Liberal Party of Australia (South Australian Division)

The Liberal Party of Australia (South Australian Division), commonly known as the South Australian Liberals, is the South Australian Division of the Liberal Party of Australia, formed in 1974, succeeding the Liberal and Country League (LCL). It is one of two major parties in the bicameral Parliament of South Australia, the other being the Australian Labor Party (SA Branch). The party has been led by Premier of South Australia Steven Marshall since the 2018 state election; their first win in twenty years.

Liberal Party of Australia
(South Australian Division)
LeaderSteven Marshall
Deputy LeaderVickie Chapman
PresidentJohn Olsen[1]
Preceded byLiberal and Country League
Headquarters104 Greenhill Road, Unley
Youth wingSouth Australian Young Liberal Movement
National affiliationLiberal Party of Australia
South Australian House of Assembly
25 / 47
South Australian Legislative Council
9 / 22
Australian House of Representatives
(SA seats)
4 / 11
Australian Senate
(SA seats)
4 / 12
Parliamentary Party Leader
Premier of South Australia
Steven Marshall

since 19 March 2018
Inaugural holderBruce Eastick

The party has won only 4 of the 13 state elections since their formation: 1979, 1993, 1997 and 2018. The 1970 election marked the beginning of democratic proportional representation (one vote, one value), which ended decades of pro-rural electoral malapportionment known as the Playmander.


The Liberal Party of Australia (South Australian Division) was formed in 1974 as a reorganisation and rebranding of the Liberal and Country League (LCL). Bruce Eastick, the last leader of the LCL, became the first leader of the new party.

The LCL was preceded by the Liberal Federation (1923–1932) and the Liberal Union (1910–1923) with the latter created from a tri-merger between the Liberal and Democratic Union (formed 1906), the Farmers and Producers Political Union (formed 1904) and the National Defence League (formed 1891). In the LCL's 42-year existence, it spent a cumulative total of 34 years in government, mostly led by Thomas Playford IV. Playford's long rule was largely due to a pro-rural electoral malapportionment known as the Playmander, introduced by the LCL government in 1936. Under the Playmander, a vote in a low-population rural seat had anywhere from double to ten times the value of a vote in a high-population metropolitan seat, allowing the LCL to win sufficient parliamentary seats even when it lost the two-party vote by comprehensive margins at several elections: 1944, 1953, 1962 and 1968.

Playford had become synonymous with the LCL over his record 27-year tenure as Premier of South Australia. However, the first sign of trouble came at the 1962 election, with the refounding of a separate Country Party. Labor finally beat the Playmander against the odds at the 1965 election. Playford retired from politics shortly afterward. The LCL became moribund and divided, a trend that accelerated after the LCL briefly won back government at the 1968 election. The LCL lost the 1970 election, marking an end to the Playmander and the beginning of democratic proportional representation (one vote, one value) electoral systems in South Australia. Since then, Labor have won 11 of the 15 elections.

The divisions in the once-dominant party culminated when much of its socially progressive, or "small-l liberal" wing broke away to form the Liberal Movement under the leadership of former LCL leader and Premier Steele Hall in 1972. The reorganisation and rebranding of the LCL came two years later, while the New Liberal Movement merged with the Australia Party in 1977 to become the Australian Democrats.

To this day, ongoing division has continued based on both ideologies and personalities, with sides forming between the moderate Chapman and conservative Evans family dynasties, complicated further by the moderate Brown and conservative Olsen rifts.[2][3][4][5][6]


Five of the ten parliamentary Liberal leaders have served as Premier of South Australia: David Tonkin (1979–1982), Dean Brown (1993–1996), John Olsen (1996–2001), Rob Kerin (2001–2002), and Steven Marshall (2018–present).

Deputy Premiers

Six parliamentary Liberal deputy leaders have served as Deputy Premier of South Australia: Roger Goldsworthy (1979–1982), Stephen Baker (1993–1996), Graham Ingerson (1996–1998), Rob Kerin (1998–2001), Dean Brown (2001–2002), and Vickie Chapman (2018–present).

List of parliamentary leaders

Current federal parliamentarians



State election results

Election Seats won ± Total votes % Position Leader
20 / 47
218,820 31.5% Opposition Bruce Eastick
17 / 47
3 306,356 41.2% Opposition David Tonkin
24 / 47
7 352,343 47.9% Majority government David Tonkin
21 / 47
3 326,372 42.7% Opposition David Tonkin
16 / 47
5 344,337 42.2% Opposition John Olsen
22 / 47
6 381,834 44.2% Opposition John Olsen
37 / 47
15 481,623 52.8% Majority government Dean Brown
23 / 47
14 359,509 40.4% Minority government John Olsen
20 / 47
3 378,929 39.9% Opposition Rob Kerin
15 / 47
5 319,041 34.0% Opposition Rob Kerin
18 / 47
3 408,482 41.7% Opposition Isobel Redmond
22 / 47
4 455,797 44.8% Opposition Steven Marshall
25 / 47
3 398,182 38.0% Majority government Steven Marshall

See also


  1. Factional war is definitely coming to SA: InDaily 12 July 2017
  2. "South Australia's 10 most poisonous political feuds". The Advertiser. Adelaide. 21 May 2014. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  3. "Can Liberals heal rifts?". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 24 March 2006. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  4. "Senior SA Liberal Iain Evans quits frontbench, to leave politics within 12 months". The Advertiser. Adelaide. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  5. "Departing SA Liberal Iain Evans takes final swipe at parliamentary colleagues". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 30 October 2014. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  6. John Spoehr (2009). "State of South Australia: From Crisis to Prosperity?". Wakefield Press. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
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