ID 0451

Parliament of Victoria, Assembly election

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General election for the Assembly Victoria 
Date of election (or first day of voting at elections held over more than one day) 1 October 1902

Government in office and parliamentary support before and after the election

Government in office at election

Premier in office at date of election. (check notes to see if change of Premier since previous election) William Hill Irvine
Premier's party affiliation Reform 
Assembly support for government at election Minority 
If coalition, coalition partner(s)  

Government in office after election

Premier in office after election. William Hill Irvine
Premier's party affiliation Reform
Assembly support for government after election Minority 
If coalition, coalition partner(s)  
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Enrolment and voting

Total number of voters on the roll 290,241 
Number of Assembly seats 95 
Number of uncontested seats 25 
If uncontested seats, number of voters on the roll in uncontested seats 74,178 
Number of voters on the roll in contested seats 216,063 
Total ballots cast (may differ from number of votes in multiple voting systems) 141,320 
Turnout (rate of voting in contested seats) 65.41% 
Total valid votes 171,015 
Rate of informal (invalid) voting Not applicable
Informal (invalid) ballots in multiple voting system 606
Electoral system Manhood suffrage, single and multimember districts (multiple voting), first past the post (plurality) voting 

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Victoria, Assembly votes and seats won

Election held on 1 October 1902
Criteria for the inclusion of parties in this table are set out in the Glossary under 'listed party'

Party Name First preference vote n First preference vote share % Change from previous election % Seats won n Uncontested seats held n Seat share %
Ministerialists with Citizens Reform League endorsement 71,951  42.07  *     47  19  49.47 
Opposition 30,929  18.09  *     15  15.79 
Australian Labor Party 30,804  18.01  *     12  12.63 
Independent Ministerialists 22,997  13.45  *     7.37 
Ministerialists 9,028  5.28  -18.00     11  11.58 
Independent Labor 3,202  1.87  *     2.11 
Citizens Reform League 2,104  1.23  *     1.05 
Votes for other than listed parties 0.00  0.00          
Totals 171,015  100.00    95  25  100.00 


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* Party did not contest previous election or did not meet criteria for listing, or contested previous election under a different party name.

Notes

Premier in office at election: There had been two changes of Premier since the previous Legislative Assembly election in November 1900 after which Turner had become Premier. 'A change in the leadership occurred when Turner accepted the post of Treasurer in the [first] Commonwealth cabinet, and was followed as Premier and Treasurer by Peacock.' Hughes and Graham 1968, p.109 (see 'Sources', below). Peacock was commissioned as Premier on 12 February 1901.

The Peacock government was forced to resign after the Assembly passed a motion on 3 June 1902 censuring the ministry for its failure to implement a commitment to reduce the number of ministers (see Hughes and Graham, p.109 in 'Sources', below). Wright provides context for the emergence of the Citizens' Reform League and the populist Kyabram reform movement with their demands for constitutional reform and the reduction in size of the Victorian parliament and government that contributed to Peacock's defeat (Wright, pp 118-119, see 'Sources', below), and see Rickard, pp 120-121, in 'References', below.

Irvine was commissioned on 10 June 1902, and became Premier of a Reform ministry. 'Irvine was essentially a radical Tory and the wider purpose of his constitutional reforms was to strengthen the capacity of Victorian anti-socialists to repel the assaults of the Labor Party.... ... In seizing the initiative and dictating the political agenda, Irvine also weakened the position of Peacock and his followers and effectively brought to an end the old Liberal-Labor alliance.' Rickard, p.125 (see 'References', below). Irvine chose to call an election after his reform program was rejected by the Legislative Council. He was supported by the Citizens' Reform League with its '... strong commitment to parliamentary retrenchment.' Hughes and Graham 1968, p.472, in 'Sources', below.

Premier in office after election: The Irvine government was returned at this election (1902) with support from a range of conservative groups and some dissident Liberals (see Rickard, pp 120-122, in 'References', below..

Electoral system and voting: The Electoral Act Amendment Act of 1888 had increased the number Legislative Assembly seats from 86 to 95 and the number of electoral districts from 55 to 84, 73 of which were single member districts and 11 two member districts. Voters in multimember districts had the option of casting as many votes as there were members to be elected from their district (see multiple voting), or they could plump for a single candidate. Voters cast their ballots by crossing off the names of candidates they did not wish to elect, and the most chosen candidate or candidates were elected (plurality voting).

A detailed summary of the electoral provisions in effect at the time of this election is provided by 'Victoria: Electoral Law', in Hughes and Graham 1968, pp 461-462 (see 'Sources', below).

Election results and sources: The principal source for election results in this Database for the Victorian Legislative Assembly up to the 1889 election has been Carr's Psephos online election archive 'Victorian Elections Since 1843' (and see 'Sources', below). This invaluable source provides electoral district results collected from contemporary newspapers and other authoritative sources. From the Assembly election in 1892 and subsequent elections until 2000, summary election results are taken from Hughes and Graham 1968 (see 'Sources' below) and its supplements, unless otherwise indicated. Carr's archive remains useful as an online source of electoral district results and supplementary information about candidates.

Factions and political parties: During this period, factional alignments began to evolve into political parties with party discipline and organizations designed to support candidates (see generally, Rawson, in ‘References’, below). But the evolution was far from complete and support from a party organization at election time was not always a guide to how members would vote in the Assembly.

The result is that candidates at Victorian Assembly elections until 1911 can be broadly categorized in two ways; whether being Conservative, Labor or Liberal in their partisan preferences, or whether they supported or opposed the government at the time of the election as Ministerialists or Opposition, respectively. At this election (1902), Hughes and Graham use the second categorization (see the table above); factional allegiances were fluid and the '... Opposition was disunited, and its leader, Peacock, did not make a policy speech.' Hughes and Graham 1968, pp 472-473, in 'Sources', below). The variety of listings for Ministerialists illustrates the range of parliamentary groups and factions.

Australian Labor Party: Although not officially called by this name until 1916 (see Strangio, p.122, in 'References', below), the principal organizational features of the Australian Labor Party had been in place since the 1902 Assembly election. The establishment of the Political Labor Council (PLC) in 1901 '... as the party's supreme body, enforcing for the first time an effective pledge on on the Labor members of parliament.' Rawson, p.91. The label 'Australian Labor Party' is used for all Victorian Legislative Assembly elections in this Database since 1902.

Independent Labor: Two candidates (George Sangster and William A Trenwith) were elected who ran without the endorsement of the Political Labor Council as Independent Labor candidates; for context and references, see the previous note.

References: For a review of politics at the time of this election, see John Rickard, '"Iceberg" Irvine and the Politics of Anti-Labor', ch. 8, in Paul Strangio and Brian Costar, (editors), The Victorian Premiers 1856-2006, (Sydney: Federation Press, 2006, ISBN 9781862876019). The works by Bongiorno and Rawson referred to in the next paragraph also provide broad coverage of the politics in this period. For a study of the Victorian parliament during this period, see, Wright, ch. 7 (see 'Sources', below).

The emergence of political parties is analyzed in D W Rawson, ‘Victoria’, in P Loveday, A W Martin and R S Parker (editors), The Emergence of the Australian Party System, pp 44-116, (Sydney: Hale & Iremonger, 1977, ISBN 0908094035) and the evolution of the Labor Party is dealt with in Frank Bongiorno, The People's Party: Victorian Labor and the Radical Tradition 1875-1914 (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1996, ISBN 0522847382), and Paul Strangio, Neither Power Nor Glory: 100 years of Political Labor in Victoria, 1856-1956, (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2012, ISBN 9780522861822).

Sources

Colin A Hughes and B D Graham, A Handbook of Australian Government and Politics 1890-1964, (Canberra: Australian National University Press, 1968, SBN 708102700); Colin A Hughes and B D Graham,Voting for the Victoria[n] Legislative Assembly 1890-1964, (Canberra: Department of Political Science, Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University, 1975, ISBN 070811332X).

Adam Carr, 'The Nineteenth Parliament Elected 1 [October] 1902', in 'Legislative Assembly Elections', Victorian Elections Since 1843, Psephos: Adam Carr's Election Archive, online here [accessed 15 September 2016].

Raymond Wright, A People's Counsel: A History of the Parliament of Victoria 1856-1990, (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1992, ISBN 0195533593)



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