1931 Australian Labor Party leadership spill

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1931 Australian Labor Party
leadership election

← 1928 2 March 1931 1935 →
  Portrait of the Right Hon. J. H. Scullin.png Jack Beasley 1930.jpg
Candidate James Scullin Jack Beasley
First Ballot 40 votes
5 votes

Leader before election

James Scullin

Elected Leader

James Scullin

The Australian Labor Party held a leadership election on 2 March 1931, in the context of the developing party split. Prime Minister James Scullin was easily re-elected, defeating Jack Beasley of the Lang Labor faction.

Scullin called a meeting of the Labor caucus following the events of 4 February, which saw Joseph Lyons and James Fenton resign from cabinet in protest at the government's economic policy.[1] The nominal purpose of the meeting was to elect replacements for Lyons and Fenton, but Scullin called a leadership ballot in order to shore up his own position. Although the caucus nominally had 52 members, Lyons and five of his supporters did not attend the meeting, and Fenton was present but did not vote. Scullin was re-elected comprehensively, winning 40 out of a possible 45 votes. Jack Beasley, acting as a proxy for Jack Lang and his supporters, received the remaining votes. Ted Theodore was re-elected unopposed as deputy leader, and then a vote was held to elect a new ministry, which saw three ministers (including Beasley) lose their places and five others promoted to the ministry for the first time (including future prime minister Ben Chifley).[2][3]


The following table gives the ballot results:

Name Votes Percentage
James Scullin 40 88.9
Jack Beasley 5 11.1

See also[edit]


  1. ^ McMullin, Ross (1991). The Light on the Hill: The Australian Labor Party 1891–1991, Oxford University Press, pp. 169–171.
  2. ^ SCULLIN'S NEW TEAM, The Australian Worker, 4 March 1931.
  3. ^ FIVE NEW MINISTERS., The Sydney Morning Herald, 4 March 1931.