ID 0397

State Government of South Australia beginning 1 September 1857 - period in office of Premier Torrens, Robert Richard ending on 30 September 1857

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

Torrens, Robert Richard
Date of beginning of period in office
1 September 1857
Date of end of period in office
30 September 1857 
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 (Baker): Beginning of Torrens's period in office; Baker was a member of the Legislative Council and had acted in a way that was at odds with the political views of the majority of Assembly members. 'Baker's ministry fell following a vote of censure moved by [Robert] Torrens [who had been] Treasurer in Finniss's administration, and carried in the Assembly on 26 August. The Government were submerged by 24 votes to 7, ... The resignation of Baker's Ministry immediately followed this overwhelmingly adverse resolution in the Assembly.' Combe 2009, pp 90-91 in 'Sources', below; for additional commentary on the vote of censure moved by Torrens, note Howell, p.124 in 'References', below.

Torrens was commissioned to form a Ministry which took office on 1 September 1857 and chose the office of Chief Secretary.

Defeat in parliament (Torrens): 'Torrens, a Member of Conservative tendencies, had applied to so many Members of the House to take office under him and had been refused so extensively, that his Ministry was doomed from its inauguration. Its downfall came on 23 September. The House carried a motion proposed by Richard Hanson, Member for the City of Adelaide, condemning the Government's action in rescinding certain regulations under the Waste Lands Act, such action being considered unwarranted and illegal.' Coombe 2009, p.91 in 'Sources', below. Torrens tendered his resignation on 30 September 1857.

The legislation setting up the South Australian Real Property Act -- an innovative system of registering land titles -- was introduced by Torrens under the subsequent administration of Premier Hanson, becoming law in 1858. The system is often associated with the name of Torrens even though assessments differ as to his contribution to its design; see Combe 2009 pp 92-93 in 'Sources', below; and note Howell, pp 158-163, and the entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography, both in 'References', below.

References: For information on the structure of government set up in 1857, see 'Premier and ministry' in the notes to the First Ministry.

A detailed history of South Australia to 1857 can be found in Douglas Pike, Paradise of Dissent: South Australia 1829-1857, (London: Longmans Green and Co., 1957) and a survey of the introduction of responsible government in South Australia from 1836 to 1857 is provided in Combe 2009, pp 8-78 in 'Sources', below. The first Premier, Finniss produced his own history: B T Finniss, The Constitutional History of South Australia During Twenty One Years from the Foundation of the Settlement in 1836 to the Inauguration of Responsible Government in 1857, Adelaide: Rigby, 1886 (online through Trove here). [accessed 25 February 2020]

The question of the nature of politics and government in South Australia during the period up to 1890 is covered by P A Howell, 'Constitutional and Political Development, 1857-1890', ch.5, and Dean Jaensch, 'Parliament and Government', ch. 10, both chapters in Dean Jaensch (editor), The Flinders History of South Australia: Political History, (Netley, SA: Wakefield Press, 1986, ISBN 0949268518), and see Combe 2009 in 'Sources', below. While focused on a later period, useful background can also be found in the section on 'Representation' (pp 65-75) in J B Hirst, Adelaide and the Country 1870-1917: Their Social and Political Relationship, (Carlton, Vic.: Melbourne University Press, 1973, ISBN 0522840450).

For a survey of Torrens's career, see 'Torrens, Robert Richard (1814-1884), Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1976), online here [accessed 14 February 2020].


Gordon D Combe, Responsible Government in South Australia, (Adelaide: Government Printer, 1957); reprinted [with changed pagination] as Gordon D Combe, Responsible Government in South Australia, Volume 1, From Foundations to Playford, (Kent Town, South Australia: Wakefield Press, 2009, ISBN 9781862548435); also available online through Google Books, here. Page references in the text above are to the 2009 edition.

Parliament of South Australia, Statistical Record of the Legislature 1836 - 2007, PDF format (2,136 KB).

'An Act to establish a Constitution for South Australia, and to grant a Civil List to Her Majesty', 1855-56, No. 2. online here, and a transcript of the Act here [accessed 21 September 2018].