Leadership spill

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In Australian politics, a leadership spill (sometimes also known as a party room spill) is a declaration that the leadership of a parliamentary party is vacant, and open for re-election. A spill may involve all leadership positions (leader and deputy leader in both houses), or just the leader.

A leadership election may result in a new leader, or may confirm the status quo. If the party in question is in government, the election of a new leader will result in a new Prime Minister, Premier or Chief Minister; if the party is the opposition, the election of a new leader will result in a new Opposition Leader.

Westminster system[edit]

Main article: Westminster system

In the Westminster system, the leader of the party which forms a government becomes the Prime Minister,[1] while the leader of the largest party not in government becomes leader of the Opposition. Contenders for the role of leader of a major party usually (but not always) come from the cabinet or shadow cabinet.

A leadership spill occurs when a member or members of the parliamentary party feel that the leader is taking the party in an undesirable direction or is simply not delivering on their promises to those who elected them, and does not have the numbers to back his or her position. A spill may be triggered by consistently poor opinion polls.

A spill can be initiated by the party leader in office, usually in the hope of gaining a fresh mandate to quell dissenting voices in the party. It may occur at any time, leaving the person in the leadership position always 'on notice'.[1]

Notable spills[edit]




South Australia[edit]

New South Wales[edit]

Northern Territory[edit]

  • March 2013: Adam Giles replaced Chief Minister Terry Mills as leader of the Country Liberal Party while Mills was on a trade mission, becoming the first indigenous head of government of an Australian state or territory.
  • 2 February 2015: Adam Giles was ousted after a parliamentary meeting voted 9 votes to 5 to replace him with the minister for primary industry and mines, Willem Westra van Holthe. Giles refused to resign and instead promoted Westra van Holthe to the position of deputy leader.[4]


External links[edit]