Three Seats Simultaneously
Colourful characters create colourful events, and in the mid-nineteenth century Tasmania frequently had both. Amongst the Tasmanian Parliament’s early characters was William Race Allison He was born in England in 1812 and arrived in Tasmania in November 1822. In adulthood he became a wealthy farmer and was nominated to the Legislative Council (1846, 1848-55) where, despite a reputation for excessively punishing his assigned convicts, he participated on both sides of the anti-transportation campaign.
In October 1851, when parliamentary elections began in Tasmania, Allison unsuccessfully contested the Legislative Council seat of Campbell Town, but gained the seat at a by-election when it became vacant in December 1855. Shortly after this electoral success he switched parliamentary Chambers. In September 1856 Allison obtained 69.5 per cent of the vote and so won the seat of Campbell Town in the newly established House of Assembly.
W. R. Allison
After standing unopposed for Campbell Town in June 1861, Allison created a precedent at the elections held in November 1862 by contesting three seats simultaneously! Although amazing to us today, his name was on the ballot paper for three House of Assembly seats: Campbell Town, Hobart Town and Deloraine. Despite his earlier successes in Campbell Town he gained only 46.8 per cent of the vote and was defeated by Thomas Daniel Chapman, who obtained 53.2 per cent. However, this election defeat took place a day after Allison had been elected to represent Hobart Town, some 130 kilometres away from Campbell Town!
In Deloraine, the third seat he was contesting, the poll did not take place until the 12 November. Allison was unsuccessful, with 47.7 per cent of the vote to the victor’s 52.6 per cent. One wonders what Allison would have done had he won all three seats, or what his loyal voters in Campbell Town and those in Deloraine thought of him when they learned of his victory elsewhere?