ID 0349

State Government of Victoria beginning 19 June 1871 - period in office of Premier Duffy, Charles Gavan ending on 10 June 1872

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

Duffy, Charles Gavan
Date of beginning of period in office
19 June 1871
Date of end of period in office
10 June 1872 
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')

This premier did not win office as the result of an election, and was not (or has not been) in office long enough to contest an election as premier ; see 'Period in office' table above.

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Defeat in parliament (McCulloch): Beginning of Duffy's period in office; The government survived the Assembly elections in February 1871, but 'McCulloch's links with his traditional supporters were weakening, without a solid base to replace them [note omitted]. After the elections of 1871, he lost a vote on his proposal to introduce a broad property tax, defeated by an awkward alliance of protectionists and free-traders.' Waugh, p.36 (see 'References', below). The vote on the property tax was lost 48 to 24 against the government on 13 June 1871; Victoria Parliamentary Debates, 1871 Session, vol. 12, 29 March 1871, p.569. McCulloch tendered his resignation on 14 June 1871.

Duffy's government was commissioned on 19 June 1871; '... the governor asked him to become premier even though (as the governor saw it) Duffy was one of the least popular MPs and did not lead a large party inside or outside Parliament.... Two key issues divided his supporters. They were an uneasy alliance of free-traders and protectionists and, in the governor's words, they were "diametrically, if not violently, opposed to each other" on education policy, split on the question of religious education in state schools [note omitted].' Waugh, p.40 (see 'References', below).

Defeat in parliament (Duffy): 'The government's opponents ultimately found the weapon they needed in the appointment of a new secretary for the Victorian agent-general in London. The job went to an old colleague of Duffy's on the Nation newspaper. The combination of Catholic Irish nationalism with a whiff of nepotism swung more MPs against the government which lost its majority.' Waugh, p.41 (see 'References', below).

The government was defeated after an eleven day debate on the address in reply; the opposition inserted an amendment to read: 'But regretting to inform his Excellency that we feel bound to condemn the exercise of patronage by his present advisers; and that we feel further bound to inform his Excellency that his present advisers do not possess the confidence of this House'; Victoria Parliamentary Debates, 1872 Session, vol. 14, 29 May 1872, p.435. 'Duffy asked the governor to dissolve the Assembly, so that he could go to the polls rather than resign, but the governor decided that an alternative government was available, and refused, much to Duffy's disgust.' Waugh, p.41 (see 'References', below).

References: For a study of the Victorian parliament in this period, see, Wright, ch. 5 (in '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 Duffy'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 Duffy's career, see Joy E. Parnaby, 'Duffy, Sir Charles Gavan (1816–1903)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1972), on line here [accessed 23 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.