New South Wales state election, 1953

New South Wales state election, 1953
New South Wales state election, 1953
New South Wales
1950 ←
14 February 1953 (1953-02-14)
→ 1956

All 94 seats in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly.
  First party Second party
  JJ Cahill.JPG Vernon Treatt.jpg
Leader Joseph Cahill Vernon Treatt
Party Labor Liberal/Country coalition
Leader since 2 April 1952 20 March 1946
Leader's seat Cook's River Woollahra
Last election 46 seats 46 seats
Seats won 57 seats 36 seats
Seat change increase11 decrease10
Percentage 55.03% 39.54%
Swing increase8.3 decrease7.2

Premier before election

Joseph Cahill

Elected Premier

Joseph Cahill

The 1953 New South Wales state election was held on 14 February 1953. It was conducted in single member constituencies with compulsory preferential voting and was held on boundaries created at a 1952 redistribution. The election was for all of the 94 seats in the Legislative Assembly.



In February 1953, Labor had been in power for 12 years and James McGirr, who had led the party to a near defeat in 1950, had lost the premiership to Joe Cahill 10 months earlier. McGirr's period as the Labor leader had been marked by policy indecisiveness, budget overspending and internal conflict. Cahill had won popular support as a vigorous and impressive minister who had resolved problems with New South Wales' electricity supply and in his first 10 months as premier had reinvigorated the party. He appeared decisive and brought order to the government's chaotic public works program. In addition, he astutely attacked the increasingly unpopular federal Coalition government of Robert Menzies.[1] In contrast, the Liberal Party and Country Party coalition led by Vernon Treatt and Michael Bruxner was racked with internal divisions and Treatt, despite having been opposition leader for 7 years had been unable to present a coherent alternative to the government or find a resonance with the public. .[2]


The result of the election was a land-slide victory for Labor:

Labor's vote was particularly strong in the Western and Southern suburbs of Sydney. It won the seats of Concord, Coogee, Drummoyne, Kogarah, Parramatta, Ryde and Sutherland from the Liberal Party and picked up the new suburban seats of East Hills and Fairfield . Labor's vote was resurgent in rural New South Wales where it won the seats of Armidale, Dubbo and Mudgee from the Country party. Labor also picked up the seat of North Sydney from Independent member James Geraghty who was the last of the 4 Independent members of parliament who had been expelled from the Labor party for disloyalty during an indirect election of the Legislative Council in 1949. John Seiffert, another rebel from 1949 and the member for Monaro, had been readmitted to the party in 1950 and retained the seat at this election, giving a further boost to Labor's numbers. Labor's losses included Ashfield which had been won from the Liberal Party at the 1952 by-election and Hartley which was retained by Jim Chalmers who stood as an Independent Labor candidate after he resigned from the party over a pre-selection dispute. The Minister for Labour, Industry and Social Welfare, Frank Finnan was unseated when his electorate of Darlinghurst was abolished and he failed in an attempt to win Albury. Arthur Greenup also retired when his seat of Newtown-Annandale was abolished.

Seats changing party representation

Seat Incumbent member Party New member Party
Armidale Davis Hughes   Country Party Jim Cahill   Labor
Ashfield Jack Richardson   Labor Richard Murden   Liberal
Concord John Adamson   Liberal Party of Australia Thomas Murphy   Australian Labor Party
Coogee Kevin Ellis   Liberal Lou Walsh   Labor
Darlinghurst Frank Finnan   Labor Seat abolished
Drummoyne Robert Dewley   Liberal Roy Jackson   Labor
Dubbo Robert Medcalf   Country Clarrie Robertson   Labor
East Hills New seat Arthur Williams   Labor
Fairfield New seat Clarrie Earl   Labor
Hartley Jim Chalmers   Labor Jim Chalmers   Independent Labor
Kogarah Douglas Cross   Liberal Bill Crabtree   Labor
Monaro John Seiffert   Independent Labor John Seiffert   Labor
Mudgee Frederick Cooke   Country Leo Nott   Labor
Newtown-Annandale Arthur Greenup   Labor Seat abolished
North Sydney James Geraghty   Independent Labor Ray Maher   Labor
Parramatta George Gollan   Liberal Kevin Morgan   Labor
Ryde Ken Anderson   Liberal Frank Downing   Labor
Sutherland Cecil Monro   Liberal Tom Dalton   Labor

Key dates

Date Event
14 January 1953 The Legislative Assembly was dissolved, and writs were issued by the Governor to proceed with an election.
19 January 1953 Nominations for candidates for the election closed at noon.
14 February 1953 Polling day.
14 March 1953 Last day for the writs to be returned and the results formally declared.
11 March 1953 Opening of 37th Parliament.

Tabulated Results

New South Wales state election, 14 February 1953
Legislative Assembly
<< 19501956 >>

Enrolled Voters 1,953,953[1]
Votes Cast 1,548,877 Turnout 93.86 +1.11
Informal Votes 39,416 Informal 2.48 + .71
Summary of votes by party
Party Primary Votes % Swing Seats Change
  Labor 852,276 55.03 + 8.28 57 +11
  Liberal 432,739 27.94 -9.57 22 -7
  Country 179,680 11.60 +2.63 14 -3
  Independent 38,822 2.51 +.20 0 -
  Communist 21,421 1.38 +0.54 0 -
  Independent Labor 16,533 1.07 -0.58 1 - 1
  Lang Labor 7,046 0.48 -0.74 0 -
Total 1,588,293     94  
1 There were 1,692,231 enrolled voters in 81 contested electorates and 261,722 were enrolled in 13 uncontested electorates (9 Labor, 3 Liberal and 1 Country ).



Joe Cahill's triumph at this election ensured that he remained premier during the course of the parliament. Treatt faced increasing opposition within the Liberal Party and was replaced as Leader of the Opposition by Murray Robson in August 1954. Bruxner continued as the Leader of the Country Party, a position he had held since 1932. During the parliament there were 7 by-elections with no change of party representation except for Kahibah where an Independent Labor candidate Tom Armstrong defeated the endorsed Labor candidate.


  1. ^ McMullin, Ross (1991). The Light on the Hill: The Australian Labor Party 1891-1991. Oxford University Press. pp. 266–7. ISBN 019554966X. 
  2. ^ McMullin, Ross (1991). The Light on the Hill: The Australian Labor Party 1891-1991. Oxford University Press. ISBN 019554966X. 
  3. ^ *Antony Green. "1953 New South Wales state election". New South Wales Parliament. Retrieved 12 January 2009. 

See also

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