ID 0466

Parliament of Victoria, Legislative Assembly election

Election of 16 March 1940

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)
16 March 1940

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
United Country Party
Legislative Assembly support for government at election
If coalition, coalition partner(s)

Government in office after election

Premier's party affiliation
United Country Party
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, compulsory voting

Victoria, Legislative Assembly votes and seats won

Display Chart

Election held on 16 March 1940
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 %
United Australia Party  274,113  35.41  -4.15  16  24.62 
Australian Labor Party  256,744  33.17  -7.48  22  33.85 
United Country Party  116,202  15.01  +3.66  22  33.85 
Independents  88,788  11.47  +6.52  6.15 
Liberal Country Party  18,104  2.34  1.54 
Independent Labor  10,399  1.34  -0.16     
Independent United Australia Party  3,845  0.50  -0.03     
Independent Country Party  2,962  0.38  +0.20     
Communist Party  2,935  0.38  -0.35     
Votes for other than listed parties 0 0.00 0.00       
Totals 774,092  100.00    65  21  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.


Government in office at election: The United Country Party minority government led by Premier Dunstan and supported by the Australian Labor Party, had had been in office since 1935 but tensions had been rising within the United Country Party (see 'Liberal Country Party', below) and hostility between Premier Dunstan and some members of the UCP organization. 'Dunstan decided on confrontation rather than conciliation and called an early election for 16 March 1940.' Costar, p. 223 in 'References', below.

Government in office after election: At this Assembly election in 1940, both the United Country Party and the Australian Labor Party won seats at the expense of the United Australia Party. The agreement for the Labor Party to support a United Country Party minority government led by Premier Dunstan was continued, albeit with increasing criticism within the Labor Party (see Strangio, pp 234-235, in 'References', below) and in spite of discussions between the leader of the Australian Labor Party, John Cain (senior) and the leader of the United Australia Party, Thomas Hollway about '... forming a temporary alliance to oust Dunstan.' Wright, p.168, (in 'Sources', below).

Australian Labor Party: The reasons for the Labor Party to support the Dunstan United Country Party minority government in 1935, and to continue to do so for the following seven years, are discussed at length in Strangio, ch. 7 (see 'References', below). By this Assembly election in 1940, the relationship was under strain and was to collapse in 1943 (note Costar, p.223 in 'References', below).

Liberal Country Party: There had been disputes within Country Parties in Victoria over the desirability of forming coalition governments with the United Australian Party and similar parties. This came to a head in the United Country Party Conference in Ballaarat in March 1938 over the expulsion of a Victorian member of the House of Representatives, John McEwen, from the party in December 1937 because of his acceptance of a ministry in the federal government led by Prime Minister Lyons. Thomas Paterson who had previously expressed strong disagreement with those who opposed coalition arrangements, led a group of more than a hundred party delegates from the meeting to form the Liberal Country Party on 30 March 1938 (Hughes and Graham 1968, p.487, in 'Sources', below).

The Liberal Country Party ran six candidates at this Assembly election (1940) but only one, Frederick Cook, was elected (to the seat of Benalla).

Independents: As an indication of dissatisfaction with partisan politics at the time of this Assembly election, 14 candidates ran without any party label as Independents, capturing 11.5 percent of the first preference vote, with four candidates gaining election: Charles Holden was elected unopposed to the seat of Grant (he had formerly been a United Australia Party member); Leslie Hollins won the seat of Hawthorn (Carr records him as 'Prominent social creditist'. Carr in 'Sources', below); MacFarlan was re-elected to the seat of Brighton; and Ivy Weber, the first woman elected at a general election for the Victorian Legislative Assembly, was re-elected to the seat of Nunawading.

Independent Labor: Two Independent Labor candidates contested this Assembly election (1940) but neither was elected.

Defectors from non-Labor parties: Two candidates each ran with their own partisan affiliation; one Independent United Australia Party, and one Independent Country Party; neither was elected.

Communist Party: Two Communist Party candidates contested this election (1940) but Moscow's contradictory policies towards the war until 1941, slavishly followed by the Australian Communist Party, resulted in limited support. For a study of the Australian Communist Party during this period, see Stuart Macintyre, The Reds: The Communist Party of Australia from Origins to Illegality, ch. 14 (St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin, 1998, ISBN 1864485809).

References: The unhappy position of the Australian Labor Party in Victoria during this period is extensively reviewed in Paul Strangio, Neither Power Nor Glory: 100 years of Political Labor in Victoria, 1856-1956, ch. 7, (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2012, ISBN 9780522861822), and Peter Aimer surveys the history of the United Australia Party in Victoria as a precursor to the Liberal Party in Peter Aimer, Politics, Power & Persuasion: The Liberals in Victoria, ch. 1 (East Hawthorn, (Vic.: James Bennett, 1974, ISBN 0909595011).

The Dunstan government is surveyed in Brian Costar, 'Albert Dunstan: The Jumping Jack Premier', in Paul Strangio and Brian Costar, (editors), The Victorian Premiers 1856-2006, ch. 17, (Sydney: Federation Press, 2006, ISBN 9781862876019), and in John Paul, 'Albert Dunstan and Victorian Government', in Cameron Hazelhurst (editor), Australian Conservatism: Essays in Twentieth Century Political History, pp 169-191 (Canberra: Australian National University Press, 1979, ISBN 0708113591). For a study of Victorian politics during this period, see Wright, pp 162-165, (in 'Sources', below).


For this election (1940), there is agreement between the three sources below on votes and the seats won by the United Australia Party, the Australian Labor Party and the Liberal Country Party, but there are differences in the vote shares listed for the United Country Party and 'Others'.

The variations result from differences in the way some small party and Independent candidates are categorized. In the table above, the votes for the United Country Party, together with the votes and partisan affiliation of minor party and Independent candidates are all calculated from Hughes and Graham 1975, supplemented by Carr's online Election Archive (for more information, see the notes, above).

There is a difference of 20 votes between the total valid votes cast at this election listed in Hughes and Graham 1968 and Carr, and the addition of valid votes cast for all candidates listed in Hughes and Graham 1975. The slightly larger figure calculated from Hughes and Graham 1975 has been used in the tables above.

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, 'Thirty-fourth Parliament Elected 16 March 1940', in 'Legislative Assembly Elections', Victorian Elections Since 1843, Psephos: Adam Carr's Election Archive, online here [accessed 26 July 2017].

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