National Party of Australia

Last updated

National Party of Australia
Leader Michael McCormack
Deputy Leader David Littleproud
President Larry Anthony
FoundedJanuary 20, 1920;100 years ago (1920-01-20), (as the Australian Country Party)
HeadquartersJohn McEwen House, 7 National Circuit, Barton, Australian Capital Territory 2600
Youth wing Young Nationals
Political position Centre-right
National affiliation Liberal–National Coalition
Colours         Green and yellow
SloganFor Regional Australia
House of Representatives
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[Note 1]
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The National Party of Australia, also known as The Nationals or The Nats, is an Australian political party. Traditionally representing graziers, farmers, and rural voters generally, it began as the Australian Country Party in 1920 at a federal level. It later adopted the name National Country Party in 1975, before taking its current name in 1982.


Federally, and in New South Wales, and to an extent in Victoria and historically in Western Australia, it has in government been the minor party in a centre-right Coalition with the Liberal Party of Australia, and its leader has usually served as Deputy Prime Minister. In Opposition the Coalition was usually maintained, but even otherwise the party still generally continued to work in co-operation with the Liberal Party of Australia (as had their predecessors the Nationalist Party of Australia and United Australia Party). In Queensland, however, the Country Party (later National Party) was the senior coalition party between 1925 and 2008, after which it merged in that state with the junior Liberal Party of Australia to form the Liberal National Party (LNP). Despite taking a conservative position socially, the National Party has long pursued agrarian socialist economic policies. Ensuring support for farmers, either through government grants and subsidies or through community appeals, is a major focus of National Party policy. The unusual hybrid of welfare and free market attitudes that characterise the party has led to it being often accused of seeking to privatise profits and socialise costs for the agricultural and mining sectors.[ by whom? ]

The current leader of the National Party is Michael McCormack, who won a leadership spill following Barnaby Joyce's resignation in February 2018. [1] The deputy leader of the Nationals, since 4 February 2020, is David Littleproud.


William McWilliams, Country Party leader 1920-1921 WMcWilliams.JPG
William McWilliams, Country Party leader 1920–1921
Sir Earle Page, Prime Minister of Australia 1939 Earle Page.jpg
Sir Earle Page, Prime Minister of Australia 1939
Sir Arthur Fadden, Prime Minister of Australia 1941 FaddenPEO.jpg
Sir Arthur Fadden, Prime Minister of Australia 1941
Sir John McEwen, Prime Minister of Australia 1967-68 Sir John McEwen.jpg
Sir John McEwen, Prime Minister of Australia 1967–68

The Country Party was formally founded in 1913 in Western Australia, and nationally in 1920, from a number of state-based parties such as the Victorian Farmers' Union (VFU) and the Farmers and Settlers Party of New South Wales. [2] Australia's first Country Party was founded in 1912 by Harry J. Stephens, editor of The Farmer & Settler , but, under fierce opposition from rival newspapers, [3] failed to gain momentum.

The VFU won a seat in the House of Representatives at the Corangamite by-election held in December 1918, with the help of the newly introduced preferential voting system. [4] At the 1919 federal election the state-based Country Parties won federal seats in New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia. They also began to win seats in state parliaments. In 1920 the Country Party was established as a national party led by William McWilliams from Tasmania. In his first speech as leader, McWilliams laid out the principles of the new party, stating "we crave no alliance, we spurn no support but we intend drastic action to secure closer attention to the needs of primary producers" [5] McWilliams was deposed as party leader in favour of Earle Page in April 1921, following instances where McWilliams voted against the party line. McWilliams later left the Country Party to sit as an Independent. [5]

According to historian B. D. Graham (1959), the graziers who operated the sheep stations were politically conservative. They disliked the Labor Party, which represented their workers, and feared that Labor governments would pass unfavorable legislation and listen to foreigners and communists. The graziers were satisfied with the marketing organisation of their industry, opposed any change in land tenure and labour relations, and advocated lower tariffs, low freight rates, and low taxes. On the other hand, Graham reports, the small farmers, not the graziers, founded the Country party. The farmers advocated government intervention in the market through price support schemes and marketing pools. The graziers often politically and financially supported the Country party, which in turn made the Country party more conservative. [6]

The Country Party's first election as a united party, in 1922, saw it in an unexpected position of power. It won enough seats to deny the Nationalists an overall majority. It soon became apparent that the price for Country support would be a full-fledged coalition with the Nationalists. However, Page let it be known that his party would not serve under Hughes, and forced his resignation. Page then entered negotiations with the Nationalists' new leader, Stanley Bruce, for a coalition government. Page wanted five seats for his Country Party in a Cabinet of 11, including the Treasurer portfolio and the second rank in the ministry for himself. These terms were unusually stiff for a prospective junior coalition partner in a Westminster system, and especially so for such a new party. Nonetheless, with no other politically realistic coalition partner available, Bruce readily agreed, and the "Bruce-Page Ministry" was formed. This began the tradition of the Country Party leader ranking second in Coalition cabinets. [2]

Page remained dominant in the party until 1939, and briefly served as caretaker Prime Minister between the death of Joseph Lyons and the election of Robert Menzies as his successor. However, Page gave up the leadership rather than serve under Menzies. The coalition was re-formed under Archie Cameron in 1940, and continued until October 1941 despite the election of Arthur Fadden as leader after the 1940 election. Fadden was well regarded within conservative circles and proved to be a loyal deputy to Menzies in the difficult circumstances of 1941. When Menzies was forced to resign as Prime Minister, the UAP was so bereft of leadership that Fadden briefly succeeded him (despite the Country Party being the junior partner in the governing coalition). However, the two independents who had been propping up the government rejected Fadden's budget and brought the government down. [7] Fadden stood down in favour of Labor leader John Curtin.

The Fadden-led Coalition made almost no headway against Curtin, and was severely defeated in the 1943 election. After that loss, Fadden became deputy Leader of the Opposition under Menzies, a role that continued after Menzies folded the UAP into the Liberal Party of Australia in 1944. Fadden remained a loyal partner of Menzies, though he was still keen to assert the independence of his party. Indeed, in the lead up to the 1949 federal election, Fadden played a key role in the defeat of the Chifley Labor government, frequently making inflammatory claims about the "socialist" nature of the Labor Party, which Menzies could then "clarify" or repudiate as he saw fit, thus appearing more "moderate". In 1949, Fadden became Treasurer in the second Menzies government and remained so until his retirement in 1958. His successful partnership with Menzies was one of the elements that sustained the coalition, which remained in office until 1972 (Menzies himself retired in 1966). [7]

John McEwen House, The National Party's headquarters in Canberra Embassy of Argentina in Canberra.jpg
John McEwen House, The National Party's headquarters in Canberra

Fadden's successor, Trade Minister John McEwen, took the then unusual step of declining to serve as Treasurer, believing he could better ensure that the interests of Australian primary producers were safeguarded. Accordingly, McEwen personally supervised the signing of the first post-war trade treaty with Japan, new trade agreements with New Zealand and Britain, and Australia's first trade agreement with the USSR (1965). In addition to this, he insisted on developing an all-encompassing system of tariff protection that would encourage the development of those secondary industries that would "value add" Australia's primary produce. His success in this endeavour is sometimes dubbed "McEwenism". This was the period of the Country Party's greatest power, as was demonstrated in 1962 when McEwen was able to insist that Menzies sack a Liberal Minister who claimed that Britain's entry into the European Economic Community was unlikely to severely impact on the Australian economy as a whole. [8]

Menzies retired in 1966 and was succeeded by Harold Holt. McEwen thus became the longest-tenured member of the government, with the informal right to veto government policy. The most significant instance in which McEwen exercised this right came when Holt disappeared in December 1967. John Gorton became the new Liberal Prime Minister in January 1968. McEwen was sworn in as interim Prime Minister pending the election of the new Liberal leader. Logically, the Liberals' deputy leader, William McMahon, should have succeeded Holt. However, McMahon was a staunch free-trader, and there were also rumors that he was homosexual. As a result, McEwen told the Liberals that he and his party would not serve under McMahon. McMahon stood down in favour of John Gorton. It was only after McEwen announced his retirement that MacMahon was able to successfully challenge Gorton for the Liberal leadership. McEwen's reputation for political toughness led to him being nicknamed "Black Jack" by his allies and enemies alike. [9]

At the state level, from 1957 to 1989, the Country Party under Frank Nicklin and Joh Bjelke-Petersen dominated governments in Queensland—for the last six of those years ruling in its own right, without the Liberals. It also took part in governments in New South Wales, Victoria, and Western Australia. [10]

However, successive electoral redistributions after 1964 indicated that the Country Party was losing ground electorally to the Liberals as the rural population declined, and the nature of some parliamentary seats on the urban/rural fringe changed. A proposed merger with the Democratic Labor Party (DLP) under the banner of "National Alliance" was rejected when it failed to find favour with voters at the 1974 state election.

Also in 1974, the Northern Territory members of the party joined with its Liberal party members to form the independent Country Liberal Party. This party continues to represent both parent parties in that territory. A separate party, the Joh-inspired NT Nationals, competed in the 1987 election with former Chief Minister Ian Tuxworth winning his seat of Barkly by a small margin. However, this splinter group were not endorsed by the national executive and soon disappeared from the political scene. [11]

National Country Party and National Party

The National Party was confronted by the impact of demographic shifts from the 1970s: between 1971 and 1996, the population of Sydney and surrounds grew by 34%, with even larger growth in coastal New South Wales, while more remote rural areas grew by a mere 13%, further diminishing the National Party's base. [12] On 2 May 1975 at the federal convention in Canberra, the Country Party changed its name to the National Country Party of Australia as part of a strategy to expand into urban areas. [13] [14] This had some success in Queensland under Joh Bjelke-Petersen, but nowhere else. The party briefly walked out of the coalition agreement in Western Australia in May 1975, returning within the month. However, the party split in two over the decision and other factors in late 1978, with a new National Party forming and becoming independent, holding three seats in the Western Australian lower house, while the National Country Party remained in coalition and also held three seats. They reconciled after the Burke Labor government came to power in 1983.

The 1980s were dominated by the feud between Bjelke-Petersen and the federal party leadership. Bjelke-Petersen briefly triumphed in 1987, forcing the Nationals to tear up the Coalition agreement and support his bid to become Prime Minister. The "Joh for Canberra" campaign backfired spectacularly when a large number of three-cornered contests allowed Labor to win a third term under Bob Hawke; however, in 1987 the National Party won a bump in votes and recorded its highest vote in more than four decades, but it also recorded a new low in the proportion of seats won. [15] The collapse of Joh for Canberra also proved to be the Queensland Nationals' last hurrah; Bjelke-Petersen was forced into retirement a few months after the federal election, and his party was heavily defeated in 1989. The federal National Party were badly defeated at the 1990 election, with leader Charles Blunt one of five MPs to lose his seat. [16] [17]

Blunt's successor as leader, Tim Fischer, recovered two seats at the 1993 election, but lost an additional 1.2% of the vote from its 1990 result. In 1996, as the Coalition won a significant victory over the Keating Labor government, the National Party recovered another two seats, and Fischer became Deputy Prime Minister under John Howard. [18]

The Nationals experienced difficulties in the late 1990s from two fronts – firstly from the Liberal Party, who were winning seats on the basis that the Nationals were not seen to be a sufficiently separate party, and from the One Nation Party riding a swell of rural discontent with many of the policies such as multiculturalism and gun control embraced by all of the major parties. The rise of Labor in formerly safe National-held areas in rural Queensland, particularly on the coast, has been the biggest threat to the Queensland Nationals.

At the 1998 Federal election, the National Party recorded only 5.3% of the vote in the House of Representatives, its lowest ever, and won only 16 seats, at 10.8% its second lowest proportion of seats. [12]

The National Party under Fischer and his successor, John Anderson, rarely engaged in public disagreements with the Liberal Party, which weakened the party's ability to present a separate image to rural and regional Australia. In 2001 the National Party recorded its second-worst result at 5.6% winning 13 seats, and its third lowest at 5.9% at the 2004 election, winning only 12 seats. [12]

Australian psephologist Antony Green argues that two important trends have driven the National Party's decline at a federal level: "the importance of the rural sector to the health of the nation's economy" and "the growing chasm between the values and attitudes of rural and urban Australia". Green has suggested that the result has been that "Both have resulted in rural and regional voters demanding more of the National Party, at exactly the time when its political influence has declined. While the National Party has never been the sole representative of rural Australia, it is the only party that has attempted to paint itself as representing rural voters above all else", [12]

In June 2005 party leader John Anderson announced that he would resign from the ministry and as Leader of the Nationals due to a benign prostate condition, he was succeeded by Mark Vaile. At the following election the Nationals vote declined further, with the party winning a mere 5.4% of the vote and securing only 10 seats. [19]

In 2010, under the leadership of Warren Truss the party received its lowest vote to date, at only 3.4%, however they secured a slight increase in seats from 10 to 12. At the following election in 2010 the national Party's fortunes improved slightly with a vote of 4.2% and an increase in seats from 12 to 15. [19]

At the 2016 Double dissolution election, under the Leadership of Barnaby Joyce the party secured 4.6% of the vote and 16 seats. In 2018, reports emerged that the National Party leader and Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce was expecting a child with his former communications staffer Vikki Campion. Joyce resigned after revelations that he had been engaged in an extramarital affair. Later in the same year it was revealed that the NSW National party and its youth wing, the Young Nationals had been infiltrated by neo-Nazis with more than 30 members being investigated for alleged links to neo-Nazism. Leader McCormack denounced the infiltration, and several suspected neo-Nazis were expelled from the party and its youth wing. [19] [20] [21]

At the 2019 Australian federal election, despite severe drought, perceived inaction over the plight of the Murray-Darling Basin, a poor performance in the New South Wales state election and sex scandals surrounding the member for Mallee, Andrew Broad and party leader Barnaby Joyce, the National Party saw only a small decline in vote, down 0.10% to attain 4.51% of the primary vote. [22]

State and territory parties

The official state and territorial party organisations (or equivalents) of the National Party are: [23]

The National Party does not have a branch in the Australian Capital Territory.

New South Wales


Queensland is the only state in which the Nationals have consistently been the stronger coalition partner. The Nationals were the senior partner in the non-Labor Coalition from the 1950s until the Coalition was broken up in 1983 and at the following state election the Nationals (under Joh Bjelke-Petersen) came up one seat short of a majority at the election, but gained one a few weeks later after Don Lane and Brian Austin crossed the floor to join the Nationals. The Nationals subsequently governed in their own right until 1989.

The Queensland branch of the Country Party was the first to change its name to the National Party in April 1974. [24]

The continued success of the Australian Labor Party at a state level has put pressure on the Nationals' links with the Liberal Party, their traditional coalition partner. In most states, the Coalition agreement is not in force when the parties are in opposition, allowing the two parties greater freedom of action.

In Queensland the National Party merged with the Liberal Party to form the Liberal National Party (LNP) in 2008. The LNP led by Lawrence Springborg went on to lose the March 2009 election to Anna Bligh's Australian Labor Party. However, in the 2012 state election, the LNP defeated the Labor Party in a landslide, but lost government in the 2015 landslide to Labor, also losing in 2018.

South Australia

In South Australia, for the first time in the Nationals' history, in 2002 the single Nationals member in the House of Assembly entered the Rann Labor Government as a Minister forming an informal coalition between the two parties. Since the 2010 South Australian State election, the Nationals in South Australia have no representative in either the House of Assembly or the Upper House or at a Federal level. There existed a distinctly different Country Party in South Australia which merged with the Liberal Federation to become the Liberal and Country League in 1932.


The Nationals have had a very intermittent history of organising in Tasmania compared to the main states with limited electoral success. The most recent attempt began in 2013 but disagreements between the state and federal parties led to the latter cutting ties [25] and the state party renamed itself the Tasmania Party [26] before disappearing off the scene. [27] In May 2018 federal senator Steve Martin joined the party and declared he would seek to relaunch it in the state. [28] The Nationals contested Tasmanian seats (both houses) in the 2019 Australian federal election.


The Nationals were stung in early 2006, when their only Victorian senator, Julian McGauran, defected to the Liberals and created a serious rift between the Nationals and the Liberals. [29] Several commentators believed that changing demographics and unfavourable preference deals would demolish the Nationals at the state election that year, but they went on to enjoy considerable success by winning two extra lower house seats. The Nationals were in a coalition government with the Liberals at a State level in Victoria until their defeat at the 2014 election. Following the election, the ABC reported that the coalition parties would "review" whether to continue their joint working arrangement into opposition. [30] However, both outgoing Nationals leader Peter Ryan and incoming Liberal leader Matthew Guy indicated they felt the coalition should continue. [31] [32]

Western Australia

Western Australia's National Party chose to assert its independence after an acrimonious co-habitation with the Liberals on the 2005 campaign trail. Unlike its New South Wales and Queensland counterparts, the WA party had decided to oppose Liberal candidates in the 2008 election. The party aimed to hold the balance of power in the state "as an independent conservative party" ready to negotiate with the Liberals or Labor to form a minority government. After the election, the Nationals negotiated an agreement to form a government with the Liberals and an independent MP, though not described as a "traditional coalition" due to the reduced cabinet collective responsibility of National cabinet members. [33]

Western Australia's one-vote-one-value reforms will cut the number of rural seats in the state assembly to reflect the rural population level: this, coupled with the Liberals' strength in country areas has put the Nationals under significant pressure.

Australian Capital Territory

The Nationals have rarely organised or stood in the Australian Capital Territory. Federally their only candidatures were in the 1974 election when they contested both constituencies and secured 3.5% of the territory vote. [34] In the first election to the Legislative Assembly in 1989 David Adams, a former Liberal member of the old House of Assembly, headed a list of three candidates for the Nationals. [35] They received 1947 votes (1.37%) and did not get any members elected. [36] The party has not stood in the territory since.

Northern Territory

Political role

The Nationals see their main role as giving a voice to Australians who live outside the country's metropolitan areas.

Traditionally, the leader of the National Party serves as Deputy Prime Minister when the Coalition is in government. This tradition dates back to the creation of the office in 1968.

The National Party's support base and membership are closely associated with the agricultural community. Historically anti-union, the party has vacillated between state support for primary industries ("agrarian socialism") and free agricultural trade and has opposed tariff protection for Australia's manufacturing and service industries. This vacillation prompted those opposed to the policies of the Nationals to joke that its real aim was to "capitalise its gains and socialise its losses!". It is usually pro-mining, pro-development, and anti-environmentalist.

"Countrymindedness" was a slogan that summed up the ideology of the Country Party from 1920 through the early 1970s. [37] It was an ideology that was physiocratic, populist, and decentralist; it fostered rural solidarity and justified demands for government subsidies. "Countrymindedness" grew out of the failure of the country areas to participate in the rapid economic and population expansions that occurred after 1890. The growth of the ideology into urban areas came as most country people migrated to jobs in the cities. Its decline was due mainly to the reduction of real and psychological differences between country and city brought about by the postwar expansion of the Australian urban population and to the increased affluence and technological changes that accompanied it. [38] [39]

The Nationals vote is in decline and its traditional supporters are turning instead to prominent independents such as Bob Katter, Tony Windsor and Peter Andren in Federal Parliament and similar independents in the Parliaments of New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria, many of whom are former members of the National Party. In fact since the 2004 Federal election, National Party candidates received fewer first preference votes than the Australian Greens.

Demographic changes are not helping, with fewer people living and employed on the land or in small towns, the continued growth of the larger provincial centres, and, in some cases, the arrival of left-leaning "city refugees" in rural areas. The Liberals have also gained support as the differences between the coalition partners on a federal level have become invisible. This was highlighted in January 2006, when Nationals Senator Julian McGauran defected to the Liberals, saying that there was "no longer any real distinguishing policy or philosophical difference". [40]

State Lower House Seats

(Single Lib-Nat Party represents QLD; graphic represents seats held by a National aligned LNP MP)
NSW Parliament
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VIC Parliament
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QLD Parliament
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WA Parliament
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In Queensland, Nationals leader Lawrence Springborg advocated merger of the National and Liberal parties at a state level in order to present a more effective opposition to the Labor Party. Previously this plan had been dismissed by the Queensland branch of the Liberal party, but the idea received in-principle support from the Liberals. Federal leader Mark Vaile stated the Nationals will not merge with the Liberal Party at a federal level. The plan was opposed by key Queensland Senators Ron Boswell and Barnaby Joyce, and was scuttled in 2006. After suffering defeat in the 2006 Queensland poll, Lawrence Springborg was replaced by Jeff Seeney, who indicated he was not interested in merging with the Liberal Party until the issue is seriously raised at a Federal level.

In September 2008, Joyce replaced CLP Senator and Nationals deputy leader Nigel Scullion as leader of the Nationals in the Senate, and stated that his party in the upper house would no longer necessarily vote with their Liberal counterparts in the upper house, which opened up another possible avenue for the Rudd Labor Government to get legislation through. [41] [42] Joyce was elected leader in a party-room ballot on 11 February 2016, following the retirement of former leader and Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss. [43] [44] [45] [46] Joyce was one of five politicians disqualified from parliament in October 2017 for holding dual citizenship, along with former deputy leader, Fiona Nash.

Liberal/National merger

Merger plans came to a head in May 2008, when the Queensland state Liberal Party gave an announcement not to wait for a federal blueprint but instead to merge immediately. The new party, the Liberal National Party, was founded in July 2008.

Historical electoral results

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Increase2.svg 11Increase2.svg 3rdCrossbench
1922 Earle Page 197,51312.5
14 / 75
Increase2.svg 3Steady2.svg 3rdCoalition
1925 Earle Page 313,36310.7
13 / 75
Decrease2.svg 1Steady2.svg 3rdCoalition
1928 Earle Page 271,68610.4
13 / 75
Steady2.svg 0Steady2.svg 3rdCoalition
1929 Earle Page 295,64010.2
10 / 75
Decrease2.svg 3Steady2.svg 3rdOpposition
1931 Earle Page 388,54412.2
16 / 75
Increase2.svg 6Increase2.svg 2ndCrossbench
1934 Earle Page 447,96812.6
14 / 74
Decrease2.svg 2Decrease2.svg 3rdCoalition
1937 Earle Page 560,27915.5
16 / 74
Increase2.svg 2Steady2.svg 3rdCoalition
1940 Archie Cameron 531,39713.7
13 / 74
Decrease2.svg 3Steady2.svg 3rdCoalition
1943 Arthur Fadden 287,0006.9
7 / 74
Decrease2.svg 6Steady2.svg 3rdOpposition
1946 Arthur Fadden 464,73710.7
11 / 76
Increase2.svg 4Steady2.svg 3rdOpposition
1949 Arthur Fadden 500,34910.8
19 / 121
Increase2.svg 8Steady2.svg 3rdCoalition
1951 Arthur Fadden 443,7139.7
17 / 121
Decrease2.svg 2Steady2.svg 3rdCoalition
1954 Arthur Fadden 388,1718.5
17 / 121
Steady2.svg 0Steady2.svg 3rdCoalition
1955 Arthur Fadden 347,4457.9
18 / 122
Increase2.svg 1Steady2.svg 3rdCoalition
1958 John McEwen 465,3209.3
19 / 122
Increase2.svg 1Steady2.svg 3rdCoalition
1961 John McEwen 446,4758.5
17 / 122
Decrease2.svg 2Steady2.svg 3rdCoalition
1963 John McEwen 489,4988.9
20 / 122
Increase2.svg 3Steady2.svg 3rdCoalition
1966 John McEwen 561,9269.8
21 / 124
Increase2.svg 1Steady2.svg 3rdCoalition
1969 John McEwen 523,2328.5
20 / 125
Decrease2.svg 1Steady2.svg 3rdCoalition
1972 Doug Anthony 622,8269.4
20 / 125
Steady2.svg 0Steady2.svg 3rdOpposition
1974 Doug Anthony 736,2529.9
21 / 127
Increase2.svg 1Steady2.svg 3rdOpposition
1975 Doug Anthony 869,91911.2
23 / 127
Increase2.svg 2Steady2.svg 3rdCoalition
1977 Doug Anthony 793,44410.0
19 / 124
Decrease2.svg 4Steady2.svg 3rdCoalition
1980 Doug Anthony 745,0378.9
20 / 125
Increase2.svg 1Steady2.svg 3rdCoalition
1983 Doug Anthony 799,6099.2
17 / 125
Decrease2.svg 3Steady2.svg 3rdOpposition
1984 Ian Sinclair 921,15110.6
21 / 148
Increase2.svg 4Steady2.svg 3rdOpposition
1987 Ian Sinclair 1,060,97611.5
19 / 148
Decrease2.svg 2Steady2.svg 3rdOpposition
1990 Charles Blunt 833,5578.4
14 / 148
Decrease2.svg 5Steady2.svg 3rdOpposition
1993 Tim Fischer 758,0367.1
16 / 147
Increase2.svg 2Steady2.svg 3rdOpposition
1996 Tim Fischer 893,1707.1
18 / 148
Increase2.svg 2Steady2.svg 3rdCoalition
1998 Tim Fischer 588,0885.2
16 / 148
Decrease2.svg 3Steady2.svg 3rdCoalition
2001 John Anderson 643,9265.6
13 / 150
Decrease2.svg 3Steady2.svg 3rdCoalition
2004 John Anderson 690,2755.8
12 / 150
Decrease2.svg 1Steady2.svg 3rdCoalition
2007 Mark Vaile 682,4245.4
10 / 150
Decrease2.svg 2Steady2.svg 3rdOpposition
2010 Warren Truss 419,2863.4
12 / 150
[Note 3]
Increase2.svg 2Steady2.svg 3rdOpposition
2013 Warren Truss 554,2684.2
15 / 150
[Note 1]
Increase2.svg 3Steady2.svg 3rdCoalition
2016 Barnaby Joyce 624,5554.6
16 / 150
[Note 1]
Increase2.svg 1Steady2.svg 3rdCoalition
2019 Michael McCormack 642,2334.5
16 / 150
[Note 1]
Steady2.svg 0Steady2.svg 3rdCoalition
  1. 1 2 3 4 Including the 5 LNP MPs who sit in the National party room.
  2. Including the 2 LNP Senators and 1 CLP Senator who sit in the National party room
  3. Including the 5 LNP MPs who sit in the National party room


List of leaders

#LeaderTerm startTerm endTime in officeNotes
1 WMcWilliams.JPG William McWilliams 24 February 19205 April 19211 year, 40 days
2 Earle Page.jpg Earle Page 5 April 192113 September 193918 years, 161 daysPrime Minister: 1939
Deputy PM: 1923–29, 1934–39
3 Archie Cameron 1940.jpg Archie Cameron 13 September 1939 16 October 19401 year, 33 daysDeputy PM: 1940
4 Arthur Fadden.jpg Arthur Fadden 16 October 1940
acting until
12 March 1941
12 March 195817 years, 147 daysPrime Minister: 1941
Deputy PM: 1940–41, 1949–58
5 Sir John McEwen.jpg John McEwen 26 March 19581 February 197112 years, 312 daysPrime Minister: 1967–68
Deputy PM: 1958–67, 1968–71
6 Doug Anthony.jpg Doug Anthony 2 February 197117 January 198412 years, 349 daysDeputy PM: 1971–72, 1975–83
7 Ian Sinclair.jpg Ian Sinclair 17 January 19849 May 19894 years, 113 days
8 Charles Blunt 9 May 19896 April 1990332 days
9 Tim Fischer.jpg Tim Fischer 19 April 19901 July 19999 years, 73 daysDeputy PM: 1996–99
10 John Anderson 2001 (cropped).jpg John Anderson 1 July 199923 June 20055 years, 357 daysDeputy PM: 1999–2005
11 Mark Vaile (TM).jpg Mark Vaile 23 June 20053 December 20072 years, 163 daysDeputy PM: 2005–07
12 Warren Truss Portrait 2010.jpg Warren Truss 7 December 200711 February 20168 years, 66 daysDeputy PM: 2013–16
13 Barnaby Joyce Portrait 2010.jpg Barnaby Joyce 11 February 2016 26 February 2018 2 years, 14 daysDeputy PM: 2016–2018
14 Michael McCormack Portrait 2010.jpg Michael McCormack 26 February 2018 2 years, 153 daysDeputy PM: 2018–

List of deputy leaders

OrderNameTerm startTerm endTime in officeLeader
1 Edmund Jowett 24 February 19205 April 19211 year, 40 days McWilliams
2 Henry Gregory 5 April 19212 December 1921241 days Page
vacant23 February 192227 June 1922
3 William Fleming 27 June 192216 January 1923203 days
4 William Gibson 16 January 192319 November 19296 years, 307 days
5 Thomas Paterson 19 November 192927 November 19378 years, 8 days
6 Harold Thorby 2 years, 262 days
27 November 193715 October 1940 Cameron
7 Arthur Fadden 15 October 194012 March 1941148 daysvacant
vacant12 March 194122 September 1943 Fadden
8 John McEwen 22 September 194326 March 195814 years, 185 days
9 Charles Davidson 26 March 195811 December 19635 years, 260 days McEwen
10 Charles Adermann 11 December 19638 December 19662 years, 362 days
11 Doug Anthony 8 December 19662 February 19714 years, 56 days
12 Ian Sinclair 2 February 197117 January 198412 years, 349 days Anthony
13 Ralph Hunt 17 January 198424 July 19873 years, 188 days Sinclair
14 Bruce Lloyd 5 years, 242 days
24 July 198723 March 1993 Blunt
15 John Anderson 23 March 19931 July 19996 years, 100 days
16 Mark Vaile 1 July 199923 June 20055 years, 357 days Anderson
17 Warren Truss 23 June 20053 December 20072 years, 163 days Vaile
18 Nigel Scullion 3 December 200713 September 20135 years, 284 days Truss
19 Barnaby Joyce 13 September 201311 February 20162 years, 151 days
20 Fiona Nash 11 February 20167 December 20171 year, 299 days Joyce
21 Bridget McKenzie 7 December 20172 February 2020
2 years, 57 days McCormack
22 David Littleproud 4 February 2020Incumbent174 days

List of Senate leaders

The Country Party's first senators began their terms in 1926, but the party had no official leader in the upper chamber until 1935. Instead, the party nominated a "representative" or "liaison officer" where necessary – usually William Carroll. This was so that its members "were first and foremost representatives of their states, able to enjoy complete freedom of action and speech in the Senate and not beholden to the dictates of [...] a party Senate leader". On 3 October 1935, Charles Hardy was elected as Carroll's replacement and began using the title "Leader of the Country Party in the Senate". This usage was disputed by Carroll and Bertie Johnston, but a subsequent party meeting on 10 October confirmed Hardy's position. [47] However, after Hardy's term ended in 1938 (due to his defeat at the 1937 election), the party did not elect another Senate leader until 1949 – apparently due to its small number of senators. [48]

#NameTerm startTerm endTime in officeDeputy
1 Charles Hardy 10 October 193530 June 19382 years, 263 days
vacant30 June 19381949
2 Walter Cooper 19491960
3 Harrie Wade 19611964
4 Colin McKellar 19641969
5 Tom Drake-Brockman 19691975
6 James Webster 19761980
7 Douglas Scott February 198030 June 1985
8 Stan Collard 1 July 19855 June 19871 year, 339 days
9 John Stone 21 August 19871 March 19902 years, 192 days
10 Ron Boswell 10 April 19903 December 200717 years, 237 days Sandy Macdonald
11 Nigel Scullion 3 December 200717 September 2008289 daysRon Boswell
12 Barnaby Joyce 17 September 20088 August 20134 years, 325 days Fiona Nash
(11) Nigel Scullion 8 August 201328 May 20195 years, 293 days
13 Bridget McKenzie 28 May 2019incumbent1 year, 60 days Matt Canavan

Current state and territory leaders

State/TerritoryBranchLeaderTerm beganTime in officeNotes
NSW NSW Nationals John Barilaro November 20163 years, 255 daysAlso Deputy Premier of New South Wales
VIC The Nationals Victoria Peter Walsh December 20145 years, 239 daysLeader
QLD Liberal National Party of Queensland [n 1] Deb Frecklington December 20172 years, 228 daysLeader
WA The Nationals WA Mia Davies March 20173 years, 128 daysLeader
NT Country Liberal Party [n 2] Gary Higgins September 20163 years, 329 daysLeader
  1. The Liberal National Party of Queensland (LNP) is the result of merger of the Queensland Division of the Liberal Party and the Queensland branch of the National Party to contest elections as a single party
  2. In the Northern Territory, the Country Liberal Party endorses National candidates for the Senate and Liberal candidates for the House of Representatives.

As of November 2019, the party does not have federal or state representation in Tasmania or South Australia, though the Tasmanian and South Australian branches last contested in the 2019 Australian federal election. The National Party does not have a branch in the Australian Capital Territory.

Past Premiers


For the 2015-2016 financial year, the top ten disclosed donors to the National Party were: Manildra Group ($182,000), Ognis Pty Ltd ($100,000), Trepang Services ($70,000), Northwake Pty Ltd ($65,000), Hancock Prospecting ($58,000), Bindaree Beef ($50,000), Mowburn Nominees ($50,000), Retail Guild of Australia ($48,000), CropLife International ($43,000) and Macquarie Group ($38,000). [49] [50]

The National Party also receives undisclosed funding through several methods, such as "associated entities". John McEwen House, Pilliwinks and Doogary are entities which have been used to funnel donations to the National Party without disclosing the source. [51] [52] [53] [54]

See also

Further reading


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