By BIANNCA CHALLANS
Most people have heard about Barnaby Joyce and the scandal that led to him losing his position as leader of the National Party – but who are the Nationals in South Australia?
The National Party of Australia’s South Australian branch is affiliated with, but independent from, its federal parent.
While they technically stand for the same principles, the South Australian branch does not sit in the Liberal-National Coalition that makes up the Federal Government.
The Nationals have also only sat in South Australian government during recent Labor government leadership.
Karlene Maywald, member for Chaffey from 1997–2010, made National Party history when she proclaimed she would support whichever party won the South Australian election and thereby formed a relationship with South Australia’s previous Labor Party Premier, Mike Rann.
This was the first time the Nationals, a predominantly right-wing party, had openly supported the ALP, a predominantly left-wing party, while the Liberal Party existed as a fellow right-wing option.
If in 2014, James Stacey had won a seat in the South Australian Senate, he would have been the link between the Nationals in SA and the Liberal-National coalition of the current Federal Government.
These events have given the South Australian branch a reputation for being ‘leftist’ in comparison to the Nationals that comprise the coalition elsewhere in Australia.
While they stand for the same principles, their disconnectedness from the party’s website and wording changes throughout their policy statements show events have influenced their right-wing ideals, shaping them more to South Australian life.
The Australian Conservatives Party are South Australia’s dominant far-right-wing political party and have candidates in formerly National electorates, such as Chaffey and Flinders.
All the electorates in which Nationals have previously campaigned – Finniss, Mackillop, and Goyder (now Narrunga) – have the respective Conservatives candidates – Bruce Hicks, Richard Bateman, and Rebecca Hewett.
In the electorates that have stood Nationals MPs in the past – Flinders on the Eyre Peninsula and Chaffey in the Riverland – the current Conservatives candidates are Tony Parker and Trevor Scott.
These similarities, and the fact that electorates like Narrunga are considered Liberal safe seats, show there is a demand for right-wing politics across rural areas.
Currently standing 33 candidates across 47 South Australian electorates, Conservatives have the ability that Nationals in SA do not – they can potentially form their own, stand-alone right-wing government, without giving preferences to any other party.
All candidates for the 2018 State Election can be found on respective parties’ websites, or through the Electoral Commission of South Australia: https://www.ecsa.sa.gov.au/parties-and-candidates/house-of-assembly-candidates