ID 0416

Parliament of Tasmania, House of Assembly election

Election of 2 April 1903

Show only vote and seat summary details

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General election for the House of Assembly
Date of election (or first day of voting at elections held over more than one day)
2 April 1903

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

Government in office after election

Premier's party affiliation
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
Informal (invalid) ballots in multiple voting system
Not applicable
Electoral system
Male franchise at 21 years; single member districts; first past the post (plurality) voting (see notes)

Tasmania, House of Assembly votes and seats won

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Election held on 2 April 1903
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 %
Opposition  11,880  49.99  +38.23  22  62.86 
Ministerialists  5,755  24.22  -2.99  20.00 
Independents  3,349  14.09  -8.17  8.57 
Australian Labor Party  2,516  10.59  8.57 
Votes for other than listed parties 266 1.12 -37.66       
Totals 23,766  100.00    35  100.00 

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* 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: Premier Lewis and two of his ministers were defeated at this election; for the context of his defeat, note Reynolds, p. 206-208 (see 'References', below).

Premier in office after election: Propsting was commissioned as Premier after Lewis's defeat. 'Propsting, who had become Leader of the Opposition, led a group of 'Liberal Democrats' in the House, and campaigned on the fiscal question', Hughes and Graham, p. 597 (see 'Sources', below).

Franchise and qualifications for candidates: The Constitution Act 1900 introduced manhood franchise for House of Assembly elections. Voters had to be '...male British subjects over twenty-one , with twelve months residence in the colony, not in receipt of charity, or serving or liable to serve a term of imprisonment. [The Act also] provided that members of the House had to be electors, if naturalised subjects to have been naturalised for five years preceding nomination, and had either to have resided in the colony for a period of five years at some previous time or for two years immediately preceding nomination', Hughes and Graham, p. 588 (see, 'Sources', below). There had been several proposals for extending the vote to all women, but this was not achieved until 1903 (with effect from the 1906 election). The Act also abolished plural voting. For previous franchise arrangements, see the notes to House of Assembly elections before 1903.

Electoral system and voting: The Electoral Act of 1901 '...established 35 single-member districts for the House of Assembly, thus abolishing the system of proportional representation introduced in 1896 [see the notes to the 1900 House of Assembly elections]. Electors had to strike out surplus names once more in all seats, with a simple majority needed for election', Bennett and Bennett, p.11, (see 'Sources', 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. 597 (see 'Sources', below) provide figures which differ slightly from those of Bennett and Bennett: enrolment in contested seats 41,006; enrolment in uncontested seats 3,736; total enrolment 44,742; total ballots cast 23,845; rate of informal (invalid) voting, 1.45 percent; total valid votes 23,500. 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. Support for what was to become the Labor Party showed that this was about to change (see note 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).

Australian Labor Party: The entry for the Australian Labor Party in the table above does not refer to a single organization, but a cluster of like minded groups and candidates whom Hughes and Graham label as 'Labor'. 'In October 1901 the Tasmanian Workers' Political League was formed, and by the 1903 election there were Leagues on the West Coast and in Hobart to hold pre-selections', Hughes and Graham, p. 597 (see 'Sources', below); see Weller and Davis in the note above, and Richard Davis, Eighty Years' Labor: The ALP in Tasmania, 1903-1983, (Hobart: Sassafras Books and the History Department, University of Tasmania, 1983, ISBN 0859012212). The term 'Australian Labor Party' has been used for this election to indicate a political movement which had many of the characteristics of the organization which later became the Australian Labor Party.

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, [1956]), 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.