Election held on 1 June 1904
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 %|
|Australian Labor Party||49,922||32.55||+14.54||18||1||26.47|
|Votes for other than listed parties||0||0.00||0.00|
* 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 Legislative Assembly election in October 1902 at which Premier Irvine had secured re-election. 'In February 1904 Irvine and Shiels announced the intention of resigning from the ministry for health reasons. A cabinet meeting on 9 February decided that Bent should be the government leader, and he was subsequently asked by the Governor to form a new ministry.' Hughes and Graham 1968, p.110 (see 'Sources, below). Premier Bent's ministry was commissioned on 16 February 1904 as a continuation of a Reform government although Bent '... was essentially a Conservative.' Bate (see 'References', below).
Premier in office after election: The Bent government was returned at this election (1904) with support from several conservative groups; see 'Factions and political parties', below.
Electoral system and voting: The Constitution Act 1903 reduced the size of the Legislative Assembly to 68 members '... of whom sixty-five members shall be representatives of and elected by the electors of the respective [single member] electoral districts, and one member shall be a representative of and elected by public officers as hereinafter provided, and subject as aforesaid, two members shall be representatives of and elected by railways officers ...' Constitution Act 1903, section 20 (see 'Victoria Historical Acts' in 'Sources', below). The purpose of giving special representatives to public servants and railway employees is discussed in Wright, p.126 (see 'Sources', below, and note Rawson, p.93, in 'References', below), and the experiment was ended before the next election in 1907.
Apart from consequential changes flowing from the reduction in the number of Assembly electoral districts, other aspects of electoral law remained largely unchanged (see generally Hughes and Graham 1968, p.462-463 in 'Sources', below). The enfranchisement of women was being debated but, for this election (1904) only men who were British subjects and filled the age and residence requirements and were not otherwise disqualified were qualified to vote. Voters continued to cast their ballots by crossing off the names of candidates they did not wish to elect, and the most chosen candidate was elected (plurality voting). Voting for the two seat railway officers constituency could cast two votes (see multiple voting), or they could plump for a single candidate.
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.
At this election (1904) there are small discrepancies in the voting figures between Hughes and Graham (pp 474-475, in 'Sources', below) -- the figures used for the table above -- and those listed in Carr's summary (see 'Sources', below). These result from different categorizations of some of the candidates and the way the results from the railway officers 2 seat constituency are dealt with; Carr's source is Hughes and Graham 1975 (see 'Sources', below).
Factions and political parties: During this period, factional alignments began to evolve into political parties with party discipline and organizations designed to support candidates (see generally, Rawson, in ‘References’, below). But the evolution was far from complete and support from a 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 (1904), Hughes and Graham 1968 use the second categorization (see the table above), but give a useful summary of how candidates were selected:
'A Cabinet sub-committee co-operated with the executive of the Citizens' Reform League in selecting Ministerial candidates, most of whom were also endorsed by the Farmers, Property Owners and Producers Association. The Opposition was led by Mackinnon and was supported by the Progressive Liberal League, and the Labor candidates [see note below] were led by Bromley and supported by the Political Labor Council.' Hughes and Graham 1968, p.475 in 'Sources', below.
Australian Labor Party: Although not officially called by this name until 1916 (see Strangio, p.122, in 'References', below), the principal organizational features of the Australian Labor Party had been in place since the 1902 Assembly election. The establishment of the Political Labor Council (PLC) in 1901 '... as the party's supreme body, enforcing for the first time an effective pledge on on the Labor members of parliament.' Rawson, p.91. The label 'Australian Labor Party' is used for all Victorian Legislative Assembly elections in this Database since 1902.
Independent Labor: One candidates (George Sangster) was elected who ran without the endorsement of the Political labor Council as Independent Labor candidate; he rejoined the Labor caucus after the election.
References: For a review of politics at the time of this election, see John Rickard, '"Iceberg" Irvine and the Politics of Anti-Labor', ch. 8, and Weston Bate, 'Tommy Bent, "A Man"', ch 9, both chapters in Paul Strangio and Brian Costar, (editors), The Victorian Premiers 1856-2006, (Sydney: Federation Press, 2006, ISBN 9781862876019). The works by Bongiorno and Rawson referred to in the next paragraph also provide broad coverage of the politics in this period. For a study of the Victorian parliament during this period, see, Wright, ch. 7 (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 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 Twentieth Parliament Elected 1 June 1904', in 'Legislative Assembly Elections', Victorian Elections Since 1843, Psephos: Adam Carr's Election Archive, online here [accessed 17 September 2016].
Raymond Wright, A People's Counsel: A History of the Parliament of Victoria 1856-1990, (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1992, ISBN 0195533593)
Victoria, Office of the Chief Parliamentary Counsel, 'Victorian Historical Acts', online here [accessed 17 September 2016].