ID 0184

State Government of Victoria beginning 29 November 1917 - period in office of Premier Bowser, John ending on 21 March 1918

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

Bowser, John
Date of beginning of period in office
29 November 1917
Date of end of period in office
21 March 1918 
Reason for end of preceding period in office
Change of party leader 
Reason for end of this government
Change of party leader
Number of days in office

Parliamentary support during period

Party affiliation of premier at start of period
National Party (Nationalists)
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
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 15 November 1917Alexander James PeacockLiberal PartyJohn BowserNational Party (Nationalists)

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Change of party leader (Peacock): Beginning of Bowser's period in office; 'Another faction, formed in December 1916 under the leadership of John Bowser, later attacked the ministry for its failure to economise in public expenditure. The 'Economy Party', as it was known, contested the election of 15 November 1917 as a separate group and succeeded in winning widespread support. The Liberal Party become known as the Nationalist Party following the formation of the federal Nationalist Party. At least twenty-seven of the thirty-nine Nationalists returned to the new Assembly were 'Economy' members. Peacock interpreted this result as a defeat for his government and resigned his commission, advising the Governor to send for Bowser. Having obtained the [Nationalist] Party's approval to proceed with the formation of a cabinet, Bowser chose his ministers from the ranks of the former 'Economy' faction.' Hughes and Graham, p.117 (see 'Sources', below).

Change of party leader (Bowser): Bowser was commissioned as Premier on 29 November 1917 but divisions within the Nationalist Party continued and the government was defeated by the Labor Party and a group of dissident Nationalists led by Peacock, prompting Bowser's resignation. 'A hostile amendment to the ministry's Railway Department Estimates was carried on 13 March 1917 by 23 to 22.' Hughes and Graham p.117 (see 'References', below); Victoria Parliamentary Debates, 1917-18 Session, vol. 148, 12-13 March 1917, pp 866-876. '... 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 him as premier.' Fitzherbert, p.164 (see 'References', below).

References: For a study of Bowser's brief period in office, see Margaret Fitzherbert, 'Harry Lawson, Sure and Steady', p.164, in Strangio and Costar (editors) ch. 12 (see 'Sources', below), and Richard Allsop, 'William McPherson: "Threepenny" Premier and Philanthropist', p.199, in Strangio and Costar (editors) ch. 15 (see 'Sources', below). A review of Victorian parliamentary politics from 1901 to 1920 is covered in, Wright ch. 7 (in 'Sources', below). A survey of Bowser's career can be found in Margaret Vines, 'Bowser, Sir John (1856–1936)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7, (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1979), on line here [accessed 13 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.