Resignation of premier (Munro): Beginning of Shiels's period in office; The financial collapse in Victoria triggered by a bank failure late in 1889 brought to an end the boom of the 1880s. Premier Munro was embroiled in the failure of a bank he had founded and he was forced to resign as premier in February 1892 after public criticism of his behaviour (Lack, pp 98-99, see 'References', below). Parliament had been prorogued on 29 December 1891 with no statement by Munro of his financial difficulties; Victoria Parliamentary Debates, 1891 Session, vol. 68, 29 December 1891, p.3435.
Shiels was commissioned to form a government on 16 February 1892 (note Lack's comments on the irregular nature of the transition between premierships; Lack, p.99, see 'References', below). At the Assembly elections held on 20 April 1992, Shiels won a clear majority for his government.
Defeat in parliament (Shiels): Although progress was made in implementing railway economies, financial difficulties persisted for the government. Revelations over the profligacy of the former premier, Munro, disagreements over budget measures and the continuing economic depression eventually prompted the passing of a no confidence motion against the government on 18 January 1893 by 45 to 42 votes '... when 16 members abandoned Shiels.' Lack p.101 (see 'References', below); Victoria Parliamentary Debates, 1892-3 Session, vol. 71, 18 January 1893, pp 3944-3998. 'The House insisted that the ministry be evicted rather than reconstructed.' Lack p.101 (see 'References', below).
References: For a study of government and politics during this depression period, see 'David Syme and the Three Stooges? The Bust Premiers: James Munro, William Shiels and J B Patterson', in Strangio and Costar (editors), ch. 6, (see 'Sources', below), and for a review of Victorian parliamentary politics in the 1890s, see, Wright, ch. 6 (in 'Sources', below). A survey of Shiels's career can be found in Geoffrey Serle, 'Shiels, William (1848–1904)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 11, (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1988), on line here [accessed 13 March 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 .