ID 1654

Parliament of South Australia, House of Assembly election

Election of 13 March 1860

Show only vote and seat summary details

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General election for the House of Assembly
South Australia
Date of election (or first day of voting at elections held over more than one day)
13 March 1860

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)
Premier's party affiliation
Support from parliamentary factions and independents
House of Assembly support for government at election
If coalition, coalition partner(s)

Government in office after election

Premier's party affiliation
Support from parliamentary factions and independents
House of Assembly support for government after election
If coalition, coalition partner(s)

Enrolment and voting

Total number of voters on the roll
Number of Assembly seats
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 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
Not applicable
Informal (invalid) ballots in multiple voting system
Electoral system
Male franchise at 21 years, single and multimember districts, first past the post (plurality) voting (see notes)

South Australia, House of Assembly votes and seats won

Display Chart

Election held on 13 March 1860
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 n Uncontested seats held n Seat share %
Independents (no disciplined party groupings)  16,495  100.00  0.00  36  100.00 
Votes for other than listed parties 0 0.00 0.00       
Totals 16,495  100.00    36  100.00 

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Election dates: Elections were held on 13 and 23 March, and 3 April 1860.

Premier in office at election: There had been three changes of Premier since the first Assembly election in 1857. Premier Finniss had been commissioned as Colonial Secretary -- the equivalent of head of government -- as a member of the part-elected Legislative Council that had been set up in 1851 to advise the Governor on the government of the colony of South Australia. Finniss remained as Colonial Secretary until the South Australian Constitution Act 1855-6 (see 'Sources', below) established the House of Assembly and responsible government in 1856. On 24 October 1856, Finniss became Chief Secretary -- the successor to the Colonial Secretary and the office often associated with being Premier -- until the first general election was held for the House of Assembly on 9 March 1857. He remained as Premier after the election, leading the first elected government of South Australia for five months until his government was defeated in a confidence vote in the Assembly on 24 August 1857.

After the defeat of Finniss, there were two governments which fell in rapid succession, those led by Baker (21 August to 1 September 1857) and Torrens (1 to 30 September 1857). Hanson was commissioned to form a government on 30 September 1857 and, after reconstructing his ministry on two occasions (see Howell, pp 108-109, in 'References', below), led the government into the election held in 1860 (this election).

Premier in office after election: The Hanson government had continued after the election but was defeated '... by a fresh vote of censure in May 1860' (Howell, p.109, in 'References', below), and Reynolds, who had moved the no confidence motion against the Hanson government, was commissioned to form a government on 9 May 1860.

Franchise and qualification of members: The Constitution Act (see ‘Sources’, below) provided for universal manhood suffrage for every man over the age of 21 years who was a British subject and had been listed on the electoral roll of an electoral district for six months before the date of the election (section 16). To be a member of the Assembly, the person had to be eligible to vote for the Assembly and have lived in South Australia for five years (sections 14, 15). Jaensch notes that 'Aboriginal persons had the franchise from the beginning.' Jaensch, p.2 in 'Sources', below.

These provisions for voting at House of Assembly elections and for membership of the Assembly were more liberal than provisions for the first assemblies of other Australian colonies; these often required property and occupational qualifications for voting and membership of the assembly. Plural voting -- the ability of an elector to vote in as many districts as the elector owned property -- applied in all other colonies for assembly elections until the 1890s, but never existed for the South Australian House of Assembly. The South Australian Constitution Act also provided that aliens could vote and be elected members of the Assembly if they had been resident in the colony for five years (section 15).

Electoral administration and the secret ballot: To implement the the Constitution Act of 1855-6, a comprehensive set of rules for the 1857 House of Assembly election was put in place by the old Legislative Council in the Electoral Act of 1855-6. This included provisions for the secret ballot, a major goal for political reform in all the Australian colonies. For details and references see the notes to the 1857 Assembly election.

Several changes to the administration of elections, including the method of voting (see below) were made by the Electoral Act of 1857-8 (see 'Sources', below).

Electoral system and voting: For the House of Assembly election in 1860, 36 members were to be elected from 17 electoral districts for a term of three years unless the Assembly was dissolved sooner. There were 3 single member districts, 12 districts with 2 members, 1 district with 3 members (Burra and Clare) and 1 with 6 members (City of Adelaide). Voters in multimember districts had the option of casting as many votes on their ballot as there were members to be elected from their district (multiple voting with a block vote); for Adelaide, this meant six votes for each ballot. Electors cast their ballots by putting a cross in the box next to the names of candidates they wished to elect, and the most chosen candidates were elected (plurality voting). (This was a change from the previous election (1857) when voters had to cross out the names of candidates they did not wish to elect; see Electoral Act 1857-8, section 31.)

In multimember districts, voters could choose to 'plump' by voting for only one candidate. Jaensch (see 'Sources', below) provides details for the number of plumped ballots at South Australian Assembly elections where figures are available.

Election results and sources: The election figures in the tables above were calculated from the individual electoral district results for the 1860 Assembly election compiled by Jaensch from results published in newspapers (see Jaensch in ‘Sources’ below).

In this Assembly election (1860), 55 candidates sought election to the Assembly's 36 seats. Five of the 17 electoral districts (8 seats) were uncontested, resulting in 8 candidates being elected unopposed. The number of ballots cast is only available for 10 of the 12 contested electoral districts, the number of formal (valid) ballots is only available for 9 districts, and the number of informal (invalid) ballots is only available for 11 districts. This means that entries of ballots cast and informal (invalid) ballots listed in the table 'Enrolment and voting', above, are understated.

There were no disciplined political parties at this election. Once elected, '... each member of parliament was free to offer his support and make alliances in the ways best suited to serve his constituents, the welfare of the whole colony, or his own interest and ambition. Members did not divide on clear grounds of policy or principle.' Hirst, p.67 in 'References', below. The resulting pattern of shifting individual and factional alliance in the Assembly characterised South Australian politics until the 1880s. For a discussion of the nature and consequences of the absence of parties during this period, see Howell, pp 122-123, and Jaensch, 'South Australia', pp 249-251, both in 'References', below.

References: The background to the establishment of responsible government in South Australia is well covered in Fort, pp 4-16 (see 'Sources', below), and in greater detail in Anna Munyard, 'Making a Polity: 1836-1857', and Keith Seaman, 'The South Australian Constitution Act of 1856', chapters 3 (pp 52-75) and 4 (pp 76-94) in Dean Jaensch (editor), The Flinders History of South Australia: Political History, (Netley, SA: Wakefield Press, 1986, ISBN 0949268518). Note also John M Ward, 'The Responsible Government Question in Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania, 1851-1856', Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, 63 (4) March 1978: 221-247.

A detailed history of South Australia to 1857 can be found in Douglas Pike, Paradise of Dissent: South Australia 1829-1857, (London: Longmans Green and Co., 1957), and a survey of the introduction of responsible government in South Australia from 1836 and early parliaments after 1857 is provided in Combe 2009, pp 8-110 in 'Sources', below.

The question of the nature of politics in South Australia during the period up to 1890 is covered by P A Howell, 'Constitutional and Political Development, 1857-1890', in Dean Jaensch (editor), The Flinders History of South Australia: Political History, ch. 5, (Netley, SA: Wakefield Press, 1986, ISBN 0949268518), and note Dean Jaensch, 'South Australia', in P Loveday, A W Martin, & R S Parker, (editors), The Emergence of the Australian Party System, ch. 5, (Sydney: Hale & Iremonger, 1977, ISBN 0908094035). While focused on a later period, useful background can also be found in the section on 'Representation' (pp 65-75) in J B Hirst, Adelaide and the Country 1870-1917: Their Social and Political Relationship, (Carlton, Vic.: Melbourne University Press, 1973, ISBN 0522840450).


Dean Jaensch, History of South Australian Elections 1857-2006, Volume 1: House of Assembly, (Rose Park, South Australia: State Electoral Office, 2007, ISBN 9780975048634). Note that some of the figures calculated by adding the results from individual electoral districts listed for each Assembly election (those used in the tables above) may differ from the summary figures provided in Jaensch's table, 'House of Assembly: Enrolment and Turnout', in Appendix 1, p.358.

Carol S Fort, Electing Responsible Government: South Australia 1857, (Adelaide: State Electoral Office, South Australia State Electoral Office Research Series, 2001, ABN 99891752468, ISSN 14433621).

Gordon D Combe, Responsible Government in South Australia, (Adelaide: Government Printer, 1957); reprinted [with changed pagination] as Gordon D Combe, Responsible Government in South Australia, Volume 1, From Foundations to Playford, (Kent Town, South Australia: Wakefield Press, 2009, ISBN 9781862548435); also available online through Google Books, here. Page references in the text above are to the 2009 edition.

'An Act to establish a Constitution for South Australia, and to grant a Civil List to Her Majesty', 1855-56, No. 2. online here, and a transcript of the Act here [accessed 21 September 2018].

SA Electoral Act 1857-8, No.12, online here [accessed 15 October 2018].