Liberal Party of Australia (Victorian Division)

  (Redirected from Liberal and Country Party)

The Liberal Party of Australia (Victorian Division), branded as Liberal Victoria,[6] and commonly known as the Victorian Liberals, is the state division of the Liberal Party of Australia in Victoria. It was formed in 1949 as the Liberal and Country Party (LCP), and simplified its name to the Liberal Party in 1965.[7]

Liberal Party of Australia
(Victorian Division)
LeaderMichael O'Brien
PresidentRobert Clark
Founded1945 (old Victorian division)
1949 (as Liberal and Country Party)
HeadquartersLevel 12, 257 Collins Street, Melbourne
IdeologyLiberal conservatism
Economic liberalism
Social conservatism[1]
Christian right[1][2]
Political positionCentre-right[3] to right-wing[1][4][5]
National affiliationLiberal Party of Australia
Legislative Assembly
21 / 88
Legislative Council
10 / 40
House of Representatives
17 / 37
(Victorian seats)
5 / 12
(Victorian seats)

There was a previous Victorian division of the Liberal Party when the Liberal Party was formed in 1945, but it ceased to exist and merged to form the LCP in March 1949.[8]



Robert Menzies, who was the Prime Minister of Australia between 1939 and 1941, founded the Liberal Party during a conference held in Canberra in October 1944, uniting many non-Labor political organisations, including the United Australia Party (UAP) and the Australian Women's National League (AWNL).[9]

The UAP was a major conservative party in Australia and last governed Victoria between May 1932 and April 1935 under Stanley Argyle's leadership. Argyle lost premiership when the UAP's coalition partner United Country Party led by Albert Dunstan broke off the coalition and formed a minority government with Labor's support. After Argyle's death in late 1941, Thomas Hollway became the leader of the UAP in Victoria. During his time as UAP leader, he was the Deputy Premier in the Dunstan coalition government since September 1943.[10]

The AWNL was a conservative women's organisation founded and originally based in Victoria, but had expanded across Australia since World War I. Its leaders included Dame Elizabeth Couchman and future senator Ivy Wedgwood, both of whom were from Victoria. During the October 1944 conference, the AWNL was recognised by Menzies as one of the long-standing non-Labor organisations in Victoria.[11]

The Liberal Party in Victoria was established between December 1944 and January 1945, with the names of the provisional state executive revealed on 29 December 1944 and the first meeting held a week later on 5 January 1945.[12][13] The state executive included AWNL's leaders Couchman and Wedgwood. The AWNL joined the Liberal Party on 30 January 1945.[14] The UAP and its parliamentary members (including Hollway) joined the Liberal Party on 5 March 1945, with the state parliamentary UAP becoming the state parliamentary Liberal Party. As a result, Hollway became the first parliamentary leader of the Victorian branch of the Liberal Party.[15]

Old Liberal Party Victorian DivisionEdit

On 2 October 1945, deputy Liberal Party leader Ian Macfarlan was commissioned by the Governor Sir Winston Dugan to form government, when it was clear that the Victorian Legislative Assembly would not grant supply to the Dunstan government. The Liberals were defeated in the election a month later, which was won by Labor.

By the 1947 Victorian state election, the Liberals were again in coalition with the Country Party (renamed from United Country Party) and contested the election together. The coalition won the election and governed Victoria as majority government from 20 November 1947 to 3 December 1948, with Liberal leader Hollway as Premier and Country leader John McDonald as Deputy Premier.[16]

Liberal and Country PartyEdit


During a series of transport strikes in 1948, the moderate Hollway had dealt amicably with the transport unions and the Trades Hall Council, and McDonald heavily criticised his conciliatory approach to the conservative parties' traditional enemies.[17] Hollway forced McDonald to resign as deputy. Wilfrid Kent Hughes, deputy leader of Liberal Party, was appointed as Deputy Premier.

In February 1949, the Liberal Party planned to formed a new Liberal and Country Party (LCP), with metropolitan-country interests proposed to be represented on a 50-50 basis.[18] Hollway hoped this would unite the two "anti-socialist" parties of Liberal Party and Country Party together,[19] an idea supported by Liberal Party and Country Party voters.[20][21] A merger of the Liberal and Country parties had already happened in South Australia with the formation of the Liberal and Country League in 1932. The Liberal Party conference on 22 February 1949 endorsed the idea of a merger.[22] However, the idea was reputed by the Country Party and argued it was a takeover attempt of the Country Party, and to eliminate the Country Party from Victorian politics entirely.[23][24]

On 22 March 1949, the Victorian Liberal Party ceased to exist and form the Liberal and Country Party (LCP) with six Country MPs.[25][26][8][27] Hollway was chosen as leader of the new party and continued to be Premier.[28] Hughes also continued to be deputy leader of the new party and Deputy Premier. The six former Country MPs were eligible for Cabinet positions in the new LCP government, but turned them down since "the present cabinet had prepared legislation for the new parliamentary session" and "should carry on with it".[29] As such, the incumbent cabinet composition was unchanged. The LCP succeeded the old Victorian Liberal Party to be the Victorian division of the Liberal Party of Australia, and federal members endorsed by the LCP sat with the Liberals in Canberra and belong in the federal parliamentary Liberal Party.[30]

Future Prime Minister John Gorton was one of those appointed to the state executive of the LCP.[24] He used to support the Country Party since before the war, but became frustrated with the party's squabbles with the Liberal Party and willingness to co-opoerate with the Labor Party. While being part of the LCP state executive, he had addressed Country Party gatherings in a few occasions, urging its members to join the new party and stressing that it would not neglect rural interests, as many feared. However, the Country Party were not convinced and never joined the new party.

The LCP, Country Party and Labor Party contested against one another in the 1949 Legislative Council election in June.[31] John Lienhop, who was a member of the Bendigo Province and previously elected as a Country Party member, contested the electorate as an LCP member and managed to retain the seat.

Despite their differences, the LCP and Country Party agreed to endorse the same candidates for 10 seats in Victoria for the 1949 federal election in December, minimising three-cornered contests.[32] The federal Liberal/Country coalition led by Robert Menzies won the election, winning 20 out of the 33 lower house seats in Victoria.

Loss of governmentEdit

The LCP continued to govern Victoria independently as a minority government until 27 June 1950, when the Victorian Labor agreed to support a minority Country Party government led by McDonald.

In December 1951, Hollway and his deputy Trevor Oldham were replaced by Les Norman and Henry Bolte as party leader and deputy leader respectively. In September 1952, Hollway and 7 LCP members were expelled from the LCP after a dispute over electoral reform issues.[33] In October, Labor Party moved to defeat the McDonald government by working with two of Hollway's supporters in the Victorian Legislative Council to block supply in the upper house.[34] Hollway was commissioned by Governor Sir Dallas Brooks to form a minority government with the 7 former LCP members, known as the Electoral Reform League, with the backing of the Labor Party on confidence and supply. However, 70 hours later, Brooks forced Hollway to resign and recommissioned McDonald as Premier.[35]

At the state election two months later in December 1952, Hollway contested Norman's seat of Glen Iris and won. Neither Country Party, LCP nor the Electoral Reform League won enough seats to form government. With Norman losing his seat, Oldham was elected as leader and Bolte remained the deputy leader. Oldham and his wife died in a plane crash in India on 2 May 1953, on their way to England to attend the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II,[36][37] and Bolte succeeded him as LCP leader.

In 1954, Hollway and his supporters formed the Victorian Liberal Party, replacing the Electoral Reform League. Despite the name, it was a separate party to the LCP or the Liberal Party.

Following the Australian Labor Party split of 1955 that led to the weakening of the governing Victorian Labor, the LCP led by Bolte won the 1955 Victorian state election and formed government for the next 27 years independently without a coalition with the Country Party. All members of Hollway's Victorian Liberal Party including Hollway lost all their seats in this election, and the party ceased to exist.

Liberal PartyEdit

Change of name to Liberal PartyEdit

As one of the conditions of the Country Party supporting the government's supply bill in the Legislative Council on 27 October 1964, the 'and Country' was to be dropped from the name of the Liberal and Country Party.[38] During the party's State Council in March 1965, the party debated for more than an hour on its party name. It was revealed through a letter from Menzies that he did not like the "Liberal and Country Party" name because "liberalism catered for people in the city and in the country".[7] With the letter, Bolte managed to persuade the party to support the motion of change of name back to the original name of Liberal Party.[39][40]

Malcolm Fraser, the Prime Minister between 1975 and 1983, was the last Liberal Prime Minister from Victoria .

The Liberal Party continued to hold government in the Victorian state parliament until 1982 under the leaderships of Bolte, Rupert Hamer and Lindsay Thompson.

Opposition (1982–1992)Edit

The Liberals were defeated in the 1982 Victorian state election after governing Victoria for 27 years. Following the Liberals' defeat, Jeff Kennett became the leader of the party. Kennett was desposed as leader following the 1988 Victorian state election, and was replaced by Alan Brown. During Brown's leadership, the Liberals reached a new Coalition agreement with the Victorian Nationals, led by Pat McNamara since 1988.

Kennett became party leader again in 1991 and led the Coalition to victory in the 1992 Victorian state election. The Liberals actually won majorities in their own right. Although Kennett thus had no need for the support of the Nationals, he retained the Coalition, with McNamara as Deputy Premier.[citation needed]

Kennett governmentEdit

The Liberal and National Coalition held government from 1992 to 1999 under Kennett's leadership. The Kennett government privatised many government services, including closing down over three hundred schools.[41] The Liberals and Nationals fought as a Coalition in the 1996, which the LIberals won majority in its own right again, and 1999, which the Coalition was defeated.

Opposition (1999–2010)Edit

McNamara's successor as Nationals leader, Peter Ryan, ended the Coalition agreement.[42] Since then, Liberals and Nationals had a strained relationship. Ryan uttered several sharp criticisms of the Liberals' most prominent figures, particularly their no-tolls policy on the Melbourne Eastlink freeway[43] and on former leader Robert Doyle's remarks that the Liberals were twenty seats from government, a statement that assumed that the Nationals would support a Liberal government.[44] Relations soured further at the beginning of 2006 when Victorian Senator Julian McGauran defected from the Nationals to the Liberals.[45]

The Liberal Party was the sole opposition party in Victoria until 2008, when Liberals under Ted Baillieu formed a new Coalition agreement with the Nationals.[46]

Baillieu & Napthine governmentsEdit

After the 2010 Victorian state election, the Liberal and National Coalition held government under Baillieu's leadership. On 7 March 2013 Baillieu resigned from his position of Premier of Victoria and he was replaced by Denis Napthine. Napthine led the Coalition to a defeat in the 2014 Victorian state election.

Opposition (since 2014)Edit

After the 2014 election, Matthew Guy was elected leader. The Coalition arrangement was maintained while the Liberals and Nationals were in opposition. The coalition lost the 2018 election and suffered a significant swing against it, leading to the resignation of Guy as leader of the Liberal Party.[47] He was replaced by Michael O’Brien as party leader.

Branch stacking allegations in the party had been linked to conservative powerbroker Marcus Bastiaan since 2016. In late August 2020, his activities in branch stacking were revealed by Nine/The Age, which included directing taxpayer-funded electorate staff working for federal MP Kevin Andrews to be involved with party activities such as recruitment of party members, which is illegal by federal or state law, recruiting members to the party by paying for their membership, and adding party members to seats under fake residential addresses.[1] Bastiaan's activities were allegedly endorsed by Michael Sukkar, another conservative federal MP who is a minister within the Morrison ministry. Just a week earlier, internal audit by the party found some members breached party rules by paying for other people's membership fees.[5]

Parliamentary Party LeadersEdit

# Leader Years Premier
1 Thomas Hollway 1945–1951 Premier from 1947–1950, 1952
2 Les Norman 1951–1952
3 Trevor Oldham 1952–1953
4 Henry Bolte 1953–1972 Premier from 1955–1972
5 Sir Rupert Hamer 1972–1981 Premier from 1972–1981
6 Lindsay Thompson 1981–1982 Premier from 1981–1982
7 Jeff Kennett 1982–1989
8 Alan Brown 1989–1991
(7) Jeff Kennett 1991–1999 Premier from 1992–1999
9 Denis Napthine 1999–2002
10 Robert Doyle 2002–2006
11 Ted Baillieu 2006–2013 Premier from 2010–2013
(9) Denis Napthine 2013–2014 Premier from 2013–2014
12 Matthew Guy 2014–2018
13 Michael O’Brien 2018–present

Senior FiguresEdit

State presidents of the Victorian Liberal PartyEdit

1945–1948: William Anderson

1948–1949: Magnus Cormack

1949–1950: Dan Mackinnon

1950–1952: William Anderson

1952–1956: John Anderson

1956–1959: Rutherford Guthrie

1959–1962: John Buchan

1962–1965: William Snell

1965–1966: Andrew Peacock

1966–1970: Robert Southey

1970–1973: Phillip Russell

1973–1976: Peter Hardie

1976–1979: Joy Mein

1979–1982: Richard Alston

1982–1984: Stewart McArthur

1984–1987: Eda Ritchie

1987–1992: Michael Kroger

1992–1998: Ted Baillieu

1997–2000: Joy Howley

2000–2003: Ian Carson

2003–2006: Helen Kroger

2006–2007: Russell Hannan

2007–2011: David Kemp

2011–2015: Tony Snell

2015–2018: Michael Kroger

2019–Present: Robert Clark

State Directors of the Victorian Liberal PartyEdit

1945–1971: J V McConnell

1971–1974: Leo Hawkins

1975–1976: Timothy Pascoe

1976–1977: Graham Jennings

1977–1983: Neville Hughes

1984–1987: John Ridley

1987–1988: David Kemp

1989–1994: Petro Georgiou

1994–2000: Peter Paggioli

2000–2003: Brian Loughnane

2003–2008: Julian Sheezel

2008–2011: Tony Nutt

2011–2015: Damien Mantach

2015–2017: Simon Frost

2017–2019: Nick Demiris

2019–Present: Sam McQuestin

Election resultsEdit

Liberal Party (1945-1949)Edit

Year Seats won ± Total votes % ±% Position Leader
10 / 65
 3 180,046 20.51%  2.56% Crossbench Thomas Hollway
27 / 65
 17 442,451 37.16%  16.65% Coalition Thomas Hollway

Liberal and Country Party (1949-1965) & Liberal Party (post-1965)Edit

Year Seats won ± Total votes % ±% Position Leader
27 / 65
 0 491,448 40.69%  3.53% Minority government Thomas Hollway
11 / 65
 16 255,685 24.85%  15.84% Crossbench Les Norman
34 / 66
 23 487,408 37.8%  12.93% Majority government Henry Bolte
39 / 66
 5 508,678 37.18%  0.6% Majority government Henry Bolte
39 / 66
 0 521,777 36.44%  0.74% Majority government Henry Bolte
38 / 66
 1 597,748 39.63%  3.20% Majority government Henry Bolte
44 / 73
 6 589,985 37.49%  2.14% Majority government Henry Bolte
42 / 73
 2 614,094 36.70%  0.79% Majority government Henry Bolte
46 / 73
 4 803,382 42.34%  5.64% Majority government Rupert Hamer
52 / 81
 6 939,481 45.87%  3.53% Majority government Rupert Hamer
41 / 81
 11 881,366 41.44%  4.44% Majority government Rupert Hamer
24 / 81
 17 860,669 38.33%  3.11% Opposition Lindsay Thompson
31 / 88
 7 1,003,003 41.86%  3.53% Opposition Jeff Kennett
33 / 88
 2 986,311 40.51%  1.30% Opposition Jeff Kennett
52 / 88
 19 1,153,770 44.16%  3.59% Coalition Jeff Kennett
49 / 88
 3 1,212,933 43.99%  0.17% Coalition Jeff Kennett
36 / 88
 13 1,194,998 42.22%  1.77% Opposition Jeff Kennett
17 / 88
 19 985,011 33.91%  8.31% Opposition Robert Doyle
23 / 88
 6 1,022,110 34.44%  0.53% Opposition Ted Baillieu
35 / 88
 12 1,203,654 38.03%  3.59% Coalition Ted Baillieu
30 / 88
 5 1,223,663 36.47%  1.57% Opposition Denis Napthine
21 / 88
 9 1,069,137 30.42%  6.04% Opposition Matthew Guy

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d "'That's politics': Inside the Liberal Party's branch-stacking machine". The Age. 23 August 2020. Retrieved 24 August 2020.
  2. ^ "Victorian Liberals claim right faction stacking branches with Mormons and Catholics". ABC News. 30 June 2017. Retrieved 24 August 2020.
  3. ^ "Victorian Liberal member faces expulsion over 'moronic Mormons' post on social media". ABC News. 11 May 2018. Retrieved 24 August 2020.
  4. ^ "Mormon influence rising in the Liberal party". The Age. 5 May 2018. Retrieved 24 August 2020.
  5. ^ a b "Liberal Party investigates branch-stacking claims". 17 August 2020. Retrieved 24 August 2020.
  6. ^ "Welcome". Liberal Party of Australia (Vic Div) Membership Site. Retrieved 17 November 2019.
  7. ^ a b "State Liberals Censure Bolt on Education". The Canberra Times. 2 March 1965. Retrieved 28 November 2019.
  8. ^ a b "Birth of Combined Party". The Mercury. 23 March 1949. Retrieved 28 November 2019.
  9. ^ "About Us - Our History". Liberal Victoria. Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  10. ^ Hollway, Thomas Tuke (Tom) (1906–1971). Australian Dictionary of Biography. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. Retrieved 19 November 2019.
  11. ^ "Forming the Liberal Party of Australia - Record of the Conference of Representatives of Non-Labor Organisations" (PDF). 16 October 1944. Archived (PDF) from the original on 27 November 2019. Retrieved 27 November 2019.
  12. ^ "The Liberal Party's Executive - Three Women Included in Provisional List". The Age. 30 December 1944. Retrieved 3 December 2019.
  13. ^ "Liberal Party - First Executive Meeting". Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954). The Age. 5 January 1945. p. 5. Retrieved 3 December 2019.
  14. ^ "A.W.N.L. and Liberal Party". The Age. 31 January 1945. Retrieved 3 December 2019.
  15. ^ "State UAP Now Liberal Party". The Argus. 6 March 1945. Retrieved 3 December 2019.
  16. ^ "WRITS ISSUED FOR STATE ELECTION". The Herald. 14 October 1947.
  17. ^ "VICTORIAN HOUSE DISSOLVED ELECTION IN MAY". The Canberra Times. ACT: National Library of Australia. 13 April 1950. p. 1. Retrieved 18 May 2012.
  18. ^ "Plans for United CP-Lib Party". The Argus. 5 February 1949. Retrieved 29 November 2019.
  19. ^ "Mr Hollway resumes merger campaign". The Argus. 28 February 1949. Retrieved 29 November 2019.
  20. ^ "Most Liberal-CP Voters Want Parties To Merge". The Herald. 26 February 1949. Retrieved 29 November 2019.
  21. ^ "Country Party Want Combined Party". Portland Guardian. 7 March 1949. Retrieved 29 November 2019.
  22. ^ "Liberal Conference - Branches Endorse New United Party". Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954). The Age. 23 February 1949. p. 1. Retrieved 29 November 2019.
  23. ^ Brian Costar (1985). "National–Liberal Party Relations in Victoria". In Hay, P. R.; et al. (eds.). Essays on Victorian Politics. Warrnambool: Warrnambool Institute Press.
  24. ^ a b Ian Hancock (2002). John Gorton: He Did It His Way. Hodder. ISBN 0733614396.
  25. ^ Costar, B. J., 'McDonald, Sir John Gladstone Black (Jack) (1898–1977)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, accessed 22 February 2012.
  26. ^ "LIBERAL AND COUNTRY PARTY COMES INTO EXISTENCE". Advocate (Burnie, Tas. : 1890 – 1954). Burnie, Tas.: National Library of Australia. 23 March 1949. p. 3. Retrieved 22 February 2012.
  27. ^ "New Vic. Govt. Set-up". Examiner (Launceston, Tas. : 1900 - 1954). Examiner. 22 March 1949. p. 3. Retrieved 28 November 2019.
  28. ^ "New LCP Chooses Hollway as Leader". 23 March 1949. Retrieved 29 November 2019.
  29. ^ "NO CHANGE IN VICTORIAN CABINET". The Mercury. Hobart, Tas.: National Library of Australia. 24 March 1949. p. 14. Retrieved 18 May 2012.
  30. ^ "'Room for all' in Liberal-CP". The Herald. 23 February 1949. Retrieved 29 November 2019.
  31. ^ "New Party to Oppose C.P." The Age. 4 March 1949. Retrieved 29 November 2019.
  32. ^ "Non-Labour Forces' Election Pact". The West Australian. 5 July 1949. Retrieved 28 November 2019.
  33. ^ "M.L.A.S Expel Hollway". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 25 September 1952. p. 4. Retrieved 21 February 2012.
  34. ^ "Mr. Hollway Will Become Premier". The West Australian. Perth: National Library of Australia. 24 October 1952. p. 1. Retrieved 22 February 2012.
  35. ^ Paul Strangio and Brian Costar (eds.), The Premiers of Victoria: 1856–2006 (Federation Press, Sydney, 2006).
  36. ^ "Mr. Trevor Oldham: Success in business and politics". The Age. 4 May 1953. p. 2. Retrieved 19 February 2019 – via National Library of Australia.
  37. ^ "Comet Jet Crash in "Tempest". 43 Killed: Four Australians". The Sydney Morning Herald. 4 May 1953. p. 1. Retrieved 19 February 2019 – via National Library of Australia.
  38. ^ "Bolte agrees to Country Party demands for support". The Canberra Times. 28 October 1964. Retrieved 28 November 2019.
  39. ^ Walker, K. J. (April 1965). "Victoria". Australian Journal of Politics & History. 11 (1): 96. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8497.1965.tb00419.x.
  40. ^ "Significant Victorian Electoral Events since 1851". Victorian Electoral Commission.
  41. ^ "What are Lost Schools?".
  42. ^ Chris Johnston – Attack the best defence for Ryan. Thanks, CiceroThe Age, 27 November 2006
  43. ^ Nick Lenaghan Opposition splits on tollway
  44. ^ Jason Dowling State Nationals send warning to Doyle, The Age, 29 January 2006
  45. ^ Liberals accept McGauran The Herald Sun, 3 February 2006
  46. ^ David Rood – Libs, Nats revive coalitionThe Age, 11 February 2008
  47. ^ "Matthew Guy resigns as Victorian Opposition Leader after Liberals' election battering". ABC News. 28 November 2018.