Gough Whitlam’s close-run thing

Elections Government Australia

RECENT unflattering comparisons between Julia Gillard’s prime ministership and that of William McMahon are especially timely given that 2012 marks the fortieth anniversary of McMahon’s defeat by Gough Whitlam, which led to the first change of national government in twenty-three years.

Momentous as Labor’s 1972 victory was, the result – to use that well-worn phrase – was “a close-run thing.” Labor secured 49.6 per cent of the primary vote and 52.7 per cent of the two-party preferred vote for a lower house majority of nine (sixty-seven to fifty-eight). To employ the common post-election formula, had several thousand Labor voters in five close electorates stuck with the conservative coalition, there would have been no Whitlam government…


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