ID 1254

Parliament of Western Australia Legislative Council election

Election of 13 May 1908

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Election for the Legislative Council
Western Australia
Date of election
13 May 1908
Type of Legislative Council election
Biennial periodic elections; third of Council to be elected
Related or previous Assembly election

Government support in Legislative Council at and after election

Government majority in Legislative Council at date of election
Government majority in new Legislative Council

Composition of the Legislative Council and seats to be filled at this election

Total number of seats in the Legislative Council
If the Legislative Council has staggered terms, the number of seats to be filled at this election
Casual vacancies (by-elections) and additional seats to be filled at this election (see notes)
Not applicable
Total seats to be filled at this election

Enrolment and voting

Total number of voters on the roll
Number of uncontested seats
If uncontested seats, number of voters on the roll in uncontested seats
Number of voters on the roll in contested seats
Total number of candidates
Total ballots cast (may differ from number of votes in multiple voting systems)
Turnout (rate of voting in contested seats)
Total valid votes
Rate of informal (invalid) voting
Informal (invalid) ballots in multiple voting system
Not applicable
Electoral system
Property franchise; plural voting permitted; preferential voting (the alternative vote), optional preferences; 10 multimember districts with staggered six year fixed terms (see notes)

Western Australia, Legislative Council votes and seats won, and seats held

Display Chart

Elections held in 13 May 1908
Criteria for the inclusion of parties in this table are set out in the Glossary under 'listed party'

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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 % Uncontested seats at this election n Seats held by party n Seats held by party %
Independents  15  9,949  80.57  +18.69  90.00  27  90.00 
Australian Labor Party  2,400  19.43  -7.26  10.00    6.67 
National Parliamentary League        -11.43        3.33 
Totals 18  12,349  100.00    10  100.00  30  100.00 

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History of the Legislative Council: For information and references on the origins and early history of the Legislative Council, see the notes for the 1894 Legislative Council elections.

Franchise: The Electoral Act Amendment Act of 1899 had enfranchised women for the Legislative Council (and for the Legislative Assembly), but property requirements remained and women were not entitled to become members of the Legislative Council. The franchise for the Legislative Council was restricted to those of twenty-one years of age who were British subjects '... and have resided in Western Australia for at least twelve months. Electors had to satisfy a property qualification, i.e., possess freehold property worth at least One Hundred Pounds, as a householder occupy a dwelling of clear annual value of Twenty-Five Pounds ...., hold a leasehold estate of similar annual value, or hold a mining or pastoral lease with an annual rental of at least Ten Pounds', David Black, Legislative Council, p. 4 (see 'Sources', below). After 1899, joint owners, occupiers, leaseholders or licensees not exceeding four persons for any one property of the required value, could register as voters; see David Black, Legislative Council, p. 5 (see 'Sources', below).

'Aboriginals were debarred from voting except in terms of the freehold qualification', David Black, Legislative Council, p. 4 (see 'Sources', below). Plural voting was permitted for those who had the qualifications for the franchise in more than one province (electoral district) for the Legislative Council.

Qualifications for candidates: To be eligible for election to the Legislative Council, candidates had to be men who were electors '... of at least thirty years of age who had resided in the colony for two years and were natural born British subjects or had been naturalised for at least five years prior to the election', David Black, Legislative Council, p. 4 (see 'Sources', below)

Representation and voting: The Legislative Council had ten provinces (electoral districts) each returning three members. Members had staggered six year fixed terms, one of the three members from each province retiring every two years at periodic elections; '... the date of retirement for each senior member [the member in the sixth year of his term] would be computed on a two yearly basis as from 21 May in the year of the previous biennial election', David Black, Legislative Council, p. 4 (see 'Sources', below).

New Electoral system: The Electoral Act of 1907 replaced the first past the post (plurality) voting system by introducing preferential voting (the alternative vote) with optional preferences for Legislative Council elections. A voter could vote for one candidate, or could rank candidates in order of the voter's preference. There has been some confusion over the electoral system introduced in 1907 with some sources labeling it as contingent voting; the Act makes clear, however, that the procedure used was preferential voting with optional preferences even though the Act uses the term 'contingent votes' to describe the indication of preferences other than the first preference (see the Electoral Act 1907, sections 127 and 143).

Seats held by party: The previous Legislative Council elections in 1906 were the first at which candidates affiliated with political parties won representation. These successful candidates would continue to sit in the Legislative Council as members until their six year terms expired; the total number of members in the Legislative Council affiliated with each party after an election is shown in the seats held by party column of the 'Votes and seats' table, above.

References: For a description of the context of electoral politics and the emergence of political parties in Western Australia, see Brian de Garis, 'Self-Government and the Emergence of Political Parties, 1890-1911', in David Black (editor), The House on the Hill: A History of the Parliament of Western Australia 1832-1990, pp 63-95 , (Perth: Western Australian Parliamentary History Project, Parliament of Western Australia, 1991, ISBN 0730939839); Brian de Garis, 'Western Australia', in P Loveday, A W Martin and R S Parker (editors), The Emergence of the Australian Party System, pp 298-354, (Sydney: Hale & Iremonger, 1977, ISBN 0908094035); H J Gibney, 'Western Australia', in D J Murphy (editor), Labor in Politics: The State Labor Parties in Australia 1880-1920, pp 343-385, (St Lucia, Qld: University of Queensland Press, 1975, ISBN 0702209392).

Changes in the composition of the Western Australian Parliament and the rapid emergence of party politics are surveyed in C T Stannage, 'The Composition of the Western Australian Parliament: 1890-1911', University Studies in History, IV (4) 1966: 1-40.


Information for this election was taken from David Black, Legislative Council of Western Australia: Membership Register, Electoral Law and Statistics 1890-1989, (Perth: Western Australian Parliamentary History Project, 1989, revised 1991, ISBN 0730936414). David Black, An Index to Parliamentary Candidates in Western Australian Elections State and Federal 1890-2006, 2nd edition, (Perth: Western Australian History Project, 2006, ISBN 920830774) has been used to identify the party affiliation of some candidates.