Elections held in 1856
Criteria for the inclusion of parties in this table are set out in the Glossary under 'listed party'
|Party Name||Candidates n||First preference vote n||First preference vote share %||Change from previous election %||Seats won by party n||Seats won by party %||Seats held by party n||Seats held by party %|
|Independents (No disciplined party groupings)||21||1,988||100.00||*||15||100.00||15||100.00|
* Party did not contest previous election or did not meet criteria for listing, or contested previous election under a different party name.
History of the Legislative Council: In 1825, on the establishment of Tasmania (known as Van Diemen's Land until 1856) as a separate colony from New South Wales, a Legislative Council was set up to assist the Lieutenant-Governor in the government of the colony. The 1825 Legislative Council was made up of the Lieutenant-Governor and six members appointed by the Crown. In 1828, the Legislative Council was reconstituted as a nominated body to advise the Lieutenant-Governor, and was typically composed of six officials from the administration and eight notables nominated by the Lieutenant-Governor, with the Lieutenant-Governor as the presiding officer. From 1851 to 1855, the Legislative Council was changed to a 'blended' Legislative Council of 24 members, 16 elected from a restricted property franchise, and eight officials. When Tasmania achieved responsible government in 1856, the Legislative Council became the upper house of a bicameral legislature, the lower house being the House of Assembly; for details of this period, see W A Townsley, The Struggle for Self-Government in Tasmania 1842-1856 (Hobart: L G Shea, Government Printer, 1951).
Franchise: The franchise for the Legislative Council 'was conferred on males over 21 years who were owners of freehold estate of £50 annual value or who were graduates, barristers, solicitors, medical practitioners, ministers of religion or officers, including retired officers, or Her Majesty's forces'; Townsley, Tasmania, p. 111, (see 'References', below). The franchise had to be claimed annually. Plural voting was permitted for those who had the qualifications for the franchise in more than one electoral district; see Terry Newman, Sandstone and Statutes: A History of the Tasmanian Parliament, (in process), and note Bennett and Bennett, pp 5-6 (see 'Sources', below).
Qualifications for candidates: To be eligible to be a member of the Legislative Council, a candidate had to be a male British subjects of at least 30 years of age and qualified to vote for the Legislative Council.
Electoral system and voting for the first election: The Legislative Council was composed of 15 members to be elected from ten single member districts, a two member district (Tamar), and a three member district (Hobart). The term of each member was six years with a third retiring every five years. 'After the first Council election, the names of the new members were put on a members roll by lot, with the first five on the roll retiring after three years. Every three years thereafter, the first five on the roll were to retire', Bennett and Bennett, p.5 (see 'Sources', below). Voting was by striking out the names of candidates on a printed ballot paper until, for single member districts, only one name remained. In the case of this first elections for Hobart and Tamar, 3 and 2 names respectively had to remain after the names of other candidates on the ballot had been struck out. For all districts, if more or fewer names remained on the ballot than the number of members to be elected from the district, the ballot was declared invalid. Votes were counted by the first past the post (plurality) method and cast using the secret ballot (see Newman in 'References', below).
Missing information for this election: Information on the number of informal (invalid) ballots is available for only one electoral district; this may have understated the number of ballots cast and the rate of informal (invalid) voting in the table above.
References: For a description of the style of elections and parliamentary government in this period, see W A Townsley, 'Electoral Systems and Constituencies', and John Reynolds, 'Premiers and Political Leaders', in F C Green (editor), Tasmania: A Century of Responsible Government 1856-1956, pp 59-65, and 115-192, (Hobart: L G Shea, Government Printer, ), and W A Townsley, Tasmania From Colony to Statehood 1803-1945, pp 111-128 (Hobart: St David's Park Publishing, 1991, ISBN 0724625753). On Tasmania's early adoption of the secret ballot in 1856, see Terry Newman, 'Tasmania and the Secret Ballot', Australian Journal of Politics and History, 9 (1) 2003: 93-101, and note pp 99-100 which gives an idea of the context of voting in early Tasmanian elections.
Voting figures and election results calculated from information in Scott Bennett and Barbara Bennett, Tasmanian Electoral Handbook, 1851-1982, (Kensington, NSW: Reference Section of History Project Incorporated, University of New South Wales, 1983). The difficulties of determining the accuracy of early Tasmanian election results is discussed in Scott Bennett, 'The Statistics of Tasmania and the Study of Tasmanian Elections: A Cautionary Note', in Tasmanian Historical Research Association, Papers and Proceedings, 45(4), December 1998: 237-242.