →

All 123[b] seats of the House of Representatives
61 seats were needed for a majority
Registered5,096,468 Increase 2.70%
Turnout4,619,571 (96.09%)[a]
(Increase0.09 pp)
  First party Second party
Leader Robert Menzies H. V. Evatt
Party Liberal (Coalition) Labor
Leader since 21 February 1945 13 June 1951
Leader's seat Kooyong (Vic.) Barton (NSW)
Last election 69 seats 52 seats
Seats won 64 57 + NT + ACT
Seat change Decrease5 Increase5
Popular vote 2,117,669 2,256,164
Percentage 47.57% 50.07%
Swing Decrease2.77 Increase2.44
TPP 49.30% 50.70%
TPP swing Decrease1.40 Increase1.40

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

Prime Minister before election

Robert Menzies
Liberal/Country coalition

Subsequent Prime Minister

Robert Menzies
Liberal/Country coalition

The 1954 Australian federal election were held in Australia on 29 May 1954. All 121 seats in the House of Representatives were up for election, but no Senate election took place. The incumbent Liberal–Country coalition led by Prime Minister Robert Menzies defeated the opposition Labor Party led by H. V. Evatt, despite losing the two-party preferred vote. Although the ALP won the two-party preferred vote, six Coalition seats were uncontested compared to one ALP seat. The Psephos blog makes clear that if all seats had been contested, the Coalition would have recorded a higher primary vote than the ALP and possibly also a higher two-party preferred vote.[1]

This was the first federal election that future Prime Minister Gough Whitlam contested as a member of parliament, having entered parliament at the 1952 Werriwa by-election.

Though they did not win government, this election was the last time that the Labor party would achieve more than 50% of the primary vote. The only other time this happened was in 1914.

This was the first federal election to be held under the reign of Elizabeth II as Queen of Australia just two years after she succeeded her father.


The election was complicated by the Petrov Affair, in which Vladimir Petrov, an attache to the Soviet embassy in Canberra, defected amidst a storm of publicity, claiming that there were Soviet spy rings within Australia. Given that the 1951 election had been fought over the issue of banning the Communist Party of Australia altogether, it is unsurprising that such a claim would gain credibility.[citation needed]


  Labor: 57 seats
  Liberal: 47 seats
  Country: 17 seats
House of Reps (IRV) — 1954–55—Turnout 96.09% (CV) — Informal 1.35%
Party Votes % Swing Seats Change
  Labor 2,266,979 50.07 +2.44 59[c] +5
  Liberal–Country coalition 2,153,970 47.57 –2.77 64 –5
  Liberal  1,765,799 39.00 –1.62 47 –5
  Country  388,171 8.57 –1.15 17 0
  Communist 56,675 1.25 +0.27 0 0
  Independents 50,027 1.11 +0.06 0 0
  Total 4,527,651     121
Two-party-preferred (estimated)
  Liberal–Country coalition Win 49.30 −1.40 64 −5
  Labor 50.70 +1.40 59 +5

Popular vote
Two-party-preferred vote
Parliament seats

Seats changing hands[edit]

Seat Pre-1954 Swing Post-1954
Party Member Margin Margin Member Party
Bass, Tas   Liberal Bruce Kekwick 3.4 4.4 1.0 Lance Barnard Labor  
Flinders, Vic   Labor Keith Ewert 5.1 4.3 1.6 Robert Lindsay Liberal  
Griffith, Qld   Liberal Doug Berry 3.7 4.1 0.4 Wilfred Coutts Labor  
St George, NSW   Liberal Bill Graham 1.6 4.3 2.7 Nelson Lemmon Labor  
Sturt, SA   Liberal Keith Wilson 2.4 5.4 3.0 Norman Makin Labor  
Swan, WA   Liberal Bill Grayden 3.3 4.9 1.6 Harry Webb Labor  


The third session of the 20th Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia was officially opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia. This was the first time a reigning monarch had opened a session of parliament in Australia. The Queen wore her Coronation Dress to open the 20th session of parliament. The success of the 1954 Royal Tour of Australia (the first by a reigning sovereign), the recovery of the economy from a brief recession in 1951-52 and the Petrov Affair were all credited with assisting in the return of the government.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Turnout in contested seats
  2. ^ The Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory each had one seat, but members for the territories did not have full voting rights until 1966 and did not count toward government formation.
  3. ^ Including Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory


  1. ^ Carr, Adam. "Legislative election of 29 May 1954: House of Representatives". Psephos. Retrieved 10 December 2020.
  • University of WA Archived 18 January 2015 at the Wayback Machine election results in Australia since 1890
  • AEC 2PP vote
  • Prior to 1984 the AEC did not undertake a full distribution of preferences for statistical purposes. The stored ballot papers for the 1983 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.