ID 0344

State Government of Victoria beginning 27 June 1863 - period in office of Premier McCulloch, James ending on 6 May 1868

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

McCulloch, James
Date of beginning of period in office
27 June 1863
Date of end of period in office
6 May 1868 
Reason for end of preceding period in office
Defeat in parliament 
Reason for end of this government
Resignation of premier
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 11 May 1877James McCullochSupport from parliamentary factions and independentsGraham BerrySupport from parliamentary factions and independents
VIC 14 February 1871James McCullochSupport from parliamentary factions and independentsJames McCullochSupport from parliamentary factions and independents
VIC 21 January 1868James McCullochSupport from parliamentary factions and independentsJames McCullochSupport from parliamentary factions and independents
VIC 30 December 1865James McCullochSupport from parliamentary factions and independentsJames McCullochSupport from parliamentary factions and independents
VIC 5 October 1864James McCullochSupport from parliamentary factions and independentsJames McCullochSupport from parliamentary factions and independents

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Defeat in parliament (O'Shanassy): Beginning of McCulloch's first period in office; '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.

McCulloch was commissioned as premier on 27 June 1863 and '... took four ministers from the radical Heales Cabinet of 1861, including Heales himself, but MuCulloch was conservative enough for Heales to lose some friends by joining him....' Waugh, p.30 (see 'References', below).

Conflict with the Legislative Council, 1865-1868: The period from 1865 to 1868 was marked by serious conflict between the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council which involved deadlocks between the two houses, the Council's refusal to accept budget measures and the disruption of government. The disagreements between the houses began with a dispute over the imposition of tariffs. This led to the Council's refusal to pass financial legislation for the funding of government services, and attempts by the government to use bank loans as a source of revenue. A compromise was reached in April 1866 but another crisis was triggered by the recall of Governor Darling by the Colonial Office for what was perceived as partiality towards the McCulloch ministry during the tariff dispute with the Legislative Council, and Darling's acceptance of the government's questionable scheme to use bank loans for funding government expenditure. The Assembly attempted to grant Governor Darling (through his wife) £20,000 to compensate him for the loss of his position. The Legislative Council had strongly disapproved of Darling's actions and refused to approve the grant and the appropriation bill to which it was appended. This led to a complete deadlock between the two houses, a serious threat to the operation of government, and the resignation of McCulloch (see below). For details of these events see Wright, pp 77-80 (see 'Sources', below), and Waugh, pp 32-33 (see 'References', below).

Resignation of premier: After an Assembly election in February 1868 fought on the issue of the Legislative Council's refusal to pass the government's appropriation bill, the McCulloch ministry was returned with an overwhelming majority, winning '... 60 supporters in a House of 78.', Wright p.79 (see 'Sources', below). Notwithstanding this public support, the new governor (Manners-Sutton) and the colonial office instructed the ministry to submit an appropriation bill in a form that was acceptable to the Legislative Council. McCulloch tendered his resignation on 6 March 1868 in protest against the obstruction of the Council and the interference of the colonial office. For the next two months there was, in effect no government, since the majority in the Assembly still supported McCulloch and he refused to serve unless the Council yielded. In an attempt to solve the deadlock, Sladen, a member of the Legislative Council, was commissioned to form a government on 6 May 1868; for details and background, see Wright, pp 77-80 (in 'Sources', below), and Waugh, pp 32-33 (in 'References', below).

References: For a study of the Victorian parliament in this period, see, Wright, ch. 5 (see 'Sources', below), and note the 'Prologue' in Geoffrey Serle, The Rush to be Rich: A History of the Colony of Victoria, 1883-1889, pp 1-13 (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1971). A study of McCulloch's premiership can be found in John Waugh, ' ''The Inevitable McCulloch" and his Rivals, 1863-1877', in Strangio and Costar (editors), ch. 3 (see 'Sources', below), and for a survey of McCulloch's career, see Geoffrey Bartlett, 'McCulloch, Sir James (1819–1893)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1974), on line here [accessed 15 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.