ID 0178

State Government of Victoria beginning 16 February 1904 - period in office of Premier Bent, Thomas ending on 8 January 1909

Period in office of premier (see Glossary entry for 'period in office' and related terms)

Bent, Thomas
Date of beginning of period in office
16 February 1904
Date of end of period in office
8 January 1909 
Reason for end of preceding period in office
Change of party leader 
Reason for end of this government
Loss of general election
Number of days in office

Parliamentary support during period

Party affiliation of premier at start of period
If coalition government
Coalition partner 1
Coalition partner 2
Coalition partner 3
Coalition partner 4
Party support in parliament at beginning of period
If change in parliamentary support during period
1 June 1904
Result of general election
If further change during period

Number of ministers at beginning of period (this may vary during the period)

Total number of ministers
Number from party of premier
Number from coalition party 1
Number from coalition party 2
Number from upper house
Number who are women

Assembly elections contested as premier or after which became premier (see Glossary entry for 'after election')

* to view table drag left or right.
Election Premier at election Premier's party Premier after election Premier's party
VIC 29 December 1908Thomas BentReformJohn (Jack) MurrayLiberal
VIC 15 March 1907Thomas BentReformThomas BentReform
VIC 1 June 1904Thomas BentReformThomas BentReform

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Change of party leader (Irvine): Beginning of Bent's period in office; '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. Bent retained most of the former ministers but reallocated some of the portfolios.' Hughes and Graham, p.110 (see 'Sources, below).

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).

Reconstruction of the ministry: Several modifications were made to the ministry, including the resignation of Murray over the lack of Bent's support for his policy of compulsory land purchases. Around the election in March 1907, three Liberals were included in February 1907 as part of a 'fusion' of anti-Labor Party members but two of these resigned in 1908. A major reconstruction of the ministry took place in October 1908 in response to pressure from a country party faction and growing dissatisfaction with Bent's performance on the part of his cabinet colleagues; see Hughes and Graham, pp 111-112 (see 'Sources', below), and Bate, pp 132-134 (see 'References', below),

Loss of general election (Bent): 'On 3 December 1908 a want of confidence motion was carried against the Government.' Hughes and Graham, p.112 (see 'Sources', below). The motion was moved by Bent's former ministerial colleague, Murray, and passed by 37 votes to 25; Victoria Parliamentary Debates, 1908 Session, vol. 119, 3 December 1908, pp 1714-1785. 'Bent obtained a dissolution but lost the subsequent election [in December 1908]. A conference of Bent's supporters and those of John Murray met together on 6 January 1909 and chose Murray as leader of the reunited party. Bent then submitted his resignation and advised the Governor to send for Murray.' Hughes and Graham, p.112 (see 'Sources', below).

References: For a study of Bent's period in office, see Weston Bate, 'Tommy Bent, "A Man"', in Strangio and Costar (editors), ch. 9, (see 'Sources', below), and for a review of Victorian parliamentary politics from 1901 to 1920, see, Wright, ch. 7 (in 'Sources', below). A survey of Bent's career can be found in Weston Bate, 'Bent, Sir Thomas (1838–1909)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 3, (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1969), on line here [accessed 2 April 2014].


Colin Hughes and B D Graham (editors), A Handbook of Australian Government and Politics 1890-1964, (Canberra: Australian National University Press, 1968, SBN 708102700); Parliament of Victoria, One Hundred Years of Responsible Government 1856-1956, (Melbourne: Government Printer, 1957, Parliamentary Paper No. 40 of 1956-58); Paul Strangio and Brian Costar (editors), The Victorian Premiers 1856-2006, (Sydney: Federation Press, 2006, ISBN 9781862876019); Raymond Wright, A People's Counsel: A History of the Parliament of Victoria 1856-1990, (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1992, ISBN 0195533593). Victoria Hansard (Record of Parliamentary Debates) on line here .

In consulting these sources, note the difference between ministries and periods in office.