ID 0337

State Government of Victoria beginning 30 November 1855 - period in office of Premier Haines, William Clark ending on 11 March 1857

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

Haines, William Clark
Date of beginning of period in office
30 November 1855
Date of end of period in office
11 March 1857 
Reason for end of preceding period in office
First ministry 
Reason for end of this government
Defeat in parliament
Number of days in office

Parliamentary support during period

Party affiliation of premier at start of period
Support from parliamentary factions and independents
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 23 September 1856William Clark HainesSupport from parliamentary factions and independents

Next period in this series for VIC


First ministry: Beginning of Haines's first period in office; Haines was the first Premier to take office as head of government under the system of parliamentary self-government granted to Victoria by Britain. On the process of framing the Victorian Constitution, see Charles Parkinson, 'William Foster Stawell and the Making of the Victorian Constitution', Victorian Historical Journal, 77 (2) November 2006: 107-142; John Waugh. 'Framing the First Victorian Constitution, 1853-5', Monash University Law Review, 23 (2) 1997: 331-361; and note the works by Wright referred to in 'References', below.

There was some controversy over the move by Governor Hotham to introduce responsible government to Victoria and commission Haines as Chief Secretary (Premier) on 30 November 1855 before general elections for the new Legislative Assembly had been held -- they were not held until almost a year later on 23 September 1856. There were administrative difficulties over the transition from a government by the Governor advised by the old partially appointed Legislative Council to parliamentary government by a ministry accountable to the new Legislative Assembly. These were exacerbated by delays in the passage of an Electoral Act -- required for the election -- through the old Legislative Council. There was also the suspicion that the way in which the transition was handled had been prompted by the financial concerns of existing executive officers; see Serle, ch. 7 (in 'References', below), and John Waugh, 'The Brummagem Coup: The Start of Self-government in Victoria', Victorian Historical Journal, 77 (2) November 2006: 143-157.

Defeat in parliament: The Haines government lasted for a little over five months after the general election held in September 1856, and only three and a half months after parliament met; 'Its firm supporters were few, the Opposition led by O'Shanassy was militant and comparatively united and only Childers and Fellows were good parliamentarians...' (Serle, p. 260, see 'References', below). The government was close to defeat on several issues in January and February 1857 and Haines tendered his resignation after being defeated by 29 votes to 23 on a question of immigration expenditure on 3 March 1857; Victorian Hansard (Argus Reports), 1856-7 vol. 1, 4 March 1857, p.552.

References: For a history of the separation of the Port Phillip district of New South Wales to become the present state of Victoria, the early political and economic development of the colony, and a detailed study of parliamentary government in Victoria up to 1861, see, Geoffrey Serle, The Golden Age: A History of the Colony of Victoria, 1851-1861, (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1963), and note the summary provided by Wright, pp 3-22 (see 'Sources', below). A study of the Legislative Council in Victoria before the granting of responsible government can be found in Ray Wright, A Blended House: The Legislative Council of Victoria 1851-1856, (Melbourne: Department of the Legislative Council, Parliament of Victoria, 2001, ISBN 0957918828; Parliamentary Paper no.106, Session 1999-2000).

In addition to the references above, a study of Haines's premiership can be found in John Waugh, 'Haines, O'Shanassy, Nicholson and Heales: The Old Guard', in Strangio and Costar (editors), ch. 2 (see 'Sources', below), and for a survey of Haines's career, see Betty Malone, 'Haines, William Clark (1810–1866)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1972), on line here. [accessed 30 January 2014].


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). In consulting these sources, note the difference between ministries and periods in office.