ID 1089

Parliament of Tasmania, House of Assembly election

Election of 26 July 1886

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Tasmania, House of Assembly votes and seats won

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Election held on 26 July 1886
Criteria for the inclusion of parties in this table are set out in the Glossary under 'listed party'

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Party Name First preference vote n First preference vote share % Change from previous election % Seats won n Uncontested seats held n Seat share %
Independents (No disciplined party groupings)  17,189  100.00  0.00  36  12  100.00 
Votes for other than listed parties 0 0.00 0.00       
Totals 17,189  100.00    36  12  100.00 

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Election date: This was the first general election for the House of Assembly on which all the polls were held on the same day.

Premier in office at election: There had been two changes of Premier since the previous House of Assembly general election in 1882. Giblin's failing health led to his resignation as Premier in favour of Douglas in August 1884. Douglas resigned as Premier in March 1886 after nominating himself to the newly created position of Tasmanian Agent-General in London; see Reynolds, p. 165, (see 'References', below). Agnew was then commissioned to form a government. For summary details of these changes of Premier and references on their careers, see the entries for each Premier in the 'Periods in office' component of this website; see also Reynolds, p. 144-151, (see 'References', below) and Terry Newman, Sandstone and Statutes: A History of the Tasmanian Parliament, (in process).

Premier in office after election: Agnew had been commissioned as Premier with the ministers remaining from Douglas's government, and enough of his supporters were returned at the general election for him to continue as Premier for seven months, a period long enough for him to be considered the Premier in office 'after election'. But, 'the government suffered a series of reverses and eventually Agnew resigned', Colin A Hughes and B D Graham, A Handbook of Australian Government and Politics 1890-1964, p. 253 (Canberra: Australian National University Press, 1968, SBN 708102700). Agnew's was the last period in office of the so-called 'Continuous Ministry'; see Reynolds, pp 151-167 (see 'References', below).

Franchise: Several important changes had been made to the electoral system in 1884-1885 (see generally Bennett and Bennett, pp 7-8, see 'Sources', below). The qualification for voting for the House of Assembly were changed so that 'citizens merely needed to be on the Assessment Roll as owners or occupiers of property, or be in receipt of salary or wages of £60 p.a', Bennett and Bennett, p. 8 (see 'Sources', below). Plural voting was permitted for those who had the qualifications for the franchise in more than one electoral district; see Terry Newman, Sandstone and Statutes: A History of the Tasmanian Parliament, (in process).

Electoral system and voting: The number of seats in the House of Assembly was increased to 36 with members chosen from 20 single member electoral districts and 8 two-member electoral districts. Voters were required to strike out the names of candidates on a printed ballot paper until only one name (single member districts) or two names (two member districts) remained on the ballot. Votes were counted by the first past the post (plurality) method and cast using the secret ballot (see Newman in 'References', below).

Missing data: No figures are on record for the number of ballots cast in the 8 two-member districts. As each voter in these electoral districts had two votes, dividing the number of votes cast in these electoral districts will give the minimum number of ballots cast for these districts. This figure, when added to the ballots cast in the single member districts is the one used for 'Total ballots cast' in the 'Enrolment and voting' table above.

References: For a description of the style of elections and parliamentary government in this period, see W A Townsley, 'Electoral Systems and Constituencies', and John Reynolds, 'Premiers and Political Leaders', in F C Green (editor), Tasmania: A Century of Responsible Government 1856-1956, pp 59-65, and 115-192, (Hobart: L G Shea, Government Printer, [1956]), and W A Townsley, Tasmania From Colony to Statehood 1803-1945, pp 111-128 (Hobart: St David's Park Publishing, 1991, ISBN 0724625753). On Tasmania's early adoption of the secret ballot in 1856, see Terry Newman, 'Tasmania and the Secret Ballot', Australian Journal of Politics and History, 9 (1) 2003: 93-101, and note pp 99-100 which gives an idea of the context of voting in early Tasmanian elections.


Voting figures and election results calculated from information in Scott Bennett and Barbara Bennett, Tasmanian Electoral Handbook, 1851-1982, (Kensington, NSW: Reference Section of History Project Incorporated, University of New South Wales, 1983). The difficulties of determining the accuracy of early Tasmanian election results is discussed in Scott Bennett, 'The Statistics of Tasmania and the Study of Tasmanian Elections: A Cautionary Note', in Tasmanian Historical Research Association, Papers and Proceedings, 45(4), December 1998: 237-242.