ID 0343

State Government of Victoria beginning 14 November 1861 - period in office of Premier O'Shanassy, John ending on 27 June 1863

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
14 November 1861
Date of end of period in office
27 June 1863 
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')

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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 (Heales): Beginning of O'Shanassy's third period in office; At the Assembly elections held in August 1861, the Heales 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 ministry was more popular in the electorate than suggested by its lack of support in parliament; see 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. O'Shanassy was commissioned as premier on 14 November 1861.

The O'Shanassy ministry included two former conservatively inclined premiers, Haines and Nicholson. 'The alliance between Haines and O'Shanassy, which Governor Barkly had long hoped for, finally occurred towards the end of 1861 and O'Shanassy become premier again. Barkly was not confident about their "small and unreliable majority", but the government turned out to be more stable and productive than the early signs suggested [note omitted]. It strength showed in the legislative record: only 11 Acts had struggled through the Parliament in 1861 (a few others had passed the Assembly and failed in the Council), but the following year produced 32.', Waugh, p.20 (see 'References', below).

Defeat in parliament (O'Shanassy): 'The recurring problem of land policy finally brought the government down. O'Shanassy's ministry was defeated on the floor of the Assembly in June 1863, when Duffy [President of the Board of Land and Works and Commissioner of Crown Lands and Survey] proposed to reverse a fall in squatters' rent by reverting to a formula abandoned the previous year...' Waugh, p.20 (see 'References', below). The government regarded the 42 to 26 vote defeat on 19 June 1861 on the motion that the Assembly go into committee to consider the government's land assessment formula, as a defeat on a matter of confidence, and O'Shanassy submitted his resignation; Victorian Hansard (Argus Reports), 1862-63 vol. 9, 19 June, p.1003.

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).

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.