Given that New South Wales has often been called a natural' Labor state, the
1988 result was startling, the worst Labor performance, and best Coalition
result, since the Lang era of the 1930s. The Labor Party suffered massive
swings in its working class heartland, losing seats like Balmain, Newcastle and
Swansea for the first time this century. There was a massive rejection of Labor
in rural seats, mainly due to gun law and forest protection issues, and seven
non-aligned Independents were elected to the Legislative Assembly.
The 1991 election saw the re-election of the Greiner Coalition, but in the
unexpected position of a lacking a clear parliamentary majority. Together with
the government's loss of The Entrance by-election following a Court of Disputed
Returns decision, the finely balanced Parliament became critical to the course
of the government. Politically, it lead to the so-called Metherell affair'
which eventually forced the resignation of Premier Nick Greiner.
Constitutionally, it also lead to the introduction of fixed four year term
Parliaments, part of the agreement between the Coalition and non-aligned
The lack of statistical analysis of the results has been because of the
massive electoral redistributions that took place before both elections. Prior
to the 1988 election, the size of the Legislative Assembly was increased from
99 to 109 electorates, reverting back to 99 electorates for the 1991 election.
This publication provides, for the first time, full details of both elections,
with all swings calculated compared to the previous election after taking into
account the redistributions . Summary details of the 1986/87 and 1990/91
redistributions are also provided, calculated by re-assigning booth results
from the previous election to the new boundaries.
Further information on the political impact of the redistributions can be
found in the NSW Parliamentary Library Current Issues Background Paper
"NSW Elections 1984 to 1991: A Comparative Analysis" (No. 1994/2).
More detail on the 1988 and 1991 Legislative Council elections can be found in
"Electing the New South Wales Legislative Council 1978 to 1995: Past
Results and Future Prospects" (No. 1995/2). A third publication, "NSW
Elections 1995" (Background Paper 1995/4), sets out the results of the
1995 election in the same format as this publication.