Liberal–National party merger

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In Australia, a merger of the Liberal and National political parties has resulted in a federal coalition from 1996 to 2007 and since 2013. There is a formal coalition government in New South Wales and an informal coalition in Western Australia. A coalition had been debated for decades,[1] as a result of a shrinking National Party vote.[2][3][4] It is argued that the decline in the National vote is linked to a declining rural population, and National Party policies have become increasingly similar to those of the Liberal Party.[5] A merger would probably affect the Country Liberal Party, given its affiliation with both parties. In July 2008 the majority National Party and minority Liberal Party 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[6]

Merger plans came to a head in May 2008, when the Queensland Liberal Party advised an immediate merger rather than waiting for a federal blueprin. The new Liberal National Party[7] had a self-imposed deadline of late July for party registration.[8] Queensland Liberal Party president Gary Spence was accused by some in his party of misleading the public about the party's level of support for the merger.[9] Queensland Liberal Party members participated in a postal ballot from 27 May to 23 June 2008. If a majority was achieved, a constitutional convention would be held in July to approve the new party (which would be finalised by a formal agreement between the parties' two federal executives).[10] [needs update]

History[edit]

In Queensland, the only state where the Nationals were the dominant coalition partner in state politics after Springborg's re-election as party leader, support emerged—especially on the National side—for a merger of coalition parties to address the declining National (rural) vote and Labor domination of all levels of government.

During the 1980s, former Nationals MP Peter Nixon reviewed the party and "concluded it should seriously consider amalgamating with the Liberals".[citation needed] Former Nationals leader Doug Anthony wrote not long afterward, "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."[citation needed]

In the 2007 federal election the Nationals' vote declined to 5.49 percent, with the party winning only 10 of 150 seats (a party low in the Australian Parliament). Only one National seat was classified by the Australian Electoral Commission as provincial (Hinkler in Queensland), compared to four held by the Liberals and 16 by Labor.[1] The election was indicative of declining support for the Nationals. The party's parliamentary representation fell in each of the four Australian elections between 1998 and 2007, and the party's vote in this period never exceeded six percent (compared to an average voting result of 8-11 percent for the Nationals over the previous two decades).

National election results[edit]

Federal results in the Lower House since 1919[11]
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 2016
% 8.21 5.29 5.61 5.89 5.49 3.43 4.33 4.61
House Seats 19 of 148 16 of 148 13 of 150 12 of 150 10 of 150 6 of 150 9 of 150 10 of 150

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Steketee, Mike (31 January 2008). "Too many conservatives spoil the amalgamation". NEWS.com.au. Archived from the original on 3 February 2008. 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. ^ "Rising chorus for Coalition merger - National". theage.com.au. 17 December 2007. Retrieved 30 June 2010. 
  4. ^ "Federal, Qld coalitions unelectable: MP - Breaking News - National - Breaking News". News.smh.com.au. 17 December 2007. Retrieved 30 June 2010. 
  5. ^ "7.30 Report - 31 January 2006: Liberals should reject McGauran's application: Nationals chief". Abc.net.au. 31 January 2006. Retrieved 30 June 2010. 
  6. ^ "Queensland Diary". The Spectator. Retrieved 1 April 2013. 
  7. ^ "Liberal National Party of Queensland Draft Constitution" (PDF). 
  8. ^ 12 May 2008 12:00AM (12 May 2008). "A conservative marriage | The Courier-Mail". News.com.au. Retrieved 30 June 2010. 
  9. ^ "Letter reveals Libs unhappy about merger - Breaking News - National - Breaking News". News.theage.com.au. 13 May 2008. Retrieved 30 June 2010. 
  10. ^ AdelaideNow... Libs, Nats vote on state merger[dead link]
  11. ^ "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.