Douglas contested McLean’s old electorate of Eastern Downs, and exhorted his constituents to ratify his appointment. However, the Queenslander was now hesitant to recommend as treasurer a man who freely admitted “no pretensions to any special financial skill,” and who, the paper believed, had been appointed “more by political considerations than by personal fitness for the duties to be performed.”
At a meeting between Douglas and his Eastern Downs electors at the Warwick courthouse, Richard St. George Gore, postmaster-general and a member of the legislative council, directly addressed the issue of Douglas being appointed treasurer without being a member of parliament. Gore denied that this action was unconstitutional, because:
The Queen, through her representatives, had power to appoint anyone she pleased. This had been done, and it became their duty to ratify it.Faced with no opposition, Douglas was duly elected, the first time he had been elected unopposed to parliament. When parliament reconvened, the opposition were determined to get rid of the government which they believed had “ruined the prospects of the colony.” They succeeded beyond all expectations, because the session lasted only 10 sitting days, with Douglas at the centre of the storm leading to its dissolution.
Douglas’s principles and sense of probity soon caused tensions between himself and the ministry regarding continued financial implications over the use of land-orders to induce a large influx of immigrants to Queensland. Because the colony was in debt due to the financial crisis the previous year and the effects of a prolonged drought, Douglas believed that the government could no longer afford to encourage the ongoing use of land-orders to facilitate immigration. He therefore tendered his resignation.
Macalister, who did not want Douglas opposing his ministry from the opposition benches, refused to accept it, instead offering him the position of minister for works and the freedom to express his views on land-orders and immigration whenever they were raised in parliament. Douglas, who had never appeared comfortable as treasurer, accepted Macalister’s offer and rescinded his resignation. This action on the part of Douglas demonstrated an increasing political maturity on his part. A younger Douglas would not have accepted an alternate ministerial position, instead demanding the abandonment of the land-order policy as the price for his support. However, Douglas had now developed a keener sense of what could and could not be achieved. He understood the maxim that politics is the art of the possible and that there were limits to what could be achieved. Douglas therefore remained in the ministry, which soon rued the constitutional crisis arising from Macalister’s magnanimity.
Appointed secretary for public works, Douglas came under trenchant attack from the opposition, who insisted that he could not switch portfolios without again standing for re-election. William Henry Walsh further demanded to know how Douglas could agree “to a bill as Secretary for Works when he could not agree to it as Colonial Treasurer?” 
Nonetheless, Douglas believed that he had acted correctly and noted that there were no precedents to force him to the polls. Despite this, the government lost an opposition motion that declared his seat vacant and forced the government to resign. A general election was called.
Through his refusal to countenance the further issuing of land-orders, Douglas had inadvertently brought down the government of the day and forced the colony to the polls. Nevertheless, with the exception of the Warwick Argus, he received widespread sympathy and support for his position from within both his electorate and the press.
 “Death of the Hon. J.D. McLean.” Queenslander,
22 December 1866
 Queensland Government Gazette, vol 7 no 163,
1866, p. 1265
22 December 1866, p.
4. The paper supported the appointment
because: “ Douglas does not distinctly belong
to any particular section of the house.
He is a resident in ,
pecuniary interested in the northern districts, whose cause he ably advocated
as member for Port Curtis, and he will be representative of a Darling Downs
constituency. At the same time his
intimate knowledge of the requirements of the country will preserve him from
being made the tool of the inside squatters.” Brisbane
 Statistical Register of
for the Year 1867. Brisbane, Government
Printer, 1868, p. 54 Queensland
 This was the first time in the short history of the Queensland Parliament that a non-parliamentarian was appointed a minister. (“The Colonial Treasurer at
Queenslander, Warwick 12 January 1867, p. 4)
 John Douglas. “To the Electors of
Eastern Downs.” Courier, Brisbane 20
December 1866; John Douglas.
“To the Electors of Eastern Downs.” Queenslander, 22 December 1866, p. 1. Douglas, as was his style, was quickly into
election mode and addressed the electors of Eastern Downs just two days after McLean’s death and only the day after his appointment to
the treasury position.
 John Douglas. “To the Electors of
Eastern Downs.” Queenslander, 22 December 1866, p. 1
 “The New Treasurer.” Queenslander,
29 December 1866, p. 5
5 January 1867, p. 4;
“Electorate of Eastern Downs.”
Argus and Tenterfield Examiner, Warwick 5 January 1867, p. 2
Argus and Tenterfield Examiner, Warwick 7
May 1867, p. 2
 Bernays, p. 39. The session commenced on
7 May 1867
and came to an untimely end on 23
 For a detailed account on land-order abuses, see Bernays, p. 310
 “Mr. Douglas at
Warwick 1 June 1867, p.
7. The land-order system was originally conceived
as a means of attracting labour to
without any up-front financial expenditure, and to ensure that these immigrants
would remain in the colony.
(Andrea-Rebecca Howell. The
Formulation and Functioning of the Queensland
Immigration Regulations 1859-1900. BA
Hons thesis. Queensland ,
1986, abstract) University of Queensland
 “Mr. Douglas at
Warwick 1 June 1867, p. 7;
Mr. Walsh. “Ministerial Changes
(Privilege.)” Queensland Parliamentary Debates, vol 4, 1867, p.180
 Arthur Macalister. “Memorandum by Ministers for His Excellency’s Consideration. Dissolution of Parliament.” Queenslander,
1 June 1867, p. 6;
Beverley Kingston. Land Legislation and
Administration in ,
1859-1876. PhD thesis. Queensland Melbourne, ,
1968, pp. 151-52 Monash University
 Queensland Government Gazette, vol 8 no 39,
21 May 1867
 Mr. R. Cribb. “Ministerial Changes (Privilege).” Queensland Parliamentary Debates, vol 4, 1867, p. 177;
(1968), p. 152 Kingston
 Mr. R. Cribb. “Ministerial Changes (Privilege).” Queensland Parliamentary Debates, vol 4, 1867, p. 177; Arthur Macalister. “Memorandum by Ministers for His Excellency’s Consideration. Dissolution of Parliament.” Queenslander,
1 June 1867, p. 6
 “Ministerial Explanation.” Queensland Parliamentary Debates, vol 4, 1867, pp. 178 & 189-90 & 202; Harding (1997), pp. 101-5. For an entertaining account of what transpired see,
1900: A Narrative of Her Past, Together With Biographies of Her Leading Men. Queensland ,
W .H. Wendt & Co., 1900, pp. 139-40 Brisbane
Argus and Tenterfield Examiner, Warwick 28 May 1867, p. 2