|Founded||1944-1945 (old Victorian division)|
1949 (as Liberal and Country Party)
|Headquarters||60 Collins Street, Melbourne|
|National affiliation||Liberal Party of Australia|
21 / 88
10 / 40
|House of Representatives|
17 / 37(Victorian seats)
5 / 12(Victorian seats)
The Liberal Party of Australia (Victorian Division), branded as Liberal Victoria, 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.
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.
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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).
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.
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.
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. The state executive included AWNL's leaders Couchman and Wedgwood. The AWNL joined the Liberal Party on 30 January 1945. 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.
Old Liberal Party Victorian Division
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.
Liberal and Country Party
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. 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. Hollway hoped this would unite the two "anti-socialist" parties of Liberal Party and Country Party together, an idea supported by Liberal Party and Country Party voters. 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. 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.
On 22 March 1949, the Victorian Liberal Party ceased to exist and form the Liberal and Country Party (LCP) with six Country MPs. Hollway was chosen as leader of the new party and continued to be Premier. 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". 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.
Future Prime Minister John Gorton was one of those appointed to the state executive of the LCP. 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. 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. 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 government
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. 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. 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.
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, 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.
Change of name to Liberal Party
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. 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". 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.
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.
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. 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.
McNamara's successor as Nationals leader, Peter Ryan, ended the Coalition agreement. The Liberal Party was the sole opposition party until 2008, when Liberals under Ted Baillieu formed a new Coalition agreement with the Nationals.
Baillieu & Napthine governments
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)
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. He was replaced by Michael O’Brien as party leader.
Parliamentary Party Leaders
|1||Thomas Hollway||1945–1951||Premier from 1947–1950, 1952|
|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||1991–1999||Premier from 1992–1999|
|11||Ted Baillieu||2006���2013||Premier from 2010–2013|
|(9)||Denis Napthine||2013–2014||Premier from 2013–2014|
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State presidents of the Victorian Liberal Party
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 Party
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
Liberal Party (1945-1949)
|Year||Seats won||±||Total votes||%||±%||Position||Leader|
10 / 65
27 / 65
Liberal and Country Party (1949-1965) & Liberal Party (post-1965)
|Year||Seats won||±||Total votes||%||±%||Position||Leader|
27 / 65
|0||491,448||40.69%||3.53%||Minority government||Thomas Hollway|
11 / 65
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
31 / 88
33 / 88
52 / 88
49 / 88
36 / 88
17 / 88
23 / 88
35 / 88
30 / 88
21 / 88
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- Paul Strangio and Brian Costar (eds.), The Premiers of Victoria: 1856–2006 (Federation Press, Sydney, 2006).
- "Mr. Trevor Oldham: Success in business and politics". The Age. 4 May 1953. p. 2. Retrieved 19 February 2019 – via National Library of Australia.
- "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.
- "Bolte agrees to Country Party demands for support". The Canberra Times. 28 October 1964. Retrieved 28 November 2019.
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- "Significant Victorian Electoral Events since 1851". Victorian Electoral Commission.
- "What are Lost Schools?".
- "Matthew Guy resigns as Victorian Opposition Leader after Liberals' election battering". ABC News. 28 November 2018.