Who wields political influence in the regions? Since its inception as the Australian Country Party in 1920, the Nationals have aimed to promote rural solidarity and ‘countrymindedness’, and have long held influence as Australia’s ‘third party’. Recently, however, the Nationals have faced difficulties engaging a previously loyal base, resulting in worsening results on state and Federal levels.
Are the Nationals facing a branding crisis from which they can recover, or are changing regional demographics rendering the idea of a specialty country party obsolete? What are the challenges of representing rural interests in politics, and what could a party offer over independents – particularly when geographically distant electorates can have very divergent interests?
Sally Warhaft is joined by former Victorian Nationals leader Peter Ryan for a considered look at politics in the country: the evolving role of the National Party, the rising power of independents, and the driving concerns of regional Victorian voters.
Sally Warhaft is a Melbourne broadcaster, anthropologist and writer. She is the host of The Fifth Estate, the Wheeler Centre’s live series focusing on journalism, politics, media, and international relations, and The Leap Year, a Wheeler Centre podcast about Australians’ lives in the fog of ... Read more
Peter Ryan was the leader of the National party in Victoria from 1999–2014. During his time as an MP, he served as Deputy Premier for four years and Member for Gippsland South for 22 years, overseeing ministerial portfolios including Regional and Rural Development, Police and Emergency Services an... Read more
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