Election held on 20 January 1897
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||2,413||20.65||+2.02|
* 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 1893. 'When Dobson's financial measures were rejected by the Legislative Council he obtained a dissolution. The December 1893 elections produced few changes and after one adverse vote during the second reading of the Land Tax Bill Dobson resigned on the ground that he could not carry on the government efficiently, advising the Governor to send again for Fysh. Fysh declined and Braddon, Leader of the Opposition in the House, was then commissioned [on 14 April 1894]. Braddon held a meeting of his supporters which elected the members of the cabinet', Hughes and Graham, p. 254 (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 franchise 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', The requirement for wages or salary was further reduced to £40 a year by the Constitution Amendment Act (No. 2) of 1896, see Bennett and Bennett, p. 10 (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 Electoral Act of 1896 made significant changes to the electoral system. It increased the number of seats in the House of Assembly to 37 with members chosen from 27 single member electoral districts, a four member electoral district (Launceston) and a six member electoral district (Hobart). Voting in the single member districts was by the existing first past the post (plurality) method, but voting in the multimember districts of Launceston and Hobart used the proportional representation by the single transferable vote (STV) method as a trial later extended of the system, later extended to 1900 (Bennett and Bennett, p. 9, see 'Sources', below). For a brief summary of the system and its context, see David M Farrell and Ian McAllister, The Australian Electoral System: Origins, Variations and Consequences, pp 26-27 (Sydney: University of New South Wales Press, 2006, ISBN 0868408581); for historical background and details, see Scott Bennett, 'These New Fangled Ideas: Hare-Clark 1896-1901', in Marcus Haward and James Warden (editors),An Australian Democrat: The Life, Work, and Consequences of Andrew Inglis Clark, (Hobart: Centre for Tasmanian Historical Studies, University of Tasmania, 1995, ISBN 0859016412), and Terry Newman, Hare-Clark in Tasmania: Representation of All Opinions, (Hobart: joint Library Committee of the Parliament of Tasmania, 1992, ISBN 0724638768).
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. 594 (see 'Sources', below) provide figures which differ slightly from those of Bennett and Bennett: total enrolment in contested seats 19,850; total enrolment in uncontested seats 10,485; total enrolment 30,335; total ballots cast 11,971; rate of informal (invalid) voting, 2.24 percent; total valid votes 11,703. 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, Democratic League 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 '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).
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.