ID 1657

Parliament of South Australia, House of Assembly election

Election of 6 April 1868

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South Australia, House of Assembly votes and seats won

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Election held on 6 April 1868
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)  18,070  100.00  0.00  36  100.00 
Votes for other than listed parties 0 0.00 0.00       
Totals 18,070  100.00    36  100.00 

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Election dates: Elections were held on 6 and 21 April, and 4 May 1868.

Premier in office at election: Dutton was commissioned to form a government on 22 March 1865 after a key member of the Blyth government had had been defeated at the Assembly election in March 1865. There were to be four changes of Premier before the next general election for the Assembly in April 1868 (this election).

The Dutton ministry collapsed when Dutton accepted the position of Agent-General for the colony in London and '... Reynolds withdrew from the Government following a difference of opinion with other members of the Cabinet on certain fiscal matters.' Combe 2009, p.98 in 'Sources', below. Ayers, who had been Chief Secretary in Dutton's ministry, was commissioned to form a government on 20 September 1865 but, '... on the 19th October 1865, William Townsend, Member for Onkaparinga, carried a no-confidence motion against the Government in the Assembly by 19 votes to 13 ...' Combe 2009, p.98 in 'Sources', below. Hart was commissioned to form government on 23 October 1865 which lasted until March 1866 when Hart '... resigned his seat in the House and his office in the Government to make a trip to England.' Combe 2009, p.99 in 'Sources', below.

Boucaut, the Attorney-General in Hart's ministry, was commissioned to form a government on 28 March 1866 and retained the post of Attorney-General while leading the government as Premier. The Boucaut ministry lasted for more than a year but Boucaut, while holding the office of Attorney-General, appeared in court representing a private client and arguing that a government grant of leases had been invalid. This was viewed as inconsistent with his office as Attorney-General and he was obliged to resign as Premier in May 1867 (for details, see Combe 2009, pp 99-100 in 'Sources', below). Ayers was recalled to form a government on 3 May 1867 and he led the government into the Assembly election in 1968 (this election).

The frequent changes of government during the early years of responsible government in South Australia is noted by all commentators on this period, and at some length by Howell, pp 108-116 (see 'References', below). A contemporary comment expresses some frustration with this instability:

'Parties are divided upon particular subjects. There is a squatting party and an anti-squatting party; a Government House party, and a party opposed to Government House; a religious endowment party and a party unfavourable to religious endowments; but as to well-defined lines of political demarcation, you might as well look for ink-spots in the moon. This want of party organization has produced a chronic state of ministerial instability.' A. [Anthony?] Forster, 1866, quoted in Edwin Hodder, The History of South Australia from its Foundation to the Year of its Jubilee, Volume 1, p.327, (London: Sampson Low, Maeston & Company, 1895) online here; also quoted in Combe 2009, p.99 in 'Sources', below.

Premier in office after election: The Ayers government continued in office after the Assembly election in May until September 1868 when it was defeated on an important piece of government legislation (see Combe 2009, p.100 in 'Sources', below).

Electoral system and voting: For discussion of the franchise and the qualification of members, see the note to the 1860 Assembly election.

This House of Assembly election in 1868 was governed by the Electoral Act of 1861 which, while keeping the bulk of the electoral administration set out in the previous Electoral Act of 1857-8 (including provision for the secret ballot in section 49), changed the way in which the 36 members of the House of Assembly were to be elected. Instead of a mix of single and multimember electoral districts, all members were elected from two-member districts. This required changing some electoral boundaries and a redistribution to accommodate the 18 two-member seats; note Combe 2009, pp 95-96 in 'Sources', below.

Voters in these two-member districts could choose to 'plump' by voting for only one candidate. Jaensch (see 'Sources', below) provides details for the number of plumped ballots at South Australian Assembly elections where figures are available.

Election results and sources: The election figures in the tables above were calculated from the individual electoral district results for the 1868 Assembly election compiled by Jaensch from results published in newspapers (see Jaensch in ‘Sources’ below).

In this Assembly election (1868), 61 candidates sought election to the Assembly's 36 seats. Three of the 18 electoral districts (6 seats) were uncontested, resulting in 6 candidates being elected unopposed.

There were no disciplined political parties at this election. Once elected, '... each member of parliament was free to offer his support and make alliances in the ways best suited to serve his constituents, the welfare of the whole colony, or his own interest and ambition. Members did not divide on clear grounds of policy or principle.' Hirst, p.67 in 'References', below. The resulting pattern of shifting individual and factional alliance in the Assembly characterised South Australian politics until the 1880s. For a discussion of the nature and consequences of the absence of parties during this period, see Howell, pp 122-123, and Jaensch, 'South Australia', pp 249-251, both in 'References', below; and note the quotation in 'Premier in office at election', above.

References: The nature of politics in South Australia during the period up to 1890 is covered by P A Howell, 'Constitutional and Political Development, 1857-1890', in Dean Jaensch (editor), The Flinders History of South Australia: Political History, ch. 5, (Netley, SA: Wakefield Press, 1986, ISBN 0949268518), and note Dean Jaensch, 'South Australia', in P Loveday, A W Martin, & R S Parker, (editors), The Emergence of the Australian Party System, ch. 5, (Sydney: Hale & Iremonger, 1977, ISBN 0908094035). While focused on a later period, useful background can also be found in the section on 'Representation' (pp 65-75) in J B Hirst, Adelaide and the Country 1870-1917: Their Social and Political Relationship, (Carlton, Vic.: Melbourne University Press, 1973, ISBN 0522840450).

A survey of government in South Australia from 1836 to 1957 is provided in Combe 2009 (see, 'Sources', below).


Dean Jaensch, History of South Australian Elections 1857-2006, Volume 1: House of Assembly, (Rose Park, South Australia: State Electoral Office, 2007, ISBN 9780975048634). Note that some of the figures calculated by adding the results from individual electoral districts listed for each Assembly election (those used in the tables above) may differ from the summary figures provided in Jaensch's table, 'House of Assembly: Enrolment and Turnout', in Appendix 1, p.358.

Gordon D Combe, Responsible Government in South Australia, (Adelaide: Government Printer, 1957); reprinted [with changed pagination] as Gordon D Combe, Responsible Government in South Australia, Volume 1, From Foundations to Playford, (Kent Town, South Australia: Wakefield Press, 2009, ISBN 9781862548435); also available online through Google Books, here. Page references in the text above are to the 2009 edition.