ID 0354

State Government of Victoria beginning 21 May 1877 - period in office of Premier Berry, Graham ending on 5 March 1880

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

Berry, Graham
Date of beginning of period in office
21 May 1877
Date of end of period in office
5 March 1880 
Reason for end of preceding period in office
Loss of general election 
Reason for end of this government
Loss of general election
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 14 July 1880James ServiceSupport from parliamentary factions and independentsGraham BerrySupport from parliamentary factions and independents
VIC 28 February 1880Graham BerrySupport from parliamentary factions and independentsJames ServiceSupport from parliamentary factions and independents
VIC 11 May 1877James McCullochSupport from parliamentary factions and independentsGraham BerrySupport from parliamentary factions and independents

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Loss of general election (McCulloch): Beginning of Berry's second period in office; 'The new government was opposed by Berry and his supporters, outraged at the acting governor's refusal to dissolve the Assembly when they fell victim to McCulloch, and determined to obstruct Parliament and damn McCulloch as a conservative ogre until an election was called. The government needed new revenue, and McCulloch ... proposed, not Berry's land tax on big estates, but other means, including, for the first time in Australia, an income tax. Opposition to this last proposal, which protectionists thought would lead to lower tariffs, cut the government's majority to three and it withdrew the bill [note omitted]. McCulloch fought to get the rest of his legislative program through the refractory Assembly ... but the election could be postponed only until the end of the three-year term. When it came [in May 1877], he suffered "complete and irrevocable extinction" in the Berry landslide. [note omitted]' Waugh, p.36 (see 'References', below).

Loss of general election (Berry): 'Upon the defeat of his second [constitutional] reform Bill in December 1879, Berry obtained a dissolution of the Assembly. The election campaign confirmed the fracturing of 1877 alliance. The NRPL [National Reform and Protection League] was in decline and challenged by a rival Liberal organization. Predictably, the squattocracy and allies were galvanized like never before -- an anti-Berry Registration Society formed to enrol voters for the purpose of liberating Victoria from his incubus. The most decisive factors working against Berry, though, were the depressed economy and widespread exhaustion after four years of unrelieved political tumult. In February 1880, his majority was wiped out,' Strangio, p.66 (see 'References', below).

Period between dissolution and election: Even though the Constitution Act Amendment Bill passed its third reading in the Assembly on 4 December 1879 by a vote of 43 to 38, such legislation is required to be supported by a majority of the whole membership of the Assembly. In a chamber of 86, the majority required for a constitutional amendment was 44. In a statement to the Assembly on 9 December, Berry reported that he had seen the governor on 8 December and requested a dissolution of the Assembly which had been granted. Setting the date of the election was complicated by disagreements over the rolls to be used for the election and the need to complete outstanding parliamentary business. After a long debate on 16 December, Berry stated on 17 December that the writs for the election would be issued for an election using the updated electoral rolls on 28 February 1880; the parliament was prorogued on 5 February 1880. For discussion on the date of the dissolution after the defeat of the constitutional amendment bill and related matters, see Victoria Parliamentary Debates, 1879-80 Session, vol. 32, 4-17 December, pp 2168-2303.

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). Note also, Alfred Deakin, The Crisis in Victorian Politics, 1879-1881: A Personal Retrospect, edited by J A La Nauze and R M Crawford, (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1957). For a survey of Berry's periods in office, see Paul Strangio, 'Broken Heads and Flaming Houses: Graham Berry, the Wild Colonial', in Strangio and Costar (editors), ch. 4 (see 'Sources', below) and note John Waugh, ' ''The Inevitable McCulloch" and his Rivals, 1863-1877', in Strangio and Costar (editors), ch. 3 (see 'Sources', below). For a survey of Berry's career, see Geoffrey Bartlett, 'Berry, Sir Graham (1822–1904)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 3, (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1969), on line here [accessed 3 March 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.