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Nationals Concede Benalla To ALP

The National Party has conceded defeat in the Benalla by-election. Held by the conservative political parties since 1904, Benalla was snatched by the ALP yesterday with a swing of over 8%.

Denise AllenCounting of postal and pre-poll votes today has seen Labor’s Denise Allen (pictured) increase her lead over the National Party’s Bill Sykes.

Allen has been winning 50.5% of the postal votes, maintaining the trend of voters throughout the central Victorian electorate. She now has a two-party-preferred lead of 50.66%, or 390 votes. With about 1000 votes still to come in, she is in an unbeatable position.

The ALP’s primary vote has increased by 18.69% since the 1996 election when its candidate polled only 23.64%. Yesterday Allen polled 42.33% of the primary vote, down slightly from the 42.59% she secured in last year’s general election. Allen and former Deputy Premier Pat McNamara were the only candidates in that election. [Read more…]

Historic Victory As Labor Wins Benalla By-Election; Rural Voters Vent More Anger On Coalition

Whilst counting of postal, absentee and pre-poll votes is not yet complete, the ALP appears to have scored an historic victory by winning the National Party electorate of Benalla in today’s by-election.

Benalla By-Election 13-5-00
Candidate Party %
SMITH, Maurie Ind 0.72
HILL, Bill Ind 6.82
THORPE, Alf ARP 0.29
ALLEN, Denise ALP 41.98
MACKENZIE, Janet Greens 2.05
SYKES, Bill NPA 41.00
ROWE, Geoff Ind 7.14

With results from all 45 polling booths now in, the ALP’s Denise Allen has 41.98% of the primary vote, compared to 41% for the National Party’s Bill Sykes.

On the two-party-preferred count, Allen leads the Nationals by 50.43% to 49.57%, a swing of 7.84% over the September 1999 result when the seat was won by the National Party’s former leader, Pat McNamara.

The 1999 result was itself a 7.85% swing from the 1996 general election. Since 1996, the ALP has secured a total swing of 15.69% in Benalla, an electorate held continuously by the conservative parties since 1904.

The ALP’s victory in Benalla gives it 44 seats in the Legislative Assembly, compared to 41 for the coalition parties. There are 3 independents who have committed themselves to supporting the Bracks government. [Read more…]

Benalla By-Election A Test For National Party

Today’s by-election for the Victorian Legislative Assembly seat of Benalla will be a test for the National Party which has held the seat since its creation in 1904.

Denise AllenA win for the Labor Party would reduce its reliance on the support of the 3 Independents in the lower house.

The Bracks government currently holds 43 seats and governs with the support of independents Susan Davies (Gippsland West), Russell Savage (Mildura) and Craig Ingram (Gippsland East).

Victory in Benalla would allow the ALP to pass its legislation to trial heroin injecting rooms with the support of Susan Davies, although the Opposition-controlled Legislative Council would most likely still block the measure. [Read more…]

McNamara Announces Retirement; Perilous By-Election In Benalla

Pat McNamara, former Victorian National Party leaderThe Victorian coalition parties face a perilous by-election in Benalla in the new year following the decision of Pat McNamara to retire from Parliament.

McNamara resigned today as leader of the National Party and was replaced by Peter Ryan. Ryan was elected unanimously. The MLA for Swan Hill, Barry Steggall, is his new deputy.

The expected by-election follows last weekend’s 10% swing to the ALP which delivered the Bracks government Burwood, the seat of former Premier Jeff Kennett.

McNamara won Benalla last September in a two-candidate contest, securing 57.41% of the vote.

There are 46 polling booths in Benalla, many of them small in numbers. Last September, McNamara won all but 3 – Eildon, Jamieson and Wandiligong – and these were won only narrowly by the ALP candidate, Denise Allen.

By contrast, at the 1996 election, McNamara secured 58.86% of the primary vote against 4 other candidates, including independent Bill Hill who has announced he will contest the forthcoming by-election. Hill won 15.36% of the primary vote in 1996.

Given the strong showing for independents in other rural seats in this year’s election, the National Party has good cause to be concerned about its capacity to retain Benalla, but Labor and independent candidates will have no illusions about their prospects in this traditional conservative electorate.

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.

Jeff Kennett Press Conference In Response To Independents’ Charter

This is the full text of the press conference held to present the coalition’s response to the Charter of Demands presented by the 3 Independent members of the Legislative Assembly.

Transcript of Victorian coalition leader’s press conference.


  • JEFF KENNETT, Premier of Victoria
  • MARK BIRRELL, Minister for Industry, Science & Technology, Government Leader in the Upper House
  • PAT McNAMARA, Deputy Premier, Minister for Agriculture and Resources
  • GEOFF CRAIGE, Minister for Decentralisation, Minister for Business & Employment

JEFF KENNETT: All right. Well, thank you very much. We are officially releasing the Coalition’s response to the Independents’ Charter this morning. Can I just make the point we’re releasing it now, because during the discussions we had with the Independents, they requested that we give them time to consider the document before we released it publicly. And we have honoured that undertaking. [Read more…]