1940 Australian federal election

The 1940 Australian federal election was held in Australia on 21 September 1940. All 74 seats in the House of Representatives and 19 of the 36 seats in the Senate were up for election. The incumbent Coalition, consisting of the United Australia Party led by Prime Minister Robert Menzies and the Country Party led by Archie Cameron, defeated the opposition Labor Party under John Curtin despite losing the overall popular vote.

1940 Australian federal election

 1937 21 September 1940 1943 

All 74 seats of the House of Representatives
38 seats were needed for a majority in the House
19 (of the 36) seats of the Senate
  First party Second party
 
Leader Robert Menzies John Curtin
Party UAP/Country coalition Labor
Leader since 26 April 1939 1 October 1935
Leader's seat Kooyong (Vic.) Fremantle (WA)
Last election 44 seats 29 seats
Seats won 36 seats 32 seats
Seat change 8 3
Percentage 49.70% 50.30%
Swing 0.90% 0.90%

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

Prime Minister before election

Robert Menzies
UAP/Country coalition

Subsequent Prime Minister

Robert Menzies
UAP/Country coalition

The Coalition had won 36 seats, two short of a majority, but formed a government on 28 October 1940 with the support of both independent crossbenchers, Alexander Wilson and Arthur Coles. The four MPs elected to Lang Labor's successor, the Australian Labor Party (Non-Communist), officially re-joined the ALP just months after the election in February 1941, bringing the ALP seat tally up to 36. The UAP–Country minority government lasted only until October 1941, when the two independents crossed the floor and allowed the ALP to form a minority government with Curtin as prime minister. It remains the only time since the 1910 introduction of an elected two-party system where the government changed as the result of a parliamentary confidence vote.

Future opposition leaders H.V. Evatt and Arthur Calwell both entered parliament at this election.