The Tasmanian House of Assembly had, from its inception in 1856, used a plurality voting system to elect members from one or two-seat electorates. In 1896, the Tasmanian attorney-general, Andrew Inglis Clark, suggested the House adopt a single transferable vote system devised by Englishman Thomas Hare with certain variations devised by himself, which became known as the Hare-Clark system. The system was used on a trial basis in the Hobart and Launceston electorates from the 1897 election onwards, but was never used in the country electorates and was repealed in 1901, with the districts being broken up at the 1903 election. In order to blunt the emergence of the Australian Labour Party which won eight seats in the 1906 election, Clark convinced the House to apply the Hare-Clark system statewide.
The Anti-Socialist Party (previously known as the Free Trade Party) was a coalition of conservative parliamentarians, exhorted by incumbent PremierJohn Evans to combine their forces against the threat from the Labour Party who had won an unprecedented 12 seats. Evans offered to resign if asked, and in June was taken to his word, with Elliott Lewis elected as leader and premier with a pledge of twelve months loyalty. A faction of Liberals led by Norman Ewing undermined Lewis' leadership, culminating in a no-confidence motion in October 1909 which led to the Governor of TasmaniaSir Harry Barron calling on John Earle to form Tasmania's first Labour ministry, a minority government which lasted only a week before being voted out by the House.