Election held on 22 May 1891
Criteria for the inclusion of parties in this table are set out in the Glossary under 'listed party'
|Party Name||First preference vote n||First preference vote share %||Change from previous election %||Seats won n||Uncontested seats held n||Seat share %|
|Votes for other than listed parties||1,794||8.20||+8.20|
* Party did not contest previous election or did not meet criteria for listing, or contested previous election under a different party name.
Premier in office at election: There had been a change of Premier since the previous House of Assembly general election in 1886. 'Following the 1886 election in which the 'Continuous Ministry' lost seats (Reynolds, pp 151-167, see 'References', below), the government suffered a series of reverses and eventually Agnew resigned. [William] Moore was sent for on the advice of Agnew, but was unable to form a government, and the opposition group formed a new ministry led by Fysh', Hughes and Graham, p. 253 (see 'Sources', below). For summary details of these changes of Premier and references on their careers, see the entries for each Premier in the 'Periods in office' component of this website.
Franchise: Several important changes had been made to the electoral system in 1884-1885 (see generally Bennett and Bennett, pp 7-8, see 'Sources', below). The qualification for voting for the House of Assembly were changed so that 'citizens merely needed to be on the Assessment Roll as owners or occupiers of property, or be in receipt of salary or wages of £60 p.a', Bennett and Bennett, p. 8 (see 'Sources', below). Plural voting was permitted for those who had the qualifications for the franchise in more than one electoral district.
Electoral system and voting: The number of seats in the House of Assembly was increased in 1885 to 36 with members chosen from 20 single member electoral districts and 8 two-member electoral districts. Voters were required to strike out the names of candidates on a printed ballot paper until only one name (single member districts) or two names (two member districts) remained on the ballot. Votes were counted by the first past the post (plurality) method and cast using the secret ballot (see Newman in 'References', below).
Differences in voting figures: The aggregate voting figures shown in the tables above for this election are calculated from information published in Bennett and Bennett (see 'Sources', below). Hughes and Graham p. 592 (see 'Sources', below) provide figures which differ slightly from those of Bennett and Bennett: total enrolment in contested seats 25,832; total enrolment 30,875; total ballots cast 16,439; informal (invalid) ballots 413; total valid votes 21,919. The figures for party groupings in the table above are those provided by Hughes and Graham (see note below).
Ministerialists and the emergence of political parties During the 1890s, the factional politics of previous years began to give way to political groupings and electoral organizations which foreshadowed the emergence of modern political parties. The labels Ministerialists, Opposition and Independents in the table above are provided by Hughes and Graham to indicate the groupings of members elected at the election and their likely support for the government. But these groupings were fluid and did not represent organized political parties of the kind which existed after 1909. As Hughes and Graham indicate, the Fysh ministry '...might be described as 'Liberal' because of its support for reform issues. However, the Southern Tasmanian Political Reform Association formed in 1885 had disappeared in 1887 after supporting five candidates in the 1886 election. There were no extra-parliamentary organisations in politics, and most candidates were fairly independent', Hughes and Graham, p. 592 (see 'Sources', below)
For studies of the emergence of political parties in Tasmania, see Patrick Weller, 'Tasmania' in P Loveday, A W Martin and R S Parker (editors), The Emergence of the Australian Party System, pp 355-382 (Sydney: Hale & Iremonger, 1977, ISBN 0908094035), and R P Davis, 'Tasmania', in D J Murphy (editor), Labor in Politics: The State Labor Parties in Australia 1880-1920, pp 389-445, (St Lucia, Qld: University of Queensland Press, 1975, ISBN 0702209392).
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, (Hobart: L G Shea, Government Printer, ), and W A Townsley, Tasmania From Colony to Statehood 1803-1945, (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 party groupings shown in the table 'Tasmania, Assembly, votes and seats won' are taken from Colin A Hughes and B D Graham, A Handbook of Australian Government and Politics 1890-1964, (Canberra: Australian National University Press, 1968, SBN 708102700); see notes above.
The difficulties of determining the accuracy of early Tasmanian election results are 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.