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Country Liberal Party

Country Liberal Party
Leader Adam Giles
Founded 1974
Headquarters 107 Woods Street
Darwin NT 0800
Ideology Liberal conservatism
National affiliation National Party,
Liberal Party
House of Representatives
1 / 150
1 / 76
Northern Territory Parliament
14 / 25
Country Liberal Party
Politics of Australia
Political parties

The Northern Territory Country Liberal Party (CLP) is a Northern Territory political party[1] affiliated with both the National (formerly "Country") and Liberal parties of Australia. The CLP contests seats for the Coalition in the Northern Territory rather than the Liberal or National parties.[2]

The CLP dominated the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly from its establishment in 1974 until 2001. However, it lost Government in 2001 and was reduced to four parliamentary members in 2005. At 9 August 2008 Legislative Assembly general election it gained a significant swing, gaining 11 out of the 25 seats. The Country Liberals returned to office following the 2012 Legislative Assembly general election, with 16 out of the 25 seats, and leader Terry Mills became Chief Minister of the Northern Territory. Mills was replaced as CLP leader in March 2013 and Adam Giles became leader of the party and Territory Chief Minister. Giles was the first indigenous Australian to lead a state or territory government in Australia.[3]

The Country Liberal Party competed in their first Federal election in 1975. Senator Nigel Scullion and Solomon MP Natasha Griggs are the CLP's only two representatives in federal parliament. Scullion is the Senate leader of the National Party, while Griggs sits with the Liberals in the House.


  • Party philosophy 1
  • Party structure 2
  • History 3
    • Origins 3.1
    • Foundation and electoral record 3.2
    • 2012 Return to office 3.3
    • 2013 leadership spill 3.4
  • Parliamentary Leaders 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Party philosophy

The Country Liberal Party (CLP) stands for office in the Northern Territory Assembly and Federal Parliament of Australia and primarily concerns itself with representing Territory interests. It is a regionally based party, that has parliamentary representation in both the Federal Parliament and the Territory level.

It generally competes against the Australian Labor Party (a party founded by democratic socialists, now functioning more as a social democratic party). It is closely affiliated with, but is independent from the Liberal Party of Australia (a mainly urban, pro-private enterprise party comprising anti-socialist conservative as well as more classically liberal membership) and the National Party of Australia (an agrarian conservative rural and regional party).[4]

The Party promotes local issues like statehood for the Northern Territory as well as more broadly liberal values like support for individualism and private enterprise, as well as traditional conservative values and progressive political policy.[4] In indigenous policy, the party has committed to improving education and job creation and to reducing a culture of welfare dependency.[5]

Party structure

Branch delegates and members of the party's Central Council attend the Annual Conference of the Country Liberal Party to decide the party's platform. The Central Council is composed of the party's office bearers, its leaders from the Territory Assembly and the Federal Parliament and representatives of party branches.[4]

The Annual Conference of the Country Liberal Party, attended by branch delegates and members of the party's Central Council, decides matters relating to the party's platform and philosophy. The Central Council administers the party and makes decisions on pre-selections. It is composed of the party's office bearers, its leaders in the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly, members in the Federal Parliament, and representation from each of the party's branches.[4]

Both the Nationals and Liberals receive Country Liberal Party delegations, and the party president has full voting rights with the National Party and observer status with the Liberal Party. The party also directs its federal members and senators as to which of the two other parties they should sit with in the parliamentary chamber. The CLP vote is often tabulated together with either of its coalition partners in many election results tables, or included within a single Coalition vote.



The territory Country Party members first contested the 1919 federal election, with a newly established federal Country Party contesting the 1922 federal election. The 1922 election saw the main anti-Labor party, the Nationalist Party of Australia deprived of a majority, and were required to form a coalition in order to command a majority on the floor of parliament. The price for such support was the resignation of Nationalist (ex-Labor) Prime Minister, Billy Hughes, who was replaced by Stanley Bruce.

In 1966, the Country Party was established in the territory, while the Liberal Party was small. In recognition of this, the local Liberals supported the Country Party candidate for the sole NT seat from 1969 to 1972. An alliance had formed, primarily against the conservatives' arch-rivals the Australian Labor Party (ALP).

After the 1974 federal election and subsequent Joint Sitting of parliament, legislation was passed to create a unicameral Legislative Assembly, as well as members with full voting rights at a federal level.

The Northern Territory was granted self-government in 1978.

Foundation and electoral record

Following the creation of the Legislative Assembly, the Territory's branches of the Country and Liberal parties merged to form an independent "Country Liberal Party" (CLP) to field candidates for the Legislative Council in 1974.[4] In 1979, the CLP formally affiliated with both the then-National Country Party and Liberal Party. It has full voting rights within what is now the National Party, and observer status with the Liberal Party.

The Party has contested every general election in the Territory since the institution of responsible government, and has also contested many by-elections.

The CLP formed the government of the Northern Territory without interruption from 1974 until 2001. For much of that time, it ruled the Northern Territory as a one-party state; it never faced more than nine opposition MPs. It was defeated in 2001 when the Labor Party won government by one seat, ending the third-longest unbroken run in government at the federal, state or territory level.[4] The loss marked a major turning point in Northern Territory politics, a result which was exacerbated when, at the 2005 NT election, the ALP won a landslide victory, reducing the once-dominant party to a total of just four members in the Legislative Assembly. The CLP even lost two seats in Palmerston, an area where the ALP had never come close to winning any seats before.

The 2008 election saw the CLP recover from the severe beating it suffered three years earlier, increasing its representation from four to 11 members. Following the 2011 decision of Labor-turned-independent MP Alison Anderson to join the CLP, this increased to CLP's margin to 12 in the Assembly, leaving the incumbent Henderson Government to govern in minority with the support of Independent MP Gerry Wood.

Historically, the CLP has been particularly dominant in the Territory's two major cities, Darwin/Palmerston and Alice Springs. However, in recent years Labor has pulled even with the CLP in the Darwin area.

2012 Return to office

The CLP returned to power in the 2012 general election taking 16 out of 25[6] seats under the leadership of Terry Mills, defeating the Incumbent Labor Government led by Paul Henderson.

In the lead up to the Territory election, CLP Senator Nigel Scullion sharply criticised the Federal Labor Government for its suspension of the live cattle trade to Indonesia - an economic mainstay of the territory.[7]

The election victory ended 11 years of Labor rule. The victory was also notable for the support it achieved from indigenous people in pastoral and remote electorates. Large swings were achieved in remote Territory electorates (where the indigenous population comprised around two-thirds of voters) and a total of five Aboriginal CLP candidates won election to the Assembly.[8]

Among the indigenous candidates elected were high-profile Aboriginal activist Bess Price and former Labor member Alison Anderson. Anderson was appointed Minister for Indigenous Advancement. In a nationally reported speech in November 2012, Anderson condemned welfare dependency and a culture of entitlement in her first ministerial statement on the status of Aboriginal communities in the Territory and said the CLP would focus on improving education and on helping create real jobs for indigenous people.[5]

2013 leadership spill

On 13 March 2013, Adam Giles led a leadership coup against Terry Mills, and became the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory.[3]

A year later, three indigenous CLP MPs resigned from the party. Mills had retired from politics by then, raising the prospect of the CLP being reduced to a minority government had it lost a by-election in Mills' old seat of Blain.[9] However, the CLP retained Blain despite suffering a large swing against it, allowing it to retain a bare one-seat majority.

Parliamentary Leaders

Year Name Notes
1974 Goff Letts Majority Leader[Note 1]
1977 Paul Everingham Chief Minister of the Northern Territory
1984 Ian Tuxworth Chief Minister of the Northern Territory
1986 Stephen Hatton Chief Minister of the Northern Territory
1988 Marshall Perron Chief Minister of the Northern Territory
1995 Shane Stone Chief Minister of the Northern Territory
1999 Denis Burke Chief Minister of the Northern Territory
2003 Terry Mills First time
2005 Denis Burke
2005 Jodeen Carney
2012 Terry Mills Chief Minister of the Northern Territory, ousted in leadership spill by Adam Giles
2013 Adam Giles Incumbent, Chief Minister of the Northern Territory
  1. ^ While the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly was created in 1974, self-government was not granted until 1978.


  1. ^ NT Country Liberal Party, Current Register of Political Parties Australian Electoral Commission, 29 May 2009. Retrieved 17 August 2009.
  2. ^ "Country Liberal Party". Retrieved 2011-02-01. 
  3. ^ a b
  4. ^ a b c d e f
  5. ^ a b
  6. ^ Green, Antony. "Final Figures for 2012 Northern Territory Election". ABC. Retrieved 2 September 2012. 
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ 2014 Blain by-election: Antony Green ABC

External links

  • Country Liberal Party official site
  • Official history
  • NT Electoral Commission site
  • Australian Electoral Commission site
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