Liberal National Party of Queensland

Liberal National Party of Queensland
Leader Tim Nicholls
President Bruce McIver
Founded 2008
Headquarters Brisbane
National affiliation Liberal/National Coalition
Colours      Light blue
House of Representatives
21 / 150
5 / 76
Parliament of Queensland
42 / 89

The Liberal National Party (LNP) is a conservative political party in Queensland, Australia. It was formed in 2008 by a merger of the Queensland divisions of the Liberal Party of Australia and the National Party of Australia. At a federal level and in most other states the two parties remain distinct and operate as a more or less permanent Coalition. The LNP is a full member (i.e. affiliated branch) of the Liberal Party, and has observer status within the National Party.[1]

After suffering defeat at its first election in 2009 the LNP won government for the first time at the 2012 election, winning 78 out of 89 seats, a record majority in the unicameral Parliament of Queensland. Campbell Newman became the first LNP Premier of Queensland. The Newman Government was subsequently defeated by the opposition Labor Party at the 2015 election.


Prior to the merger the National Party and Liberal Party had found themselves in frequent competition with one another for seats in Queensland since the 1970s. The Liberal Party (and its predecessors) and the National Party (formerly the Country Party and National Country Party) have been in a coalition at the federal level for all but a few years since 1923. In most parts of Australia the Liberal Party is the larger party, concentrated in urban areas, with the Nationals a junior partner operating exclusively in rural and regional areas. Competition between the two is thus minimised as the two attempt to win more seats combined than the Australian Labor Party.

Campbell Newman, state LNP leader 2011-2015, Premier 2012–2015

However, Queensland is Australia's most decentralised state; the urban-rural divide is not as pronounced in Queensland as in the rest of Australia. In other states, 60% or more of the population lives in and around the state's capital city. In Queensland only around 45% of the population lives in the Brisbane area, with a greater portion of the state's population distributed in regional cities like Rockhampton, Townsville, Mackay, Gladstone and Cairns, as well as in rural areas. These are areas where the National Party is stronger than the Liberal Party. As a result, the Country/National Party had more seats than the Liberal Party and its predecessors, and had been the senior partner in the non-Labor Coalition since 1924.

The formation of the LNP was actually the third attempt to unite the non-Labor side in Queensland. In 1925, the United Party — the Queensland branch of the urban-based Nationalist Party — and the Country Party merged as the Country and Progressive National Party. This party won government in 1929 under former Queensland Country leader Arthur Edward Moore, but was defeated in 1932 and split apart in 1936. In 1941, the Queensland divisions of the United Australia Party and Country Party merged as the Country-National Party, under Frank Nicklin of the Country side. However, this merger only lasted until 1944.

Lawrence Springborg, state LNP leader 2008-2009 and 2015–2016

During the 1970s, the Country Party began running candidates in the more urbanised south-east corner of the state, including the Brisbane area, in direct competition with the Liberals. This was part of a larger strategy by the federal party to expand its base outside of rural areas--reflected in successive name changes to the National Country Party in 1975 and the National Party in 1982. The Liberals pulled out of the Coalition in 1983, and the Nationals came up one seat short of a majority in their own right in the election held later that year. The Nationals persuaded two Liberals to cross over to them, and governed alone until their defeat in 1989.

In 1992 the electoral system was changed to Optional Preferential Voting, meaning that three-cornered contests between Liberal, National and Labor candidates became much more likely to see Labor candidates win. The other change in 1992 was the end of the old zonal electoral system for the Legislative Assembly, the sole chamber of the state's parliament. As a result, 40 of the 89 seats--almost half of the seats in the legislature--were now based in Brisbane. It was now all but impossible to win a majority government without significant support in Brisbane, something that was difficult for the Coalition to do since the Nationals were the senior partner. Labor was in government for all but three years from 1989 to 2012 in large part because it won at least 30 seats in greater Brisbane at every election. Even when it was briefly consigned to opposition by the Rob Borbidge-led Coalition from 1996 to 1998, Labor still won 31 seats in Brisbane.[2]

The 1995 state election proved just how difficult it was for the Coalition to win during this time. While it actually won a slim majority of the two-party vote, much of that margin was wasted on landslides in the Nationals' heartland. As mentioned above, Labor won 31 seats in Brisbane. Labor eked out a one-seat majority, only to lose it a few months later in a by-election. The Coalition was only able to form a minority government by a margin of one seat with the support of independent Liz Cunningham, proving how difficult the 1992 reforms made it to form even a minority government without a substantial base in Brisbane. The situation became worse with the emergence of other forces on the right such as Pauline Hanson's One Nation and the City Country Alliance, and the advocacy by the Labor Party under Peter Beattie starting in 2001 of a "just vote 1" strategy that caused non-Labor preferences to exhaust instead of leaking to other non-Labor candidates. By the turn of the millennium, many members of both parties felt that a merger would reduce harmful competition between non-Labor candidates and to increase the chances of winning seats in Brisbane from Labor.

On 30 May 2008, an agreement in principle to merge was established between the Queensland divisions of the Liberal and National parties. A plebiscite of members of each party was then conducted with a large majority of respondents favouring the proposed merger.[3]

The agreement in principle and a draft constitution were considered by separate meetings of the parties held over 26–27 July 2008, and the LNP was created on 26 July 2008. The inaugural conference of the LNP was held following the adoption of the constitution.[3] The two parties had been meeting in adjoining rooms of the Sofitel Hotel in Brisbane. The wall between the two meetings was removed after both parties approved the merger, and the inaugural conference of the newly merged party began soon afterward.[4]

After the July 2008 merger, the party had 25 members in the Legislative Assembly: 17 originally elected as Nationals, 8 originally elected as Liberals. National Party leader Lawrence Springborg became the merged party's first leader, and remained as Leader of the Opposition. Liberal Party leader Mark McArdle became Deputy Leader of the new party, and remained Deputy Leader of the Opposition. While the new party was dominated by former Nationals, its president acquired full voting rights with the federal Liberals and observer status with the federal Nationals.

The LNP fought its first election as a unified party at the 2009 state election. It managed an eight-seat swing and finished one percentage point behind Labor on the two-party-preferred vote (with optional preference voting). However, it came up 11 seats short of forming government mainly due to winning only six seats in Brisbane. Springborg resigned as leader, later becoming deputy leader under his successor, John-Paul Langbroek.[2][5] Langbroek is from the Liberal side of the merger, and his election marked the first time since 1925 that the non-Labor side in Queensland has been led by someone aligned federally with the Liberals or their predecessors.

Federal Queensland Liberal and National federal representatives and senators remained affiliated to their respective parties until after the 2010 Federal Election, with senators retaining their affiliation until the new Senate sat in July 2011.[6]

Bruce McIver oversaw the Liberal–National party merger as president, which saw the Queensland Nationals, with their long history of social conservativism, amalgamate with the Queensland branch of the more socially progressive Liberal Party of Australia. McIver's time as National Party president coincided with the demotion of members who did not share his socially conservative views. After then parliamentary leader Jeff Seeney disagreed with McIver's opposition to stem-cell research and criticised McIver's email seeking to instruct politicians on how they should exercise their conscience vote, he was soon deposed from the leadership.[7][8] This led to speculation in the Courier Mail that the Queensland Nationals had been "hijacked by the Christian Right", drawing parallels to similar developments in certain parts of the United States.[9] Following the amalgamation of the two parties into the LNP, McIver was criticised as having "taken over" the merged entity with no tolerance for views contrary to his own.[7][10]

On 22 March 2011, Brisbane Lord Mayor Campbell Newman announced that he would seek preselection for the Brisbane-area seat of Ashgrove, a seat with a 7.1 percent Labor majority, and if successful, would challenge Langbroek for the party leadership. Newman, like Langbroek, is from the Liberal side of the merger. Langbroek and Springborg resigned as leader and deputy leader hours later. Under normal circumstances, an LNP MP from a safe seat would have resigned so Newman could get into the chamber via a by-election. However, a by-election could not be arranged.[2] To solve this problem, former Nationals leader Jeff Seeney, who was elected deputy leader at the same time Newman was formally elected leader, became interim parliamentary leader (and hence Leader of the Opposition) while Newman led the party into the 24 March 2012 state election. Seeney agreed to cede the parliamentary leader's post to Newman if he was elected to parliament.[11]

The 2012 state election saw Newman lead the LNP to a landslide victory. The LNP scored a 14.5 percent swing from Labor, just short of 50 percent of the primary vote, and won an additional 44 seats. In the process, the LNP took all but three seats in the Brisbane metropolitan area, in some cases on swings of 10 percent or more. Overall, the LNP won 78 seats to Labor's seven, the largest majority government in Queensland history. Newman won Ashgrove on a swing of 12.7 percent, almost double what he needed to take the seat off Labor. He was sworn in as premier two days later, heading the state's first non-Labor majority government in 23 years.

The LNP appeared to be positioned to win a second term at the 31 January 2015 state election, albeit with a reduced majority. However, in a shock result that had not been foreseen by any commentators, let alone either party, the LNP suffered a 12 percent swing and lost its majority. Labor took 31 seats off the LNP, and came within one seat of rebounding from only nine seats at dissolution to an outright majority. One of the LNP casualties was Newman, who became just the second Queensland premier since Federation to lose his own seat. He immediately announced his retirement from politics, and Springborg was elected his successor on 7 February with Langbroek as his deputy. Although Springborg initially harboured hopes of forming a minority government, this ended when Labor formed a minority government with the support of the lone independent in the chamber.

On 6 May 2016, Tim Nicholls, who is from the Liberal side of the merger, successfully challenged Springborg for the leadership of the party, winning the ballot 22 votes to 19. Deb Frecklington, the member for the ancestrally National seat of Nanango (the seat of former Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen), was elected deputy leader.[12]

Currently, 17 of the LNP's 21 federal MPs sit with the Liberals, while four sit with the Nationals. The party has also supplied a former Deputy Prime Minister; former federal Nationals leader Warren Truss, Deputy Prime Minister in the Abbott Government, was a member of the LNP. In the Senate, LNP Senator Matthew Canavan sits with the Nationals while the other four LNP senators sit with the Liberals. While incumbent MPs retained their previous national affiliations, the LNP has worked out an informal agreement with its national counterparts regarding the affiliations of newly elected members. Members who regain seats from Labor will sit with the previous Coalition MP's party — i.e., if the LNP takes a seat off Labor that was previously held by a Liberal, the LNP member will sit with the Liberals. A division of seats was decided upon for new seats or seats that have never been won by the Coalition.[13] In practice, most LNP MPs from Brisbane and the Gold Coast sit with the Liberals, while those from country seats usually sit with the Nationals.

Electoral performance


Election Leader Votes % Seats +/– Position Government
2010 John-Paul Langbroek 1,130,525 9.1
21 / 150
Increase 21 Increase 3rd Opposition
2013 Campbell Newman 1,152,217 8.9
22 / 150
Increase 1 Steady 3rd Coalition
2016 Tim Nicholls 8.5
21 / 150
Decrease 1 Steady 3rd Coalition


Election Leader Votes % Seats +/– Position Government
2009 Lawrence Springborg 987,018 41.6
34 / 89
Increase 34 Increase 2nd Opposition
2012 Campbell Newman 1,214,402 49.6
78 / 89
Increase 44 Increase 1st Majority
2015 Campbell Newman 1,083,983 41.3
42 / 89
Decrease 31 Decrease 2nd Opposition

Party leaders

Leader Term Leader's seat
Lawrence Springborg 2008–2009 Southern Downs
John-Paul Langbroek 2009–2011 Surfers Paradise
Campbell Newman 2011–2015 Ashgrove
Lawrence Springborg 2015–2016 Southern Downs
Tim Nicholls 2016–present Clayfield

Parliamentary leaders

Leader Term Leader's seat
Lawrence Springborg 2008–2009 Southern Downs
John-Paul Langbroek 2009–2011 Surfers Paradise
Jeff Seeney 2011–2012 Callide
Campbell Newman 2012–2015 Ashgrove
Lawrence Springborg 2015–2016 Southern Downs
Tim Nicholls 2016–present Clayfield

Deputy leaders

Deputy Leader Term Deputy's seat
Mark McArdle 2008–2009 Caloundra
Lawrence Springborg 2009–2011 Southern Downs
Jeff Seeney 2011–2015 Callide
John-Paul Langbroek 2015–2016 Surfers Paradise
Deb Frecklington 2016–present Nanango

See also


  1. LNP Constitution, clauses A.3 and A.4.
  2. 1 2 3 Green, Antony. Queensland election preview. Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 25 January 2012.
  3. 1 2 "The Liberal National Party – History". Retrieved 25 June 2011.
  4. (26 July 2008). Liberal-National merger a win for 'grassroots democracy'. News Limited. Retrieved on 25 April 2012.
  5. Jessica van Vonderen (2 April 2009). "Langbroek wins LNP leadership: ABC News 2/4/2009". Retrieved 1 February 2011.
  6. "Constitution of the LNP" (PDF). Retrieved 1 February 2011.
  7. 1 2 Chrys Stephenson (13 June 2012). "The Happy Clappers Who Run Queensland". New Matilda Online. New Matilda. Retrieved 28 December 2014.
  8. Gabrielle Dunlevy (11 October 2007). "Stem cell vote divides Queensland MPs". The Age. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 28 December 2014.
  9. Des Houghton (9 February 2008). "Pray tell, is that Jesus on the party line". The Courier Mail. News Limited.
  10. Paul Barry (18 July 2011). "Political Fixers No. 5 - Bruce McIver". The Power Index. Crikey. Retrieved 28 December 2014.
  11. "Newman to head LNP election team". The Sydney Morning Herald. 22 March 2011. Retrieved 22 March 2011.
  12. "Tim Nicholls topples Lawrence Springborg to become Queensland LNP leader". ABC News. 6 May 2016.
  13. Madonna King (18 May 2010). LNP differences a Coalition headache. Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
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