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New South Wales Liberal Party

New South Wales Liberal Party
Liberal Party of Australia, New South Wales Division
AbbreviationNSWLP, LPNSW
LeaderMark Speakman
Deputy LeaderNatalie Ward
PresidentJason Falinski[1][2]
SecretaryChristopher Stone
Founded4 January 1945; 79 years ago (4 January 1945)
Merger of
Preceded byUnited Australia
Headquarters131 Macquarie Street, Sydney, New South Wales 2000
Membership (2020)Decrease 11,906[a]
Political position
National affiliationFederal Liberal
Political allianceLiberal–National Coalition
Colours  Blue
Legislative Assembly
25 / 93
Legislative Council
10 / 42
House of Representatives
9 / 47
(NSW seats)
5 / 12
(NSW seats)
Local Government
129 / 1,480

The New South Wales Liberal Party, officially called the Liberal Party of Australia, New South Wales Division,[10] and colloquially known as the NSW Liberal Party, is the state division of the Liberal Party of Australia in New South Wales. The party is currently in Opposition in New South Wales in a coalition with the National Party. The party is part of the federal Liberal Party which is in opposition on the mainland of Australia, with Tasmania being the exception.

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 74 years since its foundation, the party has won eight state elections to the Labor Party's 13, and has spent 27 years in office (1965 to 1976, 1988 to 1995 and 2011 to 2023) 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), United Australia Party (UAP) and Commonwealth Party began discussions on a merger to form a new party, proposed to be also named Democratic Party. The Liberal Democratic Party (NSW) 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.[11] The County Party refused to join in the merger but expressed they would co-operate with the new party.[12] 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.[13][14] Instead, during the same conference, the Commonwealth Party and the New South Wales Democratic Party.[15] As such, LDP remained a separate party to the Democratic Party.

The initial leader of the Democratic Party was the former premier Alexander Mair,[16] but he resigned on 2 February 1944 and was replaced by Reginald Weaver on 10 February.[17][14]

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".[18] 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.[14] 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.[19] 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.[14]

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.[20] 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.[21] Spooner, who was nominated by the LDP, was appointed as the first chairman on 9 January.[22]

The LDP was willing to support the formation of the Liberal Party and dissolved itself on 15 January 1945, officially joining the Liberal Party.[23] The Democratic Party also supported the formation but held off dissolution until a state branch of the Liberal Party had been fully constituted.[24] 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.[25] However, he withdrew his resignation in March 1945, and announced that all Democratic Party parliamentary members would join the Liberal Party.[26]

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.[27] 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.[28] 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.[29]

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.

Present of the Liberal Party

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. The coalition has since governed New South Wales under Liberal leaders Mike Baird, Gladys Berejiklian and Dominic Perrottet, the former two 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 that a female leader (Gladys 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. She stepped down on 5 October 2021 and was replaced as party leader and Premier by Perrottet.

Preselection procedures

In 2018, the NSW Liberal Party agreed to adopt new rules for preselecting candidates, which were championed by former Prime Minister and incumbent Liberal member of Warringah Tony Abbott and the right wing of the party. The rules, known as Warringah rules, gave local branches the right to hold plebiscites involving all eligible branch members to choose local, state and federal candidates. The party's state executive and the state council would still get 25% of the votes. It was reported that the right faction pushed for the rules as it believed members were more conservative than the state executive which were controlled by moderate members of the party.[30]

2022 federal election

On 30 November 2021, the party was unable to hold its scheduled annual general meeting (AGM) to select members of the state executive due to complications from COVID-19.[31] Minister Alex Hawke, who was the representative of federal party leader and Prime Minister Scott Morrison, also allegedly failed to attend internal Liberal Party nomination review committee meetings.

Not holding an AGM could constitute a breach in the party constitution, which meant that the state executive could not continue in office after 28 February 2022, and this would mean that the federal executive would have to step in to choose New South Wales candidates for 2022 federal election, due in May 2022. The Supreme Court of New South Wales ruled that the state executive could still continue after this date.[32] On 2 March 2022, the state executive tried to fast-track pre-selection plebiscites in seats that did not have candidates finalised, by overriding the constitutional requirements for plebiscites with special powers. However, this did not attain the required 90% state executive support to do so.[33][34][30] On 4 March, the federal executive voted to temporarily dissolve the state party and a committee was set up to take over the management of the state party until 8 March, "in accordance with clause 12.3 of the federal constitution of the Liberal Party". The committee, made up of Morrison, Perrottet, and former party president Chris McDiven, had direct control in endorsing candidates without preselection challenges.[35][36] The committee confirmed the pre-selection of three incumbent federal members of parliament, two of whom were ministers on 8 March.[37] The federal executive also gave the state party until 25 March 2022 to finalise candidates in other federal seats. While the Senate candidates could be finalised, the state party was still unable to do so for a number of seats by 27 March 2022. As a result, on that day, the federal executive voted to temporarily dissolve the state party for the second time and appointed the same Morrison-led committee to preselect candidates in other remaining unfinalised seats until 2 April.[38] Pre-selection ballots intended to be held for these seats in the coming week were all cancelled.

Members who opposed overriding local branch preselection include Sydney businessman Matthew Camenzuli, who was a member of the state executive. As of 30 March 2022, these members have brought the matter to court, seeking to challenge the legitimacy of the committee's preselection of the three incumbent members of parliament on 8 March 2022 and nine other candidates on 2 April 2022.[30] Morrison and Perrottet have urged them to take the matter to the High Court of Australia instead so that the result cannot be appealed further. On 5 April, the New South Wales Court of Appeal ruled that the court had no jurisdiction to make decisions relating to the constitutions of political parties, thereby ruling the preselection of the 12 candidates valid.[39] Camenzuli brought the matter further to High Court for appeal but it was dismissed on 8 April.[40] Camenzuli was also expelled from the party.[41]

Parliamentary party leaders

Leader of the Liberal Party
The Hon. Mark Speakman
since 21 April 2023
Inaugural holderReginald Weaver
Formation20 April 1945
DeputyNatalie Ward

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 Mark Speakman, and the deputy leader is Natalie Ward.

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[42][43] Assumed office[44] Left office[44] Premier Reason for departure Time in office
1 Reginald Weaver 20 April 1945 12 November 1945 Died in office 206 days
2 Alexander Mair 13 November 1945 20 March 1946 1939–1941 Resigned; Premier under UAP 127 days
3 Sir Vernon Treatt 20 March 1946 10 August 1954 Resigned 8 years, 143 days
4 Murray Robson 17 August 1954 20 September 1955 Deposed 1 year, 34 days
5 Pat Morton 20 September 1955 17 July 1959 Deposed 3 years, 300 days
6 Sir Robert Askin 17 July 1959 3 January 1975 1965–1975 Retired 15 years, 170 days
7 Tom Lewis 3 January 1975 23 January 1976 1975–1976 Deposed 1 year, 20 days
8 Sir Eric Willis 23 January 1976 16 December 1977 1976 Resigned 1 year, 327 days
9 Peter Coleman 16 December 1977 7 October 1978 Lost seat at 1978 election 295 days
10 John Mason 24 October 1978 29 May 1981 Deposed 2 years, 217 days
11 Bruce McDonald 1 June 1981 12 October 1981 Lost seat at 1981 election 133 days
12 John Dowd 20 October 1981 15 March 1983 Resigned 1 year, 146 days
13 Nick Greiner 15 March 1983 24 June 1992 1988–1992 Resigned due to an ICAC investigation and prior to a no confidence motion 9 years, 101 days
14 John Fahey 24 June 1992 4 April 1995 1992–1995 Resigned following 1995 election 2 years, 284 days
15 Peter Collins 4 April 1995 7 December 1998 Deposed 3 years, 247 days
16 Kerry Chikarovski 7 December 1998 28 March 2002 Deposed 3 years, 111 days
17 John Brogden 28 March 2002 29 August 2005 Resigned 3 years, 154 days
18 Peter Debnam 1 September 2005 4 April 2007 Resigned following 2007 election 1 year, 218 days
19 Barry O'Farrell 4 April 2007 16 April 2014 2011–2014 Resigned due to an ICAC investigation 7 years, 9 days
20 Mike Baird 17 April 2014 23 January 2017 2014–2017 Retired 2 years, 282 days
21 Gladys Berejiklian 23 January 2017 5 October 2021 2017–2021 Resigned due to an ICAC investigation 4 years, 255 days
22 Dominic Perrottet 5 October 2021 25 March 2023 2021–2023 Resigned following the 2023 New South Wales state election 1 year, 171 days
23 Mark Speakman 21 April 2023 present 1 year, 55 days

Deputy leaders

Party Leader Start of Term End of Term
Athol Richardson 1945 1945
Vernon Treatt 1946 1946
Walter Howarth 1946 1954
Robert Askin 1954 1959
Eric Willis 1959 1975
John Maddison 1975 1977
John Mason 1977 1978
Bruce McDonald 1978 1981
Jim Cameron 1981 1981
Kevin Rozzoli 1981 1983
Rosemary Foot 1983 1986
Peter Collins 1986 1992
Bruce Baird 1992 1994
Kerry Chikarovski 1994 1995
Ron Phillips 1995 1999
Barry O'Farrell 1999 2002
Chris Hartcher 2002 2003
Barry O'Farrell 2003 2007
Jillian Skinner 2007 2014
Gladys Berejiklian 2014 2017
Dominic Perrottet 2017 2021
Stuart Ayres 2021 2022
Matt Kean 2022 2023
Natalie Ward 2023 present

Election results

Election Seats won ± Total votes % Position Leader
18 / 90
Increase6 470,485 29.60% Opposition Vernon Treatt
29 / 94
Increase11 604,428 37.51% Opposition Vernon Treatt
22 / 94
Decrease9 432,739 27.94% Opposition Vernon Treatt
27 / 94
Increase5 594,740 35.11% Opposition Pat Morton
28 / 94
Increase1 603,718 35.35% Opposition Pat Morton
25 / 94
Decrease3 671,716 34.85% Opposition Bob Askin
31 / 94
Increase6 807,868 39.59% Minority Coalition Bob Askin
39 / 94
Increase4 831,514 38.47% Coalition Bob Askin
32 / 96
Decrease7 799,801 35.74% Coalition Bob Askin
34 / 99
Increase2 843,325 33.85% Coalition Bob Askin
30 / 99
Decrease4 978,886 36.29% Opposition Eric Willis
18 / 99
Decrease12 754,796 26.98% Opposition Peter Coleman
14 / 99
Decrease4 775,463 27.62% Opposition Bruce McDonald
22 / 99
Increase8 967,395 32.17% Opposition Nick Greiner
39 / 109
Increase17 1,147,613 35.80% Coalition Nick Greiner
32 / 99
Decrease7 1,053,100 34.16% Minority Coalition Nick Greiner
29 / 99
Decrease3 1,121,190 32.84% Opposition John Fahey
20 / 93
Decrease9 927,368 24.82% Opposition Kerry Chikarovski
20 / 93
Steady0 944,888 24.72% Opposition John Brogden
22 / 93
Increase2 1,061,269 26.94% Opposition Peter Debnam
51 / 93
Increase29 1,602,457 38.58% Coalition Barry O'Farrell
37 / 93
Decrease14 1,545,168 35.08% Coalition Mike Baird
35 / 93
Decrease2 1,456,010 31.99% Coalition Gladys Berejiklian
25 / 93
Decrease10 1,259,253 26.78% Opposition Dominic Perrottet

See also


  1. ^ The party's figures from 2019 are allegedly 17,560, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.[3] In 2021 it was reported by Crikey, citing supplied figures from the Grattan Institute, that the party's membership was numbered at 11,906, as of 2020.[4] The total membership figures of the Liberal–National Coalition in New South Wales are 14,942 as of 2020.


  1. ^ Sakkal, Paul (7 July 2023). "New NSW Liberal president confronts preselection tensions". The Sydney Morning Herald. Nine Entertainment. Archived from the original on 7 July 2023.
  2. ^ "Jason Falinski elected NSW Liberal Party President". New South Wales Liberal Party. 7 July 2023. NSW Liberal Party Members have elected successful businessman and former Member for Mackellar Jason Falinski as the Division's State President.
  3. ^ Hannam, Peter (4 October 2020). "'Shocked': quarter of Nationals members quit since coming to power". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
  4. ^ Hardaker, David (30 July 2021). "National party membership tumbles in NSW, Greens now have more". Crikey. Retrieved 3 June 2022.
  5. ^ Nicole A. Thomas; Tobias Loetscher; Danielle Clode; Mike Nicholls (2012). "Right-Wing Politicians Prefer the Emotional Left". PLOS ONE. 7 (5): 4. Bibcode:2012PLoSO...736552T. CiteSeerX doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0036552. PMC 3342249. PMID 22567166. The Liberal Party of Australia has an ideology in line with liberal conservatism and is therefore right of centre.
  6. ^ a b "The Liberal brand is tarnished. Some hard truths must be faced in the wake of another election loss | NSW election 2023 | the Guardian".
  7. ^ a b
  8. ^ a b Rabe, Tom; Maley, Jacqueline (8 August 2019). "Conservative Christian plot to take 'control' of NSW Liberal Party". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  9. ^ a b Rose, Tamsin (22 March 2022). "NSW Liberal MP criticised after speaking at anti-vaccination rally". The Guardian.
  10. ^ "Constitution of the Liberal Party of Australia, New South Wales Division" (PDF). New South Wales Liberal Party. 5 August 2022. p. 4. Archived (PDF) from the original on 22 August 2023. The name of the Division is 'The Liberal Party of Australia, New South Wales Division'.
  11. ^ "U.A.P. Dissolved - New Body In N.S.W." The West Australian. 9 November 1943. Retrieved 29 November 2019.
  12. ^ "Agreement Reached by 3 Non-Labor Parties - C.P. Gives Support, Preserves Identity". The Daily Telegraph. 5 November 1943. Retrieved 29 November 2019.
  13. ^ "L.D. Delegates Walked Out". The Herald. 24 November 1943. Retrieved 29 November 2019.
  14. ^ a b c d "Labor Haters Won't Talk "Unity" With Menzies At Helm". Worker. 4 September 1944. Retrieved 2 December 2019.
  15. ^ ""Democratic Party" Formed". Sydney Morning Herald. 25 November 1943. Retrieved 29 November 2019.
  16. ^ "Democratic Party". The Mercury. 10 December 1943. Retrieved 29 November 2019.
  17. ^ "Mr Mair resigns". Sydney Morning Herald 10 February 1944 p4. Australian National Library. 10 February 1944. Retrieved 11 January 2009.
  18. ^ "Election prospects: Discord in opposition". Sydney Morning Herald 24 May 1944 p2. Australian National Library. 24 May 1944. Retrieved 11 January 2009.
  19. ^ "Parties will unite". Sydney Morning Herald 26 August 1944 p4. Australian National Library. 26 August 1944. Retrieved 11 January 2009.
  20. ^ "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.
  21. ^ "Executives Elected By Liberals". The Daily Telegraph. 5 January 1945. Retrieved 2 December 2019.
  22. ^ "Mr. W. H. Spooner Elected Chairman Liberal Party". The Dubbo Liberal and Macquarie Advocate. 9 January 1945. Retrieved 2 December 2019.
  23. ^ "Liberal Democratic Party dissolved". Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate. 16 January 1945. Retrieved 2 December 2019.
  24. ^ "Democratic Party". Barrier Miner. 16 January 1945. Retrieved 2 December 2019.
  25. ^ "Why Mr. Weaver Resigned". Sydney Morning Herald. 7 March 1945. Retrieved 2 December 2019.
  26. ^ "Mr. Weaver to Remain in Liberal Party". Sydney Morning Herald. 6 March 1945. Retrieved 2 December 2019.
  27. ^ "The first Liberal for 30 years". The Sun. 11 February 1945. Retrieved 2 December 2019.
  28. ^ "Liberal Party - Parliamentary Section Formed". National Advocate. 21 April 1945. Retrieved 2 December 2019.
  29. ^ "Change of Name for Parlt. Party". The Daily Telegraph. 21 April 1945. Retrieved 2 December 2019.
  30. ^ a b c "NSW Liberal preselection crisis: why Morrison and Perrottet want to rush case to high court". The Guardian. 30 March 2022. Retrieved 31 March 2022.
  31. ^ "Court asked to rule in long-running Liberal Party power struggle over who gets to choose candidates in NSW seats". ABC News. 24 February 2022.
  32. ^ "Court settles stoush between Liberal Party NSW and federal executives". ABC News. 25 February 2022.
  33. ^ "NSW Liberals to consider fresh preselection plan to avoid federal intervention". The Guardian. 2 March 2022.
  34. ^ "Preselection peace deal blocked by NSW Liberals executive but could form basis of federal intervention". The Guardian. 2 March 2022.
  35. ^ "Federal Liberals step in over NSW stoush". 7News. 4 March 2022.
  36. ^ "Federal arm of Liberal Party takes over NSW branch for not complying with preselection rules". Canberra Times. 4 March 2022.
  37. ^ "PM avoids minister pre-selection stoush". 7News. 8 March 2022. Retrieved 30 March 2022.
  38. ^ "Scott Morrison, Dominic Perrottet and Christine McDiven take over NSW Liberals branch for second time in a month". Canberra Times. 27 March 2022.
  39. ^ "Scott Morrison's court win as appeal against NSW Liberal pre-selections dismissed". ABC News. 5 April 2022.
  40. ^ "High Court throws out challenge to NSW Liberal preselections, clearing way for Prime Minister to call federal election". ABC News. 8 April 2022. Retrieved 11 April 2022.
  41. ^ "Liberal preselection challenger kicked out of party due to court case". Sydney Morning Herald. 7 April 2022. Retrieved 11 April 2022.
  42. ^ "Leaders of the NSW Liberal Party". Parliament of New South Wales. Archived from the original on 2 December 2019. Retrieved 2 December 2019.
  43. ^ 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.
  44. ^ a b Parliament of New South Wales. "Former Members Index A-Z". Retrieved 20 September 2019.
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New South Wales Liberal Party
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