Liberal Party of Australia (New South Wales Division)

The Liberal Party of Australia (New South Wales Division), commonly known as the New South Wales Liberals, is the state division of the Liberal Party of Australia in New South Wales. The party currently governs in New South Wales in coalition with the National Party of Australia (NSW). The party is part of the federal Liberal Party which governs nationally in Coalition with the National Party of Australia.

Liberal Party of Australia (NSW Division)
LeaderGladys Berejiklian
PresidentPhilip Ruddock
Founded4 January 1945
HeadquartersEast Sydney
Liberal conservatism
Classical Liberalism
Social Liberalism
Political positionCentre-right
National affiliationLiberal Party of Australia
Legislative Assembly
35 / 93
Legislative Council
11 / 42
NSW Seats in the House of Representatives
16 / 46
NSW Seats in the Senate
5 / 12
NSW Local Councillors
184 / 1,480

Following the Liberal Party's formation in October 1944, the NSW division of the Liberal Party was formed in January 1945. For the following months, the Democratic Party and Liberal Democratic Party joined the Liberal Party and were replaced by the new party's NSW division.

In the 66 years since its foundation the party has won seven state elections to the Labor Party's 13, and has spent 20 years in office (1965 to 1976, 1988 to 1995 and 2011 to the present) to Labor's 46. Eight leaders have become Premier of New South Wales; of those, five, Sir Robert Askin, Nick Greiner, Barry O'Farrell, Mike Baird and Gladys Berejiklian, have won at least one state election.



After the 1943 federal election, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), New South Wales United Australia Party (UAP) and Commonwealth Party began discussions on a merger to form a new party, proposed to be also named Liberal Democratic Party. The LDP (led by Ernest White) and Commonwealth Party were new parties formed a few months prior in April and May 1943 respectively. By November 1943, discussions were almost completed and unity was likely.[1] The County Party refused to join in the merger but expressed they would co-operate with the new party.[2] However, during the unity conference on 24 November 1943, the LDP walked out of the conference as they were not willing to support retaining the secretary of the UAP, H. W. Horsfield, as the secretary of the new party, as well as retaining members of his staff.[3][4] Instead, during the same conference, the Commonwealth Party and the New South Wales UAP proceeded to merge without the LDP to form the Democratic Party.[5] As such, LDP remained a separate party to the Democratic Party.

The initial leader of the Democratic Party was the former premier Alexander Mair,[6] but he resigned on 2 February 1944 and was replaced by Reginald Weaver on 10 February.[7][4]

In the lead up to the 1944 state election in May, the LDP party generated publicity disproportionate to its size and the Sydney Morning Herald commented that the Liberal Democratic Party was "a mouse" attempting to "swallow the Democratic Party lion".[8] At the election, the Democratic Party led by Weaver won 19% of the vote and 12 of the 90 seats in the Legislative Assembly. However, the LDP received less than 4% of the primary vote and did not win a seat.

Horsfield, the secretary of the Democratic Party, resigned on 26 July 1944, paving the way for a LDP-Democratic merger again.[4] In August 1944, the LDP, still led by Ernest White, initially agreed to merge with the Democratic Party and the new party to be known as the United Democratic Party.[9] However, two days after federal UAP leader Robert Menzies announced that he was planning to set up a new "political movement with a Liberal policy" at an October conference, negotiations between LDP and Democratic Party broke down and the party merger did not take place.[4]

Founding of Liberal Party

In October 1944, Menzies founded the Liberal Party of Australia during a conference in Canberra as announced in August, attended by LDP and Democratic Party delegates.[10] The New South Wales division of the Liberal Party was formed on 4 January 1945 with a provisional executive appointed, consisting of 20 LDP and Democratic Party members including White, Weaver and Bill Spooner.[11] Spooner, who was nominated by the LDP, was appointed as the first chairman on 9 January.[12]

The LDP was willing to support the formation of the Liberal Party and dissolved itself on 15 January 1945, officially joining the Liberal Party.[13] The Democratic Party also supported the formation but held off dissolution until a state branch of the Liberal Party had been fully constituted.[14] Weaver and parliamentary members of the Democratic Party were dissatisfied with the Liberal Party executive's attitude towards Democratic Party members and supporters, with Weaver tendering his resignation from the provisional council of the state Liberal Party in February 1945.[15] However, he withdrew his resignation in March 1945, and announced that all Democratic Party parliamentary members would join the Liberal Party.[16]

In the 1945 Ryde state by-election in February, Liberal member Eric Hearnshaw was elected to the New South Wales parliament. As Democratic Party parliamentary members including Weaver at that time had not yet joined the Liberal Party, this made Hearnshaw the first Liberal Party member in the New South Wales parliament.[17] Weaver and other Democratic parliamentary members finally joined the Liberal Party on 20 April 1945, with Weaver becoming the first parliamentary leader of the NSW Liberal Party.[18] On the same day, Albert Reid, independent member for Manly and a former UAP member, also joined the Liberal Party. This brought the total number of Liberal Party legislative assembly members to 14.[19]

Weaver died later in the year in November and he was succeeded by Mair as NSW Liberal Party leader. Mair resigned four months later in March 1946 to contest the Australian Senate, and was succeeded by Vernon Treatt as party leader. Treatt led the Liberal Party opposition in the state parliament for the next eight years.

2011 state election

The Liberal/National coalition won a landslide victory in the 2011 state election, with the Liberal Party winning 51 of the 93 lower house seats, enough for a majority in its own right. Liberal leader Barry O'Farrell opted to retain the coalition. Ever since, the coalition has governed New South Wales under Liberal leaders Mike Baird and Gladys Berejiklian, winning the 2015 state election and 2019 state election respectively. The 2019 election was significant as it was the first time that the coalition won a third consecutive term in office in New South Wales since the 1971 state election. It was also the first time that a female leader (Berejiklian) led a party to a state election victory in New South Wales, and the first time a non-Labor female leader won a state election in Australia.

Parliamentary party leaders

Leader of the Liberal Party
The Hon. Gladys Berejiklian MP

since 23 January 2017
Inaugural holderReginald Weaver
Formation20 April 1945
DeputyThe Hon. Dominic Perrottet MP

The position of leader of the Liberal Party of Australia New South Wales Division is a formal role held by a Liberal member of the Parliament of New South Wales. As the Liberal Party has, since its foundation in 1945, been either the largest or second largest party in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly, its leader is usually either the Premier or the Leader of the Opposition, depending on the majority or minority respectively of the party. The current leader of the Liberal Party is Gladys Berejiklian, and the deputy leader is Dominic Perrottet. Both have served in those roles since 23 January 2017. Berejiklian is currently Premier of New South Wales, a post she has held since 23 January 2017.

The role is selected by state members of the parliamentary party, but the position is non-fixed in duration, and is usually only vacated upon resignation, retirement from politics, or a spill motion with the support of the majority of the parliamentary members.

The leader only has a role in a parliamentary context; the party division as a whole is governed by a President and Vice-Presidents, who act on the advice of the party division's Director and Deputy Directors. The division also gathers annually at a State Conference to vote on and develop policy to be used by the party's elected representatives. The majority of the twenty Liberal Leaders resigned after losing elections or were deposed by other parliamentary members.

#Party leader[20][21]Assumed office[22]Left office[22]PremierReason for departureTime in office
1Reginald Weaver20 April 194512 November 1945Death in office206 days
2Alexander Mair13 November 194520 March 19461939–1941Resignation; Premier under UAP127 days
3Sir Vernon Treatt20 March 194610 August 1954Resignation8 years, 143 days
4Murray Robson17 August 195420 September 1955Deposed1 year, 34 days
5Pat Morton20 September 195517 July 1959Deposed3 years, 300 days
6Sir Robert Askin17 July 19593 January 19751965–1975Retirement15 years, 170 days
7Tom Lewis3 January 197523 January 19761975–1976Deposed1 year, 20 days
8Sir Eric Willis23 January 197616 December 19771976Resignation1 year, 327 days
9Peter Coleman16 December 19777 October 1978Loss of seat at 1978 election295 days
10John Mason24 October 197829 May 1981Deposed2 years, 217 days
11Bruce McDonald1 June 198112 October 1981Loss of seat at 1981 election133 days
12John Dowd20 October 198115 March 1983Resignation1 year, 146 days
13Nick Greiner15 March 198324 June 19921988–1992Resignation prior to no confidence motion9 years, 101 days
14John Fahey24 June 19924 April 19951992–1995Resignation following 1995 election2 years, 284 days
15Peter Collins4 April 19957 December 1998Deposed3 years, 247 days
16Kerry Chikarovski7 December 199828 March 2002Deposed3 years, 111 days
17John Brogden28 March 200229 August 2005Resignation3 years, 154 days
18Peter Debnam1 September 20054 April 2007Resignation following 2007 election1 year, 218 days
19Barry O'Farrell4 April 200716 April 20142011–2014Resignation7 years, 9 days
20Mike Baird17 April 201423 January 20172014–2017Resignation2 years, 282 days
21Gladys Berejiklian23 January 2017present2017–present2 years, 325 days

Deputy leaders

Party LeaderStart of TermEnd of Term
Athol Richardson19451945
Vernon Treatt19461946
Walter Howarth19461954
Robert Askin19541959
Eric Willis19591975
John Maddison19751977
John Mason19771978
Bruce McDonald19781981
Jim Cameron19811981
Kevin Rozzoli19811983
Rosemary Foot19831986
Peter Collins19861992
Bruce Baird19921994
Kerry Chikarovski19941995
Ron Phillips19951999
Barry O'Farrell19992002
Chris Hartcher20022003
Barry O'Farrell20032007
Jillian Skinner20072014
Gladys Berejiklian20142017
Dominic Perrottet2017present

Election results

Election Seats won ± Total votes % Position Leader
18 / 90
6 470,485 29.60% Opposition Vernon Treatt
29 / 94
11 604,428 37.51% Opposition Vernon Treatt
22 / 94
9 432,739 27.94% Opposition Vernon Treatt
27 / 94
5 594,740 35.11% Opposition Pat Morton
28 / 94
1 603,718 35.35% Opposition Pat Morton
25 / 94
3 671,716 34.85% Opposition Bob Askin
31 / 94
6 807,868 39.59% Minority Coalition Bob Askin
39 / 94
4 831,514 38.47% Coalition Bob Askin
32 / 96
7 799,801 35.74% Coalition Bob Askin
34 / 99
2 843,325 33.85% Coalition Bob Askin
30 / 99
4 978,886 36.29% Opposition Eric Willis
18 / 99
12 754,796 26.98 Opposition Peter Coleman
14 / 99
4 775,463 27.62% Opposition Bruce McDonald
22 / 99
8 967,395 32.17% Opposition Nick Greiner
39 / 109
17 1,147,613 35.80% Coalition Nick Greiner
32 / 99
7 1,053,100 34.16% Minority Coalition Nick Greiner
29 / 99
3 1,121,190 32.84% Opposition John Fahey
20 / 93
9 927,368 24.82% Opposition Kerry Chikarovski
20 / 93
0 944,888 24.72% Opposition John Brogden
22 / 93
2 1,061,269 26.94% Opposition Peter Debnam
51 / 93
29 1,602,457 38.58% Coalition Barry O'Farrell
37 / 93
14 1,545,168 35.08% Coalition Mike Baird
35 / 93
2 1,307,982 32.15% Coalition Gladys Berejiklian

See also


  1. "U.A.P. Dissolved - New Body In N.S.W." The West Australian. 9 November 1943. Retrieved 29 November 2019.
  2. "Agreement Reached by 3 Non-Labor Parties - C.P. Gives Support, Preserves Identity". The Daily Telegraph. 5 November 1943. Retrieved 29 November 2019.
  3. "L.D. Delegates Walked Out". The Herald. 24 November 1943. Retrieved 29 November 2019.
  4. "Labor Haters Won't Talk "Unity" With Menzies At Helm". Worker. 4 September 1944. Retrieved 2 December 2019.
  5. ""Democratic Party" Formed". Sydney Morning Herald. 25 November 1943. Retrieved 29 November 2019.
  6. "Democratic Party". The Mercury. 10 December 1943. Retrieved 29 November 2019.
  7. "Mr Mair resigns". Sydney Morning Herald 10 February 1944 p4. Australian National Library. Retrieved 11 January 2009.
  8. "Election prospects: Discord in opposition". Sydney Morning Herald 24 May 1944 p2. Australian National Library. Retrieved 11 January 2009.
  9. "Parties will unite". Sydney Morning Herald 26 August 1944 p4. Australian National Library. Retrieved 11 January 2009.
  10. "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.
  11. "Executives Elected By Liberals". The Daily Telegraph. 5 January 1945. Retrieved 2 December 2019.
  12. "Mr. W. H. Spooner Elected Chairman Liberal Party". The Dubbo Liberal and Macquarie Advocate. 9 January 1945. Retrieved 2 December 2019.
  13. "Liberal Democratic Party dissolved". Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate. 16 January 1945. Retrieved 2 December 2019.
  14. "Democratic Party". Barrier Miner. 16 January 1945. Retrieved 2 December 2019.
  15. "Why Mr. Weaver Resigned". Sydney Morning Herald. 7 March 1945. Retrieved 2 December 2019.
  16. "Mr. Weaver to Remain in Liberal Party". Sydney Morning Herald. 6 March 1945. Retrieved 2 December 2019.
  17. "The first Liberal for 30 years". The Sun. 11 February 1945. Retrieved 2 December 2019.
  18. "Liberal Party - Parliamentary Section Formed". National Advocate. 21 April 1945. Retrieved 2 December 2019.
  19. "Change of Name for Parlt. Party". The Daily Telegraph. 21 April 1945. Retrieved 2 December 2019.
  20. "Leaders of the NSW Liberal Party". Parliament of New South Wales. Archived from the original on 2 December 2019. Retrieved 2 December 2019.
  21. Liberal Party of Australia (New South Wales Division) (2009). "Leaders of the Liberal Party – Past and Present". Archived from the original on 20 July 2008. Retrieved 29 October 2009.
  22. Parliament of New South Wales. "Former Members Index A-Z". Retrieved 20 September 2019.
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