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McNamara To Resign As Victorian National Party Leader

Outgoing National Party leader, Pat McNamaraPolitical change arising out of the September 18 election continues in Victoria with the announcement by National Party leader, Pat McNamara, that he is to relinquish the position he has held for the past 11 years.

McNamara, describing himself as one of the “dinosaurs”, will resign the leadership next month. He is expected to be replaced by the deputy leader and member for Gippsland South, Peter Ryan. McNamara made no announcement about if or when he will resign from parliament.

McNamara was elected as the member for Benalla in 1982, the election that brought the Cain Labor government to power. He became leader of the party following the retirement of long-time leader, Peter Ross-Edwards, in 1988. Prior to the 1992 election, McNamara struck a coalition deal that saw him become Deputy Premier following the defeat of the Kirner government.

The National Party’s role in the coalition government was the first time in over 50 years that the rural party had held ministerial office. Ironically, the Liberal Party had the numbers to govern in its own right throughout its 7 years in office under Jeff Kennett.

The elevation of Peter Ryan to the National Party leadership will come at a crucial period in the party’s history. The party holds only 7 seats in the Legislative Assembly, losing 2 at the recent election, one to the Liberals (Warrnambool) and one to an independent (Gippsland East). The party is battling challenges from independent candidates around the country. The ALP now holds more rural and provincial seats than the Nationals.

Ryan was born on 30 October 1950 in Bendigo. Prior to entering Parliament in 1992, he was a partner in the law firm Warren, Graham and Murphy in Sale.

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Malcolm Farnsworth
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