The National Party was a political party active in South Australia from 1917 to 1923, similar to the federal National Labor Party. It was created in the wake of the 1917 Australian Labor Party split over conscription along the same lines that occurred federally with the Nationalist Party of Australia, following the February 1917 expulsion from the South Australian Labor Party of sitting Premier Crawford Vaughan and his supporters. It was initially known as the National Labor Party like their federal counterpart, but was renamed at a conference in June 1917. The party initially continued on in government under Vaughan, but was subsequently defeated in parliament in July 1917, and thereafter served as the junior partner in a coalition with the Liberal Union under Archibald Peake.
The ALP had elected 26 of 46 Assembly members at the 1915 election, all but seven ALP MPs defected to National Labor. The ALP had 7 of 20 Council members, four defected. Seven National Labor MPs were re-elected at the 1918 election. William Harvey was left as he only National Labor MLC at the 1918 election. Peter Reidy was left as the only National Labor MP at the 1921 election.
The party discussed merging with the Liberal Union as early as 1917, but negotiations broke down, with the National Party's support for the dual vote in the Legislative Council a key sticking point. Nonetheless, the two parties contested the 1918 state election in coalition after a protracted period of negotiations.
Following conflict with their senior coalition partner, the National Party ministers were forced to resign from the Cabinet in late 1920, and the party contested the 1921 election, in conjunction with several former Liberals, as the Progressive Country Party. In the absence of any general agreement for the Liberal Union to not contest National Party/Progressive Country seats, the National Party were soundly defeated by their former coalition partner. Five incumbent MPs contested the election under this banner: Peter Reidy (Victoria), Edward Alfred Anstey and William David Ponder (North Adelaide), Frederick Coneybeer (East Torrens) and Thomas Hyland Smeaton (Sturt). Former MP John Vaughan also contested Sturt. Of those five, only Reidy, who had personally arranged to be unopposed by the Liberal Union, survived. William Humphrey Harvey, who had not been up for re-election, remained as their sole survivor in the Legislative Council. Harvey subsequently left the party to join the Liberal Union in July 1921. The party was being again referred to as the National Party when it merged with the Liberal Union to create the Liberal Federation in October 1923.
National Party (SA)
|Preceded by||Australian Labor Party (SA)|
|Merged into||Liberal Federation|