The National Party of Australia – Victoria[1] is a political party in Victoria, which forms the state branch of the federal Nationals. It represents graziers, farmers, miners and rural voters.

National Party of Australia – Victoria
LeaderPeter Walsh
Deputy LeaderEmma Kealy
Preceded byVictorian Farmers' Union (VFU)
HeadquartersCollins Street, Melbourne, Victoria
Youth wingYoung Nationals
Ideology
Political positionCentre-right
National affiliationFederal National
Colours    Green and yellow
Legislative Assembly
9 / 88
Legislative Council
2 / 40
House of
Representatives
3 / 39
(Victorian seats)
Senate
1 / 12
(Victorian seats)
Website
vic.nationals.org.au
Seats in local government
Ararat
1 / 7
Moorabool
1 / 7
Northern Grampians
1 / 7
Latrobe
1 / 9

It began as a political activity of the Victorian Farmer's Union, which became involved in state politics in 1916. It was then known as the Country Party for many years, until becoming "The Nationals" in 1975.

In state parliament it is presently the junior partner in a centre-right Coalition with the Liberal Party, forming a joint Opposition bench. During periods of conservative government, the party's leader also serves as Deputy Premier of Victoria.

History

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VFU/Country Party

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The candidates sponsored by the Victorian Farmers' Union from 1916 initially used the same name but in parliament also called themselves the Country Party.[2]

The Country Progressive Party split from the party in April 1926. In 1927 the VFU reorganised and renamed as the Victorian Country Party.[3]

The CPP and VCP combined in September 1930 as the United Country Party.[4]

In 1937, United Country Party federal MP John McEwen was expelled from the state branch for accepting a ministry in the Lyons-Page Coalition government. Following a tumultuous party conference in 1938, another federal MP, Thomas Paterson, led a hundred McEwen supporters to form the Liberal Country Party (LCP), a new party loyal to the federal party.[5] In April 1943, the LCP reconciled with the UCP.[6]

In the state election in June, the two parties notionally fielded separate candidates but formed a single block.

"United" was dropped from the name in March 1947.[7]

The party has had a strained relationship with the Liberal Party of Australia for most of the time since the creation of the latter party in 1944. Following the sacking of Country Party leader John McDonald as Deputy Premier by the Liberals in 1948, in March 1949, the Liberals dissolved and formed the Liberal and Country Party, attempting to merge the Liberals and the Victorian branch of the Country Party together.[8] This was seen by McDonald as a takeover attempt of the Country Party.[9][10] Six Country MPs defected and joined the new party, which in 1965 became simply known as the Liberals.

While its federal counterpart has been in Coalition with the Liberals and their predecessors for all but a few years since 1923, the Victorian Country (and later Nationals) branch fought elections separately from the Liberals from 1952 to 1989. Even the presence of Victorian John McEwen as federal Country Party leader and the number-two man in the government from 1958 to 1971 didn't heal the breach.[citation needed]

National Party

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On 24 July 1975 the party changed its name to the National Party, following the Queensland branch who had made the change the previous year.[11]

Pat McNamara became leader of the Victorian Nationals in 1988, and two years later reached a new Coalition agreement with the Liberals. The Liberals and Nationals fought the 1992, 1996 and 1999 elections as a Coalition under Jeff Kennett. The Liberals actually won majorities in their own right in 1992 and 1996. Although Kennett thus had no need for the support of the Nationals, he retained the Coalition, with McNamara as Deputy Premier.[citation needed]

However, after the Kennett government's shock defeat in 1999, McNamara's successor as Nationals leader, Peter Ryan, tore up the Coalition agreement.[12] The Nationals were steadily re-defining themselves as a party distinct from the Liberals. Soon after Ryan took over the leadership, they rebranded themselves as the "VicNats." Ryan uttered several sharp criticisms of the Liberals' most prominent figures, particularly their no-tolls policy on the Melbourne Eastlink freeway[13] 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.[14]

In mid-2000, McNamara left the parliament and his hitherto safe seat of Benalla was also lost to the ALP. At the 2002 election, the Nationals received 4.3% of the primary vote, maintaining their seven seats in the Assembly and four seats in the Council; the combined total of eleven was the minimum required to maintain Third Party status.[15] However, they did manage to win back Benalla despite the ALP landslide; the only seat the ALP lost at that election.

Relations with the Liberal Party soured further at the beginning of 2006 when Senator Julian McGauran defected from the Nationals to the Liberals.[16] Federal party leader Mark Vaile accused McGauran of betrayal. Ryan was equally unsparing, saying of McGauran, "People treat deserters exactly in the way that this fellow will be treated and reviled for the rest of his days. And justifiably so."[17]

2006 election

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Many commentators had stated that The Nationals were facing electoral oblivion at the 2006 election, especially when rumours emerged of a possible preference deal between the Liberals and the ALP which would favour the Liberals against the Nationals, and the ALP against the Greens.[18] Changes to the Upper House were also likely to slash the Nationals from four members to just one. Ten days prior to the election, Ryan gave what one commentator described the "speech of the campaign thus far" when he lambasted the major parties for their planned actions.

"Welcome", he said, "to Survivor Spring Street", an exercise in reality politics in which "associations that in some instances have been developed for years, amount to an absolute hill of beans", one in which the support offered through long-standing political partnership "is thrown back in your face".[19]

The Nationals went on to increase their primary vote to 5.17%, winning two seats in the Assembly which were offset by two losses in the Legislative Council (the upper house).[20] One notable victory was in Mildura, where Peter Crisp defeated the incumbent Russell Savage (one of the three independents who had removed the Nationals from power in 1999), an event which Ryan described as "an impossible dream".[21]

Premier Steve Bracks resigned unexpectedly in July 2007. Unlike the Liberal leader, Ted Baillieu, Ryan commended Bracks on his parliamentary career and thanked him for his professionalism.[22] This action is in step with what one commentator describes as "an unprecedented warm relationship with the state Labor Government", which includes reciprocating support for committee chairs.[23]

Coalition

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The Nationals stayed on the crossbench until 2008, when they formed a Coalition with the Liberals under Ted Baillieu.[24] The renewed Coalition narrowly won the 2010 state election, but was ousted after one term in 2014. The Coalition arrangement was maintained while the two parties were in opposition.

According to The Age, between November 2018 and November 2021, the Coalition's Legislative Council members voted with the Andrews Government's position 28.9% of the time; of the parties in the Legislative Council, only the Liberal Democratic Party had a lower figure (22.1%).[25]

Ongoing leadership instability in the Liberal Party driven by John Pesutto's controversial attitude towards female MPs sparked media speculation in June 2023 that the Nationals might break the coalition to distance themselves from the Liberal infighting.[26]

Victorian Nationals leaders

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# Leader Term start Term end Electorate Time in office Premier Deputy Premier Departure notes
1   John Allan
(1866–1936)
27 November 1917 27 June 1933 Rodney
(1917–1936)
15 years, 212 days Yes (1924-1927) No Resigned
2   Murray Bourchier
(1881–1937)
27 June 1933 14 March 1935 Goulburn Valley
(1920–1936)
1 year, 260 days No No Deposed; became Deputy Leader
3   Albert Dunstan
(1882–1950)
14 March 1935 22 November 1945 Korong and Eaglehawk
(1927–1945)
10 years, 253 days Yes (1935-1943; 1943-1945) Yes (1935) Resigned
Korong
(1945–1950)
4   John McDonald
(1898–1977)
22 November 1945 20 April 1955 Shepparton
(1945–1955)
9 years, 149 days Yes (1950-1952; 1952) Yes (1947-1948) Resigned
5   Herbert Hyland
(1884–1970)
20 April 1955 8 July 1964 Gippsland South
(1929–1970)
9 years, 79 days No No Deposed
6   George Moss
(1913–1985)
8 July 1964 17 June 1970 Murray Valley
(1945–1973)
5 years, 344 days No No Resigned
7   Peter Ross-Edwards
(1922–2012)
17 June 1970 20 October 1988 Shepparton
(1967–1991)
18 years, 125 days No No Resigned
8   Pat McNamara
(1949–)
20 October 1988 16 December 1999 Benalla
(1982–2000)
11 years, 57 days No Yes (1992-1999) Resigned
9   Peter Ryan
(1950–)
16 December 1999 3 December 2014 Gippsland South
(1992–2015)
14 years, 352 days No Yes (2010-2014) Resigned
10   Peter Walsh
(1954–)
3 December 2014 Incumbent Murray Plains
(2014–)
9 years, 232 days No No

Victorian Nationals deputy leaders

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# Deputy Leader Term start Term end Electorate Time in office Deputy Premier Leader Departure notes
1   Francis Old
(1875–1950)
1922 1924 Swan Hill
(1919–1945)
No John Allan
2   Alfred Downward
(1847–1930)
1924 1927 Mornington
(1894–1929)
No John Allan
3   Murray Bourchier
(1881–1937)
1927 29 October 1930 Goulburn Valley
(1920–1936)
No John Allan Resigned
4   Albert Dunstan
(1881–1937)
29 October 1930 14 March 1935 Korong and Eaglehawk
(1927–1945)
4 years, 136 days No John Allan Became leader following a successful challenge against Murray Bourchier
Murray Bourchier
(3)   Murray Bourchier
(1881–1937)
14 March 1935 24 June 1936 Goulburn Valley
(1920–1936)
1 year, 102 days Yes (1935-1936) Albert Dunstan Resigned to become Victorian Agent-General in London
(1)   Francis Old
(1875–1950)
30 June 1936 14 October 1937 Swan Hill
(1919–1945)
1 year, 106 days Yes (1936-1937) Albert Dunstan Deposed
5   Albert Lind
(1878–1964)
14 October 1937 22 November 1945 Gippsland East
(1920–1961)
8 years, 39 days Yes (1937-1943) Albert Dunstan Resigned
6   Keith Dodgshun
(1893–1971)
22 November 1945 20 April 1955 Rainbow
(1945–1955)
9 years, 149 days Yes (1950-1952); (1952) John McDonald Resigned due to ill health
7   George Moss
(1913–1985)
20 April 1955 8 July 1964 Murray Valley
(1945–1973)
9 years, 79 days No Herbert Hyland Became leader following a successful challenge against Herbert Hyland
8   Bruce Evans
(1925–2012)
8 July 1964 17 June 1970 Gippsland East
(1961–1992)
5 years, 344 days No George Moss Resigned
9   Milton Whiting
(1922–2010)
17 June 1970 8 April 1982 Mildura
(1962–1988)
11 years, 295 days No Peter Ross-Edwards Deposed
10   Eddie Hann
(1946–1990)
8 April 1982 20 October 1988 Rodney
(1973–1989)
6 years, 195 days No Peter Ross-Edwards Resigned
11   Bill McGrath
(1936–2018)
20 October 1988 23 September 1999 Lowan
(1979–1992)
10 years, 338 days No Pat McNamara Resigned
Wimmera
(1992–1999)
12   Peter Ryan
(1950–)
23 September 1999 16 December 1999 Gippsland South
(1992–2015)
84 days No Pat McNamara Became leader following the resignation of Pat McNamara
13   Barry Steggall
(1943–)
16 December 1999 4 December 2002 Swan Hill
(1983–2002)
2 years, 353 days No Peter Ryan Resigned
14   Peter Walsh
(1954–)
4 December 2002 3 December 2014 Swan Hill
(2002–2014)
11 years, 364 days No Peter Ryan Became leader following the resignation of Peter Ryan
Murray Plains
(2014–)
15 Stephanie Ryan
(1986–)
3 December 2014 11 July 2022 Euroa
(2014–)
7 years, 220 days No Peter Walsh Resigned
16   Emma Kealy
(1977–)
11 July 2022 Incumbent Lowan
(2014–)
2 years, 11 days No Peter Walsh

Election results

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Note that until the 1960s some seats were uncontested, which can distort the vote shares.

Election Leader Votes % Seats +/– Position Government
1917 none 21,183 6.13
4 / 65
  4   3rd Crossbench
1920 John Allan 64,500 14.41
13 / 65
  9   3rd Crossbench
1921 John Allan 45,348 14.01
12 / 65
  1   3rd Crossbench
1924 John Allan 43,961 11.97
13 / 65
  1   3rd Crossbench
1927 John Allan 62,218 8.13
10 / 65
  3   3rd Crossbench
1929 John Allan 55,876 8.83
11 / 65
  1   3rd Crossbench
1932 John Allan 83,519 12.33
14 / 65
  1   3rd Coalition
1935 Murray Bourchier 115,064 13.71
20 / 65
  6   2nd Coalition
1937 Albert Dunstan 89,286 11.35
20 / 65
  0   2nd Minority government
1940 Albert Dunstan 109,626 14.06
22 / 65
  2   1st Minority government
1943 Albert Dunstan 123,902[1] 14.39
25 / 65
  5   1st Minority government
1945 Albert Dunstan 163,940 18.67
18 / 65
  7   2nd Opposition
1947 John McDonald 177,698 14.92
20 / 65
  2   2nd Coalition
1950 John McDonald 128,537 10.64
13 / 65
  7   3rd Coalition
1952 John McDonald 85,843 8.34
12 / 65
  1   2nd Opposition
1955 Herbert Hyland 122,999 9.53
10 / 66
  2   3rd Crossbench
1958 Herbert Hyland 127,228 9.30
9 / 66
  1   3rd Crossbench
1961 Herbert Hyland 102,184 7.14
9 / 66
  0   3rd Crossbench
1964 Herbert Hyland 132,067 8.76
10 / 66
  1   3rd Crossbench
1967 George Moss 136,126 8.65
12 / 73
  2   3rd Crossbench
1970 George Moss 107,011 6.40
8 / 73
  4   3rd Crossbench
1973 Peter Ross-Edwards 113,029 5.96
8 / 73
  0   3rd Crossbench
1976 Peter Ross-Edwards 144,818 7.10
7 / 81
  1   3rd Crossbench
1979 Peter Ross-Edwards 119,385 5.61
8 / 81
  1   3rd Crossbench
1982 Peter Ross-Edwards 111,579 4.97
8 / 81
  0   3rd Crossbench
1985 Peter Ross-Edwards 174,727 7.29
10 / 88
  2   3rd Crossbench
1988 Peter Ross-Edwards 188,776 7.76
9 / 88
  1   3rd Crossbench
1992 Pat McNamara 204,525 7.83
9 / 88
  0   3rd Coalition
1996 Pat McNamara 184,419 6.69
9 / 88
  0   3rd Coalition
1999 Pat McNamara 135,930 4.80
7 / 88
  2   3rd Crossbench
2002 Peter Ryan 125,003 4.30
7 / 88
  0   3rd Crossbench
2006 Peter Ryan 153,299 5.17
9 / 88
  2   3rd Crossbench
2010 Peter Ryan 213,492 6.75
10 / 88
  1   3rd Coalition
2014 Peter Ryan 185,619 5.53
8 / 88
  2  3rd Opposition
2018 Peter Walsh 167,625 4.77
6 / 88
  2  3rd Opposition
2022 Peter Walsh 159,373 5.0
9 / 88
  3  3rd Opposition
1 In 1943 the party reconciled with the breakaway Liberal Country Party. The two parties notionally fielded separate candidates but formed a single block; the table shows the combined result for the parties. The Country Party received 112,164 votes (13.03%) and 18 seats, the Liberal Country Party, standing as the Victorian Country Party, 11,738 votes (1.36%) and 7 seats, 6 of them unopposed.

Federal Elections

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Election Seats Won ± Total Votes % ± Leader
1919
5 / 21
  3 79,839 13.50%   13.50% No leader
1922
5 / 20
  0 65,341 14.20%   0.70% Earle Page
1925
5 / 20
  0 124,585 13.90%   0.30%
1928
3 / 20
  2 94,071 11.10%   2.80%
1929
2 / 20
  1 102,276 12.10%   1.00%
1931
4 / 20
  2 89,557 9.60%   2.50%
1934
3 / 20
  1 132,879 13.00%   3.40%
1937
4 / 20
  1 145,500 15.00%   2.00%
1940
3 / 20
  1 81,790 7.30%   7.70% Archie Cameron
1943
3 / 20
  0 85,270 7.10%   0.20% Arthur Fadden
1946
4 / 20
  1 116,446 9.40%   2.30%
1949
3 / 33
  1 106,190 8.20%   1.20%
1951
3 / 33
  0 67,831 5.20%   3.00%
1954
3 / 33
  0 43,390 3.40%   1.80%
1955
3 / 33
  0 72,877 5.50%   2.10%
1958
5 / 33
  2 103,735 7.40%   1.90% John McEwen
1961
5 / 33
  0 111,637 7.50%   0.10%
1963
5 / 33
  0 116,790 7.60%   0.10%
1966
5 / 33
  0 130,468 8.30%   0.70%
1969
5 / 34
  0 113,958 6.80%   1.50%
1972
6 / 34
  1 134,158 7.40%   0.60% Doug Anthony
1974
6 / 34
  0 151,707 7.50%   0.10%
1975
5 / 34
  1 186,667 8.90%   1.40%
1977
3 / 33
  2 120,032 5.60%   3.30%
1980
3 / 33
  0 109,506 4.90%   0.70%
1983
3 / 33
  0 114,065 4.90%   0.00%
1984
3 / 39
  0 145,435 6.40%   1.50% Ian Sinclair
1987
3 / 39
  0 154,088 6.30%   0.10%
1990
3 / 38
  0 154,069 6.00%   0.30% Charles Blunt
1993
3 / 38
  0 137,470 5.00%   1.00% Tim Fischer
1996
2 / 37
  1 128,091 4.60%   0.40%
1998
2 / 37
  0 77,385 2.70%   1.90%
2001
2 / 37
  0 91,048 3.10%   0.40% John Anderson
2004
2 / 37
  0 105,577 3.51%   0.41%
2007
2 / 37
  0 95,859 3.02%   0.49% Mark Vaile
2010
2 / 37
  0 101,419 3.19%   0.17% Warren Truss
2013
2 / 37
  0 86,045 2.61%   0.58%
2016
3 / 37
  1 163,514 4.75%   2.14% Barnaby Joyce
2019
3 / 38
  0 136,737 3.70%   1.05% Michael McCormack
2022
3 / 39
  0 127,883 3.77%   0.07% Barnaby Joyce

See also

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References

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  1. ^ "Current register of political parties". Australian Electoral Commission. 22 March 2017. Archived from the original on 18 April 2018.
  2. ^ Costar, Brian (2006). "John Allan: The first agrarian". In Strangio, Paul; Costar, Brian (eds.). The Victorian Premiers, 1856-2006. The Federation Press. p. 196n. ISBN 9781862876019.
  3. ^ "THE NEW FOR THE OLD V.F.U. BECOMES V.C.P." Wodonga and Towong Sentinel. Vic. 25 March 1927. p. 2. Retrieved 13 November 2013 – via National Library of Australia.
  4. ^ Paul, J. B., "Dunstan, Sir Albert Arthur (1882–1950)", Australian Dictionary of Biography, Canberra: National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, retrieved 6 December 2022
  5. ^ Costar, B. J. (1988). "Paterson, Thomas (1882–1952)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Canberra: National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. ISBN 978-0-522-84459-7. ISSN 1833-7538. OCLC 70677943. Retrieved 3 September 2014.
  6. ^ "Victorian C.P. Amalgamation". The Daily Advertiser. Wagga Wagga, N.S.W.: National Library of Australia. 10 April 1943. p. 2. Retrieved 3 September 2014.
  7. ^ "26 Mar 1947 - LIBERAL-CP POLL TALKS - Trove". Trove.nla.gov.au. 26 March 1947. Retrieved 6 July 2018.
  8. ^ "Plans for United CP-Lib Party". The Argus. 5 February 1949. Retrieved 29 November 2019.
  9. ^ Brian Costar (1985). "National–Liberal Party Relations in Victoria". In Hay, P. R.; et al. (eds.). Essays on Victorian Politics. Warrnambool: Warrnambool Institute Press.
  10. ^ Ian Hancock (2002). John Gorton: He Did It His Way. Hodder. ISBN 0733614396.
  11. ^ Davey, Paul (2006). The Nationals: The Progressive, Country and National Party in New South Wales 1919 to 2006. The Federation Press. p. 453. ISBN 9781862875265.
  12. ^ Chris Johnston – Attack the best defence for Ryan. Thanks, CiceroThe Age, 27 November 2006
  13. ^ Nick Lenaghan Opposition splits on tollway
  14. ^ Jason Dowling State Nationals send warning to Doyle, The Age, 29 January 2006
  15. ^ Victorian Electoral Commission – 2002 Election Results Archived 17 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ Liberals accept McGauran The Herald Sun, 3 February 2006
  17. ^ PM denies Liberals poached McGauran The Age, 24 January 2006
  18. ^ Paul Austin – Nats 'will retaliate' on preferencesThe Age, 7 November 2006
  19. ^ Paul Austin – The preferences fallout: Peter Ryan plays 'Survivor of Spring Street'The Age, 16 November 2006
  20. ^ Victorian Electoral Commission – 2006 Election Results Archived 24 August 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ Chris Johnston – Attack the best defence for Ryan. Thanks, CiceroThe Age,27 November 2006
  22. ^ Steve Bracks Resigns Archived 25 August 2007 at the Wayback Machine – Comments by Baillieu and Ryan, 28 July 2007
  23. ^ Jason Dowling – Wanna be in my gang?The Age, 4 March 2007
  24. ^ David Rood – Libs, Nats revive coalitionThe Age, 11 February 2008
  25. ^ Sakkal, Paul (26 November 2021). "'Is this what compliant looks like?': Victoria's crossbench conflict". The Age. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 1 December 2021.
  26. ^ Smethurst, Annika (15 June 2023). "Is it time for the Victorian Coalition to file for divorce?". The Age. Retrieved 16 June 2023.
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