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Leadership spill

In Australian politics, a leadership spill is a declaration that the leadership of a parliamentary party is vacant, and open for re-election. A spill may involve all leadership positions (leader and deputy leader in both houses), or just the leader.

A leadership election may result in a new leader, or may confirm the status quo. If the party in question is in government, the election of a new leader will result in a new Prime Minister, Premier or Chief Minister; if the party is the opposition, the election of a new leader will result in a new Opposition Leader.


  • Westminster system 1
  • Notable spills 2
    • Federal 2.1
    • States 2.2
      • Queensland 2.2.1
      • South Australia 2.2.2
      • New South Wales 2.2.3
      • Northern Territory 2.2.4
  • References 3

Westminster system

In the Westminster system the leader of the party which forms government accordingly becomes the Prime Minister.[1] Contenders for the role of party leader are usually restricted to the cabinet.

A leadership spill occurs when a member or members of the parliamentary party feel that the leader is taking the party in an undesirable direction or is simply not delivering on their promises to those who elected them, and does not have the numbers to back his or her position. A spill may be triggered by consistently poor polling.

A spill can be initiated by the leader themselves, usually to ensure a fresh mandate to quell dissenting voices in the party. It may occur at any time, leaving the person in the leadership position always 'on notice'.[1]

Notable spills




South Australia

New South Wales

Northern Territory

  • March 2013: Adam Giles replaced Chief Minister Terry Mills as leader of the Country Liberal Party while Mills was on a trade mission, becoming the first indigenous head of government of an Australian state or territory.


  1. ^ a b Bennister, Mark (2012). Prime Ministers in Power: Political Leadership in Britain and Australia. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 73.  
  2. ^ "Gillard survives as challenge fizzles out". 
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