ID 0342

State Government of Victoria beginning 26 November 1860 - period in office of Premier Heales, Richard ending on 14 November 1861

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

Heales, Richard
Date of beginning of period in office
26 November 1860
Date of end of period in office
14 November 1861 
Reason for end of preceding period in office
Defeat in parliament 
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 2 August 1861Richard HealesSupport from parliamentary factions and independentsRichard HealesSupport from parliamentary factions and independents

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Defeat in parliament (Nicholson): Beginning of Heales's period in office: 'The nine months battle over the land Act had exhausted the government and had left the long session almost barren of important legislation.... When parliament reassembled in November 1860 Nicholson's ministry was obviously weak and divided, with no attractive policy to offer.... Thus, on the address in reply Brooke, with O'Shanassy in support, carried an amendment against the government by thirty-four votes to twenty-one', Serle, pp 300-301 (see 'References', below); Victorian Hansard (Argus Reports), 1860-61 vol. 7, 21 November 1860, p.41.

On Nicholson's resignation after his defeat on 21 November 1860, there was difficulty in finding someone to lead a new ministry. After a series of negotiations, Heales was commissioned on 26 November and formed a ministry who were '...all men of radical beliefs and no more disunited on policy than any previous government. They were firmly supported by the twenty or so most democratic members of the Assembly...' and, for the moment, by conservative factions who saw little benefit in having to deal themselves with the severe financial problems facing the government; Serle, p.301 (see 'References', below).

Resignation, reappointment, dissolution and the 1861 elections: The Heales ministry faced continuing difficulties with government finances, securing Assembly support for its legislation, and the opposition of the Legislative Council. Late in January 1861, debate in the Assembly over questions of taxation and government expenditure had come to an impasse and Heales resigned; Victorian Hansard (Argus Reports), 1860-61 vol. 7, 30 January 1861 pp 307-315. But no other member was able or willing to form a ministry and Heales accepted a request from the governor to return as premier with a slightly modified ministry; Victorian Hansard (Argus Reports), 1860-61 vol. 7, 15 February 1861, p.318. For a study of this period, see Serle, pp 301-303 (see 'References', below), and note the comments and exchange of letters on attempts to form an alternative ministry published in Victorian Hansard (Argus Reports), 1860-61 vol. 7, 19 February 1861, pp 322-327.

By early June 1861, the conservative factions were willing to use their support in the Assembly to move a vote of no confidence in the ministry on 13 June 1861 which passed 37 to 19 against the government (Victorian Hansard (Argus Reports), 1860-61 vol. 7, 13-14 June 1861, pp 1126-1172). The conservative factions expected to be asked to form a government, but Governor Barkly accepted Heales's advice and dissolved the Assembly for an election to be held in August; see Serle, pp 304-305 (see 'References', below).

Defeat in parliament (Heales): At the Assembly elections held in August 1861, the government was returned with a slim majority, justifying Governor Barkly's grant of a dissolution of the Assembly based on the assessment that the Heales government was more popular in the electorate than suggested by its lack of support in parliament (Serle, p.307, see 'References', below). But the government's majority was precarious and only survived for two months before the ministry was defeated over a budget measure 40 votes to 34 on 8 November 1861; Heales then resigned his commission; Victorian Hansard (Argus Reports), 1861-62 vol. 8, 8 November 1861, p.329.

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).

In addition to the reference above, a study of Heales'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 Heales's career, see Margot Beever, 'Heales, Richard (1821–1864)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1972), on line here, [accessed 11 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.