Liberal–National party merger
In Australia, the Liberal Party of Australia and National Party of Australia political parties have governed in a federal coalition from 1996 to 2007 and since 2013. Additionally, on the state level, there is a formal coalition government in New South Wales. A full merger of the parties has been debated for decades, as a result of a shrinking National Party vote. 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. At the state level, the Country Liberal Party is affiliated with both parties, and in July 2008 the National and Liberal party affiliates in Queensland merged to become the Liberal National Party of Queensland.
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.
In March 1973, former prime minister William McMahon publicly announced his support for a merger. McMahon reiterated his view after Labor won the 1974 election, and Billy Snedden, his successor as leader of the Liberal Party, also stated that he favoured a merger.
During the 1980s, former Nationals MP Peter Nixon reviewed the party and "concluded it should seriously consider amalgamating with the Liberals". 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."
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. 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
|Federal results in the Lower House since 1919|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
- 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.
- "7.30 Report - 30 May 2006: Coalition parties mull action against Qld merger plan". Abc.net.au. 30 May 2006. Retrieved 30 June 2010.
- "Rising chorus for Coalition merger - National". theage.com.au. 17 December 2007. Retrieved 30 June 2010.
- "Federal, Qld coalitions unelectable: MP - Breaking News - National - Breaking News". News.smh.com.au. 17 December 2007. Archived from the original on 11 July 2012. Retrieved 30 June 2010.
- "7.30 Report - 31 January 2006: Liberals should reject McGauran's application: Nationals chief". Abc.net.au. 31 January 2006. Retrieved 30 June 2010.
- "Mr McMahon wanted merger". The Canberra Times. 13 March 1973.
- "PARTY MERGER FAVOURED". The Canberra Times. 23 May 1974.
- "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.