New South Wales state election, 1944

New South Wales state election, 1944
New South Wales state election, 1944
New South Wales
1941 ←
27 May 1944 (1944-05-27)
→ 1947

All 90 seats in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly.
  First party Second party
  Williammckell.jpg Weaver 1932.jpg
Leader William McKell Reginald Weaver
Party Labor Democratic/Country coalition
Leader since 23 September 1939 10 February 1944
Leader's seat Redfern Albury
Last election 54 seats 26 seats
Seats won 56 seats 22 seats
Seat change increase2 decrease4
Percentage 45.95% 29.32%
Swing decrease5.60 increase0.74

Premier before election

William McKell

Elected Premier

William McKell

The 1944 New South Wales state election was held on 27 May 1944. It was conducted in single member constituencies with compulsory preferential voting and was held on boundaries created at a 1940 redistribution. The election was for all of the 90 seats in the Legislative Assembly.



The Labor government of William McKell faced its first challenge at a general election in May 1944. The campaign was overshadowed by the course of the Second World War and the Sydney Morning Herald noted that in such an uncertain environment it was difficult for any party to make extensive plans for the future. This was particularly the case as many of the responsibilities of the states had been usurped by the Commonwealth Government as emergency war powers.[1]

McKell's 3 years in government had enhanced his reputation as a moderate and cautious leader. Under his leadership the extreme left wing of the party had been expelled and had contested the 1941 as the State Labor Party. Its poor showing had resulted in its dissolution shortly after the election and most members had joined the Communist Party of Australia. However, Labor unity was again threatened by Jack Lang who had been expelled from the Labor Party in 1943 and had formed another version of the Lang Labor Party. On this occasion he received no support from the rest of the caucus and spent the rest of the term as the sole member.

In comparison to the Labor Party, the urban conservative political forces were in complete disarray. The very poor results of the United Australia Party (UAP) under Billy Hughes at the 1943 federal election had increased the divisions within the party and had resulted in its disintegration shortly after the election. By early 1944 the Democratic Party, which was a combination of the Commonwealth Party and the remnants of the UAP had emerged as the main conservative party in New South Wales. It was led by Reginald Weaver and had the support of most of the former UAP members of parliament. However the Liberal Democratic Party, which had been founded by the Sydney timber merchant and businessman Ernest K White (later Sir Ernest White), attracted significant media attention and had a large and expensive advertising campaign. White claimed that the UAP and Democratic Party had been overly concerned with infighting and were no longer able to give coherence to conservative political aspirations. His party while supporting an extension of the welfare safety-net called for an increased effort to win the war including the mandatory deregistration of unions involved in unreasonable strike action.[2]. The Sydney Morning Herald commented that the Liberal Democratic Party was a mouse attempting to swallow the Democratic Party lion.[3]


There was little change in the composition of parliament with Labor again having a large majority. At the election Lang's party won 2 of the 23 seats in which it stood candidates. Its total primary vote of 9.33%, which significantly reduced Labor's primary vote but made little difference to the distribution of seats. The Liberal Democratic Party did not fulfill pre-election predictions and gained less than 4%of the vote with no seats. The final result was:


McGirr remained premier until he was appointed Governor General in early 1947. Weaver became the inaugural leader of the Liberal Party when it was formed from the urban conservative parties in late 1944. Howeve, he died the next year and was succeeded by Vernon Treatt. Michael Bruxner retained his leadership of the Country Party, which he had held since 1932, throughout the parliament.

There were 9 by-elections during the parliament but the overall composition of the parties stayed intact.

Seats changing party representation

This table lists changes in party representation since the 1941 election but does not include United Australia Party members who retained their seats as Democratic Party members

Seat Incumbent member Party New member Party
Auburn Jack Lang   Labor Jack Lang   Lang Labor
Burwood Gordon Jackett   Independent UAP Gordon Jackett   Democratic
Dubbo   Country Clarrie Robertson   Labor
Lachlan   Country John Chanter   Labor
Lane Cove Henry FitzSimons   UAP Henry Woodward   Labor
Manly Alfred Reid   UAP Alfred Reid   Independent Democrat
Murrumbidgee George Enticknap   Independent Labor George Enticknap   Labor
Nepean Joseph Jackson   UAP Joseph Jackson   Independent
Newtown Frank Burke   Labor Lillian Fowler   Lang Labor
Oxley George Mitchell   Independent Les Jordan   Independent Country
Tamworth Bill Chaffey   Independent UAP Bill Chaffey   Independent

‡ Lang had been expelled from the Labor Party in 1943

¶ Labor won the seat of Dubbo from the Country Party at a 1942 by-election caused by the death of George Wilson

† Labor won the seat of Lachlan from the Country Party at a 1943 by-election caused by the death of Griffith Evans

Key dates

Date Event
24 April 1944 The Legislative Assembly was dissolved, and writs were issued by the Governor to proceed with an election.
28 April 1944 Nominations for candidates for the election closed at noon.
27 May 1944 Polling day.
22 June 1944 Last day for the writs to be returned and the results formally declared.
22 June 1944 Opening of 34th Parliament.

Tabulated Results

New South Wales state election, 27 May 1944
Legislative Assembly
<< 19411947 >>

Enrolled Voters 1,732,706[1]
Votes Cast 1,310,270 Turnout 91.42 -1.10
Informal Votes 43,329 Informal 3.31 +0.78
Summary of votes by party
Party Primary Votes % Swing Seats Change
  Labor 572,600 45.20 -5.60 56 +2
  Democratic [2]239,610 18.91 +1.38 12 -2
  Country 131,950 10.41 -0.64 10 -2
  Lang Labor 118,174 9.33 +9.33 2 +2
  Independent 72,431 5.72 -0.41 5 +1
  Liberal Democratic 49,325 3.89 +3.89 0 -
  Independent Democrat [3]30,532 2.41 -0.84 4 -1
  Independent Labor 22,697 1.79 -0.35 0 -1
  Communist 21,982 1.74 +1.74 0 -
  Independent Country 6,670 0.53 +0.53 1 +1
  State Labor 0 0 -5.64 0 -
  All others 970 0.08 -0.62 0 -
Total 1,266,941     90  
1 There were 1,433,166 enrolled voters in 74 contested electorates and 299,540 were enrolled in 16 uncontested electorates (13 Labor, 1 Democrat, 1 Country and 1 Independent).
2 Compared to United Australia Party at 1941 Election
3 Compared to Independent UAP at 1941 Election



  1. ^ "Today's election". Sydney Morning Herald 27 May 1944 p2. Australian National Library. Retrieved 2009-01-11. 
  2. ^ "Liberal Democratic Policy: White attacks old parties". Sydney Morning Herald 18 May 1944 p3. Australian National Library. Retrieved 2009-01-11. 
  3. ^ "Election prospects: Discord in opposition". Sydney Morning Herald 24 May 1944 p2. Australian National Library. Retrieved 2009-01-11. 
  4. ^ *Antony Green. "1953 New South Wales state election". New South Wales Parliament. Retrieved 12 January 2009. 

See also

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