ID 0158

State Government of Tasmania beginning 26 August 1958 - period in office of Premier Reece, Eric Elliott ending on 26 May 1969

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

Reece, Eric Elliott
Date of beginning of period in office
26 August 1958
Date of end of period in office
26 May 1969 
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
Australian Labor Party
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
2 May 1964
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
TAS 22 April 1972Walter Angus BethuneLiberal PartyEric Elliott ReeceAustralian Labor Party
TAS 10 May 1969Eric Elliott ReeceAustralian Labor PartyWalter Angus BethuneLiberal Party
TAS 2 May 1964Eric Elliott ReeceAustralian Labor PartyEric Elliott ReeceAustralian Labor Party
TAS 2 May 1959Eric Elliott ReeceAustralian Labor PartyEric Elliott ReeceAustralian Labor Party

Previous period in this series for TAS | Next period in this series for TAS


Change of party leader: Beginning of Reece's first period in office: Premier Cosgrove resigned in August 1958 because of ill health, and the Labor caucus elected Reece leader on 25 August. The previous nine months had been a period of turmoil for the government: in November allegations had been made that the Treasurer, R J D Turnbull had solicited a bribe; the Attorney-General, R F Fagan had instigated a police investigation and requested the resignation of Turnbull, who had refused to comply; two motions of censure against the government and the Treasurer were moved but were not supported; in June, the Treasurer was indicted and resigned; and in July the Attorney-General resigned on the grounds of ill health. See Hughes and Graham, 1968, p. 264 (see 'Sources', below) and, for more extended coverage, see W A Townsley, 'Tasmania', Australian Journal of Politics and History, Australian Political Chronicle January-June 1958, 4 (2) November 1958: 262-265, and Townsley, pp 126-134 (see 'References', below).

Change in parliamentary support: In May 1959, Reece was the first Premier to contest an election for the enlarged House of Assembly which now had 35 members in place of the previous 30. The Australian Labor Party won 17 of the 35 seats and could rely on at least one of the two Independents, W G Wedd and R J D Turnbull, to support a minority Australian Labor Party government. At the election in May 1964, the Reece government secured a majority of seats.

Loss of general election: The Reece government lost its majority at the May 1969 general election for the House of Assembly, the Australian Labor Party winning only 17 of the 35 seats. The Liberal Party also won 17 seats, but joined with the sole elected member of the Centre Party, K O Lyons, to form a coalition government under Bethune with Lyons as Deputy Premier.

References: Terry Newman, Tasmanian Premiers 1856-1988: A Biographical Handbook, (Hobart: Tasmanian Parliamentary Library, [1988]); For background on politics in Tasmania during this period, see W A Townsley, Tasmania: Microcosm of the Federation or Vassal State, 1945-1983, pp 135-263, (Hobart: St David's Park Publishing, 1994). For a survey of Labor Party politics in this period, see Richard Davis, Eighty Years' Labor: The ALP in Tasmania, 1903-1983, pp 57-84 (Hobart: Sassafras Books and the History Department, University of Tasmania, 1983, ISBN 0859012212).

For a brief survey of Reece's career, see Jillian Koshin, 'Eric Elliot Reece AC (1909-99)', in Alison Alexander (editor), The Companion to Tasmanian History, p. 303, (Hobart: Centre for Tasmanian Historical Studies, University of Tasmania, 2005, ISBN 186295223X), online at:


'Ministries: Names of the Members of Successive Ministries which have held Office in Tasmania since the inauguration of Responsible Government, together with the Dates of Appointment and Retirement', Journal of House of Assembly, Second Session of the Forty-Fifth Parliament of Tasmania, Anno LIII and LV Eliz II; Session 2 of the 45th Parliament, Volume 251, 2004-2006, (Hobart: Government Printer, Tasmania); 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, A Handbook of Australian Government and Politcs 1965-1974, (Canberra: Australian National University Press, 1977, ISBN 0708113400), and the website of the Parliament of Tasmania,