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The First Parliament

The First Days of Parliament

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The First Session

South Australia's Parliament met for the first time on April 22 1857 under the leadership of the Hon BT Finnis. This was the first day on which the people of South Australia had the right to exercise self-government.

Parliament was opened at 1pm, by Benjamin Boothby, Acting Chief Justice. The Legislative Council elected its President, and the House of Assembly elected its Speaker, before the Governor addressed both Houses, outlining the planned legislative program of the new Ministry.

Outside Parliament, a crowd of about a thousand spectators waited to watch the Governor arrive.

At the end of the day, the newspapers, the "SA Register" and the "Adelaide Times" both commented on the violent language of much of the debate.


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The "Old Parliament House" used by the previous Legislative Council could not accommodate the new Parliament, so a ten week renovation had provided double the floor space, as well as galleries for the press and spectators. The Legislative Council met on the renovated ground floor while the larger House of Assembly met in the upstairs room initially built for the expanded Legislative Council in 1855.

This situation meant that the Lower House of the South Australian Parliament actually sat above the Upper House. This arrangement continued until 1889 when the new House of Assembly Chamber of Parliament House was completed.

Source: The Register, 23 April 1857, quoted in The Flinders History of South Australia, p. 108