Liberal Party of Australia

This article is about the modern Australian political party. For the Liberal party active in Australia from 1909 to 1916, see Commonwealth Liberal Party.
Liberal Party of Australia
Leader Malcolm Turnbull
President Richard Alston
Deputy Leader Julie Bishop
Founded 31 August 1945 (1945-08-31)
Preceded by United Australia Party
Headquarters Cnr Blackall & Macquarie St
Barton ACT 2600
Youth wing Young Liberals
Membership 80,000[1]
Political position Centre-right[2]
National affiliation Liberal-National Coalition
International affiliation International Democrat Union
Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe[3] (regional partner)
Colours      Blue
House of Representatives
45 / 150
21 / 76

The Liberal Party of Australia (Lib or colloquially Libs) is a major political party in Australia. Founded in 1945 to replace the United Australia Party (UAP), the Liberal Party is one of the two major parties in Australian politics, along with the Australian Labor Party (ALP).

The Liberal Party is the largest and dominant party in the Coalition with the National Party of Australia, the Country Liberal Party of the Northern Territory and the Liberal National Party of Queensland. Except for a few short periods, the Liberal Party and its predecessors have operated in similar coalitions since the 1920s. Internationally, the Liberal Party is affiliated to the International Democrat Union.

The party's leader is Malcolm Turnbull and its deputy leader is Julie Bishop. The pair were elected to their positions at the September 2015 Liberal leadership ballot, Bishop was returned to the position of deputy leader and Turnbull as a replacement for Tony Abbott, whom he consequently succeeded as Prime Minister of Australia. Now the Turnbull Government, the party had been elected at the 2013 federal election as the Abbott Government which took office on 18 September 2013.[4] At state and territory level, the Liberal Party is in office in three states: Colin Barnett has been Premier of Western Australia since 2008, Will Hodgman Premier of Tasmania since 2014 and Mike Baird Premier of New South Wales since 2014. The party is in opposition in Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, the Australian Capital Territory, and the Northern Territory.

The party's ideology has been referred to as conservative,[5] liberal-conservative,[6] and conservative-liberal.[7] The Liberal Party tends to promote economic liberalism and social conservatism, though often the latter at the expense of the former, especially since the 1990s.[8] Two past leaders of the party, Sir Robert Menzies and John Howard, are Australia's two longest-serving Prime Ministers. The Liberal Party has spent more time in government than any other federal Australian political party.

Philosophies and factionalism

Malcolm Turnbull, Prime Minister 2015–present, Liberal leader 2008–09 and 2015–present
Sir Robert Menzies, founder of the Liberal Party and Prime Minister 1939–41 (UAP) and 1949–66
Harold Holt, Prime Minister 1966–67
Sir John Gorton, Prime Minister 1968–71
Sir William McMahon, Prime Minister 1971–72
Malcolm Fraser, Prime Minister 1975–83
John Howard, Prime Minister 1996–2007
Tony Abbott, Prime Minister 2013–15

The contemporary Liberal Party generally advocates economic liberalism (see New Right). Historically, the party has supported a higher degree of economic protectionism and interventionism than it has in recent decades. However, from its foundation the party has identified itself as anti-socialist. Strong opposition to socialism and communism in Australia and abroad was one of its founding principles. The party's founder and longest-serving leader Robert Menzies envisaged that Australia's middle class would form its main constituency.[9]

Towards the end of his term as Prime Minister of Australia, in a final address to the Liberal Party Federal Council in 1964, Menzies spoke of the "Liberal Creed" as follows:

As the etymology of our name 'Liberal' indicates, we have stood for freedom. We have realised that men and women are not just ciphers in a calculation, but are individual human beings whose individual welfare and development must be the main concern of government ... We have learned that the right answer is to set the individual free, to aim at equality of opportunity, to protect the individual against oppression, to create a society in which rights and duties are recognised and made effective.
Robert Menzies[10]

Soon after the election of the Howard Government the new Prime Minister John Howard, who was to become the second-longest serving Liberal Prime Minister, spoke of his interpretation of the "Liberal Tradition" in a Robert Menzies Lecture in 1996:

Menzies knew the importance for Australian Liberalism to draw upon both the classical liberal as well as the conservative political traditions. ... He believed in a liberal political tradition that encompassed both Edmund Burke and John Stuart Mill – a tradition which I have described in contemporary terms as the broad church of Australian Liberalism.
John Howard[10]

Throughout their history, the Liberals have been in electoral terms largely the party of the middle class (whom Menzies, in the era of the party's formation called "The forgotten people"), though such class-based voting patterns are no longer as clear as they once were. In the 1970s a left-wing middle class emerged that no longer voted Liberal. One effect of this was the success of a breakaway party, the Australian Democrats, founded in 1977 by former Liberal minister Don Chipp and members of minor liberal parties; other members of the left-leaning section of the middle-class became Labor supporters. On the other hand, the Liberals have done increasingly well in recent years among socially conservative working-class voters.However the Liberal Party's key support base remains the upper-middle classes; 16 of the 20 richest federal electorates are held by the Liberals, most of which are safe seats.[11] In country areas they either compete with or have a truce with the Nationals, depending on various factors.

Menzies was an ardent constitutional monarchist, who supported the Monarchy in Australia and links to the Commonwealth of Nations. Today the party is divided on the question of republicanism, with some (such as incumbent leader Malcolm Turnbull) being republicans, while others (such as his predecessor Tony Abbott) are monarchists. The Menzies Government formalised Australia's alliance with America in 1951, and the party has remained a strong supporter of the mutual defence treaty.

Domestically, Menzies presided over a fairly regulated economy in which utilities were publicly owned, and commercial activity was highly regulated through centralised wage-fixing and high tariff protection. Liberal leaders from Menzies to Malcolm Fraser generally maintained Australia's high tariff levels. At that time the Liberals' coalition partner, the Country Party, the older of the two in the coalition (now known as the "National Party"), had considerable influence over the government's economic policies. It was not until the late 1970s and through their period out of power federally in the 1980s that the party came to be influenced by what was known as the "New Right" – a conservative liberal group who advocated market deregulation, privatisation of public utilities, reductions in the size of government programs and tax cuts.

Socially, while liberty and freedom of enterprise form the basis of its beliefs, elements of the party have wavered between what is termed "small-l liberalism" and social conservatism. Historically, Liberal Governments have been responsible for the carriage of a number of notable "socially liberal" reforms, including the opening of Australia to multiethnic immigration under Menzies and Harold Holt; Holt's 1967 Referendum on Aboriginal Rights;[12] Sir John Gorton's support for cinema and the arts;[13] selection of the first Aboriginal Senator, Neville Bonner, in 1971;[14] and Malcolm Fraser's Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1976. A West Australian Liberal, Ken Wyatt, became the first Indigenous Australian elected to the House of Representatives in 2010.[15]

The party has mainly two unorganised factions, the conservative right and the moderate left. Historically, moderates have at times formed their own parties, most notably the Australian Democrats who gave voice to what is termed small-l liberalism in Australia.

The Liberal Party is a member of the International Democrat Union, the only party with the name Liberal to hold membership.


The Liberal Party's organisation is dominated by the six state divisions, reflecting the party's original commitment to a federalised system of government (a commitment which was strongly maintained by all Liberal governments until 1983, but was to a large extent abandoned by the Howard Government, which showed strong centralising tendencies). Menzies deliberately created a weak national party machine and strong state divisions. Party policy is made almost entirely by the parliamentary parties, not by the party's rank-and-file members, although Liberal party members do have a degree of influence over party policy.[16]

The Liberal Party's basic organisational unit is the branch, which consists of party members in a particular locality. For each electorate there is a conference–notionally above the branches–which coordinates campaigning in the electorate and regularly communicates with the member (or candidate) for the electorate. As there are three levels of government in Australia, each branch elects delegates to a local, state, and federal conference.[16]

All the branches in an Australian state are grouped into a Division. The ruling body for the Division is a State Council. There is also one Federal Council which represents the entire organisational Liberal Party in Australia. Branch executives are delegates to the Councils ex-officio and additional delegates are elected by branches, depending on their size.[16]

Preselection of electoral candidates is performed by a special electoral college convened for the purpose. Membership of the electoral college consists of head office delegates, branch officers, and elected delegates from branches.[16]


Party foundation

The Liberals' immediate predecessor was the United Australia Party (UAP). More broadly, the Liberal Party's ideological ancestry stretched back to the anti-Labor groupings in the first Commonwealth parliaments. The Commonwealth Liberal Party was a fusion of the Free Trade Party and the Protectionist Party in 1909 by the second prime minister, Alfred Deakin, in response to Labor's growing electoral prominence. The Commonwealth Liberal Party merged with several Labor dissidents (including Billy Hughes) to form the Nationalist Party of Australia in 1917. That party, in turn, merged with Labor dissidents to form the UAP in 1931.

The UAP had been formed as a new conservative alliance in 1931, with Labor defector Joseph Lyons as its leader. The stance of Lyons and other Labor rebels against the more radical proposals of the Labor movement to deal the Great Depression had attracted the support of prominent Australian conservatives.[17] With Australia still suffering the effects of the Great Depression, the newly formed party won a landslide victory at the 1931 Election, and the Lyons Government went on to win three consecutive elections. It largely avoided Keynesian pump-priming and pursued a more conservative fiscal policy of debt reduction and balanced budgets as a means of stewarding Australia out of the Depression. Lyons' death in 1939 saw Robert Menzies assume the Prime Ministership on the eve of war. Menzies served as Prime Minister from 1939 to 1941 but resigned as leader of the minority World War II government amidst an unworkable parliamentary majority. The UAP, led by Billy Hughes, disintegrated after suffering a heavy defeat in the 1943 election.

Menzies called a conference of conservative parties and other groups opposed to the ruling Australian Labor Party, which met in Canberra on 13 October 1944 and again in Albury, New South Wales in December 1944.[18][19] From 1942 onward Menzies had maintained his public profile with his series of "The Forgotten People" radio talks–similar to Franklin D. Roosevelt's "fireside chats" of the 1930s–in which he spoke of the middle class as the "backbone of Australia" but as nevertheless having been "taken for granted" by political parties.[20][21]

Outlining his vision for a new political movement in 1944, Menzies said:

...[W]hat we must look for, and it is a matter of desperate importance to our society, is a true revival of liberal thought which will work for social justice and security, for national power and national progress, and for the full development of the individual citizen, though not through the dull and deadening process of socialism.
Robert Menzies[22]

The formation of the party was formally announced at Sydney Town Hall on 31 August 1945.[19] It took the name "Liberal" in honour of the old Commonwealth Liberal Party. The new party was dominated by the remains of the old UAP; with few exceptions, the UAP party room became the Liberal party room. The Australian Women's National League, a powerful conservative women's organisation, also merged with the new party. A conservative youth group Menzies had set up, the Young Nationalists, was also merged into the new party. It became the nucleus of the Liberal Party's youth division, the Young Liberals. By September 1945 there were more than 90,000 members, many of whom had not previously been members of any political party.[19]

Menzies era

Sir Robert Menzies, Dame Enid Lyons (the first woman member of an Australian Cabinet), Sir Eric Harrison, Harold Holt (Menzies' successor) and Tom White, in 1946.

After an initial loss to Labor at the 1946 election, Menzies led the Liberals to victory at the 1949 election, and the party stayed in office for a record 23 years—still the longest unbroken run in government at the federal level. Australia experienced prolonged economic growth during the post-war boom period of the Menzies Government (1949–1966) and Menzies fulfilled his promises at the 1949 election to end rationing of butter, tea and petrol and provided a five-shilling endowment for first-born children, as well as for others.[23] While himself an unashamed anglophile, Menzies' government concluded a number of major defence and trade treaties that set Australia on its post-war trajectory out of Britain's orbit; opened Australia to multi-ethnic immigration; and instigated important legal reforms regarding Aboriginal Australians.

Menzies ran strongly against Labor's plans to nationalise the Australian banking system and, following victory in the 1949 election, secured a double dissolution election for April 1951, after the Labor-controlled Senate refused to pass his banking legislation. The Liberal-Country Coalition was returned with control of the Senate. The Government was returned again in the 1954 election; the formation of the anti-Communist Democratic Labor Party (DLP) and the consequent split in the Australian Labor Party early in 1955 helped the Liberals to another victory in December 1955. John McEwen replaced Arthur Fadden as leader of the Country Party in March 1958 and the Menzies-McEwen Coalition was returned again at elections in November 1958 – their third victory against Labor's H. V. Evatt. The Coalition was narrowly returned against Labor's Arthur Calwell in the December 1961 election, in the midst of a credit squeeze. Menzies stood for office for the last time in the November 1963 election, again defeating Calwell, with the Coalition winning back its losses in the House of Representatives. Menzies went on to resign from parliament on 26 January 1966.[24]

Menzies came to power the year the Communist Party of Australia had led a coal strike to improve pit miners' working conditions. That same year Joseph Stalin's Soviet Union exploded its first atomic bomb, and Mao Zedong led the Communist Party of China to power in China; a year later came the invasion of South Korea by Communist North Korea. Anti-communism was a key political issue of the 1950s and 1960s.[25] Menzies was firmly anti-Communist; he committed troops to the Korean War and attempted to ban the Communist Party of Australia in an unsuccessful referendum during the course of that war. The Labor Party split over concerns about the influence of the Communist Party over the Trade Union movement, leading to the foundation of the breakaway Democratic Labor Party whose preferences supported the Liberal and Country parties.[26]

In 1951, during the early stages of the Cold War, Menzies spoke of the possibility of a looming third world war. The Menzies Government entered Australia's first formal military alliance outside of the British Commonwealth with the signing of the ANZUS Treaty between Australia, New Zealand and the United States in San Francisco in 1951. External Affairs Minister Percy Spender had put forward the proposal to work along similar lines to the NATO Alliance. The Treaty declared that any attack on one of the three parties in the Pacific area would be viewed as a threat to each, and that the common danger would be met in accordance with each nation's constitutional processes. In 1954 the Menzies Government signed the South East Asia Collective Defence Treaty (SEATO) as a South East Asian counterpart to NATO. That same year, Soviet diplomat Vladimir Petrov and his wife defected from the Soviet embassy in Canberra, revealing evidence of Russian spying activities; Menzies called a Royal Commission to investigate.[27]

In 1956 a committee headed by Sir Keith Murray was established to inquire into the financial plight of Australia's universities, and Menzies pumped funds into the sector under conditions which preserved the autonomy of universities.

Menzies continued the expanded immigration program established under Chifley, and took important steps towards dismantling the White Australia Policy. In the early 1950s, external affairs minister Percy Spender helped to establish the Colombo Plan for providing economic aid to underdeveloped nations in Australia's region. Under that scheme many future Asian leaders studied in Australia.[28] In 1958 the government replaced the Immigration Act's arbitrarily applied European language dictation test with an entry permit system, that reflected economic and skills criteria.[29][30] In 1962, Menzies' Commonwealth Electoral Act provided that all Indigenous Australians should have the right to enrol and vote at federal elections (prior to this, indigenous people in Queensland, Western Australia and some in the Northern Territory had been excluded from voting unless they were ex-servicemen).[31] In 1949 the Liberals appointed Dame Enid Lyons as the first woman to serve in an Australian Cabinet. Menzies remained a staunch supporter of links to the monarchy and British Commonwealth but formalised an alliance with the United States and concluded the Agreement on Commerce between Australia and Japan which was signed in July 1957 and launched post-war trade with Japan, beginning a growth of Australian exports of coal, iron ore and mineral resources that would steadily climb until Japan became Australia's largest trading partner.

Menzies retired in 1966 as Australia's longest-serving Prime Minister.

Holt Government

Main article: Holt Government
Prime Minister Harold Holt (second from left), with SEATO leaders in Manila, in 1966. The Liberal Party was in power through much of the early Post-War period in which Australia's allegiances, immigration and trade policies shifted away from reliance on Britain.

Harold Holt replaced the retiring Robert Menzies in 1966 and the Holt Government went on to win 82 seats to Labor's 41 in the 1966 election.[32] Holt remained Prime Minister until 19 December 1967, when he was declared presumed dead two days after disappearing in rough surf in which he had gone for a swim.

Holt increased Australian commitment to the growing War in Vietnam, which met with some public opposition. His government oversaw conversion to decimal currency. Holt faced Britain's withdrawal from Asia by visiting and hosting many Asian leaders and by expanding ties to the United States, hosting the first visit to Australia by an American president, his friend Lyndon B. Johnson. Holt's government introduced the Migration Act 1966, which effectively dismantled the White Australia Policy and increased access to non-European migrants, including refugees fleeing the Vietnam War. Holt also called the 1967 Referendum which removed the discriminatory clause in the Australian Constitution which excluded Aboriginal Australians from being counted in the census – the referendum was one of the few to be overwhelmingly endorsed by the Australian electorate (over 90% voted 'yes'). By the end of 1967, the Liberals' initially popular support for the war in Vietnam was causing increasing public protest.[33]

Gorton Government

Main article: Gorton Government
John and Bettina Gorton. Prime Minister John Gorton led Australia into the tumultuous decade of the 1970s. Gorton declared himself "Australian to the bootheels" and increased funding for Australian cinema and arts to project a newly assertive Australian nationalism.

The Liberals chose John Gorton to replace Holt. Gorton, a former World War II Royal Australian Air Force pilot, with a battle scarred face, said he was "Australian to the bootheels" and had a personal style which often affronted some conservatives.

The Gorton Government increased funding for the arts, setting up the Australian Council for the Arts, the Australian Film Development Corporation and the National Film and Television Training School. The Gorton Government passed legislation establishing equal pay for men and women and increased pensions, allowances and education scholarships, as well as providing free health care to 250,000 of the nation's poor (but not universal health care). Gorton's government kept Australia in the Vietnam War but stopped replacing troops at the end of 1970.[34]

Gorton maintained good relations with the United States and Britain, but pursued closer ties with Asia. The Gorton government experienced a decline in voter support at the 1969 election. State Liberal leaders saw his policies as too Centralist, while other Liberals didn't like his personal behaviour. In 1971, Defence Minister Malcolm Fraser, resigned and said Gorton was "not fit to hold the great office of Prime Minister". In a vote on the leadership the Liberal Party split 50/50, and although this was insufficient to remove him as the leader, Gorton decided this was also insufficient support for him, and he resigned.[34]

McMahon Government

Former treasurer, William McMahon, replaced Gorton as Prime Minister. Gorton remained a front bencher but relations with Fraser remained strained. The McMahon Government ended when Gough Whitlam led the Australian Labor Party out of its 23-year period in Opposition at the 1972 election.

The economy was weakening. McMahon maintained Australia's diminishing commitment to Vietnam and criticised Opposition leader, Gough Whitlam, for visiting Communist China in 1972—only to have the US President Richard Nixon announce a planned visit soon after.[35]

During McMahon's period in office, Neville Bonner joined the Senate and became the first Indigenous Australian in the Australian Parliament.[36] Bonner was chosen by the Liberal Party to fill a Senate vacancy in 1971 and celebrated his maiden parliamentary speech with a boomerang throwing display on the lawns of Parliament. Bonner went on to win election at the 1972 election and served as a Liberal Senator for 12 years. He worked on Indigenous and social welfare issues and proved an independent minded Senator, often crossing the floor on Parliamentary votes.[37]

Following Whitlam's victory, John Gorton played a further role in reform by introducing a Parliamentary motion from Opposition supporting the legalisation of same-gender sexual relations. Billy Snedden led the party against Whitlam in the 1974 federal election, which saw a return of the Labor government. When Malcolm Fraser won the Liberal Party leadership from Snedden in 1975, Gorton walked out of the Party Room.[38]

Fraser years

Main article: Fraser Government
Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser (second right) and Tammie Fraser (left) with US President Ronald Reagan and Nancy at the White House in 1982. Fraser came to power amidst the divisive 1975 Australian constitutional crisis, but went on to lead Australia into the 1980s.

Following the 1974–75 Loans Affair, the Malcolm Fraser led Liberal-Country Party Coalition argued that the Whitlam Government was incompetent and delayed passage of the Government's money bills in the Senate, until the government would promise a new election. Whitlam refused, Fraser insisted leading to the divisive 1975 Australian constitutional crisis. The deadlock came to an end when the Whitlam government was dismissed by the Governor-General, Sir John Kerr on 11 November 1975 and Fraser was installed as caretaker Prime Minister, pending an election. Fraser won in a landslide at the resulting 1975 election.

Fraser maintained some of the social reforms of the Whitlam era, while seeking increased fiscal restraint. His government included the first Aboriginal federal parliamentarian, Neville Bonner, and in 1976, Parliament passed the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1976, which, while limited to the Northern Territory, affirmed "inalienable" freehold title to some traditional lands. Fraser established the multicultural broadcaster SBS, accepted Vietnamese refugees, opposed minority white rule in Apartheid South Africa and Rhodesia and opposed Soviet expansionism. A significant program of economic reform however was not pursued. By 1983, the Australian economy was suffering with the early 1980s recession and amidst the effects of a severe drought. Fraser had promoted "states' rights" and his government refused to use Commonwealth powers to stop the construction of the Franklin Dam in Tasmania in 1982.[39] Liberal minister, Don Chipp split off from the party to form a new social liberal party, the Australian Democrats in 1977. Fraser won further substantial majorities at the 1977 and 1980 elections, before losing to the Bob Hawke led Australian Labor Party in the 1983 election.[40]

Federal opposition, state success

A period of division for the Liberals followed, with former Treasurer John Howard competing with former Foreign Minister Andrew Peacock for supremacy. The Australian economy was facing the early 1990s recession. Unemployment reached 11.4% in 1992. Under Dr John Hewson, in November 1991, the opposition launched the 650-page Fightback! policy document − a radical collection of "dry", economic liberal measures including the introduction of a Goods and Services Tax (GST), various changes to Medicare including the abolition of bulk billing for non-concession holders, the introduction of a nine-month limit on unemployment benefits, various changes to industrial relations including the abolition of awards, a $13 billion personal income tax cut directed at middle and upper income earners, $10 billion in government spending cuts, the abolition of state payroll taxes and the privatisation of a large number of government owned enterprises − representing the start of a very different future direction to the keynesian economic conservatism practiced by previous Liberal/National Coalition governments. The 15 percent GST was the centerpiece of the policy document. Through 1992, Labor Prime Minister Paul Keating mounted a campaign against the Fightback package, and particularly against the GST, which he described as an attack on the working class in that it shifted the tax burden from direct taxation of the wealthy to indirect taxation as a broad-based consumption tax. Pressure group activity and public opinion was relentless, which led Hewson to exempt food from the proposed GST − leading to questions surrounding the complexity of what food was and wasn't to be exempt from the GST. Hewson's difficulty in explaining this to the electorate was exemplified in the infamous birthday cake interview, considered by some as a turning point in the election campaign. Keating won a record fifth consecutive Labor term at the 1993 election. A number of the proposals were later adopted in to law in some form, to a small extent during the Keating Labor government, and to a larger extent during the Howard Liberal government (most famously the GST), while unemployment benefits and bulk billing were re-targeted for a time by the Abbott Liberal government.

At the state level, the Liberals have been dominant for long periods in all states except Queensland, where they have always held fewer seats than the National Party (not to be confused with the old Nationalist Party). The Liberals were in power in Victoria from 1955 to 1982. Jeff Kennett led the party back to office in that state in 1992, and remained Premier until 1999.

In South Australia, initially a Liberal and Country Party affiliated party, the Liberal and Country League (LCL), mostly led by Premier of South Australia Tom Playford, was in power from the 1933 election to the 1965 election, though with assistance from an electoral malapportionment, or gerrymander, known as the Playmander. The LCL's Steele Hall governed for one term from the 1968 election to the 1970 election and during this time began the process of dismantling the Playmander. David Tonkin, as leader of the South Australian Division of the Liberal Party of Australia, became Premier at the 1979 election for one term, losing office at the 1982 election. The Liberals returned to power at the 1993 election, led by Premiers Dean Brown, John Olsen and Rob Kerin through two terms, until their defeat at the 2002 election. They have since remained in opposition under a record five Opposition Leaders.

The dual aligned Country Liberal Party ruled the Northern Territory from 1978 to 2001.

The party has held office in Western Australia intermittently since 1947. Liberal Richard Court was Premier of the state for most of the 1990s.

In New South Wales, the Liberal Party has not been in office as much as its Labor rival, and just three leaders have led the party from opposition to government in that state: Sir Robert Askin, who was premier from 1965 to 1975, Nick Greiner, who came to office in 1988 and resigned in 1992, and Barry O'Farrell who would lead the party out of 16 years in opposition in 2011.

The Liberal Party does not officially contest most local government elections, although many members do run for office in local government as independents. An exception is the Brisbane City Council, where both Sallyanne Atkinson and Campbell Newman have been elected Lord Mayor of Brisbane.[41]

Howard Government

Main article: Howard Government
Prime Minister John Howard with APEC leaders in Sydney in 2007. Howard supported the traditional icons of Australian identity and its international allegiances, but oversaw booming trade with Asia and increased multiethnic immigration.

Labor's Paul Keating lost the 1996 Election to the Liberals' John Howard. The Liberals had been in Opposition for 13 years.[42] With John Howard as Prime Minister, Peter Costello as Treasurer and Alexander Downer as Foreign Minister, the Howard Government remained in power until their electoral defeat to Kevin Rudd in 2007.

Howard generally framed the Liberals as being conservative on social policy, debt reduction and matters like maintaining Commonwealth links and the American Alliance but his premiership saw booming trade with Asia and expanding multiethnic immigration. His government concluded the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement with the Bush Administration in 2004.[36]

Howard differed from his Labor predecessor Paul Keating in that he supported traditional Australian institutions like the Monarchy in Australia, the commemoration of ANZAC Day and the design of the Australian flag, but like Keating he pursued privatisation of public utilities and the introduction of a broad based consumption tax (although Keating had dropped support for a GST by the time of his 1993 election victory). Howard's premiership coincided with Al Qaeda's 11 September attacks on the United States. The Howard Government invoked the ANZUS treaty in response to the attacks and supported America's campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In the 2004 Federal elections the party strengthened its majority in the Lower House and, with its coalition partners, became the first federal government in twenty years to gain an absolute majority in the Senate. This control of both houses permitted their passing of legislation without the need to negotiate with independents or minor parties, exemplified by industrial relations legislation known as WorkChoices, a wide ranging effort to increase deregulation of industrial laws in Australia.

In 2005, Howard reflected on his government's cultural and foreign policy outlook in oft repeated terms:[43]

When I became Prime Minister nine years ago, I believed that this nation was defining its place in the world too narrowly. My Government has rebalanced Australia's foreign policy to better reflect the unique intersection of history, geography, culture and economic opportunity that our country represents. Time has only strengthened my conviction that we do not face a choice between our history and our geography.
John Howard

The 2007 federal election saw the defeat of the Howard federal government, and the Liberal Party was in opposition throughout Australia at the state and federal level; the highest Liberal office-holder at the time was Brisbane Lord Mayor Campbell Newman. This ended after the Western Australian state election, 2008, when Colin Barnett became Premier of that state.


Following the 2007 federal election, Dr Brendan Nelson was elected leader by the Parliamentary Liberal Party. On 16 September 2008, in a second contest following a spill motion, Nelson lost the leadership to Malcolm Turnbull.[44] On 1 December 2009, a subsequent leadership election saw Turnbull lose the leadership to Tony Abbott by 42 votes to 41 on the second ballot.[45] Abbott led the party to the 2010 federal election, which saw an increase in the Liberal Party vote and resulted in the first hung parliament since the 1940 election.[46]

Through 2010, the party improved its vote in the Tasmanian and South Australian state elections and achieved state government in Victoria. In March 2011, the New South Wales Liberal-National Coalition led by Barry O'Farrell won government with the largest election victory in post-war Australian history at the State Election.[47] In Queensland, the Liberal and National parties merged in 2008 to form the new Liberal National Party of Queensland (registered as the Queensland Division of the Liberal Party of Australia). In March 2012, the new party achieved Government in an historic landslide, led by former Brisbane Lord Mayor, Campbell Newman.[48]

Abbott government

Main article: Abbott Government

Turnbull government

Main article: Turnbull Government

List of leaders

The following is a complete list of Liberal Party leaders:

  Liberal   Labor   Country/National
PM: Prime Minister
LO: Leader of the Opposition
†: Died in office

No. Leader Portrait Term of Office Position Prime Minister
vacant 13 July 1945 31 August 1945 Chifley
1 Robert Menzies 31 August 1945 26 January 1966 LO 1945–1949
PM 1949–1966 Menzies
2 Harold Holt 26 January 1966 17 December 1967 PM 1966–1967 Holt
vacant 17 December 1967 10 January 1968 McEwen
3 John Gorton 10 January 1968 10 March 1971 PM 1968–1971 Gorton
4 William McMahon 10 March 1971 5 December 1972 PM 1971–1972 McMahon
vacant 5 December 1972 20 December 1972 Whitlam
5 Billy Snedden 20 December 1972 21 March 1975 LO 1972–1975
6 Malcolm Fraser 21 March 1975 11 March 1983 LO 1975
PM 1975–1983 Fraser
7 Andrew Peacock 11 March 1983 5 September 1985 LO 1983–1985 Hawke
8 John Howard 5 September 1985 9 May 1989 LO 1985–1989
(7) Andrew Peacock 9 May 1989 3 April 1990 LO 1989–1990
9 John Hewson 3 April 1990 23 May 1994 LO 1990–1991
LO 1991–1994 Keating
10 Alexander Downer 23 May 1994 30 January 1995 LO 1994–1995
(8) John Howard 30 January 1995 29 November 2007 LO 1995–1996
PM 1996–2007 Howard
11 Brendan Nelson 29 November 2007 16 September 2008 LO 2007–2008 Rudd
12 Malcolm Turnbull 16 September 2008 1 December 2009 LO 2008–2009
13 Tony Abbott 1 December 2009 14 September 2015 LO 2009–2010
LO 2010–2013 Gillard
LO 2013 Rudd
PM 2013–2015 Abbott
(12) Malcolm Turnbull 14 September 2015 Incumbent PM 2015–present Turnbull

Liberal federal leaders by time in office

No Name Term began Term ended Time in office Term as Prime Minister
1 Menzies, Sir RobertSir Robert Menzies 31 August 1945 26 January 1966 20 years, 117 days (UAP 1939–41), 1949–66
(8) Howard, JohnJohn Howard 30 January 1995 29 November 2007 12 years, 303 days 1996–2007
6 Fraser, MalcolmMalcolm Fraser 21 March 1975 11 March 1983 7 years, 355 days 1975–83
13 Abbott, TonyTony Abbott 1 December 2009 14 September 2015 5 years, 287 days 2013–15
9 Hewson, JohnJohn Hewson 3 April 1990 23 May 1994 4 years, 50 days
8 Howard, JohnJohn Howard 5 September 1985 9 May 1989 3 years, 246 days
3 Gorton, Sir JohnSir John Gorton 10 January 1968 10 March 1971 3 years, 59 days 1968–71
7 Peacock, AndrewAndrew Peacock 11 March 1983 5 September 1985 2 years, 178 days
5 Snedden, Sir BillySir Billy Snedden 20 December 1972 21 March 1975 2 years, 91 days
2 Holt, HaroldHarold Holt 26 January 1966 19 December 1967 1 year, 327 days 1966–67
4 McMahon, Sir WilliamSir William McMahon 10 March 1971 5 December 1972 1 year, 270 days 1971–72
12 Turnbull, MalcolmMalcolm Turnbull 16 September 2008 1 December 2009 1 year, 76 days
(12) Turnbull, MalcolmMalcolm Turnbull 14 September 2015 Incumbent 1 year, 82 days 2015–present
(7) Peacock, AndrewAndrew Peacock 9 May 1989 3 April 1990 329 days
11 Nelson, BrendanBrendan Nelson 29 November 2007 16 September 2008 292 days
10 Downer, AlexanderAlexander Downer 23 May 1994 30 January 1995 252 days

Liberal federal deputy leaders

Shown in chronological order of leadership
Year Name Notes
1945 Sir Eric Harrison
1956 Harold Holt Later Prime Minister 1966–67
1966 Sir William McMahon Later Prime Minister 1971–72
1971 Sir John Gorton Previously Prime Minister 1968–71
1971 Sir Billy Snedden Later Leader
1972 Sir Phillip Lynch
1982 John Howard Later Prime Minister 1996–2007
1985 Neil Brown
1987 Andrew Peacock Previously & Later Leader
1989 Fred Chaney
1990 Peter Reith
1993 Michael Wooldridge
1994 Peter Costello
2007 Julie Bishop

Current Liberal state and territory parliamentary leaders

State Lower House Seats
NSW Parliament
37 / 93
VIC Parliament
30 / 88
QLD Parliament
42 / 89
WA Parliament
31 / 59
SA Parliament
21 / 47
TAS Parliament
15 / 25
Territory Assembly Seats
ACT Parliament
11 / 25
NT Parliament
2 / 25
State/ Territory Leader Notes
WA Colin Barnett Premier of Western Australia since September 2008
SA Steven Marshall Leader of the Opposition of South Australia since February 2013
ACT Alistair Coe Leader of the Opposition of the Australian Capital Territory since October 2016
TAS Will Hodgman Premier of Tasmania since March 2014
NSW Mike Baird Premier of New South Wales since April 2014
VIC Matthew Guy Leader of the Opposition of Victoria since December 2014
QLD Tim Nicholls Leader of the Opposition of Queensland since May 2016
NT Gary Higgins Leader of the Opposition of the Northern Territory since September 2016

1 Queensland is represented by the Liberal National Party of Queensland. This party is the result of a merger of the Queensland Division of the Liberal Party and the Queensland National Party to contest elections as a single party.

2 The Northern Territory is represented by the Country Liberal Party, which is endorsed as the Territory division of the Liberal Party.

Past Liberal state premiers and territory chief ministers

Australian Capital Territory Years
Trevor Kaine 1989–1991
Kate Carnell 1995–2000
Gary Humphries 2000–2001
New South Wales Years
Sir Robert Askin 1965–1975
Tom Lewis 1975–1976
Sir Eric Willis 1976
Nick Greiner 1988–1992
John Fahey 1992–1995
Barry O'Farrell 2011–2014
Queensland Years
Sir Gordon Chalk 1968
Campbell Newman 2012–2015
South Australia Years
David Tonkin 1979–1982
Dean Brown 1993–1996
John Olsen 1996–2001
Rob Kerin 2001–2002
Tasmania Years
Sir Angus Bethune 1969–1972
Robin Gray 1982–1989
Ray Groom 1992–1996
Tony Rundle 1996–1998
Victoria Years
Ian Macfarlan 1945
Thomas Hollway 1947–1950
Sir Henry Bolte 1955–1972
Sir Rupert Hamer 1972–1981
Lindsay Thompson 1981–1982
Jeff Kennett 1992–1999
Ted Baillieu 2010–2013
Denis Napthine 2013–2014
Western Australia Years
Sir Ross McLarty 1947–1953
Sir David Brand 1959–1971
Sir Charles Court 1974–1982
Ray O'Connor 1982–1983
Richard Court 1993–2001

Liberal federal presidents

R.G. Menzies House, the Liberal Party's national headquarters, in the Canberra suburb of Barton
Shown in chronological order of presidency

Federal election results

House of Representatives

Election Seats won ± Total votes Share of votes Position Party Leader
15 / 76
Increase15 1,241,650 28.58% Opposition Robert Menzies
55 / 121
Increase40 1,813,794 39.39% Majority gov't (LP-CP) Robert Menzies
52 / 121
Decrease3 1,854,799 40.62% Majority gov't (LP-CP) Robert Menzies
47 / 121
Decrease5 1,745,808 38.31% Majority gov't (LP-CP) Robert Menzies
57 / 122
Increase10 1,746,485 39.73% Majority gov't (LP-CP) Robert Menzies
58 / 122
Increase1 1,859,180 37.23% Majority gov't (LP-CP) Robert Menzies
45 / 122
Decrease13 1,761,738 33.58% Majority gov't (LP-CP) Robert Menzies
52 / 122
Increase7 2,030,823 37.09% Majority gov't (LP-CP) Robert Menzies
61 / 124
Increase9 2,291,964 40.14% Majority gov't (LP-CP) Harold Holt
46 / 125
Decrease15 2,125,987 34.77% Majority gov't (LP-CP) John Gorton
38 / 125
Decrease8 2,115,085 32.04% Opposition William McMahon
40 / 127
Increase2 2,582,968 34.95% Opposition Billy Snedden
68 / 127
Increase28 3,232,159 41.80% Majority gov't (LP-NP) Malcolm Fraser
67 / 124
Decrease1 3,017,896 38.09% Majority gov't (LP-NP) Malcolm Fraser
54 / 125
Decrease13 3,108,512 37.43% Majority gov't (LP-NP) Malcolm Fraser
33 / 125
Decrease21 2,983,986 34.36% Opposition Malcolm Fraser
45 / 148
Increase12 2,951,556 34.06% Opposition Andrew Peacock
43 / 148
Decrease2 3,175,262 34.41% Opposition John Howard
55 / 148
Increase12 3,468,570 35.04% Opposition Andrew Peacock
49 / 147
Decrease6 3,923,786 37.10% Opposition John Hewson
75 / 148
Increase26 4,210,689 38.69% Majority gov't (LP-NP) John Howard
64 / 148
Decrease11 3,764,707 33.89% Majority gov't (LP-NP) John Howard
68 / 150
Increase4 4,244,072 37.40% Majority gov't (LP-NP) John Howard
74 / 150
Increase5 4,741,458 40.47% Majority gov't (LP-NP-CLP) John Howard
55 / 150
Decrease20 4,546,600 36.60% Opposition John Howard
44 / 150
Decrease11 3,777,383 30.46% Opposition Tony Abbott
58 / 150
Increase14 4,134,865 32.02% Majority gov't (LP-LNP-NP-CLP) Tony Abbott
45 / 150
Decrease13 28.67% Majority gov't (LP-LNP-NP) Malcolm Turnbull

See also

Further reading


  1. "Our Structure". Liberal Party of Australia. Retrieved 17 May 2014.
  3. AECR membership
  5. James C. Docherty (2010). The A to Z of Australia. Scarecrow Press. p. 186. ISBN 978-1-4616-7175-6.
  6. Nicole A. Thomas; Tobias Loetscher; Danielle Clode; Michael E. R. Nicholls (2012). "Right-Wing Politicians Prefer the Emotional Left". 7 (5). PLOS ONE: 4. The Liberal Party of Australia has an ideology in line with liberal conservatism and is therefore right of centre.
  7. Peter Starke; Alexandra Kaasch; Franca Van Hooren (2013). The Welfare State as Crisis Manager: Explaining the Diversity of Policy Responses to Economic Crisis. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 191. ISBN 978-1-137-31484-0.
  8. Dennis Raphael (2012). Tackling Health Inequalities: Lessons from International Experiences. Canadian Scholars’ Press. p. 66. ISBN 978-1-55130-412-0.
  9. The Forgotten People
  10. 1 2 "We believe: the Liberal party and the liberal cause". The Australian. 26 October 2009.
  11. "Liberals still dominate the top end - Mumble".
  12. "Fact sheets – National Archives of Australia". 27 May 1967. Retrieved 27 April 2010.
  13. "Chronology 1960s – ASO". Retrieved 27 April 2010.
  14. "ABC News Obituary – Neville Bonner". Retrieved 27 April 2010.
  15. "Ken Wyatt | Hasluck". 23 August 2010. Retrieved 1 February 2011.
  16. 1 2 3 4
  17. "Before office – Joseph Lyons – Australia's PMs – Australia's Prime Ministers". Retrieved 21 June 2012.
  18. "Formation of the Liberal Party of Australia". Party History. Liberal Party of Australia – Queensland Division. Archived from the original on 26 April 2007. Retrieved 11 April 2007.
  19. 1 2 3 Ian Hancock. "The Origins of the Modern Liberal Party". Harold White Fellowships. National Library of Australia. Retrieved 11 April 2007.
  20. "Menzies' Forgotten People Speech – Australian History, Australian Prime Ministers". Retrieved 21 June 2012.
  21. "The Forgotten People – Speech by Robert Menzies on 22 May 1942. Liberals.Net: Liberal Party of Australia". 22 May 1942. Retrieved 21 June 2012.
  22. "Our History – Liberal Party of Australia". 16 October 1944. Retrieved 21 June 2012.
  23. Brian Carroll; From Barton to Fraser; Cassell Australia; 1978
  24. "Elections – Robert Menzies – Australia's PMs – Australia's Prime Ministers". Retrieved 21 June 2012.
  25. "Bob Santamaria – Interview Transcript tape 3". Retrieved 27 April 2010.
  26. " + updated + " (30 April 2010). "ABC The Drum – Conviction? Clever Kevin is no Pig Iron Bob". Retrieved 21 June 2012.
  27. A. W. Martin. "Biography – Sir Robert Gordon (Bob) Menzies – Australian Dictionary of Biography". Retrieved 21 June 2012.
  28. "The way we were: quiet, maybe, but certainly not dull". The Sydney Morning Herald. 26 April 2011.
  29. Jan Bassett (1986) p.273
  30. Frank Crowley p.358
  31. Change name. "Electoral Milestones – Timetable for Indigenous Australians – Australian Electoral Commission". Retrieved 21 June 2012.
  32. "Elections – Harold Holt – Australia's PMs – Australia's Prime Ministers". Retrieved 21 June 2012.
  33. "In office – Harold Holt – Australia's PMs – Australia's Prime Ministers". Retrieved 21 June 2012.
  34. 1 2 "In office – John Gorton – Australia's PMs – Australia's Prime Ministers". Retrieved 21 June 2012.
  35. "In office – William McMahon – Australia's PMs – Australia's Prime Ministers". Retrieved 21 June 2012.
  36. 1 2 "Timeline – Australia's Prime Ministers". Retrieved 21 June 2012.
  37. "Civics | Neville Bonner (1922–1999)". Retrieved 21 June 2012.
  38. "After office – John Gorton – Australia's PMs – Australia's Prime Ministers". Retrieved 21 June 2012.
  39. "In office – Malcolm Fraser – Australia's PMs – Australia's Prime Ministers". Retrieved 21 June 2012.
  40. "Robert Hawke – Australia's PMs – Australia's Prime Ministers". Retrieved 21 June 2012.
  41. "The Poll Vault: Can do Campbell now the Libs man".
  42. "In office – Paul Keating – Australia's PMs – Australia's Prime Ministers". Retrieved 21 June 2012.
  43. "Transcript of the Prime Ministerthe Hon John Howard Mpaddress to the Lowy Institute For International Policy". Retrieved 21 June 2012.
  44. Hudson, Phillip (16 September 2008). "Get behind Turnbull: Nelson tells Libs". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 16 February 2009.
  45. Shock win for Abbott in leadership vote, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 1 December 2009.
  46. "Voters leave Australia hanging" ABC News, 21 August 2010
  47. "Bleakest hour is one for the history books". The Sydney Morning Herald. 28 March 2011.
  48. "LNP Celebrate Campbell Newman Queensland Election Victory". Retrieved 21 June 2012.

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Liberal Party of Australia.
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 12/2/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.