ID 0453

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) 15 March 1907

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) Thomas Bent
Premier's party affiliation Reform 
Assembly support for government at election Majority 
If coalition, coalition partner(s)  

Government in office after election

Premier in office after election. Thomas Bent
Premier's party affiliation Reform
Assembly support for government after election Majority 
If coalition, coalition partner(s)  
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Enrolment and voting

Total number of voters on the roll 261,080 
Number of Assembly seats 65 
Number of uncontested seats 20 
If uncontested seats, number of voters on the roll in uncontested seats 69,957 
Number of voters on the roll in contested seats 191,123 
Total ballots cast (may differ from number of votes in multiple voting systems) 117,098 
Turnout (rate of voting in contested seats) 61.27% 
Total valid votes 116,407 
Rate of informal (invalid) voting 0.59%
Informal (invalid) ballots in multiple voting system Not applicable
Electoral system Manhood suffrage, single member districts, first past the post (plurality) voting (see notes) 

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Victoria, Assembly votes and seats won

Election held on 15 March 1907
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 59,785  51.36  +15.22     49  18  75.38 
Australian Labor Party 40,044  34.40  +1.85     14  21.54 
Independent Ministerialists 11,029  9.47  +4.55     1.54 
Independent Labor 2,795  2.40  +1.03     1.54 
Independents 2,754  2.37  +1.75        
Votes for other than listed parties 0.00  0.00          
Totals 116,407  100.00    65  20  100.00 


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Notes

Premier in office at election: Premier Bent and his ministry had been returned with majority support at the previous election in 1904. Just before the 1907 election '... the Mackinnon group of Oppositionists [Liberals] joined the Ministerialist group with the avowed objective of preventing Labor gains through a divided non-Labor vote.' Hughes and Graham 1968, p.475 in 'Sources', below, and see 'Factions and political parties', below.

Premier in office after election: The Bent government was returned at this election (1907) with a large majority; the Ministerialists held three-quarters of the seats, and the Labor party became the official opposition. While the government's large majority provided short term gains, the strains within the Ministerialist 'Fusion' led to its collapse before the next election; for context, see Rawson, pp 95-103, in 'References', below.

Electoral system and voting: The Constitution Act 1903 had reduced the size of the Legislative Assembly to 68 members, 65 of whom were to be elected from single member electoral districts, and three from seats for government employees; one was to be elected by public servants, and two seats by railway officials. These three special seats for government employees were abolished before this election (1907) by the Constitution Act 1906. The purpose and experience of giving special representatives to public servants and railway employees is discussed in Wright, p.126 (see 'Sources', below, and note Rawson, p.93, in 'References', below).

Apart the abolition of the seats for public employees, other aspects of electoral law remained largely unchanged (for details, see Hughes and Graham 1968, p.462-463 in 'Sources', below). Voters continued to cast their ballots by crossing off the names of candidates they did not wish to elect, and the most chosen candidate was elected (plurality voting).

Legislation enfranchising women had been debated but had been blocked by the Legislative Council and would have to wait until 1908 to be passed, and not implemented at an election until 1911. For this election (1907) only men who were British subjects, filled the age and residence requirements and were not otherwise disqualified were authorized to vote.

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 (1907), Hughes and Graham 1968 use the second categorization (see the table above), and give a useful summary of how candidates were selected:

'The selection of Ministerialist candidates was supervised by a Cabinet sub-committee, and the "anti-Socialist alliance" of the Citizens' Reform League, the Farmers, Property Owners and Producers' Association, and the Australian Women's League campaigned on their behalf.' Hughes and Graham 1968, p.475 in 'Sources', below.

Carr (see 'Sources below) categorizes the Ministerialists as being part of a 'United Liberal Party' but, although there had been a fusion of anti-Labor interests, it was more an agglomeration of factions rather than a united party, and it fell apart before the next election in 1908 (see Rawson, pp 95-103 in 'References', below).

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.

Three candidates who had been denied Labor endorsement by the PLC ran as Independent Labor candidates, one of whom, Edgar Wilkins, was elected to the seat of Collingwood.

References: For a review of politics at the time of this election, see Weston Bate, 'Tommy Bent, "A Man"', ch 9, 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 Tweny-First Parliament Elected 15 March 1907', in 'Legislative Assembly Elections', Victorian Elections Since 1843, Psephos: Adam Carr's Election Archive, online here [accessed 17 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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