ID 0205

State Government of Victoria beginning 17 December 1952 - period in office of Premier Cain [snr], John ending on 7 June 1955

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

Cain [snr], John
Date of beginning of period in office
17 December 1952
Date of end of period in office
7 June 1955 
Reason for end of preceding period in office
Loss of general election 
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
31 March 1955
Defection by Party Members
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 6 December 1952John Gladstone Black McDonaldCountry PartyJohn Cain [snr]Australian Labor Party
VIC 8 November 1947John Cain [snr]Australian Labor PartyThomas Tuke HollwayLiberal Party
VIC 10 November 1945Ian MacfarlanLiberal PartyJohn Cain [snr]Australian Labor Party

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Loss of general election (McDonald): Beginning of Cain's third period in office; At the general election on 6 December 1952, the Australian Labor Party won an additional 13 seats and gained a comfortable majority in the Legislative Assembly for the first time in Victoria. 'On 8 December McDonald resigned, and Cain was commissioned to form a government. His cabinet was elected by ballot.' Hughes and Graham, p.135 (see 'Sources', below). Cain became Premier of an Australian Labor Party majority government on 17 December 1952.

Change in parliamentary support: During 1954, tensions within and between the parliamentary and trade union wings of the Australian Labor Party became especially serious in Victoria (see Strangio, pp 263-266, and Murray, pp 91-103 in 'References' below). 'A dispute within the Labor Party led to the suspension and subsequent expulsion of four Ministers from the party -- Barry, Coleman, Hayes and Scully.' Hughes and Graham, p.136 (see 'Sources', below). ' When the four ministers ... refused Cain's request they resign, the Premier resigned and advised the Governor to grant him a new commission so as to be able to re-form his ministry without them. Therefore technically the third Cain ministry ended, and the fourth commenced on 31 March 1955.' Strangio, footnote 147, p.273 (see 'References', below). This website regards the change as one that alters the extent of partisan support in the Assembly rather than its composition; only the latter triggers a new period in office.

The expulsion of the ministers from the Labor caucus meant that the party no longer had the support of a majority on the floor of the Assembly, and Cain became Premier of a minority government.

Loss of general election (Cain): On 19 April 1955, the first meeting of the Assembly after the changes to the Cain ministry, the government was defeated on an appropriation bill 24 to 37. Bolte, the leader of the opposition, immediately moved a motion of no confidence in the ministry which, was carried 34 to 23, with three of the expelled former ministers voting against the government; Victoria Parliamentary Debates, 1954-55 Session, vol. 245, 19 April 1955, pp 2842-2924 (for a brief background to these events, see Wright, pp 192-195 in 'Sources', below). Cain was granted a dissolution and, at the election on 28 May 1955, the Labor government was defeated.

References: A detailed analysis of government in Victoria from the perspective of the late 1950s can be found in A F Davies, 'The Government of Victoria' in S R Davis (editor), The Government of the Australian States, pp 143-178 (London: Longmans, 1960).

Kate White provides a political biography of Cain in, John Cain and Victorian Labor 1917-1957, (Sidney: Hale & Iremonger, 1982, ISBN 0868060275), and the wider divisions within the Labor Party and trade union movement during this period are described in Robert Murray, The Split: Australian Labor in the Fifties (Melbourne: Cheshire, 1972, ISBN 0701516755). For a broad historical study of Labor politics in Victoria, see Paul Strangio, Neither Power nor Glory: 100 Years of Political Labor in Victoria, 1856-1956, (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2012, ISBN 9780522861822).

For a study of Cain's periods in office, see Paul Strangio, 'John Cain snr: The Star-crossed Premier', in Strangio and Costar (editors), ch. 20, (see 'Sources', below), and a short survey of Cain's career can be found in Robert Murray and Kate White, 'Cain, John (1882–1957)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1993), on line here [accessed 21 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.