ID 0465

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) 2 October 1937

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) Albert Arthur Dunstan
Premier's party affiliation United Country Party 
Assembly support for government at election Minority 
If coalition, coalition partner(s)  

Government in office after election

Premier in office after election. Albert Arthur Dunstan
Premier's party affiliation United Country Party
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 1,136,596 
Number of Assembly seats 65 
Number of uncontested seats 20 
If uncontested seats, number of voters on the roll in uncontested seats 287,916 
Number of voters on the roll in contested seats 848,680 
Total ballots cast (may differ from number of votes in multiple voting systems) 797,430 
Turnout (rate of voting in contested seats) 93.96% 
Total valid votes 786,492 
Rate of informal (invalid) voting 1.37%
Informal (invalid) ballots in multiple voting system Not applicable
Electoral system Adult franchise at 21 years, single member districts, preferential voting (AV), compulsory preferences, compulsory voting 

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Victoria, Assembly votes and seats won

Election held on 2 October 1937
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 %
Australian Labor Party 319,670  40.65  +2.71     20  30.77 
United Australia Party 311,168  39.56  +3.39     21  32.31 
United Country Party 89,286  11.35  -2.36     20  11  30.77 
Independents 38,936  4.95  -0.24     4.62 
Independent Labor 11,843  1.51  +0.84     1.54 
Communist Party 5,700  0.72  -0.38        
Progressive Reform Party 4,335  0.55  +0.40        
Independent United Australia Party 4,117  0.52  -3.33        
Independent Country Party 1,437  0.18  *        
Votes for other than listed parties 0.00  0.00          
Totals 786,492  100.00    65  20  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

Government in office at election: The United Country Party minority government led by Premier Dunstan and supported by the Australian Labor Party, had come to power following the previous Assembly election in 1935 after rejecting a coalition arrangement with the United Australia Party (UAP). But the UAP had majority support in the upper house, the Victorian Legislative Council, and used its numbers in the Legislative Council to amend or delay Dunstan's legislative program.

Resistance by the Legislative Council to proposals for changes to its structure, and a favourable political climate prompted Dunstan to call an early general election on the issue of Legislative Council reform (see Costar, p.220, in 'References', below).

Government in office after election: The United Country Party retained its representation in the Assembly with less that a third of the seats, but continued in office as a minority government with the support of the Australian Labor Party which had gained three seats (see Strangio, p.219, in 'References', below).

Australian Labor Party: The reasons for the Labor Party to support the Dunstan United Country Party minority government in 1935, and to continue to do so for the following seven years, are discussed at length in Strangio, ch. 7 (see 'References', below). The incongruity in this relationship is accentuated by the effect of malapportionment that greatly favoured the representation of rural voters and the expense of metropolitan ones.

United Country Party: For a review of the United Country Party under the stewardship Dunstan, see Costar in 'References', below. On the role of the United Country Party in government during this period, see John Paul, 'Albert Dunstan and Victorian Government', in 'References', below.

Independents: Ten candidates ran without any party label as Independents, capturing 5 percent of the first preference vote, with three candidates gaining election; Frederick A Cook won the seat of Benalla, James McLachlan, retained the seat of Gippsland North, and Ivy Lavinia Weber was elected to the seat of Nunawading (see note below).

First woman elected at a general election for the Victorian Legislative Assembly: Ivy Weber was the first woman to be elected at a general election to a seat in the Victorian Parliament (see the article in the Australian Dictionary of Biography, online here [accessed 24 July 2017]. She was elected as an Independent to the seat of Nunawading.

In 1933, Lady Millie Peacock had won a by-election in the Victorian Assembly seat left vacant by the death of her husband, former Premier, Alexander Peacock who died in office in October 1933. Lady Peacock had been urged to contest the seat but did not enjoy the life of a parliamentarian and was not a candidate for her seat at the 1935 general election for the Legislative Assembly.

Independent Labor: Reflecting some continuing dissension within the Australian Labor Party, two Independent Labor candidates contested this election. Bond, who had left the Australian Labor Party and was elected as a Premiers' Plan Labor candidate in 1932, retained his seat as an Independent Labor candidate at this election (1937).

Communist Party: Two Communist Party candidates contested this election (1937) but with little effect; fewer than 1 percent of voters supported them.

Defectors from non-Labor parties: Three candidates each ran with their own partisan affiliation; one Progressive Reform, one Independent United Australia Party, and one Independent Country Party; none was elected.

References: The unhappy position of the Australian Labor Party in Victoria during this period is extensively reviewed in Paul Strangio, Neither Power Nor Glory: 100 years of Political Labor in Victoria, 1856-1956, ch. 7, (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2012, ISBN 9780522861822), and Peter Aimer surveys the history of the United Australia Party in Victoria as a precursor to the Liberal Party in Peter Aimer, Politics, Power & Persuasion: The Liberals in Victoria, ch. 1 (East Hawthorn, (Vic.: James Bennett, 1974, ISBN 0909595011).

The Dunstan government is surveyed in Brian Costar, 'Albert Dunstan: The Jumping Jack Premier', in Paul Strangio and Brian Costar, (editors), The Victorian Premiers 1856-2006, ch. 17, (Sydney: Federation Press, 2006, ISBN 9781862876019), and in John Paul, 'Albert Dunstan and Victorian Government', in Cameron Hazelhurst (editor), Australian Conservatism: Essays in Twentieth Century Political History, pp 169-191 (Canberra: Australian National University Press, 1979, ISBN 0708113591). For a study of Victorian politics during this period, see Wright, pp 162-165, (in 'Sources', below).

Sources

For this election (1937), there is agreement between the three sources below on the total number of valid votes and the seats won by the largest three parties, but there are small differences in the vote shares for the Australian Labor Party and the United Australia Party; all three sources agree on the votes cast for the United Country Party.

The variations result from differences in the way some party and Independent candidates are categorized. In the table above, votes for the Australian Labor Party and the United Australia Party, together with the votes and partisan affiliation of minor party and Independent candidates are all calculated from Hughes and Graham 1975, supplemented by Carr's online Election Archive (for more information, see the notes, above).

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, 'Thirty-third Parliament Elected 2 October 1937', in 'Legislative Assembly Elections', Victorian Elections Since 1843, Psephos: Adam Carr's Election Archive, online here [accessed 20 July 2017].

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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