ID 0745

Commonwealth Parliament, Senate election

Election of 16 December 1903


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General election for the Senate
Commonwealth of Australia
Date of election
16 December 1903
Type of Senate election
Half Senate with House of Representatives

Government in office at Senate election

Prime Minister in office at date of Senate election. (check notes to Senate national summary table to see if change of Prime Minister since previous election)
Prime Minister's party affiliation
Protectionist Party
Government majority in Senate at date of election
No
Change of government
No
Government majority in new Senate
No
If coalition, coalition partner(s)

Senate enrolment and voting

Total number of voters on the roll
1,893,586
Total ballots cast (may differ from number of votes in multiple voting systems)
887,312
Turnout (rate of voting in contested seats)
46.86%
Total valid votes
2,872,132
Rate of informal (invalid) voting
Not applicable

Electoral composition of the Senate for this election

Total number of seats in the Senate
36
Total number of seats for each state
6
Number of seats for each territory
Seats to be filled at this Senate election
19
Casual vacancies/additional seats included in seats to be filled
1
Electoral System
Adult franchise at 21 years; multimember districts; first past the post (plurality) voting with multiple votes (block voting)

Senate votes and seats won, and seats held, national summary

Display Chart

Election held on 16 December 1903
Criteria for the inclusion of parties in this table are set out in the Glossary under 'listed party'

* to view table drag left or right.
Party Name First preference vote n First preference vote share % Change from previous election % Seats won by ticket n Seats won by ticket % Seats won by party n Seats won by party % Seats held by party n Seats held by party %
Free Trade Party  986,030  34.33  -5.11  21.05  21.05  12  33.33 
Australian Labor Party   854,628  29.76  +16.25  10  52.63  10  52.63  14  38.89 
Protectionist Party  503,586  17.53  -27.33  15.79  15.79  22.22 
Independents  365,851  12.74  +10.54  5.26  5.26  2.78 
Liberal Party (Qld)  136,727  4.76           
Tariff Reform Party (Tas)  25,310  0.88  5.26  5.26  2.78 
Votes for other than listed parties 0 0.00 0.00             
Totals 2,872,132  100.00    19  100.00  19  100.00  36  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

This election in 1903 was a regular election for half the members of the Senate held at the same time as a general election for the House of Representatives; see terms of senators. The 1903 House of Representatives results can be seen here.

An additional senator had to be elected for Victoria to fill a casual vacancy; note Narelle Miragliotta & Campbell Sharman, 'Managing Midterm Vacancies: Institutional Design and Partisan Strategy in the Australian Parliament 1901–2013', Australian Journal of Political Science, 52(3) 2017: 351-366.

In the table above, see the Glossary distinctions between Seats won by ticket and Seats won by party, and between Seats won by party and Seats held by party.

Electoral system: The Commonwealth Electoral Act 1902 (No.19 of 1902) provided for plurality (first past the post) voting in each state as a multimember electoral district for the selection of senators. Section 150 provided that each voter was required to cast as many votes as there were vacancies to be filled (block voting), selecting three candidates for half Senate elections (more if there were casual vacancies). The multiple voting system for the election of of senators from 1903 to 1917 meant that the number of valid votes was much larger than the number of ballot papers cast. This voting system precludes the usual calculation of the informal (invalid) vote for these elections in the table above.

Ballot design: The design of the Senate ballot paper for the election of senators from each state was set out in Form O of the Electoral Act (Section 131). Candidates were ranked in a single list in alphabetical order of surname; no party affiliation or additional information about candidates was provided unless there were two candidates with the same name and then a geographical location was provided to distinguish them.

Parties: Party allegiances in the period before 1910 were fluid and party labels often referred to loose associations of like minded candidates and parliamentary representatives; see generally, P Loveday, A W Martin, and R S Parker (editors), The Emergence of the Australian Party System, (Sydney: Hale & Iremonger, 1978, ISBN 09080940305). The compilers of this database are grateful to the Department of the Senate for for information on the, sometimes changeable, party affiliation of senators for Senate elections during the period 1901 to 1906.

References: For general reference on the Senate, see: J.R. Odgers, Australian Senate Practice, 5th edition (Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service, 1976); a more recent version is online here [accessed 20 May 2020]; and note Stanley Bach, Platypus and Parliament: The Australian Senate in Theory and Practice (Canberra: Department of the Senate, 2003), online here [accessed 21 May 2020].

Sources

Colin A Hughes and B D Graham, A Handbook of Australian Government and Politics 1890-1964, (Canberra; Australian National University Press, 1968 SBN 708112700); Commonwealth Parliament, Department of the Senate.



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