Australian federal election, 1896
Australian Federation Flag.svg
1894  ← 13 November 1896  1899

All 75 seats of the Australian House of Representatives

36 seats were needed for a majority in the House

18 (of the 35) seats of the Australian Senate

First party Second party
Leader George Reid George Turner
Party Free Trade Protectionist
Leader since March 1896 1894
Leader's seat East Sydney Melbourne
Last election 35 seats 22 seats
Seats won 38 seats 21 seats
Seat change +3 -1
Percentage 39.17% 24.2%
Swing +1.09% -4.05%

Prime Minister before election

George Reid

Free Trade Party

Resulting Prime Minister

George Reid

Free Trade Party

The 1896 Federal Election were held on the 13 November 1896 in all Australian states, thus making it the first to do so. It was called upon by Prime Minister George Reid on 29 March following the death of the extremely popular former prime minister, Henry Parkes.

With all the seats in the House of Representatives (which stood at 75 after renumbering the population per seat) and 18 (out of 35) seats in the Senate up for election, George Reid campaigned fiercely using his force of personality to win the election. The incumbent Free Trade Party won the election, defeating its main opposition, the Protectionist party.


The 1896 federal; election took place following the death of the previous prime minister, Henry Parkes. Due to his extreme popularity among Australians, he was well received, and following a surplus in the economy following his election, the Free Trade party was likely to win the next election.

However, on the night of 21 March 1896, Henry Parkes died from a stroke. This left a power gap in the party, which was replaced by the influential and charismata George Reid. Being able to back the party's achievements based on the work of Parkes, Reid was sure to win the upcoming election which he called for on 29 March.


The results of the 1896 re-enforced the popularity of George Reid and the Free Trade party. The parties that contested the 1894 election contested 1896 election, with 3 of the 4 major parties gaining seats in the House of Representatives, all began to gain popularity outside of their distinctive areas defined in the 1894 election. Philip Fysh contested the division of Bass in Tasmania for the (New Zealand state) Liberal party. With his election to the division of Bass, he became the first Australian Politician outside of New Zealand to gain a government position under the Liberal party banner.

The election also saw an increase of one seat for the various state Labor parties. The "Socialist Coalition" as the Hobart Mercury called it was an alliance between the state parties, and the precursor to the modern Labor party. The leader of this coalition was the future Prime Minister of Australia, Andrew Fisher.

House of Reps 1896-99 — Turnout 54.27% — Informal 2.19%
Party Votes % Swing Seats Change
Free Trade Party 196,365 39.17 +1.09 38 +3
Protectionist Party 121,318 24.2 -4.05 21 -1
State Labor Parties 78,255 15.61 +1.33 11 +1
Liberal Party 90,387 18.03 +1.21 5 +1
Other 14,989 2.99 +0.43 0 *
Total 501,317 75
Free Trade Party WIN 38
Protectionist/Labor 32

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