Liberal–National party merger

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A merger of the Liberal and National political parties in Australia, has been used in a coalition federally between 1996 and 2007 and now from 2013 as a result of the 2013 September Election. They are now currently in formal coalition governments in Victoria and New South Wales (as well as informally in Western Australia), has been an on-going debate for decades[1] due to the demise of the National vote.[2][3][4][5][6][7] It is argued that the decline in the vote is due to the decline in the rural population as well as National Party policies becoming increasingly indistinguishable from Liberal Party policies.[8] Such a merger would also likely see the involvement of the Country Liberal Party, given that it is affiliated with both parties. In July 2008 the majority Nationals and minority Liberals in state politics in Queensland merged to become the Liberal National Party of Queensland, led by Lawrence Springborg.

Merger[edit]

Yet there is someone else whose role in conceiving of the new party should also be acknowledged: my colleague David Russell QC, for whom the fusion of the Liberal and National parties in Queensland, to create what we might describe as ‘Liberalism with Queensland characteristics’, has been a life-work.

George Brandis SC, The Spectator, 31 March 2012[9]

Merger plans came to a head in May 2008, when the Queensland state Liberal Party gave an announcement not to wait for a federal blueprint but instead to merge now. The new party, the "Liberal National Party",[10] has a self-imposed deadline of late July for party registration.[11] Queensland Liberal Party president Gary Spence has been accused by some in his party of misleading the public about his party's level of support for the merger.[12] Queensland Liberal Party members are participating in a postal ballot, starting on 27 May and ending on 23 June. If a majority is achieved, a constitutional convention would be held in July to approve the new party, and would be finalised by way of formal agreement between the parties' two federal executives.[13] See Liberal National Party of Queensland.

History[edit]

In Queensland, the only state where the Nationals were the dominant coalition partner in state politics, following Lawrence Springborg's re-election to the National leadership, support emerged especially from the National side for a merger of coalition parties in an attempt to address the declining National/rural vote and Labor's current domination of all levels of government.

In the 1980s, former Nationals MP Peter Nixon undertook a review of the party and "concluded it should seriously consider amalgamating with the Liberals". Former Nationals leader Doug Anthony wrote not long afterwards: "Any objective and rational National Party member who read this report would have to accept that amalgamation was the only realistic course. Regrettably there are still too many who don't want to read it and who don't want to face reality, that the role of a specialist party looking after the needs of rural people is in decline."

At the 2007 federal election, the Nationals' vote declined to 5.49 percent, with the party winning only 10 of 150 seats. This was the lowest level of National Party representation achieved in the Australian Parliament. This included only one of the seats the Australian Electoral Commission classifies as provincial, Hinkler in Queensland, compared to four held by the Liberals and 16 by Labor.[1] The election result of 2007 was indicative of a declining trend of support for the Nationals. The party's parliamentary representation has fallen with each of the last four Australian elections between 1998 and 2007, and the party's vote in this period has never exceeded 6%, compared to an average voting result of 8-11% for the Nationals, over the earlier two decades.

Country/National electoral results[edit]

Federal results in the Lower House since 1919[14]
Year 1919 1922 1925 1928 1929 1931 1934 1937 1940 1943
% 9.26 12.56 10.74 10.47 10.27 12.25 12.61 15.55 13.71 6.96
House Seats 11 of 75 14 of 75 14 of 75 13 of 75 10 of 75 16 of 75 14 of 74 16 of 74 14 of 74 7 of 74
Year 1946 1949 1951 1954 1955 1958 1961 1963 1966 1969
% 10.70 10.87 9.72 8.52 7.90 9.32 8.51 8.94 9.84 8.56
House Seats 11 of 74 19 of 121 17 of 121 17 of 121 18 of 122 19 of 122 17 of 122 20 of 122 21 of 124 20 of 125
Year 1972 1974 1975 1977 1980 1983 1984 1987 1990 1993
% 9.44 9.96 11.25 10.01 8.97 9.21 10.63 11.50 8.42 7.17
House Seats 20 of 125 21 of 127 23 of 127 19 of 124 20 of 125 17 of 125 21 of 148 19 of 147 14 of 148 16 of 148
Year 1996 1998 2001 2004 2007 2010 2013
% 8.21 5.29 5.61 5.89 5.49 3.43 4.33
House Seats 19 of 148 16 of 148 13 of 150 12 of 150 10 of 150 6 of 150 9 of 150

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Steketee, Mike (31 January 2008). "Too many conservatives spoil the amalgamation". NEWS.com.au. Retrieved 30 June 2010. 
  2. ^ "7.30 Report - 30 May 2006: Coalition parties mull action against Qld merger plan". Abc.net.au. 30 May 2006. Retrieved 30 June 2010. 
  3. ^ "AM - Heffernan calls for Liberal-National merger". Abc.net.au. Retrieved 30 June 2010. 
  4. ^ "AM - Controversy over proposed Liberal-Nationals merger". Abc.net.au. 29 January 2008. Retrieved 30 June 2010. 
  5. ^ "Rising chorus for Coalition merger - National". theage.com.au. 17 December 2007. Retrieved 30 June 2010. 
  6. ^ "Liberals, Nationals 'don't deserve govt' until they unite - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)". Abc.net.au. 17 December 2007. Retrieved 30 June 2010. 
  7. ^ "Federal, Qld coalitions unelectable: MP - Breaking News - National - Breaking News". News.smh.com.au. 17 December 2007. Retrieved 30 June 2010. 
  8. ^ "7.30 Report - 31 January 2006: Liberals should reject McGauran application: Nationals chief". Abc.net.au. 31 January 2006. Retrieved 30 June 2010. 
  9. ^ "Queensland Diary". The Spectator. Retrieved 1 April 2013. 
  10. ^ http://www.qld.nationals.org.au/2008StateConference/Draft-Constitution.pdf Liberal National Party of Queensland Draft Constitution] PDF
  11. ^ 12 May 2008 12:00AM (12 May 2008). "A conservative marriage | The Courier-Mail". News.com.au. Retrieved 30 June 2010. 
  12. ^ "Letter reveals Libs unhappy about merger - Breaking News - National - Breaking News". News.theage.com.au. 13 May 2008. Retrieved 30 June 2010. 
  13. ^ AdelaideNow... Libs, Nats vote on state merger[dead link]
  14. ^ "Australian elections, Australian election results, governments and parties in the Australian Government and Politics Database". Elections.uwa.edu.au. 20 March 2010. Retrieved 30 June 2010.