ID 0340

State Government of Victoria beginning 10 March 1858 - period in office of Premier O'Shanassy, John ending on 27 October 1859

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

O'Shanassy, John
Date of beginning of period in office
10 March 1858
Date of end of period in office
27 October 1859 
Reason for end of preceding period in office
Defeat in parliament 
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
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')

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Election Premier at election Premier's party Premier after election Premier's party
VIC 26 August 1859John O'ShanassySupport from parliamentary factions and independentsWilliam NicholsonSupport from parliamentary factions and independents

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Defeat in parliament (Haines): Beginning of O'Shanassy's second period in office; A variety of issues relating to parliamentary reform and and electoral redistribution divided both the Assembly and members of the government (Serle, pp 273-278 , see 'References', below). The government was defeated on an amendment to the Assembly Members Increase Bill on 23 February 1858; 'Haines sounded out the governor on the possibility of calling an election, but he [Haines] was unable to guarantee the unity of his Cabinet if they went to the polls. Defeated in Parliament and divided among themselves, the government resigned', Waugh, p. 17 (see 'References', below). Haines tendered his resignation to the Governor on 24 February; Victorian Hansard (Argus Reports), 1857-1858 vol. 3, 24 February 1858, p.316. The second O'Shanassy ministry was commissioned on 10 March 1858.

Loss of general election: The O'Shanassy government grappled with the issues of the electoral composition of the Assembly, and policies relating to the sale and lease of crown lands. Its legislation was either rejected or seriously amended by the Legislative Council, and the government steadily lost public support. At the general election held in August and September 1859, support for the O'Shanassy ministry was greatly reduced, prompting O'Shanassy's attempt to resign midway through the election (Serle, p.293, see 'References', below). Governor Barkly persuaded him to continue in office until the Assembly met after the election. The O'Shanassy ministry was defeated after the address in reply debate on 21 October 1859 by 56 votes to 17; Victorian Hansard (Argus Reports), 1859-60 vol. 5, 22 October 1859, pp 99-100.

References: For a detailed study of parliamentary government in Victoria in this period, see, Geoffrey Serle, The Golden Age: A History of the Colony of Victoria, 1851-1861, (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1963). O'Shanassy's second period in office is surveyed in pp 278-293.

In addition to the reference above, a study of O'Shanassy'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 O'Shanassy's career, see S M Ingham, 'O'Shanassy, Sir John (1818–1883)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1974), on line here. [accessed 3 February 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.