• Publication Date: June 14, 2006
  • EAN: 9781862875265
  • 542 pages; 6" x 8⅝"

The Nationals

The Progressive, Country and National Party in New South Wales 1919 to 2006


Product Description

The Nationals tells the story of the NSW National Party from its foundation in 1919 as The Progressive Party to the contemporary era under Andrew Stoner’s leadership.

Paul Davey, a former Federal Director and NSW General Secretary, writes with an insider’s knowledge of the politics, policies and personalities that have shaped the modern party. His research is comprehensive including unfettered access to party archives.

Emerging in the wake of World War I, The Progressive Party splits after only two years when seven of its 15 members refuse to join a coalition government. These dissidents become known as the True Blues and are the founding parliamentary members of the Country and subsequent National Party. The party grows into one of the largest political organisations in the country, boasting nearly 50,000 financial members in New South Wales in the 1980s. It fights off merger proposals and survives, despite constant predictions of impending doom, as the only party which exclusively represents rural and regional New South Wales. The State party is also highly influential in the national context; every Federal Leader since John McEwen’s retirement in 1971 has come from New South Wales.

The Nationals is as much about people as policies. Davey studied a myriad of documents and interviewed a wide cross-section of party figures including all surviving State and Federal leaders. The studies and candid comments shed new light on people, policies and incidents ranging from Mick Bruxner’s and David Drummond’s building of inland roads, railways and country education facilities to Charles Cutler’s fight for State Aid for Independent schools; from the repulse of the Joh for Canberra campaign and Pauline Hanson’s One Nation to the challenge of Independents; from sometimes poisonous relations with the United Australia and Liberal parties to the State’s longest serving Coalition Government; from relations with the media, especially the country press, to the role of women and young people in the organisation; from the threats posed by changing demographics and electoral redistributions to the push by Doug Anthony to change the name from Country Party to National Country Party and later National Party.

The Nationals tells the story of a unique organisation – a political party that is not factionalised and that, despite occasional defections (not new in any party) remains remarkably stable. It has had only nine State and 11 Federal parliamentary leaders in its entire history to date. Moreover, while at times recording an apparently small share of the vote, it consistently returns a forceful block of members to the New South Wales and Commonwealth parliaments and wields, some would say disproportionately so, a significant influence on Australia’s political direction.

A NSW Sesquicentenary of Responsible Government publication.

The rascal George Beeby

The True Blues

Coalition and money: Divisive necessities

Results on the statute books

Bruxner leads again

Getting the message out

Tensions and jealousies

Calamities in war and politics

Amalgamation blitz

Towards a new era

Soldier to soldier

Out of the wilderness

Innovation and individual influence

A dramatic change in political direction

Country becomes National

Punching forward

Joh for Canberra

Big Wal and big problems

Continuing difficulties

A government nightmare

The influence of women and youth

Taking on all comers

Hanging in, not making ground

Towards 2007 and beyond

Even for those active in and allegedly knowledgeable of politics, Davey’s work of detailed research and chronology, of bringing out some of the personalities in objective reporting and tracking the growth and development of the most dominant third force in Australian politics makes fascinating reading.

… [Davey] is objective and, to the great benefit of the reader, he has not only a deep knowledge of his subject but is trusted by the major figures in the party so that no area, good or bad, is left unexamined or unexplored.

The frank comments and explanations of those integrally involved in National Party issues and development … enables outsiders to, for almost the first time, to gain a better understanding of the party. – Australian Quarterly March-April 2007

…handsomely produced… The book is very much an inside account of the party. As well as relying upon the party’s own records, for which he was given unfettered access, Mr Davey has also had access to a wide range of people involved in all aspects of the National Party. Despite his own affiliations with the party, he generally gives a fair minded account that is quite relaxed in pointing not only to the merits of the party but also its pitfalls and perils. The book is well written, though occasionally the organisation is slightly confused. It will, however, be the starting point for those who wish to further study the history of our conservative politics. Paul Davey is to be congratulated on this lucid and readable study. – Labour History No 93, November 2007

Paul Davey’s knowledge of the Party and objectivity as a reporter have combined to produce an important new publication on the National Party of New South Wales. It is a book that needed to be written, not only for New South Wales, but also because of that State’s pivotal role for the nation. – The Hon Tim Fischer, AC

Paul Davey has captured the drama and atmosphere of the National Party’s contribution to the positive development of rural and regional Australia. He has produced a scholarly document that is easy, interesting and revealing to read. – The Rt Hon Doug Anthony, AC CH

The country party of NSW, now approaching its centenary, has defied all predictions of its demise, including my own. Paul Davey has skilfully woven together the story of the party both in NSW and at the Federal level, illuminating our understanding of Australian Politics in the process. – Professor Don Aitkin, AO

The Nationals [is] an absorbing and objective book. … Davey unfolds intriguing stories of the inner workings of the party machine and the front men in the Parliament who made things happen.

The real value of The Nationals is in the way it relates political history in the context of eras at both state and federal levels so readers get a full and balanced picture of significant issues of wide public interest.

No propaganda platform or boring catalogue of dreary events, its resourceful presentation, explanations, interpretations, insights, copious references and endnotes, including first-hand reminiscences of and about leading participants, add character and colour to the content, providing interest for people of all political persuasions.

…The strength, competence and persistence of leadership is clearly evident in Davey’s analysis which highlights the prominent role of such doyens as Michael Bruxner, Charles Cutler, Earle Page, Doug Anthony and Tim Fischer, to mention a few, and the untiring efforts of others in circumstances ranging from harmonious and promising to hostile and exasperating.

The Nationals, elegantly published by The Federation Press in Sydney, undoubtedly will prove a popular and easy read for people throughout country New South Wales because it deals with issues that will interest everyone. – The Northern Daily Leader, 2 Sep 2006

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