1993 Australian federal election

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1993 Australian federal election

← 1990 13 March 1993 (1993-03-13)[a] 1996 →

All 147 seats in the House of Representatives
74 seats were needed for a majority in the House
40 (of the 76) seats in the Senate
Registered11,384,638 Increase 6.12%
Turnout10,900,861 (95.75%)
(Increase0.44 pp)
  First party Second party
Leader Paul Keating John Hewson
Party Labor Liberal/National coalition
Leader since 19 December 1991 (1991-12-19) 3 April 1990 (1990-04-03)
Leader's seat Blaxland (NSW) Wentworth (NSW)
Last election 78 seats 69 seats
Seats won 80 seats 65 seats
Seat change Increase 2 Decrease 4
First preference vote 4,751,390 4,681,822
Percentage 44.92% 44.27%
Swing Increase 5.49% Increase 0.81%
TPP 51.44% 48.56%
TPP swing Increase 1.54% Decrease 1.54%

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

Prime Minister before election

Paul Keating

Subsequent Prime Minister

Paul Keating

The 1993 Australian federal election was held to determine the members of the 37th Parliament of Australia. It was held on 13 March 1993. All 147 seats of the Australian House of Representatives and 40 seats of the 76-seat Australian Senate were up for election. The incumbent government of the centre-left Australian Labor Party led by Paul Keating, the Prime Minister of Australia, was re-elected to a fifth term, defeating the centre-right Liberal/National Coalition led by Opposition Leader John Hewson of the Liberal Party of Australia, and coalition partner Tim Fischer of the National Party of Australia. This was the first, and to date only, time the Labor Party won a fifth consecutive election.

The result was considered an upset, as opinion polls had predicted a Coalition win. In his victory speech, Keating would famously describe the result as "the sweetest victory of all". The Coalition's loss was attributed to the unpopularity of Hewson and his economic policy, popularly known as Fightback!, with the set piece being the majorly divisive Goods and Services Tax (GST).

This would be the last time that the Labor Party won a majority at the federal level until the 2007 election as the next four elections would produce Coalition victories. It also remains the only time that the Liberal Party was led by a leader who previously had no experience as a minister.


The Gallagher Index result: 8.46

This was the first election after the end of the late 80s/early 90s recession. The opposition Liberal Party was led by John Hewson, a former professor of economics at the University of New South Wales who succeeded Liberal leader Andrew Peacock in 1990.

In November 1991 the Liberal Party launched the 650-page Fightback! policy document − a radical collection of "dry", economic liberal measures including:

All of this presented a vision of a very different future direction to the Keynesian economic conservatism practiced by previous Liberal/National Coalition governments. The 15 percent GST was the centrepiece of the policy document.

Following the December 1991 Labor leadership spill, where former Treasurer Paul Keating ousted Bob Hawke as Prime Minister, Keating mounted a campaign against the Fightback package, and particularly against the GST throughout 1992. Keating described the GST as an attack on the working class in that it shifted the tax burden from direct taxation of the wealthy to indirect taxation as a broad-based consumption tax. Pressure group activity, public opinion and Keating himself were highly critical of the GST who relentlessly led Hewson to exempt food from the proposed GST. However the exclusions announced by Hewson led to questions surrounding the complexity of what precisely which food items would and would not be exempt from the GST. Hewson's difficulty in explaining this to the electorate was exemplified in the infamous birthday cake interview, considered by some as a turning point in the election campaign. Keating won a record fifth consecutive Labor term and a record 13 years in government at the 1993 election, a level of political success not previously seen by federal Labor. A number of the proposals were later adopted in to law in some form, to a small extent during the Keating Labor government, and to a larger extent during the John Howard Liberal government (most famously the GST, becoming law on July 1st 2000), while unemployment benefits and bulk billing were re-targeted for a time by the Tony Abbott Liberal government.

The Australian Electoral Study conducted after the election showed 70 per cent of respondents had tuned in to the Keating-Hewson televised debates, the highest ever viewership for Australian election debates. Nine Network debates saw the infamous "worm" being introduced for the first time to its screens during the debate. The "worm" wriggled along the bottom of the screen, rising and falling away on the reactions of a chosen audience. It was reported that Keating scored big-time with the worm when he savaged Hewson over his plans for a GST during the debate.[2]

The election-eve Newspoll reported the Liberal/National Coalition on a 50.5 percent two-party-preferred vote, with Paul Keating's personal ratings being significantly negative.[3]

For the first time since the 1966 election, an incumbent government had increased their two-party-preferred vote.

There was an unusual circumstance in the division of Dickson (QLD). One of the candidates, an independent, died very shortly before the election, making it necessary to hold a supplementary election on 17 April.[4] Following the return of the Labor Party to government, Keating announced the makeup of the Second Keating Ministry to be sworn in on 24 March, but kept the portfolio of Attorney-General of Australia open for Michael Lavarch subject to him winning Dickson on 17 April. He won the seat, and was appointed to the ministry on 27 April.


House of Representatives results[edit]

Government (80)
  Labor (80)

Opposition (65)
  Liberal (49)
  National (16)

Crossbench (2)
  Independent (2)
House of Reps (IRV) – 1993–36 – Turnout 95.75% (CV) — Informal 2.97%
Party Votes % Swing Seats Change
  Labor 4,751,390 44.92 +5.49 80 Increase 2
    Liberal  3,888,579 36.77 +2.01 49 Decrease 6
  National  758,036 7.17 –1.25 16 Increase 2
  Country Liberal  35,207 0.33 +0.05 0 Steady
Liberal–National coalition 4,681,822 44.27 +0.81 65 Decrease 4
  Democrats 397,060 3.75 –7.51
  Independents[b] 329,235 3.11 +0.35 2 Increase 1
  Greens[d] 196,702 1.85 +0.48
  Others 220,570 2.09 0.38
Total 10,576,779     147 Decrease 1
Two-party-preferred vote
  Labor 5,436,421 51.44 +1.54 80 Increase 2
  Liberal–National coalition 5,133,033 48.56 –1.54 65 Decrease 4
Invalid/blank votes 324,082 2.97
Turnout 10,900,861 95.75
Registered voters 11,384,638
Source: Federal Elections 1993
Popular vote
Two-party-preferred vote
Parliament seats

Senate results[edit]

Government (30)
  Labor (30)

Opposition (36)
  Liberal (29)
  National (6)
  CLP (1)

Crossbench (10)
  Democrats (7)
  Greens (2)
  Independent (1)
Senate (STV GV) — 1993–96 – Turnout 96.22% (CV) — Informal 2.55%
Party Votes % Swing Seats won Seats held Change
  Labor 4,643,871 43.50 +5.09 17 30 Decrease 2
    Liberal–National joint ticket 2,605,157 24.40 –0.07 6 N/A N/A
  Liberal 1,664,204 15.59 +1.03 11 29 Steady
  National 290,382 2.72 +0.12 1 6 Increase 2
  Country Liberal 35,405 0.33 +0.04 1 1 Steady
Liberal–National coalition 4,595,148 43.05 +1.13 19 36 Increase 2
  Democrats 566,944 5.31 –7.32 2 7 Decrease 1
  Greens[e] 314,845 2.95 +0.85 1 2 Increase 1
  Others [f] 553,997 5.2 +0.15 1 1 Steady
Total 10,674,805     40 76
Invalid/blank votes 279,453 2.55
Turnout 10,954,258 96.22
Registered voters 11,384,638
Source: Federal Elections 1993

Seats changing hands[edit]

Seat Pre-1993 Swing Post-1993
Party Member Margin Margin Member Party
Adelaide, SA   Labor Bob Catley 3.7 3.0 1.3 Trish Worth Liberal  
Bass, Tas   Liberal Warwick Smith 4.3 4.5 0.0 Silvia Smith Labor  
Corinella, Vic   Liberal Russell Broadbent 0.7 4.4 3.7 Alan Griffin Labor  
Cowan, WA   Labor Carolyn Jakobsen 0.9 1.8 0.9 Richard Evans Liberal  
Dunkley, Vic   Liberal Frank Ford 1.2 1.6 0.6 Bob Chynoweth Labor  
Franklin, Tas   Liberal Bruce Goodluck 2.1 9.5 7.4 Harry Quick Labor  
Gilmore, NSW   National John Sharp 4.4 1.1 0.5 Peter Knott Labor  
Grey, SA   Labor Lloyd O'Neil 6.5 4.3 2.1 Barry Wakelin Liberal  
Hindmarsh, SA   Labor John Scott 5.3 2.8 1.6 Chris Gallus Liberal  
Hinkler, Qld   Labor Brian Courtice 4.0 4.2 0.2 Paul Neville National  
Kennedy, Qld   Labor Rob Hulls 1.4 4.8 2.6 Bob Katter National  
Lowe, NSW   Liberal Bob Woods 0.6 4.5 5.0 Mary Easson Labor  
Lyons, Tas   Liberal Max Burr 2.1 5.6 3.8 Dick Adams Labor  
Macquarie, NSW   Liberal Alasdair Webster 3.6 2.2 0.1 Maggie Deahm Labor  
McEwen, Vic   Liberal Fran Bailey 3.2 3.9 0.7 Peter Cleeland Labor  
McMillan, Vic   Liberal John Riggall 4.4 4.8 0.4 Barry Cunningham Labor  
Paterson, NSW   Liberal notional – new seat 0.1 3.4 3.1 Bob Horne Labor  
Stirling, WA   Labor Ron Edwards 0.1 1.7 1.5 Eoin Cameron Liberal  
  • Members listed in italics did not contest their seat at this election

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The election in the seat of Dickson was deferred to 17 April 1993.
  2. ^ The elected independents were Ted Mack (NSW) and Phil Cleary (Victoria).
  3. ^ The Greens total in New South Wales includes the local groups for Lowe, Page, Reid, Robertson and Wentworth.
  4. ^ The Australian Greens were founded in 1992, but not all state and territory organisations immediately affiliated to the new federal party. The Greens total includes unaffiliated local groups in New South Wales[c] (11,685), Queensland Greens (58,502), Greens Western Australia (55,907), Greens South Australia (1,496), Tasmanian Greens (24,319), and ACT Green Democratic Alliance (3,109).
  5. ^ The Greens Senate total includes Queensland Greens (59,303), Greens Western Australia (53,757), New South Wales Green Alliance (46,971), ACT Green Democratic Alliance (46,971), Tasmanian Greens (21,087) and Greens South Australia (15,467).
  6. ^ The independent senator was Brian Harradine (Tasmania).


  1. ^ "GST: the reform that divided a nation". Australian Financial Review. 29 June 2010. Retrieved 7 August 2023.
  2. ^ Wright, Tony (7 May 2019). "The worm has turned: Whatever happened to the great election debates?". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 11 February 2022.
  3. ^ "Newspoll archive since 1987". Polling.newspoll.com.au.tmp.anchor.net.au. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 30 July 2016.
  4. ^ "By-elections and supplementary elections". Australian Electoral Commission. Retrieved 17 January 2023.