New South Wales state election, 1965

New South Wales state election, 1965
New South Wales state election, 1965
New South Wales
1962 ←
1 May 1965 (1965-05-01)
→ 1968

All 94 seats in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly.
  First party Second party
  Jack Renshaw.png
Leader Bob Askin Jack Renshaw
Party Liberal/Country coalition Labor
Leader since 17 July 1959 30 April 1964
Leader's seat Collaroy Castlereagh
Last election 39 seats 54 seats
Seats won 47 seats 45 seats
Seat change increase8 decrease9
Percentage 49.82% 43.31%
Swing increase5.60 decrease5.26

Premier before election

Jack Renshaw

Elected Premier

Bob Askin
Liberal/Country coalition

The 1965 New South Wales state election was held on 1 May 1965. It was conducted in single member constituencies with compulsory preferential voting and was held on boundaries created at a 1961 redistribution. The election was for all of the 94 seats in the Legislative Assembly.



In May 1965, Labor had been in power for 24 years and 54 year old Jack Renshaw, who had been seen as a generational change for the party leadership had been premier for 1 year. However, Renshaw, had difficulty adjusting to a televised campaign and his manner, the result of spending much of his early life in remote New South Wales, had not resonated with urban voters. The longevity of the government was an issue promoted by the opposition which described it as being composed of "tired old men". Continuing cost overruns and construction delays at the Sydney Opera House detracted from the government's economic management and accusations that the Speaker, Ray Maher had indecently exposed himself to a staff member disrupted the start of the government's campaign. In addition, the government's keynote policy of releasing large tracts of land in Sydney for residential development was leaked to the opposition, which then claimed it as its own policy. Labor continued to have an ideological difficulty matching the Opposition's promises of state aid for non-government schools and this was the most decisive issue in the election. However, its other policies included increased high school bursaries, measures to reduce unfair trading, reduced power costs, increased sick leave and reform of Workers' Compensation schemes.[1]

In contrast to Labor the leader of the conservative coalition, Robin Askin was skillful in his use of television and put forward a positive program. Promises for non-government schools included free transport, library grants, low interest loans, textbook subsidies and bursaries. Askin accused the state government of allowing the transport infrastructure of the state to decline and pledge his government to improve the Illawarra and Eastern Suburbs rail lines. He promised to integrate the state's bus and train fares and reduce suburban rail costs. Motor registry costs would be reduced and better rent control was to be introduced for pensioners Askin also promised to recruit more police and give more resources for mental health and district hospitals.[2]



Prior to the election, Independent Frank Purdue had gained the seat of Waratah from the Labor Party at a by-election caused by the death of Edward Greaves. Sam Jones regained the seat for Labor at the general election.

Despite a strong swing of more than 5% to the coalition, the result of the election remained in doubt for 2 weeks. The effects of a long incumbency bolstered by the cumulative effects of a number of re-distributions limited Labor's loss of seats to 9. In several of these the margin of defeat was less than 300 votes. In the final result the Coalition had 47 seats, one short of a majority. However, it could rely on the support of Douglas Darby a former member of the party who had been elected as a Liberal Independent but was subsequently readmitted to the party room and Harold Coates, a conservative independent who had won the seat of Hartley. After providing a Speaker, the coalition was able to form a government with a majority of 3 in the Assembly.

The DLP contested 28 seats and, while it gained less than 2.5% of the state-wide primary vote, its preferences strongly favoured the coalition and were vital to its success. The Communist party was reduced to 13 candidates who received negligible support.

Seats changing party representation

This table lists changes in party representation since the 1965 election

Seat Incumbent member Party New member Party
Bligh Tom Morey   Labor Morton Cohen   Liberal
Coogee Lou Walsh   Labor Kevin Ellis   Liberal
Goulburn Laurie Tully   Labor Ron Brewer   Country
Hartley James Robson   Labor Harold Coates   Independent
Hurstville Bill Rigby   Labor Tom Mead   Liberal
Lismore Keith Compton   Labor Bruce Duncan   Country
Monaro John Seiffert   Labor Steve Mauger   Liberal
Nepean Alfred Bennett   Labor Ron Dunbier   Liberal
Wollongong-Kembla Doug Porter   Labor Jack Hough   Liberal

Key dates

Date Event
31 March 1965 The Legislative Assembly was dissolved, and writs were issued by the Governor to proceed with an election.
5 April 1965 Nominations for candidates for the election closed at noon.
1 May 1965 Polling day.
28 May 1965 Last day for the writs to be returned and the results formally declared.
26 May 1965 Opening of 41st Parliament.

Tabulated Results

New South Wales state election, 1 May 1965
Legislative Assembly
<< 19621968 >>

Enrolled Voters 2,256,568[1]
Votes Cast 2,083,361 Turnout 93.91 -0.09
Informal Votes 42,571 Informal 2.04 +0.50
Summary of votes by party
Party Primary Votes % Swing Seats Change
  Liberal 807,868 39.59 +4.74 31 +6
  Country 208,826 10.23 +0.86 16 +2
  Labor 883,824 43.31 -5.26 45 -9
  Independent 63,680 3.12 -0.01 1 +1
  Democratic Labor 43,109 2.11 -1.02 0 -
  Independent Liberal 20,400 1.00 -0.95 1 0
  Communist 13,082 0.64 +0.01 0 -
Total 2,040,789     94  
1 There were 2,218,550 enrolled voters in 92 contested electorates and 38,018 were enrolled in 2 uncontested electorates (1 Labor, 1 Country).



Robert Askin and Charles Cutler became Premier and Deputy Premier in New South Wales' first conservative government for 24 years. Renshaw became Leader of the Opposition, a post he held throughout the term of the parliament. During this parliament there were 3 by-elections. These resulted in the Country party gaining one seat from Labor and one seat from the Liberal Party.


  1. ^ "Labor Policy offers 5,000 bursaries". The Sydney Morning Herald. 9 April 1965 p1. 
  2. ^ "Points from policy speech". The Sydney Morning Herald. 14 April 1965 p1. 
  3. ^ McMullin, Ross (1991). The Light on the Hill: The Australian Labor Party 1891-1991. Oxford University Press. ISBN 019554966X. 
  4. ^ *Antony Green. "1968 New South Wales state election". New South Wales Parliament. Retrieved 12 January 2009. 

See also

Members of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly, 1965–1968

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