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Liberal National Party of Queensland

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Liberal National Party of Queensland
Leader Lawrence Springborg
President Bruce McIver
Founded 2008
Headquarters Brisbane
National affiliation Coalition
Colours Blue
House of Representatives
22 / 150
Senate
6 / 76
Parliament of Queensland
42 / 89
Website
www.lnp.org.au
Politics of Australia
Political parties
Elections

The Liberal National Party (LNP) is a conservative political party in Queensland, Australia. It was formed in 2008 by a merger of the Queensland divisions of the Liberal Party of Australia and the National Party of Australia. At a federal level and in most other states the two parties remain distinct and operate as a more or less permanent Coalition. The LNP is a full member (i.e. affiliated branch) of the Liberal Party, and has observer status within the National Party.[1]

After suffering defeat at its first election in 2009 the LNP won government for the first time at the 2012 election, winning 78 out of 89 seats, a record majority in the unicameral Parliament of Queensland. Campbell Newman became the first LNP Premier of Queensland.

Former New South Wales Federal Nationals MP Kay Hull has expressed her disgust with the Liberal name being placed in front of the National name for the name of the merged party in spite of the fact that the Nationals and not the Liberals had been the dominant non-Labor Party in Queensland prior to the merger.[2]

History

On 30 May 2008, an agreement in principle to merge was established between the Queensland divisions of the Liberal and National parties. A plebiscite of members of each party was then conducted with a large majority of respondents favouring the proposed merger.[3]

Prior to the merger the National Party and Liberal Party had found themselves in frequent competition with one another for seats in Queensland since the 1970s. The Liberal Party (and its predecessors) and the National Party (formerly the Country Party) have been in a coalition at the federal level for all but a few years since 1923. In most parts of Australia the Liberal Party is the larger party, concentrated in urban areas, with the Nationals a junior partner operating exclusively in rural and regional areas. Competition between the two is thus minimised as the two attempt to win more seats combined than the Australian Labor Party.

However, Queensland is Australia's most decentralised state; the urban-rural divide is not as pronounced in Queensland as in the rest of Australia. In other states, 60% or more of the population lives in and around the state's capital city. In Queensland only around 45% of the population lives in the Brisbane area, with a greater portion of the state's population distributed in regional cities like Rockhampton, Townsville, Mackay, Gladstone and Cairns, as well as in rural areas. These are areas where the National Party is stronger than the Liberal Party. As a result the Country/National Party had more seats than the Liberal Party and its predecessors, and had been the senior partner in the non-Labor Coalition since 1924.

The formation of the LNP was actually the third attempt to unite the non-Labor side in Queensland. In 1925, the United Party — the Queensland branch of the urban-based Nationalist Party — and the Country Party merged as the Country and Progressive National Party. This party won government in 1929 under former Queensland Country leader Arthur Edward Moore, but was defeated in 1932 and split apart in 1936. In 1941, the United Australia Party and Country Party merged as the Country-National Party, under Frank Nicklin of the Country side. However, this merger only lasted until 1944.

During the 1970s and 1980s, the Country Party/National Party began running candidates in the more urbanised south-east corner of the state, including the Brisbane area, in direct competition with the Liberals. The Liberals pulled out of the Coalition in 1983, and the Nationals came up one seat short of a majority in their own right in the election held later that year. The Nationals persuaded two Liberals to cross over to them, and governed alone until their defeat in 1989.

In 1992 the electoral system was changed to Optional Preferential Voting, meaning that three-cornered contests between Liberal, National and Labor candidates became much more likely to see Labor candidates win. The other change in 1992 was the end of the old zonal electoral system for the Legislative Assembly, the sole chamber of the state's parilament. As a result, 40 of the 89 seats--almost half of the seats in the legislature--were now based in Brisbane. It was now all but impossible to win a majority government without significant support in Brisbane, something that was difficult for the Coalition to do since the Nationals were the senior partner. Labor was in government for all but three years from 1989 to 2012 in large part because it won at least 30 seats in greater Brisbane at every election. Even when it was briefly consigned to opposition by the Rob Borbidge-led Coalition from 1996 to 1998, Labor still won 31 seats in Brisbane.[4]

The 1995 state election proved just how difficult it was for the Coalition to win during this time. While it actually won a slim majority of the two-party vote, much of that margin was wasted on landslides in the Nationals' heartland. As mentioned above, Labor won 31 seats in Brisbane. Labor eked out a one-seat majority, only to lose it a few months later in a by-election. The Coalition was only able to form a minority government by a margin of one seat with the support of independent Liz Cunningham, proving how difficult the 1992 reforms made it to form even a minority government without a substantial base in Brisbane. The situation became worse with the emergence of other forces on the right such as Pauline Hanson's One Nation and the City Country Alliance, and the advocacy by the Labor Party under Peter Beattie starting in 2001 of a "just vote 1" strategy that caused non-Labor preferences to exhaust instead of leaking to other non-Labor candidates. The objective of the merger of the two parties was thus to reduce harmful competition between non-Labor candidates and to increase the chances of winning seats in Brisbane from Labor.

The agreement in principle and a draft constitution were considered by separate meetings of the parties held over 26–27 July 2008, and the LNP was created on 26 July 2008. The inaugural conference of the LNP was held following the adoption of the constitution.[3] The two parties had been meeting in adjoining rooms of the Sofitel Hotel in Brisbane. The wall between the two meetings was removed after both parties approved the merger, and the inaugural conference of the newly merged party began soon afterward.[5]

After the July 2008 merger, the party had 25 members in the Legislative Assembly: 17 originally elected as Nationals, 8 originally elected as Liberals. National Party leader Lawrence Springborg became the merged party's first leader, and remained as Leader of the Opposition. Liberal Party leader Mark McArdle became Deputy Leader of the new party, and Deputy Leader of the Opposition.

The LNP fought its first election as a unified party at the 2009 state election. It managed an eight-seat swing and finished one percentage point behind Labor on the two-party-preferred vote (with optional preference voting). However, it came up 11 seats short of forming government mainly due to winning only six seats in Brisbane. Springborg resigned as leader, later becoming deputy leader under his successor, John-Paul Langbroek.[4][6] Langbroek is from the Liberal side of the merger, and his election marked the first time since 1925 that the non-Labor side in Queensland has been led by someone aligned federally with the Liberals or their predecessors.

Federal Queensland Liberal and National federal representatives and senators remained affiliated to their respective parties until after the 2010 Federal Election, with senators retaining their affiliation until the new Senate sat in July 2011.[7]

On 22 March 2011, Brisbane Lord Mayor Campbell Newman announced that he would seek preselection for the Brisbane-area seat of Ashgrove, a seat with a 7.1 percent Labor majority, and if successful, would challenge Langbroek for the party leadership. Newman, like Langbroek, is from the Liberal side of the merger. Langbroek and Springborg resigned as leader and deputy leader hours later. Under normal circumstances, an LNP MP from a safe seat would have resigned so Newman could get into the chamber via a by-election. However, a by-election could not be arranged.[4] To solve this problem, former Nationals leader Jeff Seeney, who was elected deputy leader at the same time Newman was formally elected leader, became interim parliamentary leader (and hence Leader of the Opposition) while Newman led the party into the 24 March 2012 state election. Seeney agreed to cede the parliamentary leader's post to Newman if he was elected to parliament.[8]

The 2012 state election saw Newman lead the LNP to a landslide victory. The LNP scored a 14.5 percent swing from Labor, just short of 50 percent of the primary vote, and won an additional 44 seats. In the process, the LNP took all but three seats in the Brisbane metropolitan area, in some cases on swings of 10 percent or more. Overall, the LNP won 78 seats to Labor's seven, the largest majority government in Queensland history. Newman won Ashgrove on a swing of 12.7 percent, almost double what he needed to take the seat off Labor. He was sworn in as premier two days later, heading the state's first non-Labor majority government in 23 years.

The LNP appeared to be positioned to win a second term at the 31 January 2015 state election, albeit with a reduced majority. However, in a shock result that had not been foreseen by any commentators, let alone either party, the LNP suffered a 12 percent swing and lost its majority. Labor took 31 seats off the LNP, and came within one seat of rebounding from only nine seats at dissolution to an outright majority. One of the LNP casualties was Newman, who became just the second Queensland premier since Federation to lose his own seat. He immediately announced his retirement from politics, and Springborg was elected his successor on 7 February with Langbroek as his deputy. Although Springborg initially harboured hopes of forming a minority government, this ended when Labor formed a minority government with the support of the lone independent in the chamber.

Currently, 16 of the LNP's 22 federal MPs sit with the Liberals, while six — including federal Nationals leader and Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss — sit with the Nationals. In the Senate, LNP Senator Matthew Canavan sits with the Nationals while the other four LNP senators sit with the Liberals. While incumbent MPs retained their previous national affiliations, the LNP has worked out an informal agreement with its national counterparts regarding the affiliations of newly elected members. Members who regain seats from Labor will sit with the previous Coalition MP's party — i.e., if the LNP takes a seat off Labor that was previously held by a Liberal, the LNP member will sit with the Liberals. A division of seats was decided upon for new seats or seats that have never been won by the Coalition.[9] In practice, most LNP MPs from Brisbane and the Gold Coast sit with the Liberals, while those from country seats usually sit with the Nationals.

Electoral performance

Federal

Election Leader Votes  % Seats +/– Position Government
2010 John-Paul Langbroek 1,130,525 9.1
21 / 150
Increase 21 Increase 3rd Opposition
2013 Campbell Newman 1,152,217 8.9
22 / 150
Increase 1 Steady 3rd Coalition

State

Election Leader Votes  % Seats +/– Position Government
2009 Lawrence Springborg 987,018 41.6
34 / 89
Increase 34 Increase 2nd Opposition
2012 Campbell Newman 1,214,402 49.6
78 / 89
Increase 44 Increase 1st Majority
2015 Campbell Newman 1,083,983 41.3
42 / 89
Decrease 31 Decrease 2nd Opposition

Party leaders

Leader Term Leader's seat
Lawrence Springborg 2008–2009 Southern Downs
John-Paul Langbroek 2009–2011 Surfers Paradise
Campbell Newman 2011–2015 Ashgrove
Lawrence Springborg 2015–Present Southern Downs

Parliamentary leaders

Leader Term Leader's seat
Lawrence Springborg 2008–2009 Southern Downs
John-Paul Langbroek 2009–2011 Surfers Paradise
Jeff Seeney 2011–2012 Callide
Campbell Newman 2012–2015 Ashgrove
Lawrence Springborg 2015– Southern Downs

Deputy leaders

Deputy Leader Term Deputy's seat
Mark McArdle 2008–2009 Caloundra
Lawrence Springborg 2009–2011 Southern Downs
Jeff Seeney 2011–2015 Callide
John-Paul Langbroek 2015–present Surfers Paradise

See also

References

  1. ^ LNP Constitution, clauses A.3 and A.4.
  2. ^ A Country Road: The Nationals Episode 2
  3. ^ a b "The Liberal National Party – History". Retrieved 25 June 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c Green, Antony. Queensland election preview. Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 25 January 2012.
  5. ^ (26 July 2008). Liberal-National merger a win for 'grassroots democracy'. news.com.au. News Limited. Retrieved on 25 April 2012.
  6. ^ Jessica van Vonderen (2 April 2009). "Langbroek wins LNP leadership: ABC News 2/4/2009". Abc.net.au. Retrieved 1 February 2011. 
  7. ^ "Constitution of the LNP" (PDF). Retrieved 1 February 2011. 
  8. ^ "Newman to head LNP election team". The Sydney Morning Herald. 22 March 2011. Retrieved 22 March 2011. 
  9. ^ Madonna King (18 May 2010). LNP differences a Coalition headache. Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

External links