Country Party

The Country Party was never strong in Tasmania. In 1922, frustrated by slow economic growth, rural interests formed a Country Party and three members were elected that year. The Country Party held the balance of power and made life difficult for the Nationalist Government, but the party folded by 1924 after its members joined the Nationalists. Reformed in 1962, the Country Party contested the 1964 election, but received only 5 percent of the vote. Kevin Lyons, an ex-Liberal, repackaged it as the Centre Party and joined a coalition with the Bethune Liberals in 1969. Never a happy union, the arrangement collapsed in 1972 and the Centre Party lapsed into obscurity. The party became the National Country Party in 1975 then lapsed before reforming as the National Party in 1994, but received little support. Rural interests generally felt that the Liberals expressed their aspirations and, despite some disgruntlement, saw no need for a separate party.

Further reading: S Bennett & B Bennett, Biographical register of the Tasmanian Parliament, 18511960, Canberra, 1980; B Costar & D Woodward (eds), Country to National, Sydney, 1985.

Stefan Petrow