Western Victoria has a long and proud history of providing leaders for our country.
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But the last one was Malcolm Fraser, who was also the last prime minister with a regional or rural seat in parliament.
The coming election will be fought by leaders from Sydney and Melbourne.
Political scientist Nick Economou said demographic changes mean political capital is concentrated in Sydney and Melbourne and make it harder for country members of parliament to establish the power base needed to lead the Liberal or Labor party.
He said it was a real possibility Australia could never have another regional prime minister.
“If you look at it from a demographic angle, the metropolitan centres starting to dominate. It’s probably a reflection of its economic dominance,” he said.
“One wonders if we’ll ever get another PM from rural areas.”
But ABC host and long-time political commentator Barrie Cassidy said it was only a question of talent.
He highlighted Wannon MP Dan Tehan as a future contender who showed it was possible for a regional representative to rise in the Liberal Party.
One wonders if we’ll ever get another PM from rural areas.- Nick Economou
“My view on that is that of course it can happen again,” he said.
“Malcolm Fraser became prime minister despite being from the country. It wasn’t an issue.”
Mr Cassidy said it was also a question of numbers.
“The one impediment, if there is one, is that most MPs from the country tend to be Nationals, who don’t tend to be PM,” he said.
“You’re really talking about a small and limited field (from which) someone could emerge as leader material.”
Beyond the prime ministerships of Fraser and Alfred Deakin, Western Victoria was the birthplace of Robert Menzies and John Curtin.
Additionally, prime minister when the depression hit John Scullin spent over 20 years in Ballarat including a decade as a grocer before taking the seat of Corangamite.
Dr Economou said that despite the low likelihood of another rural PM, there was still plenty of opportunity for country influence within both major parties.
He said the National Party was reliable in pushing a regional agenda and Labor stood up when marginal seats were on offer.
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