Election declared void
pressure that might be exerted by the King. The prohibition spread through the British Empire.
At the Colonial elections of 1893, Colonel Templeton stood for the seat of Benalla and Yarrawonga in the Legislative Assembly.
He sought election as a free trader and a ‘‘sentinel to give warning of impending danger when unwise changes were proposed to law or of its administration’’.
He had a long history of service to the Colony of Victoria. Initially, a teacher, John Templeton had formed the National Mutual Life Association and significantly improved administration of life assurance policies.
In 1884, Colonel Templeton left life assurance to become one of the three Commissioners of the Public Service appointed to entrench the novelty that promotion should depend on merit as well as seniority.
Afterward, Templeton had been Chairman of the Public Service Board for five years prior to the 1893 elections.
In 1890, as a public accountant, he had also been appointed liquidator of the Premier Permanent Building Society, one of the very first casualties of the Great Depression of 1893.
Before Federation, Victoria looked to its own defence. Templeton had joined the Volunteers as a private and rose to the rank of Major.
When the militia replaced the Volunteers in 1883, he was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel and then to Colonel.
At the election, then decided on a ‘‘first past the post’’ basis, Templeton received the same number of votes as the other candidate, Thomas Kennedy. The returning officer, using his casting vote, declared Colonel Templeton elected.
Kennedy petitioned the clerk of the Legislative Assembly to declare the election void. Kennedy pointed out Templeton’s rank in the colonial militia.
Surely, this was an office of profit under the Crown? Kennedy also claimed that, as an official liquidator, a sworn court officer, Templeton also held another office of profit under the crown.
Kennedy failed to mention that Templeton sat on the Public Service Board.
When the Legislative Assembly’s Committee of Elections and Qualifications considered the matter, it held that Templeton did not hold an office of profit.
However, it still declared the election void. There had been no electoral roll at Devenish polling booth. It was not possible to ascertain who had voted there and whether they had voted legally.
Bitter, Colonel Templeton did not stand again at the resulting byelection. Kennedy won.
Using today’s High Court rulings, Templeton would have had a clear office of profit from the State Crown, pursuant to the Constitution Act Amendment Act (Victoria). He was the salaried Chairman of the Public Service Board.
— John Barry, ANZAC Commemorative Working Party, Coo-ee — Honouring our WWI