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1857 - Inauguration of responsible government

In the session of 1855-56, the Legislative Council passed a Bill to revise the Constitution of South Australia to allow for self-government.The new Constitution Bill was laid upon the table of both Houses of the Imperial Parliament in England on 19 May 1856, and was assented to by Queen Victoria at Buckingham Palace on 24 June 1856. On 24 October 1856 the Bill was proclaimed in South Australia by the Governor, Sir Richard Graves MacDonnell.

On the same day the Governor announced the personnel of the first Government under the new Constitution, led by the Hon. B. T. Finniss. The first bicameral Parliament of South Australia met on Wednesday, 22 April 1857.

South Australia was now governed by a bicameral Parliament consisting of a Legislative Council of eighteen Members, elected by the entire colony voting as one district; and a House of Assembly of thirty-six Members, composed of seventeen districts, varying in representation from one to six Members.

Voting at Parliamentary elections was by secret ballot. All adult males were entitled to vote at House of Assembly elections, but the franchise of the Legislative Council was based on a property qualification. A man who possessed: freehold of the value of fifty pounds; leasehold of the annual value of twenty pounds having three years to run or a right of pre-emption; or occupation of a house of the annual value of twenty-five pounds, was eligible to vote for the Legislative Council.

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