We’ve heard arguments about Queensland and Tasmania being the
political turncoat capital of Australia, but if you go back in history
I believe Victoria is arguably Australia’s leading territory in this
regard. What other state can boast a former Labor Premier who later
joined and became a minister in, of all things, a Country Party
Government?

It was none other than the almost forgotten Ned
Hogan, twice premier of Victoria in 1927-8 and 1929-32. Expelled from
the ALP over the Premiers’ Plan split about addressing the Great
Depression, Hogan retained his seat as an independent, later joining
the Country Party. When the Country Party stitched up a deal with Labor
in 1935 to cut the United Australia Party (predecessor of the Liberals)
out of office and govern in a minority with ALP support, Hogan became
minister of agriculture, serving until he retired in 1943.

Tom
Hollway, Liberal premier 1947-50, was deposed as leader and in 1952 had
two of his supporters in the Legislative Council vote with Labor to
block supply to the Country Party government. Hollway, with five
supporters in the lower house, was commissioned by the Governor to form
a government, which styled itself Electoral Reform, to secure supply,
which it did. It then lost a vote of confidence and fell, after just
three days.

The saga did not end there. Hollway left his seat
of Ballarat at the next election to run against the man who supplanted
him, Les Norman, and defeated him in his suburban seat of Glen Iris.

A
few years before this, in 1945, just after the Liberal Party was
formed, the party’s deputy leader and a senior minister, Ian Macfarlane,
became premier in a bizarre situation in which five members of the then
government crossed the floor and voted with the opposition. It led to
unprecedented confusion at the ensuing election when the Liberal
premier was opposed by his own party, and lost.

Even Tasmania’s two turncoats, Lyons and Lowe, barely rate on this scale of tergiversation.

Check out our growing list of political turncoats here.

Peter Fray

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