ID 0458

Parliament of Victoria, Legislative Assembly election

Election of 21 October 1920

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)
21 October 1920

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
National Party (Nationalists)
Legislative Assembly support for government at election
If coalition, coalition partner(s)

Government in office after election

Premier's party affiliation
National Party (Nationalists)
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
Informal (invalid) ballots in multiple voting system
Not applicable
Electoral system
Adult franchise at 21 years, single member districts, preferential voting (AV), compulsory preferences

Victoria, Legislative Assembly votes and seats won

Display Chart

Election held on 21 October 1920
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 %
National Party (Nationalists)  214,650  47.95  -9.03  30  46.15 
Australian Labor Party  131,083  29.28  -3.00  20  30.77 
Victorian Farmers Union  64,500  14.41  +8.28  13  20.00 
Independent Nationalists  22,448  5.01  +4.75  1.54 
Independents  6,451  1.44     
Democrat  5,705  1.27     
Independent Labor  2,793  0.62  -0.27  1.54 
Votes for other than listed parties 0 0.00 0.00       
Totals 447,630  100.00    65  11  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: There has been a change of Premier since the previous Legislative Assembly election in November 1917. After the November 1917 election, divisions within the National Party (Nationalists) had led Bowser rather than Peacock to be commissioned as Premier. But divisions within the Party continued and the Bowser government was defeated by the Labor Party and a group of dissident Nationalists led by Peacock, prompting Bowser's resignation. '... Bowser advised the Governor, Sir Arthur Stanley, to dissolve the Parliament. Sir Arthur, instead accepted Sir Alexander Peacock's advice that Lawson could unite the Nationalists, and commissioned [Lawson] as Premier [on 21 March 1918].' Fitzherbert, p.164 (see 'References', below). Premier Lawson led a majority National Party (Nationalists) government at the Assembly election on 21 November 1920 (this election).

Government in office after election: At the general election in October in 1920, the National Party (Nationalists) fell three members short of a majority in the Legislative Assembly and had to rely on the support of the Victoria Farmers Union (Country Party) led by John Allan to continue as a minority government.

Party campaigning and results: 'The National [Party] campaign was conducted by the Victorian branch of the United National Federation (which had absorbed the People's Liberal Party in July 1918), assisted by the Australian Women's National League.' Hughes and Graham 1968, p.480 (see 'Sources', below). An Independent Nationalist, Edward Morely, was elected to the seat of Barwon.

'While the [Labor] party maintained its customary dividend of about one-third of the Legislative Assembly seats, its primary vote fell below 30 percent for the first time in many years. In part this was a function of the party contesting less than half the Assembly seats, something it had not done since 1908.' Strangio, p.135 (see 'References', below).

Martin Hannah, who had lost his endorsement as an Australian Labor Party candidate, was re-elected to the seat of Collingwood as an Independent Labor member in a context of sectarian rivalry; see Strangio, pp 127-128 (in 'References', below)

The Victorian Farmers Union, the precursor of the Country Party made dramatic gains at this election, largely at the expense of the National Party (Nationalists); the VFU more than doubled is share of the first preference vote from 6 to 14 percent, and more than tripled the number of seats it won from 4 to 13. On the development of the Country Party in Victoria and elsewhere in Australia during this period, see B D Graham, The Formation of the Australian Country Parties, ch. 4 (Canberra: Australian National University Press, 1966).

References: For a review of politics at the time of this election, see Margaret Fitzherbert, 'Harry Lawson, Sure and Steady', ch. 12, in Paul Strangio and Brian Costar, (editors), The Victorian Premiers 1856-2006, (Sydney: Federation Press, 2006, ISBN 9781862876019). For a study of the Victorian parliament during this period, see Wright, ch. 8, especially pp 150-151 (in 'Sources', below).

The history of the Labor Party in Victoria is dealt with in 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 Twenty-Sixth Parliament Elected 21 October 1920', in 'Legislative Assembly Elections', Victorian Elections Since 1843, Psephos: Adam Carr's Election Archive, online here [accessed 15 January 2017].

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