ID 0434

Parliament of Tasmania, House of Assembly election

Election of 13 October 1956


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General election for the House of Assembly
Tasmania
Date of election (or first day of voting at elections held over more than one day)
13 October 1956

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
Australian Labor Party
House of Assembly support for government at election
Minority (see notes)
If coalition, coalition partner(s)

Government in office after election

Premier in office after election.
Premier's party affiliation
Australian Labor Party
House of Assembly support for government after election
Minority (see notes)
If coalition, coalition partner(s)

Enrolment and voting

Total number of voters on the roll
174,632
Number of Assembly seats
30
Number of uncontested seats
0
If uncontested seats, number of voters on the roll in uncontested seats
Number of voters on the roll in contested seats
174,632
Total ballots cast (may differ from number of votes in multiple voting systems)
166,293
Turnout (rate of voting in contested seats)
95.22%
Total valid votes
159,325
Rate of informal (invalid) voting
4.19%
Informal (invalid) ballots in multiple voting system
Not applicable
Electoral system
Universal suffrage at 21 years; multimember districts; proportional representation by the single transferable vote method (STV); compulsory voting


Tasmania, House of Assembly votes and seats won

Display Chart

Election held on 13 October 1956
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 %
Australian Labor Party  80,096  50.27  -2.36  15  50.00 
Liberal Party  69,477  43.61  -1.74  15  50.00 
Anti-Communist Labor Party (Democratic Labor Party from 1959)  5,522  3.47     
Independents  4,139  2.60  +0.58     
Communist Party  91  0.06     
Votes for other than listed parties 0 0.00 0.00       
Totals 159,325  100.00    30  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.

Notes

Government in office at election: The Australian Labor Party had won 15 of the 30 seats at the previous general election for the House of Assembly in February 1955, the same number as Liberal Party. New rules designed to solve such deadlocks were invoked (see 'Deadlock' note to the 1955 House of Assembly elections); as Labor Party candidates had won more first preference votes (52.6 percent) than the Liberal Party (45.4 percent), the Liberal Party was required to provide the Speaker of the Assembly. Cosgrove was recommissioned as Premier of an Australian Labor Party minority government which, under the operation of the Constitution Act (no. 2) of 1954, had acquired a secure majority on the floor of the Assembly.

The election was prompted by the passage of a vote of no-confidence against the government on 11 September 1956. A minister in the Cosgrove Australian Labor Party government had resigned from both the ministry and the Labor Party, and joined the Liberal Party to give the Liberals a 15 to 14 majority on the floor of the Assembly. The Premier sought a dissolution in spite of a submission to the Governor by the leader of the Liberal Party, W Jackson, that he was able to form an alternative ministry. 'The Governor then granted the Premier a dissolution, stating that "it was proper in all the circumstances that the electorate should have an opportunity of expressing its will".', Townsley, Microcosm, p.122; for more details of these events, see Townsley references.

Government after election Both the Australian Labor Party and the Liberal Party won 15 of the 30 Assembly seats at the election in October 1956 (this election) but, as the Labor Party had won more first preference votes that the Liberal Party (50.3 to 43.6 percent), the deadlock rules in the Tasmanian Constitution Act applied and a Labor government was commissioned (for details, see the 'Deadlock' note to the 1955 House of Assembly elections). Cosgrove was recommissioned as Premier of an Australian Labor Party minority government which, under the operation of the Constitution Act (no. 2) of 1954, acquired a secure majority on the floor of the Assembly.

Electoral system and voting: The Constitution Amendment Act 1906 '...reduced the number of Assembly districts to five, the boundaries of which were to be identical with the five Commonwealth electoral districts. The Assembly was to number 30 members, with 6 elected from each district', Bennett and Bennett, p.12, (see 'Sources', below). The Electoral Act 1907 introduced proportional representation by the single transferable vote (STV) method to elect all members of the Assembly, a method which became known as the Hare-Clark system. For details of the adoption of STV and references on the operation of the electoral system, see the notes to the 1909 House of Assembly elections.

The Electoral Amendment Act of 1917 provided that '...casual vacancies be filled, not by a fresh poll of the electorate [by-election] but by a re-count [countback] of the ballot papers which elected the vacating member. Candidates at the preceding general election were required to apply to be considered candidates....', Hughes and Graham, 1890-1964, p. 590 (see 'Sources', below). For a brief summary of changes to the electoral system from 1909 to 1994, see Terry Newman, Representation of the Tasmanian People, Expanded edition 1803-1994, Appendix 2 (Hobart: Tasmanian Parliamentary Library, 1994, ISBN 0724642475).

Anti-Communist Labor Party: The Australian Labor Party and the trade union movement suffered major internal divisions in the 1950s which came to a head in 1955 with a split in some state branches of the Party and the creation of the Anti-Communist Labor Party which was to become the Democratic Labor Party; for an extensive study of this period, see Robert Murray, The Split: Australian Labor in the Fifties, (Melbourne: Cheshire, 1972, ISBN 0701516755). For the experience of Tasmania, note Townsley, Microcosm, chs 6 and 7 (see 'References', below).

Independents: Changes to the Electoral Act in 1941 meant that candidates who ran for election without any stated party affiliation (Independents) could run with one or more other like-minded Independents as a 'group' on the ballot paper, or be listed with all other Independent candidates in that electoral district in an 'ungrouped' list; for details, see the note to the 1941 House of Assembly elections.

The vote shown for Independents in the table above is the vote gained by the combination of both sets of Independent candidates. Two candidates ran as members of a group of Independents and gained 2,356 first preference votes, but neither was elected. In addition, three 'ungrouped' Independent candidates gained 1,783 first preference votes (see note, below), none of whom was elected.

Communist Party candidate: Hughes and Graham p.608 and Bennett and Bennett, p.213 (see 'Sources', below) list 91 votes for a Communist Party candidate, M A Bound. The Tasmanian Parliamentary website (see 'Sources', below) includes these votes as votes for an 'ungrouped' Independent but, as Bound contested the subsequent 1959 election with another candidate as a Communist Party group, the votes are shown in the table above as votes for the Communist Party. The result of listing the Communist candidate separately means that the figures for the number of Independent candidates and the number of first preference votes for Independents will differ from those shown on the Tasmanian Parliamentary website for this election.

References: For a brief survey of the election and its context, see W A Townsley, 'Tasmania', Australian Journal of Politics and History, Australian Political Chronicle, January-June 1955, 2 (2) May 1957: 242-245; for a survey of Tasmanian politics in this period, see W A Townsley, Tasmania: Microcosm of the Federation or Vassal State, 1945-1983, particularly pp 121-122 (Hobart: St David's Park Publishing, 1994, ISBN 0724623450), 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).

Sources

Information for this election was taken from 'House of Assembly Election Results, 1909-2006', Tasmanian Parliamentary Library, Tasmanian Parliament website: https://bit.ly/2uvczZ8 ; Scott Bennett and Barbara Bennett, Tasmanian Electoral Handbook, 1851-1982, (Kensington, NSW: Reference Section of History Project Incorporated, University of New South Wales, 1983); Colin A Hughes and B D Graham, A Handbook of Australian Government and Politics 1890-1964, (Canberra: Australian National University Press, 1968, SBN 708102700); and note Report on Parliamentary Elections, (Hobart: Tasmanian Parliamentary Papers, 1957), online at: https://bit.ly/2vbNDGq



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