ID 0161

State Government of Tasmania beginning 31 March 1975 - period in office of Premier Neilson, William Arthur ending on 1 December 1977

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

Neilson, William Arthur
Date of beginning of period in office
31 March 1975
Date of end of period in office
1 December 1977 
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
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
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 11 December 1976William Arthur NeilsonAustralian Labor PartyWilliam Arthur NeilsonAustralian Labor Party

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Change of party leader (Reece): Beginning of Neilson's period in office: At the annul state conference of the Australian Labor Party in Launceston in February 1975, a motion was passed that no member would be eligible for preselection as a Labor candidate if he or she were to exceed the age of 65 during the term of office for which he or she was being endorsed. Premier Reece who turned 66 in 1975, interpreted this motion as an expression of the party's unwillingness for him to continue as leader, and he resigned the following month. Caucus chose Neilson as the new leader and Neilson became Premier of an Australian Labor Party majority government. For discussion on this transition, see Townsley, pp 317-334, particularly pp 333-334, (see 'References', below).

Change of party leader (Neilson): Neilson resigned as Premier on 1 December 1977 to become Tasmania's Agent-General in London. 'The choice of successor to Mr Neilson was clearly between deputy premier Lowe and minister for education Mr Neil Batt (forty). It appeared that Mr Lowe commanded twelve caucus votes and Mr Batt eight, but with ten weeks to a caucus vote the contest would have been close. Speculation about a leadership struggle was quickly defused by Mr Batt who announced that for the sake of party unity he would not be a candidate for the premiership', Graham Smith and M T P, 'Tasmania', Australian Journal of Politics and History, Australian Political Chronicle, July-December 1977, 24 (1) April 1978: 101-107 at 102.

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 332-383, (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, ch. 4 (Hobart: Sassafras Books and the History Department, University of Tasmania, 1983, ISBN 0859012212).

For a brief survey of Neilson's career, see Wendy Rimon, 'Neilson, Willian Arthur (Bill) (1925-89)', in Alison Alexander (editor), The Companion to Tasmanian History, p. 251, (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, A Handbook of Australian Government and Politcs 1965-1974, (Canberra: Australian National University Press, 1977, ISBN 0708113400), Colin A Hughes, A Handbook of Australian Government and Politcs 1975-1984, (Sydney: Australian National University Press, 1986, ISBN 008033038X), and the website of the Parliament of Tasmania,