Liberal and Country League (LCL) volunteers organising and sending out election material in 1949.
Image courtesy State Library of South Australia
 

LIBERAL UNION, FORMED 1910, AS RESPONSE TO UNITED LABOUR, becomes the LCL in 1932
as uneasy nexus of liberals and conservatives

 

THE LIBERAL UNION, PRECURSOR TO TODAY'S LIBERAL PARTY OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA, was formed on 1910.

Before the 1890s, South Australia didn’t have a formal political party system. MPs had either liberal or conservative historical beliefs, with liberals dominating the House or Assembly from 1893 to 1905 through the support of the state’s first political party: United Labour (the origin of the South Australian branch of the Labor Party).

The rise of Labor prompted conservative and liberal MP blocs to form parties. Two independent conservative parties, the Australasian National League (formerly the National Defence League) and the Farmers and Producers Political Union merged with the Liberal and Democratic Union to become the Liberal Union in 1910.

This become the Liberal and Country League (LCL), mostly led by Tom Playford, that was in power from 1933 to 1965, helped by a gerrymander or “Playmander”.

The LCL's Steele Hall, who governed for one term 1968-70, began dismantling the Playmander. Hall was part of Liberal Movement progressive faction split from conservative elements that dominated the upper house Legislative Council.

The conservative-liberal split was partly healed by David Tonkin, who led the Liberal party to a one-term victory in 1979.

The Liberals returned to power in 1993, led by premiers Dean Brown, John Olsen and Ron Kerin through two terms, until their defeat at the 2002 election. They remained in opposition under a record five opposition leaders until 2018, with Steven Marshall becoming premier.
 

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