ID 0346

State Government of Victoria beginning 11 July 1868 - period in office of Premier McCulloch, James ending on 20 September 1869

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

McCulloch, James
Date of beginning of period in office
11 July 1868
Date of end of period in office
20 September 1869 
Reason for end of preceding period in office
Resignation of premier 
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 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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Resignation of premier (Sladen): Beginning of McCulloch's second period in office; The Sladen ministry could not resolve the deadlock between the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council that had paralyzed government (see the notes to the previous period in office in this database). Victoria faced a crisis. 'It was being governed by a ministry that was neither constitutional nor responsible. There was no Supply and no apparent prospect of getting Supply. The power of the Legislative Council appeared unlimited even at the cost of community cohesion. Most importantly, there seemed to be no mechanism by which these difficult issues could be resolved. Circumstances had grown, in the worried words of the secretary of state in London, "dangerous and increasingly dangerous to the existing Constitution of Victoria".' Wright, pp 79-80 (see 'Sources', below).

The situation was resolved by the colonial office in London reinstating Darling as governor (for the circumstances of Darling's removal as governor and the consequent deadlock over the appropriation bill, see the notes in this database for the first McCulloch ministry). Sladen '... resigned the day after the news arrived (6 July) ...' Wright, p.80 (see 'Sources', below).

McCulloch was recommissioned as premier on 11 July 1869, and shortly after, an appropriation bill without the controversial provision relating to Governor Darling passed both the Assembly and the Legislative Council, and the deadlock was broken.

Defeat in Parliament (McCulloch): 'Parliamentary corruption, the end of the deadlocks, and discontent with the composition of the new Cabinet helped drain support from the [McCulloch] government.... McCulloch lost office in September 1869, after a revolt by the government backbench over his decision to replace [Charles] Jones [who had been expelled from the Assembly for taking bribes] in Cabinet with a party organiser who was not an MP.' Waugh, p.35 (see 'References', below).

The motion, regarded as a matter of confidence, was 'That the selection of a gentleman, not a member of the Legislature, to fill one of the responsible offices of State, is contrary to the invariable parliamentary practice of this country, and a reflection on the character and capacity of Members of Parliament; this House, therefore, feels bound to record its disapproval of such selection'. The motion was debated on 14 September 1869, and carried against the government 34 to 26 in the early hours of 15 September (see Victoria Parliamentary Debates, 1869 Session, vol. 9, 15 September 1869, p.1939. After some discussion with his colleagues, McCulloch tendered his resignation on 16 September 1869.

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.