1917 Australian federal election

The 1917 Australian federal election was held in Australia on 5 May 1917. All 75 seats in the House of Representatives and 18 of the 36 seats in the Senate were up for election. The incumbent Nationalist Party, led by Prime Minister Billy Hughes, defeated the opposition Labor Party led by Frank Tudor in a landslide.

1917 Australian federal election

5 May 1917 (1917-05-05)

All 75 seats in the House of Representatives
38 seats were needed for a majority in the House
18 (of the 36) seats in the Senate
  First party Second party
Leader Billy Hughes Frank Tudor
Party Nationalist Labor
Leader since 17 February 1917 14 November 1916
Leader's seat West Sydney (NSW)
won Bendigo (Vic.)
Yarra (Vic.)
Last election N/A 42 seats
Seats won 53 seats 22 seats
Seat change 21 20
Popular vote 1,021,138 827,541
Percentage 54.22% 43.94%
Swing N/A 6.96%

Popular vote by state with graphs indicating the number of seats won. As this is an FPTP election, seat totals are not determined by popular vote by state but instead via results in each electorate.

Prime Minister before election

Billy Hughes

Subsequent Prime Minister

Billy Hughes

Hughes, at the time a member of the ALP, had become prime minister when Andrew Fisher retired in 1915. The Australian Labor Party split of 1916 over the conscription issue had led Hughes and 24 other pro-conscription Labor MPs to split off as the National Labor Party, which was able to form a minority government supported by the Commonwealth Liberal Party under Joseph Cook. Later that year, National Labor and the Liberals merged to form the Nationalist Party, with Hughes as leader and Cook as deputy leader. The election was fought in the aftermath of the 1916 plebiscite on conscription, which had been narrowly defeated. The Nationalists won a decisive victory, securing the largest majority government since Federation. The ALP suffered a large electoral swing against it, losing almost seven percent of its vote from 1914. The swing was magnified by the large number of former Labor MPs who followed Hughes out of the party.


House of Representatives

House of Reps 1917–1919 (FPTP) — Turnout 78.30% (Non-CV) — Informal 2.64%
Party Votes % Swing Seats Change
  Nationalist 1,021,138 54.22 +7.01 53 +21
  Labor 827,541 43.94 –6.96 22 –20
  Independents 34,755 1.85 0.05 0 –1
  Total  1,883,434     75
  Nationalist WIN 53 +21
  Labor 22 20
  • Ten members were elected unopposed – seven Nationalist and three Labor.
  • The changes recorded for the Nationalist Party are with regard to the Commonwealth Liberal Party's performance in 1914.
Popular Vote
Parliament Seats


Senate 1917–1919 (FPTP BV) — Turnout 77.69% (Non-CV) — Informal N/A
Party Votes % Swing Seats Won Seats Held Change
  Nationalist 3,516,354 55.37 +7.60 18 24 +18
  Labor 2,776,648 43.72 8.42 0 12 18
  Socialist Labor 32,692 0.51 +0.51 0 0 0
  Independents 24,676 0.39 +0.39 0 0 0
  Total  6,350,370     18 36


Seats changing hands

Seat Pre-1917 Swing Post-1917
Party Member Margin Margin Member Party
Bass, Tas   Labor Jens Jensen 6.0 15.9 9.9 Jens Jensen Nationalist  
Bendigo, Vic   Labor Alfred Hampson 0.9 12.5 7.4 Billy Hughes Nationalist  
Boothby, SA   Labor George Dankel 5.3 19.8 14.5 William Story Nationalist  
Corio, Vic   Labor Alfred Ozanne 1.2 8.5 7.3 John Lister Nationalist  
Darwin, Tas   Labor King O'Malley 6.1 14.9 8.8 Charles Howroyd Nationalist  
Denison, Tas   Labor William Laird Smith 5.9 12.2 6.3 William Laird Smith Nationalist  
Fawkner, Vic   Labor Joseph Hannan 9.3 10.7 N/A George Maxwell Nationalist  
Fremantle, WA   Labor Reginald Burchell 6.3 25.2 18.9 Reginald Burchell Nationalist  
Gippsland, Vic   Independent George Wise 1.0 24.7 22.7 George Wise Nationalist  
Grey, SA   Labor Alexander Poynton 4.0 11.7 7.7 Alexander Poynton Nationalist  
Gwydir, NSW   Labor William Webster 3.8 10.3 6.5 William Webster Nationalist  
Herbert, Qld   Labor Fred Bamford 14.4 15.7 1.3 Fred Bamford Nationalist  
Hindmarsh, SA   Labor William Archibald 24.4 30.2 5.8 William Archibald Nationalist  
Illawarra, NSW   Labor George Burns 4.2 8.5 4.3 Hector Lamond Nationalist  
Indi, Vic   Labor Parker Moloney 1.0 7.2 6.2 John Leckie Nationalist  
Kalgoorlie, WA   Labor Hugh Mahon 100.0 51.3 1.3 Edward Heitmann Nationalist  
Oxley, Qld   Labor James Sharpe 6.8 9.6 2.3 James Bayley Nationalist  
Werriwa, NSW   Labor John Lynch 0.0 2.8 2.8 John Lynch Nationalist  
  • Members in italics did not contest their seat at this election.

Post-election pendulum

Nationalist Party
Moreton (Qld) Hugh Sinclair NAT 00.1
Angas (SA) Paddy Glynn NAT 00.8
Kalgoorlie (WA) Edward Heitmann NAT 01.3
Herbert (Qld) Fred Bamford NAT 01.3
Fawkner (Vic) George Maxwell NAT 01.4
Calare (NSW) Henry Pigott NAT 01.8
Hume (NSW) Franc Falkiner NAT 01.9
Werriwa (NSW) John Lynch NAT 02.8
Oxley (Qld) James Bayley NAT 02.8
Wide Bay (Qld) Edward Corser NAT 02.9
Illawarra (NSW) Hector Lamond NAT 04.3
Wannon (Vic) Arthur Rodgers NAT 04.8
Hindmarsh (SA) William Archibald NAT 05.8
Fairly safe
Darling Downs (Qld) Littleton Groom NAT 06.1
Robertson (NSW) William Fleming NAT 06.2
Wakefield (SA) Richard Foster NAT 06.2
Indi (Vic) John Leckie NAT 06.2
Denison (Tas) William Laird Smith NAT 06.3
Gwydir (NSW) William Webster NAT 06.5
Grampians (Vic) Carty Salmon NAT 07.0
Eden-Monaro (NSW) Austin Chapman NAT 07.2
Corio (Vic) John Lister NAT 07.3
Bendigo (Vic) Billy Hughes NAT 07.4
Grey (SA) Alexander Poynton NAT 07.7
Darwin (Tas) Charles Howroyd NAT 08.8
Riverina (NSW) John Chanter NAT 09.2 vs IND
Bass (Tas) Alexander Poynton NAT 09.9
Corangamite (Vic) Chester Manifold NAT 10.4
Lang (NSW) Elliot Johnson NAT 10.4
Nepean (NSW) Richard Orchard NAT 10.5
Echuca (Vic) Albert Palmer NAT 10.7
Flinders (Vic) William Irvine NAT 11.2
Lilley (Qld) George Mackay NAT 12.7
Barker (SA) John Livingston NAT 13.9
Wilmot (Tas) Llewellyn Atkinson NAT 14.2
Boothby (SA) William Story NAT 14.5
Parkes (NSW) Bruce Smith NAT 15.4
Balaclava (Vic) William Watt NAT 16.6
Wentworth (NSW) Willie Kelly NAT 18.5
Fremantle (WA) Reginald Burchell NAT 18.9
Perth (WA) James Fowler NAT 19.5
Very safe
Henty (Vic) James Boyd NAT 20.6
Dampier (WA) Henry Gregory NAT 21.4
Gippsland (Vic) George Wise NAT 22.7
Parramatta (NSW) Joseph Cook NAT 23.8 vs IND
Richmond (NSW) Walter Massy-Greene NAT 25.2
Cowper (NSW) John Thomson NAT unopposed
Franklin (Tas) William McWilliams NAT unopposed
Kooyong (Vic) Robert Best NAT unopposed
New England (NSW) Percy Abbott NAT unopposed
North Sydney (NSW) Granville Ryrie NAT unopposed
Swan (WA) John Forrest NAT unopposed
Wimmera (Vic) Sydney Sampson NAT unopposed
Australian Labor Party
Macquarie (NSW) Samuel Nicholls ALP 00.0
Brisbane (Qld) William Finlayson ALP 00.0
Maribyrnong (Vic) James Fenton ALP 02.2
Capricornia (Qld) William Higgs ALP 02.3
Barrier (NSW) Michael Considine ALP 02.5 vs IND
Darling (NSW) Arthur Blakeley ALP 03.3
Hunter (NSW) Matthew Charlton ALP 03.4
Dalley (NSW) William Mahony ALP 04.0
Bourke (Vic) Frank Anstey ALP 04.5
Maranoa (Qld) Jim Page ALP 04.8
Fairly safe
Newcastle (NSW) David Watkins ALP 08.0
Melbourne (Vic) William Maloney ALP 10.3
Batman (Vic) Frank Brennan ALP 10.9
Kennedy (Qld) Charles McDonald ALP 12.8
South Sydney (NSW) Edward Riley ALP 13.3
Cook (NSW) James Catts ALP 14.4
Melbourne Ports (Vic) James Mathews ALP 16.3
West Sydney (NSW) Con Wallace ALP 16.5
Very safe
Yarra (Vic) Frank Tudor ALP 21.3
Adelaide (SA) George Edwin Yates ALP unopposed
Ballaarat (Vic) Charles McGrath ALP unopposed
East Sydney (NSW) John West ALP unopposed

See also



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