||It has been suggested that Liberal-National party merger be merged into this article. (Discuss) Proposed since September 2010.|
|Leader||Tony Abbott MP|
|Deputy Leader||Warren Truss MP|
|Headquarters||Cnr Blackall & Macquarie St, Barton ACT 2600 (Liberal)
John McEwen House, 7 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600 (Nationals)
|Colours||Blue and Green|
|House of Representatives|
The Coalition in Australian politics refers to a group of centre-right conservative parties that has existed in the form of a coalition agreement (on and off) since 1922. The Coalition partners are the Liberal Party of Australia (or its predecessors before 1945), the National Party of Australia (known as the Australian Country Party from 1921 to 1975 and the National Country Party of Australia from 1975 to 1982). The Country Liberal Party in the Northern Territory and the Liberal National Party in Queensland are their equivalents in those states, while the National Party of Western Australia and The Nationals South Australia are not in any form of coalition and are separate parties. There is no National Party in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) or Tasmania. The Coalition's main rival for government is the Centre-left Australian Labor Party.
The Liberal leader being the larger party usually becomes the Prime Minister or Premier, while the National's leader usually becomes the Deputy Prime Minister or Deputy Premier, if the parties win control of the government. In modern times, Queensland was the only state where this is reversed, since Queensland was the only state where the National Party was the larger coalition partner. However, the Queensland coalition parties merged in 2008, leaving the former party affiliations with no real effect. Victoria also had coalitions dominated by the now-National party from the 1920s to the 1950s.
On the basis of the definition of what a coalition is, the Coalition only exists in Federal, New South Wales and Victorian politics.
Present-day Coalition status 
|Coalition Member Parties|
|Liberal Party of Australia|
|Liberal National Party of Queensland|
|National Party of Australia|
|Country Liberal Party (NT)|
The status of the Coalition varies across the Commonwealth and states. Below is the status of each state on a state-by-state basis.
At the federal level, there was until recently a Coalition between the Liberals, Nationals and Country Liberal Party, with the Queensland Liberal National Party participating through their affiliation with the Liberals. This was briefly broken in 1987, but was renewed after the 1987 federal election. In September 2008, Barnaby Joyce became leader of the Nationals in the Senate, with the party moving to the crossbenches. Joyce stated that his party in the upper house would no longer necessarily vote with their Liberal counterparts.
- New South Wales: A Coalition between the Liberal and National parties exists in New South Wales. The Liberal Party is led by Barry O'Farrell and the National Party by Andrew Stoner. It won the 2011 state election in a massive swing. New South Wales is the only state where the coalition has never broken, and yet has also never merged.
|Coalition Lower House Seats
(and endorsed parties)
- Victoria: A Coalition between the Liberal and National parties exists in Victoria. The Liberal Party is led by Denis Napthine and the National Party by Peter Ryan. When Ryan became leader of the Nationals shortly after the 1999 election, he briefly terminated the Coalition agreement and went into the 2002 and 2006 elections separately from the Liberals. However, the Coalition agreement was renewed in 2008 and the Victorian Liberal and National parties went into the 2010 election as a Coalition. The Coalition ended up winning the 2010 election with a one-seat margin.
- Queensland: Queensland is the only state in which the Nationals have been the stronger coalition partner. The Nationals were the senior partner in the non-Labor Coalition from 1925 until the Queensland Liberals broke the Coalition in 1983. At an election held two months later, the Nationals under Joh Bjelke-Petersen came up one seat short of a majority, but later gained a majority when two Liberal MLAs crossed the floor to the Nationals. The Nationals then governed in their own right until 1989. The Coalition was renewed in 1991, and won power under Rob Borbidge from 1996 to 1998. In 2008, the parties agreed to merge, forming the Liberal National Party, which is affiliated with the Liberal Party. The LNP won an overwhelming majority government in the 2012 state election under the leadership of Campbell Newman. At the federal level, LNP MP Warren Truss is the federal leader of the Nationals, and four other LNP MPs sit with the Nationals in the House. Barnaby Joyce, the Senate leader of the Nationals, is an LNP member, and one other LNP Senator sits with the Nationals as well. There is an informal agreement within the LNP as to which party room LNP members will sit with. Members who were are re-elected to parliament remain in the same party, whereas members who win seats from the ALP that previously belonged to the coalition will sit with the previous member's party. An amicable division of seats was decided upon for new seats or seats that have never been won by the coalition.
- Western Australia: The National Party of Western Australia was in Coalition with the state Liberal government from 1993 to 2001 (see Hendy Cowan), but the Coalition was subsequently broken. In 2008, the Liberals, Nationals, and an independent MP formed the Government after the 2008 election, but this is not characterised as a "traditional coalition", with limited cabinet collective responsibility for National cabinet members. The Leader of the Liberals in Western Australia is Premier Colin Barnett and the Nationals Leader is Brendon Grylls. Tony Crook was elected as the WA Nationals candidate for the seat of O'Connor at the 2010 federal election. Although some reports initially counted Crook as a National MP, and thus part of the Coalition, Crook sits as a crossbencher.
- South Australia: The two parties merged to form the Liberal and Country League in 1932. This in turn joined the Liberal party in 1973, and a separate Country Party (later Nationals SA) emerged, which has only ever had two representatives: Peter Blacker from 1973 to 1993, and Karlene Maywald from 1997 to 2010. From 2004 to 2010, Maywald was a Minister in the Rann Labor Government, before losing her seat at the 2010 South Australian state election, thereby informally creating a coalition between the ALP and the National Party at South Australia's state level of government. The National Party, at the time, rejected the notion that it was in a coalition with Labor at the state level. State National Party President John Venus told journalists, "We (The Nationals) are not in coalition with the Labor Party, we aren't in coalition with the Liberals, we are definitely not in coalition with anyone. We stand alone in South Australia as an independent party." Flinders University political scientist Haydon Manning disagreed, saying that it is "churlish to describe the government as anything but a coalition". The party did not run candidates at the 2010 federal election.
- Tasmania: The National Party is not affiliated in Tasmania, leaving the Liberal Party as the sole coalition member in the state.
- Australian Capital Territory: The National Party is not affiliated in the Australian Capital Territory, leaving the Liberal Party as the sole major non-Labor party in the territory.
- Northern Territory: The two parties' branches in Northern Territory merged in 1974, forming the Country Liberal Party. The CLP governed the Territory from 1974 to 2001, and won back power in 2012. The CLP retains full voting rights within the federal National Party, and has observer status with the federal Liberal Party. Federal CLP members are directed by the CLP whether to sit with the federal Liberals or Nationals. CLP Senator Nigel Scullion is the current deputy leader of the federal Nationals, and was the leader of the Nationals in the Senate until Barnaby Joyce took that position in September 2008. The CLP's lone member in the House of Representatives, Natasha Griggs, sits with the Liberals.
Coalition arrangements are facilitated by Australia's preferential voting systems which enable Liberals and Nationals to compete locally in "three-cornered-contests", with the Australian Labor Party (ALP), while exchanging preferences in elections. Such contests would weaken their prospects under first past the post voting. From time to time, friction is caused by the fact that the Liberal and National candidates are campaigning against each other, usually without undue long-term damage to the relationship.
Indeed, the whole point of introducing preferential voting was to allow safe spoiler-free three-cornered contests. It was a government of the forerunner to the modern Liberal party that introduced the legislation, following Labor's win at the 1918 Swan by-election where the conservative vote split. Two months later, a by-election held under preferential voting caused the initially leading ALP candidate to lose after some lower-placed candidates' preferences had been distributed.
As a result of variations on the preferential voting system used in every state and territory, the Coalition has been able to thrive, wherever both its member parties have both been active. The preferential voting system has allowed the Liberal and National parties to compete and cooperate at the same time. By contrast, a variation of the preferential system known as Optional Preferential Voting has proven a significant handicap to coalition co-operation in Queensland and New South Wales, because significant numbers of voters don't express all useful preferences.
Due to a disciplined coalition between the parties and their predecessors being in existence for almost 100 years with only a few brief cessations within a parliamentary system, most commentators and the general public often refer to The Coalition as a single party. Polling and electoral results contain a two-party-preferred (TPP) vote which is based on Labor and the Coalition. The Australian Electoral Commission has distinguished between "traditional" (Coalition/Labor) two-party-preferred (TPP/2PP) contests, and "non-traditional" (Independent, Greens, Liberal vs National) two-candidate-preferred (TCP/2CP) contests. At the 2010 federal election, all eight seats which resulted in a two-candidate-preferred result were re-counted to also express a statistical-only two-party-preferred result.
Federal primary, TPP and seat results since 1937 
|Primary vote||TPP vote||Seats|
|21 Aug 2010 election||38.0%||43.3%||18.8%||50.1%||49.9%||72||72||6||150|
|17–19 Aug 2010 poll||36.2%||43.4%||20.4%||50.2%||49.8%|
|24 Nov 2007 election||43.4%||42.1%||14.5%||52.7%||47.3%||83||65||2||150|
|20–22 Nov 2007 poll||44%||43%||13%||52%||48%|
|9 Oct 2004 election||37.6%||46.7%||15.7%||47.3%||52.7%||60||87||3||150|
|6–7 Oct 2004 poll||39%||45%||16%||50%||50%|
|10 Nov 2001 election||37.8%||43.0%||19.2%||49.0%||51.0%||65||82||3||150|
|7–8 Nov 2001 poll||38.5%||46%||15.5%||47%||53%|
|3 Oct 1998 election||40.1%||39.5%||20.4%||51.0%||49.0%||67||80||1||148|
|30 Sep–1 Oct 1998 poll||44%||40%||16%||53%||47%|
|2 Mar 1996 election||38.7%||47.3%||14.0%||46.4%||53.6%||49||94||5||148|
|28–29 Feb 1996 poll||40.5%||48%||11.5%||46.5%||53.5%|
|13 Mar 1993 election||44.9%||44.3%||10.7%||51.4%||48.6%||80||65||2||147|
|11 Mar 1993 poll||44%||45%||11%||49.5%||50.5%|
|24 Mar 1990 election||39.4%||43.5%||17.1%||49.9%||50.1%||78||69||1||148|
|11 Jul 1987 election||45.8%||46.1%||8.1%||50.8%||49.2%||86||62||0||148|
|1 Dec 1984 election||47.6%||45.0%||7.4%||51.8%||48.2%||82||66||0||148|
|5 Mar 1983 election||49.5%||43.6%||6.9%||53.2%||46.8%||75||50||0||125|
|18 Oct 1980 election||45.2%||46.3%||8.5%||49.6%||50.4%||51||74||0||125|
|10 Dec 1977 election||39.7%||48.1%||12.2%||45.4%||54.6%||38||86||0||124|
|13 Dec 1975 election||42.8%||53.1%||4.1%||44.3%||55.7%||36||91||0||127|
|18 May 1974 election||49.3%||44.9%||5.8%||51.7%||48.3%||66||61||0||127|
|2 Dec 1972 election||49.6%||41.5%||8.9%||52.7%||47.3%||67||58||0||125|
|25 Oct 1969 election||47.0%||43.3%||9.7%||50.2%||49.8%||59||66||0||125|
|26 Nov 1966 election||40.0%||50.0%||10.0%||43.1%||56.9%||41||82||1||124|
|30 Nov 1963 election||45.5%||46.0%||8.5%||47.4%||52.6%||50||72||0||122|
|9 Dec 1961 election||47.9%||42.1%||10.0%||50.5%||49.5%||60||62||0||122|
|22 Nov 1958 election||42.8%||46.6%||10.6%||45.9%||54.1%||45||77||0||122|
|10 Dec 1955 election||44.6%||47.6%||7.8%||45.8%||54.2%||47||75||0||122|
|29 May 1954 election||50.0%||46.8%||3.2%||50.7%||49.3%||57||64||0||121|
|28 Apr 1951 election||47.6%||50.3%||2.1%||49.3%||50.7%||52||69||0||121|
|10 Dec 1949 election||46.0%||50.3%||3.7%||49.0%||51.0%||47||74||0||121|
|28 Sep 1946 election||49.7%||39.3%||11.0%||54.1%||45.9%||43||26||5||74|
|21 Aug 1943 election||49.9%||23.0%||27.1%||58.2%||41.8%||49||19||6||74|
|21 Sep 1940 election||40.2%||43.9%||15.9%||50.3%||49.7%||32||36||6||74|
|23 Oct 1937 election||43.2%||49.3%||7.5%||49.4%||50.6%||29||44||2||74|
|Polling conducted by Newspoll and published in The Australian. Three percent margin of error.
- The Nationals - An Introduction, National Party Document, p.12
- "Nationals won't toe Libs' line: Joyce". The Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax Media). AAP. 18 September 2008. Retrieved 1 February 2011.
- Berkovic, Nicola (18 September 2008). "Leader Barnaby Joyce still a maverick". The Australian (News Limited). Retrieved 1 February 2011.
- "Barnaby elected Nationals Senate leader". AM. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 18 September 2008. Retrieved 1 February 2011.
- Best, Catherine (11 February 2008). "Coalition reunites in Victoria". The Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax media). AAP. Retrieved 14 March 2010.
- King, Madonna (May 18, 2010). "LNP differences a Coalition headache". The Drum (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).
- "Labor's clean sweep broken". News.com.au (Sydney: News Limited). 14 September 2008. Retrieved 14 September 2008.[dead link]
- Ker, Peter (26 August 2010). "Don't count me among Coalition, says Nat". The Age (Melbourne: Fairfax Media). Retrieved 1 February 2011.
- Haxton, Nance (23 July 2004). "SA Govt recruits National Party MP". PM (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). Retrieved 1 February 2011.
- "History of the Country Liberals". Northern Territory: Country Liberal Party. 2010. Retrieved 24 August 2010.
- "Non-classic Divisions". Australian Electoral Commission. 2010. Retrieved 7 November 2011.
- Liberals site
- Nationals site
- LNP site
- CLP site
- History of preferences page at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation site