The incumbent first-term Australian Labor Party (ALP) government led by Prime Minister James Scullin was defeated in a landslide by the United Australia Party (UAP) led by Joseph Lyons. To date, no subsequent sitting government at federal level has been defeated after only a single term in office. The election was held at a time of great social and political upheaval, coming at the peak of the Great Depression in Australia. The UAP had only been formed a few months before the election, as a merger of the Nationalist Party, the Australian Party, and a few ALP defectors (including Lyons himself).
Scullin's position eroded further when five left-wing Labor MPs from New South Wales who supported NSW Premier Jack Lang broke away and moved to the crossbenches in protest of Scullin's economic policy. Late in 1931, they supported a UAP no-confidence motion and brought down the government. The two Labor factions were decimated; massive vote-splitting left them with only 18 seats between them (14 for the official ALP and four for the Langites).
Prior to the election, it was assumed that the Country Party, led by Earle Page, would hold the balance of power, and Page tentatively agreed to support the UAP if that were the case. The two parties campaigned separately and stood candidates against each other in the House of Representatives, but ran joint tickets in Senate. However, the UAP came up four seats short of a majority. The UAP's South Australian Emergency Committee counterparts in South Australia joined the UAP party room, giving the UAP enough numbers to form a majority government in their own right. Page was still willing to form a coalition with the Country Party, but negotiations broke down and Lyons decided the UAP would govern by itself – the First Lyons Ministry was composed solely of UAP members.
|Australian federal election, 1931|
All 75 seats of the House of Representatives
38 seats were needed for a majority in the House
18 (of the 36) seats of the Senate
|United Australia Party||1,145,083||36.10||+2.20||34||+20||(1 elected|
|Australian Labor Party||859,513||27.10||−21.74||14||−32|
|Country Party||388,544||12.25||+1.98||16||+6||(3 elected|
|Australian Labor Party (NSW)||335,309||10.57||*||4||+4|
|Emergency Committee (SA)||174,288||5.49||*|| 6||+6|
|United Australia Party||WIN||58.50||+15.20|| 39||+15|
|Australian Labor Party||41.50||−15.20||14||−32|
|Party||Votes||%||Swing||Seats Won||Seats Held||Change|
|UAP/Country (Joint Ticket)||945,741||30.16||*||6|
|Australian Labor Party||917,218||29.25||−19.70||3||10||+3|
|United Australia Party||791,870||25.26||−14.02||9||21||−3|
|Australian Labor Party (NSW)||379,870||12.12||*||0||0||0|
|Communist Party of Australia||29,443||0.94||*||0||0||0|
|Adelaide, SA||Labor||George Edwin Yates||11.4||21.0||9.6||Fred Stacey||Emergency Committee|
|Angas, SA||Labor||Moses Gabb||4.7||31.5||26.8||Moses Gabb||Ind. Emergency Committee |
|Ballaarat, Vic||Labor||Charles McGrath||7.4||20.7||13.3||Charles McGrath||United Australia|
|Barton, NSW||Labor||James Tully||17.6||20.8||3.2||Albert Lane||United Australia|
|Bass, Tas||Labor||Allan Guy||10.4||24.9||14.5||Allan Guy||United Australia|
|Batman, Vic||Labor||Frank Brennan||25.8||26.6||0.8||Samuel Dennis||United Australia|
|Bendigo, Vic||Labor||Richard Keane||5.1||14.6||9.5||Eric Harrison||United Australia|
|Boothby, SA||Labor||John Price||5.6||29.6||24.0||John Price||Emergency Committee|
|Brisbane, Qld||United Australia||Donald Charles Cameron||2.4||3.1||0.7||George Lawson||Labor|
|Calare, NSW||Labor||George Gibbons||1.6||11.7||10.1||Harold Thorby||Country|
|Corangamite, Vic||Labor||Richard Crouch||2.1||15.0||12.9||William Gibson||Country|
|Corio, Vic||Labor||Arthur Lewis||6.0||16.6||10.6||Richard Casey||United Australia|
|Dalley, NSW||Labor||Ted Theodore||N/A||8.9||14.0||Sol Rosevear||Labor (NSW)|
|Darling Downs, Qld||United Australia||Arthur Morgan||N/A||17.7||9.8||Littleton Groom||Independent|
|Denison, Tas||Labor||Charles Culley||9.2||14.2||5.0||Arthur Hutchin||United Australia|
|East Sydney, NSW||Labor (NSW)||Eddie Ward||5.7||11.7||1.7||John Clasby||United Australia|
|Eden-Monaro, NSW||Labor||John Cusack||0.1||13.7||13.6||John Perkins||United Australia|
|Fawkner, Vic||Independent Nationalist||George Maxwell||N/A||21.7||20.3||George Maxwell||United Australia|
|Flinders, Vic||Labor||Jack Holloway||0.2||18.5||18.3||Stanley Bruce||United Australia|
|Franklin, Tas||Labor||Charles Frost||1.9||13.0||17.9||Archibald Blacklow||United Australia|
|Fremantle, WA||Labor||John Curtin||7.0||13.5||5.5||William Watson||United Australia|
|Grey, SA||Labor||Andrew Lacey||9.6||17.1||7.5||Philip McBride||Emergency Committee|
|Gwydir, NSW||Labor||Lou Cunningham||3.7||13.5||9.8||Aubrey Abbott||Country|
|Hume, NSW||Labor||Parker Moloney||6.6||14.1||7.5||Thomas Collins||Country|
|Hunter, NSW||Labor||Rowley James||100.0||57.2||7.2||Rowley James||Labor (NSW)|
|Indi, Vic||Labor||Paul Jones||1.4||14.4||13.0||William Hutchinson||United Australia|
|Lang, NSW||Labor||William Long||16.2||20.4||4.2||Dick Dein||United Australia|
|Macquarie, NSW||Labor||Ben Chifley||15.6||16.2||0.6||John Lawson||United Australia|
|Maribyrnong, Vic||Labor||James Fenton||23.2||23.6||0.4||James Fenton||United Australia|
|Martin, NSW||Labor||John Eldridge||6.4||22.7||16.3||William Holman||United Australia|
|North Sydney, NSW||Independent Nationalist||Billy Hughes||16.1||23.6||7.5||Billy Hughes||United Australia|
|Oxley, Qld||United Australia||James Bayley||0.1||5.9||5.8||Francis Baker||Labor|
|Parramatta, NSW||Labor||Albert Rowe||3.3||19.5||16.2||Frederick Stewart||United Australia|
|Reid, NSW||Labor||Percy Coleman||N/A||55.3||5.3||Joe Gander||Labor (NSW)|
|South Sydney, NSW||Labor||Edward Riley||16.3||21.4||5.1||John Jennings||United Australia|
|Wannon, Vic||Labor||John McNeill||2.0||14.3||12.3||Thomas Scholfield||United Australia|
|Wentworth, NSW||Independent Nationalist||Walter Marks||8.3||58.3||15.8||Eric Harrison||United Australia|
|Werriwa, NSW||Labor||Bert Lazzarini||15.4||17.1||1.7||Walter McNicoll||Country|
|West Sydney, NSW||Labor||Jack Beasley||36.5||11.4||15.1||Jack Beasley||Labor (NSW)|
|Wimmera, Vic||Country Progressive||Percy Stewart||N/A||21.8||11.8||Hugh McClelland||Country|
|Wilmot, Tas||Labor||Joseph Lyons||2.9||25.0||22.1||Joseph Lyons||United Australia|
The election was dominated by the Great Depression in Australia, which was at its height. As the Labor Government had come to office two days before the Wall Street Crash of 1929, it was seen as being responsible for many of the economic and social problems Australia faced, which sparked the historic Australian Labor Party split of 1931. The result was Labor's primary vote dropping to its lowest level since 1901. The two Labor factions, official Labor and Lang Labor, won only 18 seats between them.
This article provides information on candidates who stood for the 1931 Australian federal election. The election was held on 19 December 1931.
In 1931, the Nationalist Party had become the United Australia Party, absorbing several Labor defectors. In New South Wales, the Labor Party split, with the Lang Labor group voting against the Labor Government. Seats held by Labor defectors are here considered to be held by the Labor Party.Electoral results for the Division of Forrest
This is a list of electoral results for the Division of Forrest in Australian federal elections from the division's creation in 1922 until the present.Electoral results for the Division of Fremantle
This article lists electoral results for the Division of Fremantle in Australian federal elections from the division's creation in 1901 to the present.Electoral results for the Division of Kalgoorlie
This is a list of electoral results for the Division of Kalgoorlie in Australian federal elections from the division's creation in 1901 until its abolition in 2010.Electoral results for the Division of Perth
This is a list of electoral results for the Division of Perth in Australian federal elections from the division's creation in 1901 until the present.Electoral results for the Division of Swan
This is a list of electoral results for the Division of Swan in Australian federal elections from the division's creation in 1901 until the present.James Scullin
James Henry Scullin (18 September 1876 – 28 January 1953) was an Australian Labor Party politician and the ninth Prime Minister of Australia. Scullin led Labor to government at the 1929 election. The Wall Street Crash of 1929 transpired just two days after his swearing in, which would herald the beginning of the Great Depression in Australia. Scullin's administration would soon be overwhelmed by the economic crisis, with interpersonal and policy disagreements causing a three-way split of his party that would bring down the government in late 1931. Despite his chaotic term of office, Scullin remained a leading figure in the Labor movement throughout his lifetime, and served as an éminence grise in various capacities for the party until his retirement in 1949.
The son of working-class Irish-immigrants, Scullin spent much of his early life as a laborer and grocer in Ballarat. An autodidact and passionate debater, Scullin would join the Australian Labor Party in 1903, beginning a career spanning five decades. He was a political organizer and newspaper editor for the party, and was elected to the House of Representatives first in 1910 and then again in 1922 until 1949. Scullin quickly established himself as a leading voice in parliament, rapidly rising to become deputy leader of the party in 1927 and then Leader of the Opposition in 1928.
After Scullin had won a landslide election in 1929, events took a dramatic change with the crisis on Wall Street and the rapid onset of the Great Depression around the world, which hit heavily indebted Australia hard. Scullin and his Treasurer Ted Theodore responded by developing several plans during 1930 and 1931 to repay foreign debt, provide relief to farmers and create economic stimulus to curb unemployment based on deficit spending and expansionary monetary policy. Although the Keynesian Revolution would see these ideas adopted by most Western nations by the end of the decade, in 1931 such ideas were considered radical and the plans were bitterly opposed by many who feared hyperinflation and economic ruin. The still opposition-dominated Senate, and the conservative-dominated boards of the Commonwealth Bank and Loan Council, repeatedly blocked the plans.
With the prospect of bankruptcy facing the government, Scullin backed down and instead advanced the Premiers' Plan, a far more conservative measure that met the crisis with severe cutbacks in government spending. Pensioners and other core Labor constituencies were severely affected by the cuts, leading to a widespread revolt and multiple defections in parliament. After several months of infighting the government collapsed, and was resoundingly defeated by the newly formed United Australia Party at the subsequent 1931 election.
Scullin would remain party leader for four more years but the party split would not be healed until after Scullin's return to the backbenches in 1935. Scullin became a respected elder voice within the party and leading authority on taxation and government finance, and would eventually play a significant role in reforming both when Labor returned to government in 1941. Although disappointed with his own term of office, he nonetheless lived long enough to see many of his government's ideas implemented by subsequent governments before his death in 1953.List of elections in 1931
The following elections occurred in the year 1931.
Argentine general election, 1931
Chilean presidential election, 1931
Guatemalan general election, 1931
Liberian general election, 1931
Luxembourgian legislative election, 1931
Norwegian local elections, 1931
Philippine House of Representatives elections, 1931
Philippine Senate elections, 1931
Salvadoran general election, 1931
Swiss federal election, 1931Lyons Government
The Lyons Government was the federal Executive Government of Australia led by Prime Minister Joseph Lyons. It was made up of members of the United Australia Party in the Australian Parliament from January 1932 until the death of Joseph Lyons in 1939. Lyons negotiated a coalition with the Country Party after the 1934 Australian Federal election. The Lyons government stewarded Australia's recovery from the Great DepressionNationalist Party (Australia)
The Nationalist Party (or National Party) was an Australian political party. It was formed on 17 February 1917 from a merger between the conservative Commonwealth Liberal Party and the National Labor Party, the latter formed by Prime Minister Billy Hughes and his supporters after the 1916 Labor Party split over World War I conscription. The Nationalist Party was in government (from 1923 in coalition with the Country Party) until electoral defeat in 1929. From that time it was the main opposition to the Labor Party until it merged with pro-Joseph Lyons Labor defectors to form the United Australia Party (UAP) in 1931. The UAP was the immediate predecessor to the current Liberal Party of Australia, the main centre-right party in Australia.Radio broadcasting in Australia
The history of broadcasting in Australia has been shaped for over a century by the problem of communication across long distances, coupled with a strong base in a wealthy society with a deep taste for aural communications in a silent landscape. Australia developed its own system, through its own engineers, manufacturers, retailers, newspapers, entertainment services, and news agencies. The government set up the first radio system, and business interests marginalized the hobbyists and amateurs. The Labor Party was especially interested in radio because it allowed them to bypass the newspapers, which were mostly controlled by the opposition. Both parties agreed on the need for a national system, and in 1932 set up the Australian Broadcasting Commission, as a government agency that was largely separate from political interference.
The first commercial broadcasters, originally known as "B" class stations were on the air as early as 1925. Many were sponsored by newspapers in Australia, by theatrical interests, by amateur radio enthusiasts and radio retailers, and by retailers generally. Almost all Australians were within reach of a station by the 1930s, and the number of stations remained relatively stable through the post-war era. However, in the 1970s, the Labor government under Prime Minister Gough Whitlam commenced a broadcasting renaissance so that by the 1990s there were 50 different radio services available for groups based on tastes, languages, religion, or geography. The broadcasting system was largely deregulated in 1992, except that there were limits on foreign ownership and on monopolistic control. By 2000, 99 percent of Australians owned at least one television set, and averaged 20 hours a week watching it.Results of the 1931 Australian federal election (House of Representatives)
This is a list of electoral division results for the Australian 1931 federal election.