ID 1663

Parliament of South Australia, House of Assembly election

Election of 8 April 1884

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)
8 April 1884

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
Conservative Ministerialists
House of Assembly support for government at election
If coalition, coalition partner(s)

Government in office after election

Premier in office after election.
Premier's party affiliation
Liberal Ministerialists
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, two-member districts, first past the post (plurality) voting (see notes)

South Australia, House of Assembly votes and seats won

Display Chart

Election held on 8 April 1884
Criteria for the inclusion of parties in this table are set out in the Glossary under 'listed party'

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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)  44,040  100.00  0.00  52  100.00 
Votes for other than listed parties 0 0.00 0.00       
Totals 44,040  100.00    52  100.00 

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Election dates: Elections were held on 8 and 23 April 1884.

Premier in office at election: The Morgan government had continued in office after the April 1881 general election for the Assembly. But, on 21 June 1881 '... private [financial] circumstances compelled Premier Morgan to resign and his colleagues consequently retired.' Combe 2009, p.112 in 'Sources', below. After various consultations, Bray was able to form a government.

Although the reason for the termination of the Morgan ministry was the resignation of the Premier for personal financial reasons, the Bray government did not include any of the ministers who had served in the previous administration, five of whom were available as members of parliament in June 1881. This indicates a consolidation of factional support that can be seen as a precursor to the emergence of political parties; see 'Factions and political parties', below.

Bray led the government at this general election for the House of Assembly in 1884.

Premier in office after election: Before Parliament met after the 1884 election, Premier Bray had restructured his ministry with two new members but, on the second day of the new parliamentary session, an amendment to the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply was moved by John Colton. 'The outcome was the defeat of the Government by a majority of six.' Combe 2009, p.117 in 'Sources', below. Colton was commissioned to form a government on 16 June 1884.

This was the second election in a row at which a new government had been formed as soon as the Assembly met after the election, a sequence that became more common with the emergence of the party system; see 'Factions and political parties', below.

Electoral system and voting: Most of the rules governing elections had been consolidated in the Electoral Act of 1879 but the Constitution Amendment Act of 1882 had increased the number of members of the House of Assembly by six to 52, elected from 26 two-member electoral districts (see 'Sources', below).

Voters in multimember districts 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 1884 Assembly election compiled by Jaensch from results published in newspapers (see Jaensch in ‘Sources’ below). In one electoral district (Wooroora) no figures were available for the total number of ballots cast or informal (invalid) ballots. In this Assembly election (1884), 98 candidates sought election to the Assembly's 52 seats. Two of the 26 electoral districts were uncontested; this resulted in 4 candidates being elected unopposed.

Factions and political parties: The pattern of shifting individual and factional alliances in the Assembly that had characterised South Australian politics and had prompted the frequent turnover in governments, had began to change after the 1881 election. Members still contested elections as independents but saw themselves as linked to other candidates by their support for a particular premier or government. The label ministerialist can be used to describe this form of pre-party organization and the labels 'conservative' or 'radical' (liberal) began to be loosely attached to some members of these groupings. These loose associations could form the basis for governments that stayed in office for substantial periods. For discussion of these issues, see 'References', below.

References: 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). A study of South Australian society and politics from 1870 to 1890 can be found in the first 3 chapters of J B Hirst, Adelaide and the Country 1870-1917: Their Social and Political Relationship, (Carlton, Vic.: Melbourne University Press, 1973, ISBN 0522840450). See also 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).

A survey of government in South Australia from 1836 to 1957 is provided in Combe 2009 (see, 'Sources', below).


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.

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.

SA Electoral Act (No.141 of 1879) here [accessed 21 January 2019].

SA Constitution Amendment Act (No.279 of 1882) here [accessed 21 January 2019].