Victorian state election, 1955

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Victorian state election, 1955

← 1952 28 May 1955 (1955-05-28) 1958 →

65 (of the 66) seats in the Victorian Legislative Assembly

  First party Second party Third party
  Henry Bolte.jpg John Cain 1954.jpg
Leader Henry Bolte John Cain Herbert Hyland
Party Liberal and Country Labor Country
Leader since 3 June 1953 18 October 1937 1955
Leader's seat Hampden Northcote Gippsland South
Last election 11 seats 37 seats 12 seats
Seats won 33 seats 20 seats 11 seats
Seat change Increase 22 Decrease 17 Decrease 1
Percentage 37.78% 37.57% 9.53%
Swing Increase 12.93 Decrease 16.50 Increase 1.19

Premier before election

John Cain

Elected Premier

Henry Bolte
Liberal and Country

The 1955 Victorian state election was held in the Australian state of Victoria on Saturday 28 May 1955 to elect 65 (of the 66) members of the state's Legislative Assembly.


John Cain had led the Labor Party in Victoria since 1937, and had been Premier since defeating John McDonald's Country Party government at the 1952 election, forming the first majority Labor government in Victoria's history.

The leader of the opposition Liberal and Country Party, Trevor Oldham, had died on 2 May 1953 in a plane crash on his way to attend the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Oldham's deputy, Henry Bolte, succeeded him a few days later.

The election was triggered by events related to the Australian Labor Party split of 1955, in which followers of B. A. Santamaria's "Movement"—Catholic, anti-Communist, right-aligned members of the Labor Party—were accused by federal leader H. V. Evatt of contributing to his loss of the 1954 federal election to Robert Menzies. The federal executive set about expelling "disloyal" members who supported the Movement.

In the Victorian parliament, the anti-Communists were known as the Barry–Coleman group after the leaders of the faction: Bill Barry in the Legislative Assembly and Les Coleman in the Legislative Council. In April 1955, Barry and Coleman wrote to Cain requesting a unity conference, but the request was rejected, with Cain telling the group that they could only achieve unity within the ALP by accepting the authority of the federal Labor conference and executive, and the Victorian central executive.[1]

On the night of 19 April, Bolte raised a motion of no-confidence against Cain's government in the Legislative Assembly. After twelve hours of debate on the motion, in the early hours of 20 April, eleven anti-Communist Labor members crossed the floor to support Bolte's motion. With his government defeated, Cain sought and received a dissolution of parliament later that day.[2][3]

Key dates[edit]

Date Event
20 April 1955 The Cain government was defeated in the Victorian Legislative Assembly by a motion of no-confidence.[2]
22 April 1955 The Parliament was prorogued, and the Legislative Assembly dissolved.[4]
26 April 1955 Writs were issued by the Governor to proceed with an election.[4]
6 May 1955 Close of nominations.[4]
28 May 1955 Polling day, between the hours of 8am and 6pm.
7 June 1955 Interim Bolte Ministry was sworn in.[5]
8 June 1955 The remainder of the Bolte Ministry was sworn in.[6]
15 June 1955 The writ was returned and the results formally declared.
15 June 1955 Parliament resumed for business.[7]


Legislative Assembly[edit]

Victorian state election, 28 May 1955[8][9]
Legislative Assembly
<< 19521958 >>

Enrolled voters 1,402,588
Votes cast 1,318,934 Turnout 94.02 +0.44
Informal votes 28,955 Informal 2.19 +0.38
Summary of votes by party
Party Primary votes % Swing Seats Change
  Liberal and Country 487,408 37.78 +12.93 33 +22
  Labor 420,197 32.57 −16.50 20 −17
  Labor (A-C) 162,660 12.61 +12.61 1 +1
  Country 122,999 9.53 +1.19 11 −1
  Independent 45,570 3.53 −3.38 1 ±0
  Victorian Liberal 44,692 3.46 −6.13 0 −4
  Communist 4,589 0.35 −0.88 0 ±0
  Henry George 1,864 0.14 +0.14 0 ±0
Total 1,289,979     66  
  Liberal and Country 755,917 57.9 +14.6
  Labor 549,233 42.1 –14.6


  • The seat of Gippsland South was retained uncontested by Sir Herbert Hyland for the Country Party. Figures for enrolled voters and ballots cast are for contested seats only.
  • The Victorian Liberal Party contested the previous election as the Electoral Reform League. The party was formed by a group of disaffected former Liberal and Country Party members who followed Thomas Hollway when he was expelled from the L&CP.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Labor split widens CAIN SNUBS BARRY MEN; POLL 'SURE'". The Argus (FINAL EDITION ed.). Melbourne. 16 April 1955. p. 5. Retrieved 10 April 2012 – via National Library of Australia.
  2. ^ a b "Victorian Govt. Defeated; Election On May 28". The Central Queensland Herald. Rockhampton, Qld. 21 April 1955. p. 6. Retrieved 10 April 2012 – via National Library of Australia.
  3. ^ Ainsley Symons (2012), 'Democratic Labor Party members in the Victorian Parliament of 1955–1958,' in Recorder (Australian Society for the Study of Labour History, Melbourne Branch) No. 275, November, Pages 4-5.
  4. ^ a b c "Discharging members of the Legislative Council from attendance and dissolving the Legislative Assembly". Victorian Government Gazette. 22 April 1955. p. 1955:1807.
  5. ^ "Ministers of the Crown". Victorian Government Gazette. 7 June 1955. p. 1955:2803.
  6. ^ "Ministers of the Crown". Victorian Government Gazette. 8 June 1955. p. 1955:2845.
  7. ^ "Fixing the time for holding the first session of the forty-second Parliament of Victoria". Victorian Government Gazette. 27 July 1961. p. 1961:2585.
  8. ^ Election held on 28 May 1955, Australian Politics and Elections Database (University of Western Australia).
  9. ^ Colin A Hughes, A Handbook of Australian Government and Politics 1890–1964, Canberra: Australian National University Press, 1968 (ISBN 0708102700).