Loss of general election (Bent): Beginning of Murray's period in office; '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).
'At the conference of 6 January 1909, at which Murray was appointed leader of the 'Consolidated party', it was resolved that a manager for the ministerial faction be appointed to confer with Murray, half the cabinet to be chosen from each faction (i.e. Liberal and Ministerial). Murray conferred with Graham in choosing the new ministry which, at the time of its formation, was regarded as a coalition.' Hughes and Graham, p.112 (see Sources', below). Murray was commissioned to form a government on 8 January 1909.
Change in parliamentary support: Party alignments in parliament were still fluid but the emergence of the Labor Party was beginning to induce party groupings to work in the Assembly as stable coalitions; Serle sees Murray's government as '... essentially at Liberal-country coalition' (see 'References', below). As indicated in the note above, Murray's original ministry was formed by an agreement between members of the Liberal opposition, and the rump of the Reform 'Ministerialists' who had been in office under Bent. By the 1911 election, non-Labor groups had fused to form the Liberal Party, providing Murray with single party majority support in the Assembly.
Change of party leader (Murray): 'Murray's leadership came under criticism in 1912 and, in keeping with an agreement reached in cabinet, he informed the Governor on 14 May that he wished to resign the Premiership. On his recommendation, Watt was commissioned to form a new ministry.' Hughes and Graham, p. 113 (see 'Sources', below).
References: For a study of Murray's period in office, see David Dunstan, 'John Murray and William Watt: The Odd Couple', especially pp 138-141, 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 Murray's career can be found in Geoffrey Serle, 'Murray, John (Jack) (1851–1916)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10, (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1986), on line here [accessed 3 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 .