Tanner Cartoon: Bass By-Election

This cartoon by Les Tanner appeared in The Age on July 1, 1975.

It followed Labor’s defeat in the Bass by-election on June 28.

Tanner

[Cartoon published by kind permission of the Les Tanner Estate]


The by-election was caused by the resignation of Lance Barnard, who had held the seat since 1954. Following the 1974 federal election, Barnard was replaced as deputy ALP leader and deputy prime minister by Dr. Jim Cairns. Whitlam appointed Barnard as Ambassador to Norway, Finland and Sweden.

The ALP suffered a two-party-preferred swing of 14.3% in the by-election and lost the seat to the Liberal Party’s Kevin Newman by 60.3% to 39.7%. The Labor candidate, John Macrostie, polled just 36.5% of the primary vote, a drop of 17.5%.

The by-election was evidence of severe voter dissatisfaction with the Whitlam government. It is widely regarded as contributing to Fraser’s decision to block the budget in October 1975.

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