ID 0449

Parliament of Victoria, Legislative Assembly election

Election of 14 October 1897

Show only vote and seat summary details

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General election for the Legislative Assembly
Date of election (or first day of voting at elections held over more than one day)
14 October 1897

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
Legislative 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
Legislative 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, plural voting, single and multimember districts (multiple voting), first past the post (plurality) voting

Victoria, Legislative Assembly votes and seats won

Display Chart

Election held on 14 October 1897
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 %
Ministerialists  119,516  64.39  +30.25  55  57.89 
Opposition  46,388  24.99  -21.04  32  33.68 
United Labor Party  19,371  10.44  8.42 
Independents  345  0.19     
Votes for other than listed parties 0 0.00 0.00       
Totals 185,620  100.00    95  13  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 after election: The Turner government was returned at this election (1897) with majority support for the Ministerialists. 'The tenor of Turner's policy speech in 1897 indicated that he was backing away from a program of reform for he believed that it was "in the best interests of our people that we should have rest and quiet". Labor members were dissatisfied with the government's failure to persist with the State Bank Bill, introduce a land tax or reform the Legislative Council and they opposed Turner's proposal to reduce income tax', Bongiorno, p.44, in 'References', below.

Electoral system and voting: The Electoral Act Amendment Act of 1888 had increased the number Legislative Assembly seats from 86 to 95 and the number of electoral districts from 55 to 84, 73 of which were single member districts and 11 two member districts. As in previous elections, for those with property in more than one electoral district, plural voting was permitted. Voters in multimember districts had the option of casting as many votes as there were members to be elected from their district (see multiple voting), or they could plump for a single candidate. Voters cast their ballots by crossing off the names of candidates they did not wish to elect, and the most chosen candidate or candidates were elected (plurality voting).

The provisions of the various Electoral Acts were consolidated in The Constitution Amendment Act of 1890; a detailed summary of the electoral provisions in effect at the time of this election is provided by 'Victoria: Electoral Law', in Hughes and Graham 1968, pp 461-462 (see 'Sources', below).

Election results and sources: The principal source for election results in this Database for the Victorian Legislative Assembly up to the 1889 election has been Carr's Psephos online election archive 'Victorian Elections Since 1843' (and see 'Sources', below). This invaluable source provides electoral district results collected from contemporary newspapers and other authoritative sources. From the Assembly election in 1892 and subsequent elections until 2000, summary election results are taken from Hughes and Graham 1968 (see 'Sources' below) and its supplements, unless otherwise indicated. Carr's archive remains useful as an online source of electoral district results and supplementary information about candidates.

Factions and political parties: In their introduction to the Victorian Assembly elections, Hughes and Graham (pp 466-467, see ‘Sources’, below) stress the fluidity of partisan allegiance in this period as factional alignments began to evolve into political parties with party discipline and organizations designed to support candidates (see generally, Rawson, in ‘References’, below). But, during this period, the evolution was far from complete and support from a loose party organization at election time was not always a guide to how members would vote in the Assembly.

The result is that candidates at Victorian Assembly elections until 1911 can be broadly categorized in two ways; whether being Conservative, Labor or Liberal in their partisan preferences, or whether they supported or opposed the government at the time of the election as Ministerialists or Opposition, respectively. At this election (1897), Hughes and Graham use the second categorization (see the table above) with Ministerialists supporting the Turner government. Even so, there were identifiable partisan organizations supporting candidates:

'A Protection and Liberal Party was formed to settle disputes between several Liberal candidates standing for the same seat. The Opposition [mainly Conservative] candidates were supported by the National Party, but this organisation endorsed a few Ministerialists including Deakin. The United Labor Party (see note, below) supported the Labor candidates', Hughes and Graham 1968, p.470 (see 'Sources', below); for a detailed treatment, see Rawson, pp 76-87, in 'References', below.

United Labor Party: '...the THC [Trades Hall Council] moved to reorganise its political forces in 1896. It formed the United Labor Party (ULP), which union leaders envisaged as a more centralised, THC-dominated body than either of its predecessors [the Progressive Political League, and the United Labor and Liberal Party]. Still, a conference was organized for 1896 "to bring all outside bodies who were in sympathy with the progressive movement" [reference omitted]', Bongiorno, p.42, in 'References', below; see also Strangio, Neither Power nor Glory, pp 40-41, 46-47, in 'References', below.

Independent: Hughes and Graham report one candidate as an Independent at this election (see Hughes and Graham 1968 in 'Sources', below, p.470). It appears that this candidate was Alfred J Hampson who unsuccessfully contested the seat of Sandhurst South; Carr gives no partisan label but notes that he was a Labor candidate at the previous Assembly election in 1894 (see Carr in 'Sources', below).

References: For a review of politics at the time of this election, see John Rickard, 'The Quiet Little Man in a Brown Suit: George Turner and the Politics of Consensus', ch. 7, in Paul Strangio and Brian Costar, (editors), The Victorian Premiers 1856-2006, (Sydney: Federation Press, 2006, ISBN 9781862876019), and Rawson, pp 76-87 (see reference in next paragraph). For a study of the Victorian parliament during this period, see, Wright, ch. 6 (see 'Sources', below).

The emergence of political parties is analyzed in D W Rawson, ‘Victoria’, in P Loveday, A W Martin and R S Parker (editors), The Emergence of the Australian Party System, pp 44-116, (Sydney: Hale & Iremonger, 1977, ISBN 0908094035) and the evolution of the Labor Party during this period is dealt with in Frank Bongiorno, The People's Party: Victorian Labor and the Radical Tradition 1875-1914 (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1996, ISBN 0522847382), and Paul Strangio, Neither Power Nor Glory: 100 years of Political Labor in Victoria, 1856-1956, (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2012, ISBN 9780522861822).


Colin A Hughes and B D Graham, A Handbook of Australian Government and Politics 1890-1964, (Canberra: Australian National University Press, 1968, SBN 708102700); Colin A Hughes and B D Graham,Voting for the Victoria[n] Legislative Assembly 1890-1964, (Canberra: Department of Political Science, Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University, 1975, ISBN 070811332X).

Adam Carr, 'The Seventeenth Parliament Elected 14 October 1897', in 'Legislative Assembly Elections', Victorian Elections Since 1843, Psephos: Adam Carr's Election Archive, online here [accessed 11 September 2016].

Raymond Wright, A People's Counsel: A History of the Parliament of Victoria 1856-1990, (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1992, ISBN 0195533593)