ID 0206

State Government of Victoria beginning 7 June 1955 - period in office of Premier Bolte, Henry Edward ending on 23 August 1972

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

Bolte, Henry Edward
Date of beginning of period in office
7 June 1955
Date of end of period in office
23 August 1972 
Reason for end of preceding period in office
Loss of general election 
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
Liberal and Country 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
VIC 30 May 1970Henry Edward BolteLiberal PartyHenry Edward BolteLiberal Party
VIC 29 April 1967Henry Edward BolteLiberal and Country PartyHenry Edward BolteLiberal Party
VIC 27 June 1964Henry Edward BolteLiberal and Country PartyHenry Edward BolteLiberal and Country Party
VIC 15 July 1961Henry Edward BolteLiberal and Country PartyHenry Edward BolteLiberal and Country Party
VIC 31 May 1958Henry Edward BolteLiberal and Country PartyHenry Edward BolteLiberal and Country Party
VIC 28 May 1955John Cain [snr]Australian Labor PartyHenry Edward BolteLiberal and Country Party

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Loss of general election (Cain): Beginning of Bolte's period in office; On 19 April 1955, the first meeting of the Assembly after changes to the Cain ministry, the government was defeated on an appropriation bill 24 to 37. Bolte, as leader of the opposition, immediately moved a motion of no confidence in the ministry which, was carried 34 to 23, with three former ministers who had been expelled from the Labor Party voting against the Labor 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 subsequent election, the Labor government was defeated.

'At the election on 28 May 1955 the Liberal Country Party won a bare majority of seats [34 of 66]; an offer to the Country Party for a coalition was rejected, and Bolte formed a cabinet, having been authorised to choose the members himself.' Hughes and Graham, p.137 (see 'Sources', below). Bolte became Premier of a Liberal and Country Party majority government on 7 June 1955 and was authorised to select his own ministry.

Period in office: Bolte was Premier of Victoria for over 17 years (6,287 days), the longest period in office of any Victorian Premier. He led the Liberal Country Party (renamed the Liberal Party after February 1965) to victory at six general elections for the Legislative Assembly, and retired at a time of his choosing. During this period there were several changes to the composition of the ministry and to the way in which ministers were chosen (see Hughes, pp 33-35 in 'Sources', below).

Change of party leader (Bolte): On 11 July 1972 Bolte announced his decision to retire as Premier from 23 August. His preferred successor was Hamer whom Bolte had encouraged to move from the Legislative Council to the the Legislative Assembly at a by-election for the Assembly in 1971. The Parliamentary Liberal Party selected Hamer as leader on 22 August (see Hughes, p.35 in 'Sources', below).

References: A detailed analysis of government in Victoria from the perspective of the late 1950s when Bolte began his period in office 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), and a similar study from the mid 1970s is provided by Jean Holmes, The Government of Victoria, (St. Lucia, Qld: University of Queensland Press, 1976). The Victorian Parliament under Liberal governments from 1955-1982 is surveyed by Wright, pp 196-206 (see 'Sources', below), and the Australian Journal of Politics and History has given brief summaries of Victorian politics and government since 1956 in the 'Political Chronicle' section of the journal in issues of each annual volume. This publication can be viewed online through Wiley-Blackwell Journals at subscribing libraries.

A critical biography of Bolte has been provided by Peter Blazey, Bolte: A Political Biography, (Milton, Qld: Jacaranda Press, 1972, ISBN 071606185), and a study of Bolte's period in office can be found in David Dunstan, 'Henry Bolte: The Lucky Developer', in Strangio and Costar, ch. 21 (see 'Sources', below); note also Tim Colebatch, Hamer: The Liberal Liberal, ch. 9 (Brunswick, Vic.: Scribe Publications, 2014, ISBN 9781925106138). A short survey of Bolte's career can be found in David Dunstan, 'Bolte, Sir Henry Edward (1908–1990)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2007), on line here [accessed 11 May 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); Colin A Hughes, A Handbook of Australian Government and Politics 1965-1974, (Canberra: Australian National University Press, 1977, ISBN 0708113400); 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.