|Deputy Leader||Vickie Chapman|
|Preceded by||Liberal and Country League|
|Headquarters||104 Greenhill Road, Unley|
|Youth wing||South Australian Young Liberal Movement|
|National affiliation||Liberal Party of Australia|
|South Australian House of Assembly|
|South Australian Legislative Council|
|Australian House of Representatives|
|Parliamentary Party Leader|
|Inaugural holder||Bruce Eastick|
The Liberal Party of Australia (South Australian Division), commonly known as the South Australian Liberals, is the South Australian Division of the Liberal Party of Australia, formed in 1974, succeeding the Liberal and Country League (LCL). It is one of two major parties in the bicameral Parliament of South Australia, the other being the Australian Labor Party (SA Branch). The party has been led by Premier of South Australia Steven Marshall since the 2018 state election; their first win in twenty years.
The party has won only 4 of the 13 state elections since their formation: 1979, 1993, 1997 and 2018. The 1970 election marked the beginning of democratic proportional representation (one vote, one value), which ended decades of pro-rural electoral malapportionment known as the Playmander.
The Liberal Party of Australia (South Australian Division) was formed in 1974 as a reorganisation and rebranding of the Liberal and Country League (LCL). Bruce Eastick, the last leader of the LCL, became the first leader of the new party.
The LCL was preceded by the Liberal Federation (1923-1932) and the Liberal Union (1910-1923) with the latter created from a tri-merger between the Liberal and Democratic Union (formed 1906), the Farmers and Producers Political Union (formed 1904) and the National Defence League (formed 1891). In the LCL's 42-year existence, it spent a cumulative total of 34 years in government, mostly led by Thomas Playford IV. Playford's long rule was largely due to a pro-rural electoral malapportionment known as the Playmander, introduced by the LCL government in 1936. Under the Playmander, a vote in a low-population rural seat had anywhere from double to ten times the value of a vote in a high-population metropolitan seat, allowing the LCL to win sufficient parliamentary seats even when it lost the two-party vote by comprehensive margins at several elections: 1944, 1953, 1962 and 1968.
Playford had become synonymous with the LCL over his record 27-year tenure as Premier of South Australia. However, the first sign of trouble came at the 1962 election, with the refounding of a separate Country Party. Labor finally beat the Playmander against the odds at the 1965 election. Playford retired from politics shortly afterward. The LCL became moribund and divided, a trend that accelerated after the LCL briefly won back government at the 1968 election. The LCL lost the 1970 election, marking an end to the Playmander and the beginning of democratic proportional representation (one vote, one value) electoral systems in South Australia. Since then, Labor have won 11 of the 15 elections.
The divisions in the once-dominant party culminated when much of its socially progressive, or "small-l liberal" wing broke away to form the Liberal Movement under the leadership of former LCL leader and Premier Steele Hall in 1972. The reorganisation and rebranding of the LCL came two years later, while the New Liberal Movement merged with the Australia Party in 1977 to become the Australian Democrats.
To this day, ongoing division has continued based on both ideologies and personalities, with sides forming between the moderate Chapman and conservative Evans family dynasties, complicated further by the moderate Brown and conservative Olsen rifts.
Five of the ten parliamentary Liberal leaders have served as Premier of South Australia: David Tonkin (1979-1982), Dean Brown (1993-1996), John Olsen (1996-2001), Rob Kerin (2001-2002), and Steven Marshall (2018-present).
Six parliamentary Liberal deputy leaders have served as Deputy Premier of South Australia: Roger Goldsworthy (1979-1982), Stephen Baker (1993-1996), Graham Ingerson (1996-1998), Rob Kerin (1998-2001), Dean Brown (2001-2002), and Vickie Chapman (2018-present).
|Election||Seats won||±||Total votes||%||Position||Leader|
|1979||7||352,343||47.9%||Majority government||David Tonkin|
|1993||15||481,623||52.8%||Majority government||Dean Brown|
|1997||14||359,509||40.4%||Minority government||John Olsen|
|2018||3||398,182||38.0%||Majority government||Steven Marshall|