Michael Norman Kroger (born 30 May 1957) is a businessman and former power broker within the Victorian division of the Liberal Party of Australia. Kroger is currently in his second term as Liberal state president in Victoria.
Kroger was educated at Wesley College, Melbourne, where his father Jack Kroger was a senior master. He became politically active while studying at Monash University where he graduated with Bachelor of Jurisprudence and Bachelor of Laws degrees. While president of the campus Liberal Club, Kroger is largely credited with the creation of the Sir Robert Menzies Lecture. With his close friend Peter Costello he forged an alliance with right-wing and Catholic Australian Labor Party politicians in an effort to counter far left-wing and centre-left forces within the Australian Union of Students. He became president of the Australian Liberal Students' Federation in 1978.
In 1987, at the age of 30, Kroger was elected as the president of the Victorian division of the Liberal Party of Australia and was president until 1992, becoming the longest serving president in the Victorian Division's history. He instituted a series of reforms, the most important of which was his move to increase the power of the party executive in preselections. While this led to several preselection challenges in 1988 and 1989 (most notably Costello's successful challenge against Roger Shipton in Higgins), it also helped in the election of several young Victorian federal parliamentarians who are widely considered to have bright futures, although this pattern has not been replicated at state level.
Kroger himself has often turned down opportunities to run in blue ribbon Liberal seats, notably Kooyong in 1994 and in Goldstein in 2004, preferring to concentrate on family and business interests.
Since the 1990s the Victorian division of the Liberal Party has been factionalized between Kroger's supporters and those of Jeff Kennett. This has led to some bruising preselections, such as the Kennett-backed Louise Asher defeating the Kroger-backed Mitch Fifield in Brighton in 1999. However, both backed Petro Georgiou when he was challenged for his preselection by Josh Frydenberg in 2006.
In 1993 Kroger established an investment company, JT Campbell & Co, and currently serves as chairman. He has also spent five years (1998 to 2003) as a director of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
In May 2012 he very publicly expressed concern over matters relating to Peter Costello's apparent idea of returning to the Federal Liberal parliamentary party. Kroger's former wife, Helen Kroger, was demoted on the Liberal Party senate ticket and was almost facing a challenge by some Liberal for the Senate whip position. Costello has said that Kroger asked him for help regarding Helen Kroger's troubles with the Liberal party, though Costello decided not to help.
Kroger nominated to become state president of the Victorian Liberal party for the second time. Tony Snell stood down as state president at the Liberal state council in March 2015 and Kroger was elected his successor.
His first wife Helen Kroger was elected to the Senate for Victoria at the 2007 election after being preselected in the safe second position on the Liberal ticket, along with the aforementioned Mitch Fifield and number three candidate Scott Ryan. Senator Kroger lost her Senate seat at an election in 2013 and in 2016 for the seat of Bruce. Despite their divorce, Michael and Helen remain close friends and are considered to be political allies.
Kroger married Ann Peacock, daughter of Andrew Peacock and Susan Renouf, in March 1999 at St Michael's Uniting Church, in Collins St, Melbourne. The marriage produced two sons. The couple separated in 2009 and are now divorced.
- G. Henderson, Australia Answers, Random House, Sydney, 1990.
- The Age: Doyle's choice: Dads Army or new blood
- Poll Bludger: Federal Election 2004 Victoria
- AM: Kennett wins factional battle
- ABC Online News: Georgiou win unrelated to refugee policy: Costello