Australian Country Alliance
|Australian Country Alliance|
|Party President||Russell Bate|
|Headquarters||Yarra Junction, Victoria|
|Politics of Australia
The Australian Country Alliance (ACA), previously known as simply the Country Alliance, is a minor political party based in the Australian state of Victoria. The party is focused on rural issues, describing itself as "dedicated solely to the interests of regional communities", and was created to provide an alternative to the National Party in country Victoria.
The party was formed in 2004, and, registering with the Victorian Electoral Commission the following year, has contested every Victorian state election since its formation. It was registered with the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) in July 2011, and contested the Senate in South Australia, Tasmania, and Victoria (and several Victorian lower house seats) at the 2013 federal election. The party's best result occurred in the electoral district of Shepparton at the 2010 state election, when its candidate polled 39.5% of the two-candidate-preferred vote (20.5% on first preferences) to finish second to the National Party candidate.
In February 2014, it was reported by The Weekly Times (and subsequently confirmed by the party) that the Victorian branch of Katter's Australian Party (KAP) would merge with the Country Alliance for the upcoming 2014 Victorian state election. Under this proposal, members of the Victorian branch of the KAP joined the Country Alliance, with the combined parties to contest the election as the Australian Country Alliance. The name change was completed on 1 May 2014, although the party remains registered federally as simply the "Country Alliance".
It was founded in early 2004 by six rural Victorians concerned with the policies of the existing parties. It contested its first election at the 2006 state election. It was registered on 15 August 2005, and now has over 1500 members.
The party was launched in August 2005, after which Russell Bate, one of the party founders, stated that "The thing that first caused us to gather around the kitchen table and say, 'We'd better do something', was the prospect of the Greens holding the balance of power. At this stage that's the saga we're trying to avoid." 
The party purposely has few policies, as its elected representatives are expected to act independently in their constituents interests. Its policies include support for some logging in water catchments, recreational shooting and hunting, and limitation of poker machines to casinos and racing venues. The party is opposed to the sale of publicly owned assets and advocates the decentralisation of government bureaucracies.
It opposes Green policies like catching and sterilising feral animals as impractical, and their influence in matters like the reserve rules around Lake Mokoan, where "children cannot throw stones and you are not even allowed to put up an umbrella."
The party is supported by a range of groups with regional interests including motorbike riding, hunting, angling and the timber industry. It was founded by four people, among them Mansfield Mayor Russell Bate. The party opposes negative portrayals of rural people by the Greens.
Others[who?] say it has declared its principles to be similar to the National Party of Australia, Outdoor Recreation Party, Fishing Party and the Family First Party. It also had the in-principle support of former independent MLAs Craig Ingram and Russell Savage.
In the 2006 state election the party contested three rural upper-house regions (out of a total of eight regions), but did not contest any lower house seats. In the three regions it contested, the CA received over 2% of the vote in Northern Victoria: less in the Western and Eastern Victoria Regions.
However its preferences in Western Victoria were critical in supporting the Democratic Labour Party's Peter Kavanagh who picked up ALP preferences ahead of the Greens' Marcus Ward, and thus the fifth seat in that region.
The Country Alliance party nominated 37 candidates for the 2010 state election, standing in four upper house seats (Western Victoria, Eastern Victoria, Northern Victoria and Northern Metropolitan) and most of the lower house seats in regional Victoria.
At the election, the party's best result in the lower house was in the district of Shepparton where it polled 20.5% of the primary vote and 39.8% of the two party preferred vote after preferences. The party polled a total of 42,938 primary votes in the lower house.
In the upper house, the party was in the running for the final spot in the three country regions. In Northern Victoria Region, Country Alliance polled 6.8% of the primary vote and fell short by approximately 1900 votes on the final count after the distribution of preferences. In the Eastern Victoria and Western Regions, the party did not poll as well. In the Western Victoria Region, Country Alliance's preferences stopped the Greens' candidate Marcus Ward from winning the fifth spot for the second successive time.
The party held a review of its operations on 5 February 2011 and made changes to its internal allocation of functions and roles.
The party applied for registration as a federal political party with the Australian Electoral Commission on 2 May 2011. The application was approved and party entered on the Commission's register on 26 July 2011.
The Country Alliance party was the first party to achieve re-registration process with the Victorian Electoral Commission in October 2012. Registration is a prerequisite for contesting the 2014 state election.
- About Us: History – Country Alliance. Retrieved 11 February 2014.
- "Victorian Electoral Commission: Currently registered parties". Retrieved 2007-06-03.
- About Us: An effective regional voice – Country Alliance. Retrieved 11 February 2014.
- Cimara Pearce (2014). "Katter’s Australian Party set to merge with Country Alliance in bid for rural seats" – Weekly Times Now. Published 10 February 2014. Retrieved 11 February 2014.
- "Weekly Times story on CA / Katter Vic merger" – Country Alliance. Published 10 February 2014. Retrieved 11 February 2014.
- "We've changed our name!" – Australian Country Alliance. Published 1 May 2014. Retrieved 6 May 2014.
- Country Alliance – Australian Electoral Commission. Retrieved 6 May 2014.
- Official policy site