ID 0351

State Government of Victoria beginning 31 July 1874 - period in office of Premier Kerferd, George Briscoe ending on 7 August 1875

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

Kerferd, George Briscoe
Date of beginning of period in office
31 July 1874
Date of end of period in office
7 August 1875 
Reason for end of preceding period in office
Resignation of premier 
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')

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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Resignation of premier (Francis): Beginning of Kerferd's period in office; 'Francis took personal charge of the big issue of the government's last year in office, constitutional reform. He tried to make it the focus of the 1874 election campaign, but he found the demand for constitutional change hard to rouse, although he was returned as premier [note omitted]. His plan for joint sittings of the two houses to resolve deadlocks.... passed the Assembly by only two votes, and without the necessary absolute majority. The premier was missing from Parliament for the final vote. He had fallen dangerously ill with pleurisy, which forced his resignation soon after ....' Waugh, pp 42-43 (see 'References', below). Francis tendered his resignation to the governor late on 28 July 1874; see statement by Kerferd, Victoria Parliamentary Debates, 1874 Session, vol. 19, 4 August 1874, p.746.

Kerferd was commissioned to form a government on 31 July 1874. 'He [had become] solicitor-general and then attorney-general as one of the constitutionalist members of Francis's Cabinet of 1872-1874. When illness forced Francis to resign, Kerferd took over as premier, apparently more because he was capable and inoffensive than because of ambition or obvious qualities of leadership.... Kerferd announced that he would stick to Francis's policies, with the exception of constitutional reform, which he postponed.' Waugh, p. 43 (see 'References', below).

Resignation of premier (Kerferd): After a year in office, '[t]he government's majority shrank on [Treasurer] Service's proposals for an assortment of new taxes and tax increases. McCulloch launched a particularly damaging attack, and many protectionists deserted as some tariffs were to be reduced. His majority down to one vote, Kerferd asked for a dissolution, and resigned when the acting governor, Sir William Stawell, refused. Stawell doubted that an election would change the numbers in the Assembly, and also thought that the country needed to experience "the evils of Protection" (in the shape of the new Berry government) before people would see its fallacies [note omitted].' Waugh, p. 44 (see 'References', below). The vote on the budget was taken on 29 July 1875, and Kerferd tendered his resignation to the acting governor on 3 August; see Victoria Parliamentary Debates, 1875-6 Session, vol. 21, 29 July and 3 August 1875, pp 923-927.

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 Kerferd'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 Kerferd's career, see Margot Beever, 'Kerferd, George Briscoe (1831–1889)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1974), 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.