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House of Assembly

The House of Assembly, 1918 (AOT, PH30/1/3859)

The House of Assembly came into existence as the lower house of the bicameral Parliament of Tasmania in 1856, when responsible government was established. The first House of Assembly elections were held in September and October 1856. The first ministry, with WTN Champ as premier, was sworn in on November 1856, and the first Parliament opened in December 1856. The House of Assembly first met in what is now the Members’ Lounge and continued to do so until 1940 when it moved into its present chamber.

The original House of Assembly was made up of 30 members, elected from 24 predominantly single-member electorates. The number of members of the Assembly has fluctuated during its history (year – number): 1870–32; 1885–36; 1893–37; 1898–38; 1900–35; 1906–30; 1959–35; 1998–25.

House of Assembly elections held since April 1909 have been undertaken using the multi-member Hare–Clark electoral system, a single transferable vote proportional representation system. The five original electorates were Bass, Darwin, Denison, Franklin and Wilmot. Darwin was renamed Braddon in 1955, and Wilmot was renamed Lyons in 1984.

The House of Assembly, 2005 (Parliament of Tasmania)

After a series of parliaments contained equal numbers of members from each party, it was decided to change the number of members in each electorate from an even number (six) to an odd number (seven). This resulted in an increase of members in the House of Assembly from 30 to 35. In 1998 the number of members was reduced from seven to five per electorate, and the 25 members are still elected from five multi-member electorates. The boundaries are the same as those used for federal House of Representatives elections. Members are elected for a four-year term.

Further reading: Parliamentary Library, 'Backgrounder’ information sheets, 2002; Scott Bennett and Barbara Bennett, Tasmanian electorial handbook, 1851–1982, [Kensington, 1986]; Scott Bennett and Barbara Bennett, Biographical Register of the Tasmanian Parliament, 1851–1960, Canberra, 1970.

Bryan Stait