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Shortest Term MHA

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Darkest Hour

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Shortest Term MHA

William Warburton Frederick Pearce holds the distinction of the shortest tenure as an MHA. Born in October 1855, Pearce had been a blacksmith. On 10 June 1922 at the age of 67 years he contested Franklin for the ALP. Although he beat ALP stalwart Ben Watkins by winning the sixth and last seat in the electorate with a mere 8% of the primary vote, Pearce died in Hobart on 26 June. Complicating matters further, because Parliament had not convened by then Pearce was technically only ever an MHA-elect. At the by-election held on 11 July, Watkins consented to take part in the recount, but was again unsuccessful. He was returned to Parliament as a Member for Franklin in 1925, was briefly leader of the Opposition in 1929, so the loss of a seat does not necessarily kill a parliamentary career.

Coincidentally involving the same parliamentary seat of Franklin, John Harold Brown holds the record for the shortest term of a sitting MHA. Born June 1886, after a career as tram driver and unionist and Vice-President of the ALP, Brown contested the seat of Franklin in November 1946. He was unsuccessful, obtaining only 1.8% of the vote. The death of Edward Brooker, who had topped the earlier Franklin poll, necessitated a by-election. This was held on 1 July 1948, from which this time Brown emerged victorious. Brown’s was not to be a lengthy victory, as he lost the seat in August 1948.

 

Terry Newman