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The Liberal Party of Australia is a
centre-right Centre-right politics lean to the Right-wing politics, right of the Left–right politics, political spectrum, but are closer to the Centrism, centre. From the 1780s to the 1880s, there was a shift in the Western world of social class structure a ...
political party in Australia, one of the two
major parties A major party is a political party that holds substantial influence in a country's politics, standing in contrast to a minor party A minor party is a political party A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to ...
in Australian politics, along with the
centre-left Centre-left politics lean to the Left-wing politics, left on the left–right political spectrum but are closer to the Centrism, centre than other left-wing politics. Those on the centre-left believe in working within the established systems to ...
Australian Labor Party The Australian Labor Party (ALP), also simply known as Labor, is the major centre-left political party in Australia, one of two Major party, major parties in Politics of Australia, Australian politics, along with the Centre-right politics, cen ...
. It was founded in 1944 as the successor to the
United Australia Party The United Australia Party (UAP) was an Australian political party that was founded in 1931 and dissolved in 1945. The party won four Elections in Australia, federal elections in that time, usually governing Coalition (Australia), in coalition ...
and has since become the most successful political party in Australia's history. The Liberal Party is the dominant partner in the
Coalition A coalition is a group formed when two or more people or groups temporarily work together to achieve a common goal. The term is most frequently used to denote a formation of power in political or economical spaces. Formation According to ''A Gui ...
with the
National Party of Australia The National Party of Australia, also known as The Nationals or The Nats, is an List of political parties in Australia, Australian political party. Traditionally representing graziers, farmers, and regional voters generally, it began as the Au ...
. At the federal level, the Liberal Party and its predecessors have been in coalition with the National Party since the 1920s. The Coalition was most recently in power from the 2013 federal election to the 2022 federal election, forming the Abbott (2013–2015), Turnbull (2015–2018) and Morrison (2018–2022) governments. After the Liberal Party lost the
2022 Australian federal election The 2022 Australian federal election was held on Saturday 21 May 2022 to elect members of the 47th Parliament of Australia The 47th Parliament of Australia is the current meeting of the legislative branch of the Australian Government of Aus ...
, Morrison announced he would step down as leader of the Liberal Party. Deputy Leader Josh Frydenberg also lost his seat, making senior Liberal MP
Peter Dutton Peter Craig Dutton (born 18 November 1970) is an Australian politician who has been leader of the opposition The Leader of the Opposition is a title traditionally held by the leader of the Opposition (parliamentary), largest political part ...
the most likely to succeed Morrison as the Liberal Party leader. The Liberal Party has a federal structure, with autonomous divisions in all six states and the
Australian Capital Territory The Australian Capital Territory (commonly abbreviated as ACT), known as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) until 1938, is a landlocked federal territory of Australia containing the national capital Canberra and some surrounding township#Aust ...
(ACT). The
Country Liberal Party The Country Liberal Party of the Northern Territory (CLP) is a centre-right political party in Australia's Northern Territory. In local politics it operates in a two-party system with the Australian Labor Party (ALP). It also contests Election ...
(CLP) of the
Northern Territory The Northern Territory (commonly abbreviated as NT; formally the Northern Territory of Australia) is an states and territories of Australia, Australian territory in the central and central northern regions of Australia. The Northern Territory ...
is an affiliate. Both the CLP and the Liberal National Party (LNP), the Queensland state division, were formed through mergers of the local Liberal and National parties. At state and territory level, the Liberal Party is in office in two states:
New South Wales ) , nickname = , image_map = New South Wales in Australia.svg , map_caption = Location of New South Wales in AustraliaCoordinates: , subdivision_type = Country , subdivision_name = Australia , established_title = Before federation , es ...
since 2011 and
Tasmania ) , nickname = , image_map = Tasmania in Australia.svg , map_caption = Location of Tasmania in AustraliaCoordinates: , subdivision_type = Country , subdi ...
since 2014. The party is in opposition in the states of Victoria,
Queensland ) , nickname = Sunshine State , image_map = Queensland in Australia.svg , map_caption = Location of Queensland in Australia , subdivision_type = Country , subdivision_name = Australia , established_title = Before federation , established_ ...
,
South Australia South Australia (commonly abbreviated as SA) is a States and territories of Australia, state in the southern central part of Australia. It covers some of the most arid parts of the country. With a total land area of , it is the fourth-largest o ...
, and
Western Australia Western Australia (commonly abbreviated as WA) is a state of Australia occupying the western percent of the land area of Australia excluding external territories. It is bounded by the Indian Ocean to the north and west, the Southern Ocean to th ...
, and in both the ACT and Northern Territory. The party's ideology has been referred to as
conservative Conservatism is a Philosophy of culture, cultural, Social philosophy, social, and political philosophy that seeks to promote and to preserve traditional institutions, practices, and values. The central tenets of conservatism may vary in r ...
,
liberal-conservative Liberal conservatism is a political ideology combining conservative policies with liberal stances, especially on economic issues but also on social and ethical matters, representing a brand of political conservatism strongly influenced b ...
, conservative-liberal, and
classical liberal Classical liberalism is a political tradition and a History of liberalism, branch of liberalism that advocates free market and laissez-faire economics; civil liberties under the rule of law with especial emphasis on individual autonomy, limit ...
. The Liberal Party tends to promote
economic liberalism Economic liberalism is a List of political ideologies, political and economic ideology that supports a market economy based on individualism and private property in the means of production. Adam Smith is considered one of the primary initial wr ...
(which in the Australian usage refers to
free market In economics Economics () is the social science that studies the Production (economics), production, distribution (economics), distribution, and Consumption (economics), consumption of goods and services. Economics focuses on the b ...
s and
small government Libertarian conservatism, also referred to as conservative libertarianism and conservatarianism, is a Political philosophy, political and social philosophy that combines Conservatism in the United States, conservatism and Libertarianism in the ...
), and
social conservatism Social conservatism is a political philosophy and variety of conservatism which places emphasis on Tradition, traditional Power structure, power structures over Cultural pluralism, social pluralism. Social conservatives Political campaign, org ...
. Two past leaders of the party, Sir
Robert Menzies The name Robert is an ancient Germanic given name, from Proto-Germanic "fame" and "bright" (''Hrōþiberhtaz''). Compare Old Dutch ''Robrecht'' and Old High German ''Hrodebert'' (a compound of '' Hruod'' ( non, Hróðr) "fame, glory, h ...
and
John Howard John Winston Howard (born 26 July 1939) is an Australian former politician who served as the 25th prime minister of Australia from 1996 to 2007, holding office as leader of the Liberal Party of Australia, Liberal Party. His eleven-year tenur ...
, are Australia's two longest-serving Prime Ministers.


History


Party Foundation

The Liberals' immediate predecessor was the
United Australia Party The United Australia Party (UAP) was an Australian political party that was founded in 1931 and dissolved in 1945. The party won four Elections in Australia, federal elections in that time, usually governing Coalition (Australia), in coalition ...
(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 The Liberal Party was a parliamentary party in Australian federal politics between 1909 and 1917. The party was founded under Alfred Deakin's leadership as a merger of the Protectionist Party and Anti-Socialist Party, an event known as the Fus ...
was a fusion of the Free Trade (Anti-socialist) Party and the Protectionist Party in 1909 by the second prime minister,
Alfred Deakin Alfred Deakin (3 August 1856 – 7 October 1919) was an Australian politician who served as the second Prime Minister of Australia. He was a leader of the movement for Federation of Australia, Federation, which occurred in 1901. During his thr ...
, in response to Labor's growing electoral prominence. The Commonwealth Liberal Party merged with several Labor dissidents (including
Billy Hughes William Morris Hughes (25 September 1862 – 28 October 1952) was an Australian politician who served as the seventh prime minister of Australia The prime minister of Australia is the head of government of the Commonwealth of Australia ...
) to form the
Nationalist Party of Australia The Nationalist Party, also known as the National Party, was an Australian political party. It was formed on 17 February 1917 from a merger between the Commonwealth Liberal Party and the National Labor Party, the latter formed by Prime Mini ...
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 The Great Depression (19291939) was an economic shock that impacted most countries across the world. It was a period of economic depression that became evident after a major fall in stock prices in the United States. The Financial contagion, ...
had attracted the support of prominent Australian conservatives. 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 The name Robert is an ancient Germanic given name, from Proto-Germanic "fame" and "bright" (''Hrōþiberhtaz''). Compare Old Dutch ''Robrecht'' and Old High German ''Hrodebert'' (a compound of '' Hruod'' ( non, Hróðr) "fame, glory, h ...
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 World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a world war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved the World War II by country, vast majority of the world's countries—including all of the great power ...
government amidst an unworkable parliamentary majority. The UAP, led by Billy Hughes, disintegrated after suffering a heavy defeat in the 1943 election. In New South Wales, the party merged with the Commonwealth Party to form the Democratic Party, In Queensland the state party was absorbed into the Queensland People's Party. From 1942 onward Menzies had maintained his public profile with his series of "The Forgotten People" radio talks—similar to
Franklin D. Roosevelt Franklin Delano Roosevelt (; ; January 30, 1882April 12, 1945), often referred to by his initials FDR, was an American politician and attorney who served as the 32nd president of the United States The president of the United Stat ...
's "
fireside chats The fireside chats were a series of evening radio Radio is the technology of signaling and telecommunication, communicating using radio waves. Radio waves are electromagnetic waves of frequency between 30 hertz (Hz) and 300 gigahe ...
" 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. 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 Albury () is a major regional city in New South Wales, Australia. It is located on the Hume Highway and the northern side of the Murray River. Albury is the Local government in Australia, seat of local government for the council area which also ...
,
New South Wales ) , nickname = , image_map = New South Wales in Australia.svg , map_caption = Location of New South Wales in AustraliaCoordinates: , subdivision_type = Country , subdivision_name = Australia , established_title = Before federation , es ...
in December 1944. Outlining his vision for a new political movement, Menzies said: The formation of the party was formally announced at
Sydney Town Hall The Sydney Town Hall is a late 19th-century heritage-listed town hall building in the city of Sydney, the capital city of New South Wales, Australia, housing the chambers of the Lord Mayor of Sydney, council offices, and venues for meetings and ...
on 31 August 1945. 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. In New South Wales, the New South Wales division of the Liberal Party replaced the Liberal Democratic Party and Democratic Party between January and April 1945. In Queensland, the Queensland People's Party did not become part of the Liberal Party until July 1949, when it became the Queensland division of the Liberal Party.


Menzies Era

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— the longest unbroken run ever in government at the federal level. Australia experienced prolonged economic growth during the post-war boom period of the
Menzies Government (1949–1966) Menzies Government may refer to: *Menzies government (1939–1941) *Menzies government (1949–1966) {{Disambiguation ...
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. 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 up Australia to multi-ethnic immigration; and instigated important legal reforms regarding Aboriginal Australians. Menzies was strongly opposed to Labor's plans to nationalise the Australian banking system and, following victory at the 1949 election, secured a
double dissolution A double dissolution is a procedure permitted under the Constitution of Australia, Australian Constitution to resolve deadlocks in the bicameral Parliament of Australia between the Australian House of Representatives, House of Representatives ( ...
election for April 1951, after the Labor-controlled Senate rejected his banking legislation. The Liberal-Country Coalition was returned with control of the
Senate A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house An upper house is one of two Debate chamber, chambers of a bicameralism, bicameral legislature, the other chamber being the lower house.''Bicameralism'' (1997) by George Tseb ...
. The Government was re-elected again at 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 secure another victory in December 1955.
John McEwen Sir John McEwen, (29 March 1900 – 20 November 1980) was an Australian politician who served as the 18th prime minister of Australia The prime minister of Australia is the head of government of the Commonwealth of Australia. The prime ...
replaced
Arthur Fadden Sir Arthur William Fadden, (13 April 189421 April 1973) was an Australian politician who served as the 13th prime minister of Australia from 29 August to 7 October 1941. He was the leader of the National Party of Australia, Country Party from 1 ...
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 Arthur Augustus Calwell (28 August 1896 – 8 July 1973) was an Australian politician who served as the leader of the Australian Labor Party, Labor Party from 1960 to 1967. He led the party to three federal elections. Calwell grew up in Melbo ...
in the December 1961 election, in the midst of a credit squeeze. Menzies stood for office for the last time at 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. 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 Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin (born Ioseb Besarionis dze Jughashvili; – 5 March 1953) was a Georgian revolutionary and Soviet The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a List of former ...
's
Soviet Union The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a List of former transcontinental countries#Since 1700, transcontinental country that spanned much of Eurasia from 1922 to 1991. A flagship communist state, ...
exploded its first
atomic bomb A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission (fission bomb) or a combination of fission and fusion reactions ( thermonuclear bomb), producing a nuclear explosion. Both bom ...
, and
Mao Zedong Mao Zedong pronounced ; also Romanization of Chinese, romanised traditionally as Mao Tse-tung. (26 December 1893 – 9 September 1976), also known as Chairman Mao, was a Chinese communist revolutionary who was the List of national founde ...
led the
Chinese Communist Party The Chinese Communist Party (CCP), officially the Communist Party of China (CPC), is the founding and One-party state, sole ruling party of the China, People's Republic of China (PRC). Under the leadership of Mao Zedong, the CCP emerged victoriou ...
to power in China; a year later came the invasion of
South Korea South Korea, officially the Republic of Korea (ROK), is a country in East Asia, constituting the southern part of the Korea, Korean Peninsula and sharing a Korean Demilitarized Zone, land border with North Korea. Its western border is formed ...
by Communist
North Korea North Korea, officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), is a country in East Asia. It constitutes the northern half of the Korea, Korean Peninsula and shares borders with China and Russia to the north, at the Yalu River, Y ...
. Anti-communism was a key political issue of the 1950s and 1960s. Menzies was firmly anti-Communist; he committed troops to the
Korean War , date = {{Ubl, 25 June 1950 – 27 July 1953 (''de facto'')({{Age in years, months, weeks and days, month1=6, day1=25, year1=1950, month2=7, day2=27, year2=1953), 25 June 1950 – present (''de jure'')({{Age in years, months, weeks a ...
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. In 1951, during the early stages of the
Cold War The Cold War is a term commonly used to refer to a period of Geopolitics, geopolitical tension between the United States and the Soviet Union and their respective allies, the Western Bloc and the Eastern Bloc. The term ''Cold war (term), co ...
, 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 Sir Percy Claude Spender (5 October 18973 May 1985) was an Australian politician, diplomat, and judge. He served in the Australian House of Representatives, House of Representatives from 1937 to 1951, including as a cabinet minister under Robe ...
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. In 1956, a committee headed by Sir Keith Murray was established to inquire into the financial plight of Australia's universities, and Menzies injected 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 The White Australia policy is a term encapsulating a set of historical policies that aimed to forbid people of non-European ethnic origin, especially Asians (primarily Chinese people, Chinese) and Pacific Islanders, from immigration to Austral ...
. In the early-1950s, external affairs minister
Percy Spender Sir Percy Claude Spender (5 October 18973 May 1985) was an Australian politician, diplomat, and judge. He served in the Australian House of Representatives, House of Representatives from 1937 to 1951, including as a cabinet minister under Robe ...
helped to establish the
Colombo Plan The Colombo Plan is a regional intergovernmental organization that began operations on 1 July 1951. The organization was conceived at an international conference, The Commonwealth Conference on Foreign Affairs held in Colombo, Ceylon (now Sri L ...
for providing economic aid to underdeveloped nations in Australia's region. Under that scheme many future Asian leaders studied in Australia. 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. In 1962, Menzies' ''Commonwealth Electoral Act'' provided that all
Indigenous Australians Indigenous Australians or Australian First Nations are people with familial heritage from, and membership in, the ethnic groups that lived in Australia before History of Australia (1788–1850), British colonisation. They consist of two distin ...
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). In 1949, the Liberals appointed
Dame Enid Lyons Dame Enid Muriel Lyons (née Burnell; 9 July 1897 – 2 September 1981) was an Australian politician who was the first woman elected to the Australian House of Representatives, House of Representatives and the first woman to serve in Cabinet of ...
as the first woman to serve in an Australian Cabinet. Menzies remained a staunch supporter of links to the
monarchy A monarchy is a government#Forms, form of government in which a person, the monarch, is head of state for life or until abdication. The legitimacy (political)#monarchy, political legitimacy and authority of the monarch may vary from restric ...
and
British Commonwealth The Commonwealth of Nations, simply referred to as the Commonwealth, is a political association of 56 member states, the vast majority of which are former territories of the British Empire. The chief institutions of the organisation are the C ...
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

Harold Holt Harold Edward Holt (5 August 190817 December 1967) was an Australian politician who served as the 17th prime minister of Australia from 1966 until his Disappearance of Harold Holt, presumed death in 1967. He held office as leader of the Liber ...
replaced the retiring
Robert Menzies The name Robert is an ancient Germanic given name, from Proto-Germanic "fame" and "bright" (''Hrōþiberhtaz''). Compare Old Dutch ''Robrecht'' and Old High German ''Hrodebert'' (a compound of '' Hruod'' ( non, Hróðr) "fame, glory, h ...
in 1966 and the Holt Government went on to win 82 seats to Labor's 41 at the 1966 election. 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. His body has never been found. Holt increased Australian commitment to the growing War in Vietnam, which met with some public opposition. His government oversaw conversion to
decimal currency Decimalisation or decimalization (see spelling differences Despite the various English dialects Dialects are variety (linguistics), linguistic varieties that may differ in pronunciation, vocabulary, spelling and grammar. For the classific ...
. 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 The White Australia policy is a term encapsulating a set of historical policies that aimed to forbid people of non-European ethnic origin, especially Asians (primarily Chinese people, Chinese) and Pacific Islanders, from immigration to Austral ...
and increased access to non-European migrants, including refugees fleeing the
Vietnam War The Vietnam War (also known by #Names, other names) was a conflict in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. It was the second of the Indochina Wars and was officially fought between North Vi ...
. Holt also called the 1967 Referendum which removed the discriminatory clause in the
Australian Constitution The Constitution of Australia (or Australian Constitution) is a written constitution, constitutional document that is Constitution, supreme law in Australia. It establishes Australia as a Federation of Australia, federation under a constitutio ...
which excluded
Aboriginal Australians Aboriginal Australians are the various Indigenous peoples of the Mainland Australia, Australian mainland and many of its islands, such as Tasmania, Fraser Island, Hinchinbrook Island, the Tiwi Islands, and Groote Eylandt, but excluding the T ...
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.


Gorton Government

The Liberals chose
John Gorton Sir John Grey Gorton (9 September 1911 – 19 May 2002) was an Australian politician who served as the List of Prime Ministers of Australia, nineteenth Prime Minister of Australia, in office from 1968 to 1971. He led the Liberal Party of Austr ...
to replace Holt. Gorton, a former
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a world war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved the World War II by country, vast majority of the world's countries—including all of the great power ...
Royal Australian Air Force "Through Adversity to the Stars" , colours = , colours_label = , march = , mascot = , anniversaries = RAAF Anniversary Commemoration ...
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 The Vietnam War (also known by #Names, other names) was a conflict in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. It was the second of the Indochina Wars and was officially fought between North Vi ...
but stopped replacing troops at the end of 1970. 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 John Malcolm Fraser (; 21 May 1930 – 20 March 2015) was an Australian politician who served as the 22nd prime minister of Australia from 1975 to 1983, holding office as the leader of the Liberal Party of Australia. Fraser was raised on hi ...
, 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.


McMahon Government and Snedden leadership

Former treasurer,
William McMahon Sir William McMahon (23 February 190831 March 1988) was an Australian politician who served as the 20th Prime Minister of Australia The prime minister of Australia is the head of government of the Commonwealth of Australia. The prime m ...
, replaced Gorton as Prime Minister. Gorton remained a front bencher but relations with Fraser remained strained. The McMahon Government ended when
Gough Whitlam Edward Gough Whitlam (11 July 191621 October 2014) was the 21st prime minister of Australia, serving from 1972 to 1975. The longest-serving federal leader of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) from 1967 to 1977, he was notable for being the he ...
led the
Australian Labor Party The Australian Labor Party (ALP), also simply known as Labor, is the major centre-left political party in Australia, one of two Major party, major parties in Politics of Australia, Australian politics, along with the Centre-right politics, cen ...
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 Richard Milhous Nixon (January 9, 1913April 22, 1994) was the 37th president of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. A member of the Republican Party (United States), Republican Party, he previously served as a United States House ...
announce a planned visit soon after. During McMahon's period in office,
Neville Bonner Neville Thomas Bonner Order of Australia, AO (28 March 19225 February 1999) was an Australian politician, and the first Aboriginal Australians, Aboriginal Australian to become a member of the Parliament of Australia. He was appointed by the Parl ...
joined the Senate and became the first
Indigenous Australian Indigenous Australians or Australian First Nations are people with familial heritage from, and membership in, the ethnic groups that lived in Australia before History of Australia (1788–1850), British colonisation. They consist of two distin ...
in the
Australian Parliament The Parliament of Australia (officially the Federal Parliament, also called the Commonwealth Parliament) is the legislature, legislative branch of the government of Australia. It consists of three elements: the monarch (represented by the ...
. 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. 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 Sir Billy Mackie Snedden, (31 December 1926 – 27 June 1987) was an Australian politician who served as the leader of the Liberal Party of Australia, Liberal Party from 1972 to 1975. He was also a cabinet minister from 1964 to 1972, and Spea ...
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.


Fraser years

Following the 1974–75 Loans Affair, the
Malcolm Fraser John Malcolm Fraser (; 21 May 1930 – 20 March 2015) was an Australian politician who served as the 22nd prime minister of Australia from 1975 to 1983, holding office as the leader of the Liberal Party of Australia. Fraser was raised on hi ...
led Liberal-Country Party Coalition argued that the Whitlam Government was incompetent and delayed passage of the Government's
money bill In the Westminster system (and, colloquially, in the United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in No ...
s in the
Senate A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house An upper house is one of two Debate chamber, chambers of a bicameralism, bicameral legislature, the other chamber being the lower house.''Bicameralism'' (1997) by George Tseb ...
, until the government would promise a new election. Whitlam refused, yet Fraser insisted leading to the divisive
1975 Australian constitutional crisis The 1975 Australian constitutional crisis, also known simply as the Dismissal, culminated on 11 November 1975 with the dismissal from office of the Prime Minister of Australia, prime minister, Gough Whitlam of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) ...
. The deadlock came to an end when the Whitlam government was controversially dismissed by the
Governor-General Governor-general (plural ''governors-general''), or governor general (plural ''governors general''), is the title of an office-holder. In the context of governors-general and former British colonies, governors-general are appointed as viceroy t ...
, 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 Neville Thomas Bonner Order of Australia, AO (28 March 19225 February 1999) was an Australian politician, and the first Aboriginal Australians, Aboriginal Australian to become a member of the Parliament of Australia. He was appointed by the Parl ...
, and in 1976, Parliament passed the
Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1976 The ''Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976'' (ALRA) is Australian federal government legislation that provides the basis upon which Aboriginal Australian Aboriginal Australians are the various Indigenous peoples of the ...
, 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 Apartheid (, especially South African English: , ; , "aparthood") was a system of institutionalised racial segregation that existed in South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the So ...
South Africa and
Rhodesia Rhodesia (, ), officially from 1970 the Republic of Rhodesia, was an unrecognised state in Southern Africa from 1965 to 1979, equivalent in territory to modern Zimbabwe. Rhodesia was the ''de facto'' Succession of states, successor state to th ...
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 The early 1980s recession was a severe economic recession that affected much of the world between approximately the start of 1980 and 1983. It is widely considered to have been the most severe recession since World War II. A key event leading to ...
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. Liberal minister Don Chipp split off from the party to form a new social liberal party, the
Australian Democrats The Australian Democrats is a centrism, centrist political party in Australia. Founded in 1977 from a merger of the Australia Party and the New Liberal Movement, both of which were descended from Liberal Party of Australia, Liberal Party dissent ...
in 1977. Fraser won further substantial majorities at the
1977 Events January * January 8 – 1977 Moscow bombings, Three bombs explode in Moscow within 37 minutes, killing seven. The bombings are attributed to an Armenian separatist group. * January 10 – Mount Nyiragongo erupts in eastern Zaire (n ...
and
1980 Events January * January 4 – U.S. President Jimmy Carter proclaims a United States grain embargo against the Soviet Union, grain embargo against the USSR with the support of the European Commission. * January 6 – Global Positioning Syst ...
elections, before losing to the
Bob Hawke Robert James Lee Hawke (9 December 1929 – 16 May 2019) was an Australian politician and union organiser who served as the 23rd prime minister of Australia from 1983 to 1991, holding office as the leader of the Australian Labor Party (AL ...
-led
Australian Labor Party The Australian Labor Party (ALP), also simply known as Labor, is the major centre-left political party in Australia, one of two Major party, major parties in Politics of Australia, Australian politics, along with the Centre-right politics, cen ...
in the 1983 election.


Opposition (1983–1996)

A period of division for the Liberals followed, with former Treasurer
John Howard John Winston Howard (born 26 July 1939) is an Australian former politician who served as the 25th prime minister of Australia from 1996 to 2007, holding office as leader of the Liberal Party of Australia, Liberal Party. His eleven-year tenur ...
competing with former Foreign Minister
Andrew Peacock Andrew Sharp Peacock (13 February 193916 April 2021) was an Australian politician and diplomat. He served as a cabinet minister and went on to become leader of the Liberal Party of Australia, Liberal Party on two occasions (1983–1985 and 1 ...
for supremacy. The Australian economy was facing the
early 1990s recession The early 1990s recession describes the period of economic downturn affecting much of the Western world in the early 1990s. The impacts of the recession contributed in part to the 1992 United States presidential election, 1992 U.S. presidential e ...
. Unemployment reached 11.4% in 1992. Under Dr
John Hewson John Robert Hewson Member of the Order of Australia, AM (born 28 October 1946) is an Australian former politician who served as leader of the Liberal Party of Australia, Liberal Party from 1990 to 1994. He led the Coalition (Australia), Liber ...
, 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 Unemployment benefits, also called unemployment insurance, unemployment payment, unemployment compensation, or simply unemployment, are payments made by authorized bodies to unemployment, unemployed people. In the United States, benefits are fun ...
, various changes to
industrial relations Industrial relations or employment relations is the multidisciplinary academic field that studies the employment relationship; that is, the complex interrelations between employers and employees, labor union, labor/trade unions, employer organ ...
including the abolition of
awards An award, sometimes called a distinction, is something given to a recipient as a token of Recognition (sociology), recognition of excellence in a certain field. When the token is a medal, ribbon or other item designed for wearing, it is known a ...
, a $13 billion personal
income tax An income tax is a tax imposed on individuals or entities (taxpayers) in respect of the income or profits earned by them (commonly called taxable income). Income tax generally is computed as the product of a tax rate times the taxable income. Tax ...
cut directed at middle and upper income earners, $10 billion in
government spending Government spending or expenditure includes all government consumption, investment, and transfer payments. In national income accounting, the acquisition by governments of goods and services for current use, to directly satisfy the individual o ...
cuts, the abolition of state
payroll tax Payroll taxes are taxes imposed on employers or employees, and are usually calculated as a percentage of the salaries that employers pay their employees. By law, some payroll taxes are the responsibility of the employee and others fall on the em ...
es and the
privatisation Privatization (also privatisation in British English) can mean several different things, most commonly referring to moving something from the public sector into the private sector. It is also sometimes used as a synonym for deregulation when ...
of a large number of government owned enterprises − representing the start of a very different future direction to the
keynesian Keynesian economics ( ; sometimes Keynesianism, named after British economist John Maynard Keynes) are the various macroeconomics, macroeconomic theories and Economic model, models of how aggregate demand (total spending in the economy) strongl ...
economic policies practised by previous Liberal/National Coalition governments. The 15 percent GST was the centerpiece of the policy document. Through 1992, Labor Prime Minister
Paul Keating Paul John Keating (born 18 January 1944) is an Australian former politician and unionist who served as the 24th prime minister of Australia from 1991 to 1996, holding office as the leader of the Australian Labor Party (ALP). He previously serv ...
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 Although the actual definitions vary between jurisdictions, in general, a direct tax or income tax is a tax imposed upon a person or property as distinct from a tax imposed upon a transaction, which is described as an indirect tax. There is a dis ...
of the wealthy to
indirect taxation An indirect tax (such as sales tax, per unit tax, value added tax (VAT), or value added tax, goods and services tax (GST), excise, consumption tax, tariff) is a tax that is levied upon goods and services before they reach the customer who ultimate ...
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 into law in some form, to a small extent during the Keating Labor government, and to a larger extent during the
Howard Howard is an English-language given name A given name (also known as a forename or first name) is the part of a personal name quoted in that identifies a person, potentially with a middle name as well, and differentiates that person from ...
Liberal government (most famously the GST), while unemployment benefits and bulk billing were re-targeted for a time by the Abbott Liberal government.


Howard Government

Labor's
Paul Keating Paul John Keating (born 18 January 1944) is an Australian former politician and unionist who served as the 24th prime minister of Australia from 1991 to 1996, holding office as the leader of the Australian Labor Party (ALP). He previously serv ...
lost the 1996 Election to the Liberals'
John Howard John Winston Howard (born 26 July 1939) is an Australian former politician who served as the 25th prime minister of Australia from 1996 to 2007, holding office as leader of the Liberal Party of Australia, Liberal Party. His eleven-year tenur ...
. The Liberals had been in Opposition for 13 years. With
John Howard John Winston Howard (born 26 July 1939) is an Australian former politician who served as the 25th prime minister of Australia from 1996 to 2007, holding office as leader of the Liberal Party of Australia, Liberal Party. His eleven-year tenur ...
as Prime Minister,
Peter Costello Peter Howard Costello (born 14 August 1957) is an Australian businessman, lawyer and former politician who served as the treasurer of Australia in Howard government, government of John Howard from 1996 to 2007. He is the longest-serving trea ...
as Treasurer and
Alexander Downer Alexander John Gosse Downer (born 9 September 1951) is an Australian former politician and diplomat who was leader of the Liberal Party of Australia, Liberal Party from 1994 to 1995, Minister for Foreign Affairs (Australia), Minister for Forei ...
as Foreign Minister, the Howard Government remained in power until their electoral defeat to
Kevin Rudd Kevin Michael Rudd (born 21 September 1957) is an Australian former politician and diplomat who served as the 26th prime minister of Australia from 2007 to 2010 and again from June 2013 to September 2013, holding office as the leader of the ...
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. Howard differed from his Labor predecessor Paul Keating in that he supported traditional Australian institutions like the
Monarchy in Australia The monarchy of Australia is Australia's form of government embodied by the Australian sovereign and head of state. The Australian monarchy is a constitutional monarchy, modelled on the Westminster system of Parliamentary system, parliamentary ...
, the commemoration of
ANZAC Day Anzac Day () is a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand that broadly commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders "who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations" and "the contribution and sufferin ...
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 A lower house is one of two Debate chamber, chambers of a Bicameralism, bicameral legislature, the other chamber being the upper house. Despite its official position "below" the upper house, in many legislatures worldwide, the lower house has co ...
and, with its coalition partners, became the first federal government in twenty years to gain an absolute majority in the
Senate A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house An upper house is one of two Debate chamber, chambers of a bicameralism, bicameral legislature, the other chamber being the lower house.''Bicameralism'' (1997) by George Tseb ...
. 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 WorkChoices was the name given to changes made to the federal industrial relations laws in Australia by the Howard Government#Fourth term: 2004–2007, Howard Government in 2005, being amendments to the ''Workplace Relations Act 1996'' by the '' ...
, 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: 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 Lord Mayor of Brisbane
Campbell Newman Campbell Kevin Thomas Newman (born 12 August 1963) is a former Australian politician who served as the 38th Premier of Queensland from 26 March 2012 to 14 February 2015. He served as the member for Electoral district of Ashgrove, Ashgrove in t ...
. This ended after the
2008 Western Australian state election The 2008 Western Australian state election was held on Saturday 6 September 2008 to elect 59 members to the Western Australian Legislative Assembly, Legislative Assembly and 36 members to the Western Australian Legislative Council, Legislative C ...
, when
Colin Barnett Colin James Barnett (born 15 July 1950) is a former Australian politician who was the 29th Premier of Western Australia. He concurrently served as the state's Treasurer of Western Australia, Treasurer at several points during his tenure and had ...
became Premier of that state.


State and territory level up to 2007

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. The Liberals were in power in Victoria from 1955 to 1982.
Jeff Kennett Jeffrey Gibb Kennett (born 2 March 1948) is a former Australian politician who was the 43rd Premier of Victoria between 1992 and 1999, and currently a media commentator. He was previously the president of the Hawthorn Football Club, servi ...
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 Liberal or liberalism may refer to: Politics * a supporter of liberalism Liberalism is a Political philosophy, political and moral philosophy based on the Individual rights, rights of the individual, liberty, consent of the governed, po ...
(LCL), mostly led by
Premier of South Australia The premier of South Australia is the head of government in the state of South Australia South Australia (commonly abbreviated as SA) is a States and territories of Australia, state in the southern central part of Australia. It covers some o ...
Tom Playford, was in power from the 1933 election to the 1965 election, though with assistance from an electoral
malapportionment Apportionment is the process by which seats in a legislative body A legislature is an deliberative assembly, assembly with the authority to make laws for a Polity, political entity such as a Sovereign state, country or city. They are often ...
, or
gerrymander In representative democracies, gerrymandering (, originally ) is the political manipulation of Boundary delimitation, electoral district boundaries with the intent to create undue advantage for a party, group, or socioeconomic class within t ...
, known as the
Playmander The Playmander was a gerrymandering system, a pro-rural electoral malapportionment in the Australian state of South Australia South Australia (commonly abbreviated as SA) is a States and territories of Australia, state in the southern centra ...
. The LCL's
Steele Hall Raymond Steele Hall (born 30 November 1928) is a former Australian politician who served as the 36th Premier of South Australia The premier of South Australia is the head of government in the state of South Australia South Australia (co ...
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 Dean may refer to: People * Dean (given name) * Dean (surname), a surname of Anglo-Saxon English origin * Dean (South Korean singer), a stage name for singer Kwon Hyuk * Dean Delannoit, a Belgian singer most known by the mononym Dean Titles * ...
,
John Olsen John Wayne Olsen, AO (born 7 June 1945) is a former Australian politician, diplomat and football commissioner. He was Premier of South Australia between 28 November 1996 and 22 October 2001. He is now President of the Federal Liberal Party, ...
and Rob Kerin through two terms, until their defeat at the 2002 election. They remained in opposition for 16 years, under a record five Opposition Leaders, until
Steven Marshall Steven Spence Marshall (born 21 January 1968) is an Australian politician A politician is a person active in party politics, or a person holding or seeking an elected office in government A government is the system or grou ...
led the party to victory in 2018. The dual aligned
Country Liberal Party The Country Liberal Party of the Northern Territory (CLP) is a centre-right political party in Australia's Northern Territory. In local politics it operates in a two-party system with the Australian Labor Party (ALP). It also contests Election ...
governed the
Northern Territory The Northern Territory (commonly abbreviated as NT; formally the Northern Territory of Australia) is an states and territories of Australia, Australian territory in the central and central northern regions of Australia. The Northern Territory ...
from 1978 to 2001. The party has held office in Western Australia intermittently since 1947. Liberal
Richard Court Richard Fairfax Court (born 27 September 1947) is a former Australian politician and diplomat. He served as Premier of Western Australia The premier of Western Australia is the head of government of the state of Western Australia. The rol ...
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 Barry Robert O'Farrell (born 24 May 1959) is a former Australian politician who has been Australia's List of Australian High Commissioners to India, High Commissioner to India and non-resident Ambassador to Bhutan since May 2020. O'Farrell was ...
who led 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 Brisbane City Council (BCC) is the democratic executive local government authority for the City of Brisbane, the capital city of the state of Queensland, Queensland, Australia. The largest City Council in Australia by population and area, BC ...
, where both Sallyanne Atkinson and
Campbell Newman Campbell Kevin Thomas Newman (born 12 August 1963) is a former Australian politician who served as the 38th Premier of Queensland from 26 March 2012 to 14 February 2015. He served as the member for Electoral district of Ashgrove, Ashgrove in t ...
have been elected
Lord Mayor of Brisbane The Lord Mayor of Brisbane is the chief executive of the City of Brisbane The City of Brisbane is a local government in Australia, local government area (LGA) which comprises the inner portion of the metropolitan area of Brisbane, the capit ...
.


Opposition (2007–2013)

Following the 2007 federal election, Dr
Brendan Nelson Brendan John Nelson (born 19 August 1958) is a business leader and former Australian politician. He served as the federal Leader of the Opposition The Leader of the Opposition is a title traditionally held by the leader of the Opposition ...
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 Malcolm Bligh Turnbull (born 24 October 1954) is an Australian former politician and businessman who served as the 29th prime minister of Australia from 2015 to 2018. He held office as leader of the Liberal Party of Australia. Turnbull grad ...
. On 1 December 2009, a subsequent leadership election saw Turnbull lose the leadership to
Tony Abbott Anthony John Abbott (; born 4 November 1957) is a former Australian politician who served as the 28th prime minister of Australia from 2013 to 2015. He held office as the leader of the Liberal Party of Australia. Abbott was born in Londo ...
by 42 votes to 41 on the second ballot. 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 A hung parliament is a term used in legislatures primarily under the Westminster system to describe a situation in which no single political party or pre-existing coalition (also known as an alliance or bloc) has an Majority, absolute majority o ...
since the 1940 election."Voters leave Australia hanging
ABC News, 21 August 2010
Through 2010, the party remained in opposition at the
Tasmanian ) , nickname = , image_map = Tasmania in Australia.svg , map_caption = Location of Tasmania in AustraliaCoordinates: , subdivision_type = Country , subdi ...
and
South Australian state elections This is a list of state elections in South Australia for the bicameral Parliament of South Australia, consisting of the South Australian House of Assembly, House of Assembly (lower house) and the South Australian Legislative Council, Legislative C ...
and achieved state government in Victoria. In March 2011, the New South Wales Liberal-National Coalition led by
Barry O'Farrell Barry Robert O'Farrell (born 24 May 1959) is a former Australian politician who has been Australia's List of Australian High Commissioners to India, High Commissioner to India and non-resident Ambassador to Bhutan since May 2020. O'Farrell was ...
won government with the largest election victory in post-war
Australian history The history of Australia is the story of the land and peoples of the continent of Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the islan ...
at the State Election. In Queensland, the Liberal and National parties merged in 2008 to form the new
Liberal National Party of Queensland The Liberal National Party of Queensland (LNP) is a major political party in Queensland, Queensland, Australia. It was formed in 2008 by a merger of the Queensland divisions of the Liberal Party of Australia (Queensland Division), Liberal Party ...
(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 Campbell Kevin Thomas Newman (born 12 August 1963) is a former Australian politician who served as the 38th Premier of Queensland from 26 March 2012 to 14 February 2015. He served as the member for Electoral district of Ashgrove, Ashgrove in t ...
. In March 2013, the Western Australian Liberal-National government won re-election, and
Tony Abbott Anthony John Abbott (; born 4 November 1957) is a former Australian politician who served as the 28th prime minister of Australia from 2013 to 2015. He held office as the leader of the Liberal Party of Australia. Abbott was born in Londo ...
led the party to government at the
2013 Australian Federal Election The 2013 Australian federal election to elect the members of the 44th Parliament of Australia took place on 7 September 2013. The centre-right Coalition (Australia), Liberal/National Coalition Opposition (Australia), opposition led by Opposition ...
.


Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison governments

The party won government in
Tasmania ) , nickname = , image_map = Tasmania in Australia.svg , map_caption = Location of Tasmania in AustraliaCoordinates: , subdivision_type = Country , subdi ...
in
2014 File:2014 Events Collage.png, From top left, clockwise: Stocking up supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE) for the Western African Ebola virus epidemic; Citizens examining the ruins after the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapping; Bundles of wat ...
and lost their fourth election in a row at the South Australian election. However, the Victorian Liberal-National government, now led by Denis Napthine, became the first one term government in Victoria in 60 years. Similarly, just two months later, the Liberal National government in Queensland was defeated just three years after its historic landslide victory. The New South Wales Liberal-National Coalition, however, managed to win re-election in March 2015. In 2016 the Federal Liberals narrowly won re-election in July 2016 while the Liberal-affiliated Country Liberals suffered a historic defeat in the
Northern Territory The Northern Territory (commonly abbreviated as NT; formally the Northern Territory of Australia) is an states and territories of Australia, Australian territory in the central and central northern regions of Australia. The Northern Territory ...
and Canberra Liberals lost their fifth election in a row in October 2016. The Liberals fared little better in 2017 with the Barnett-led Liberal-National government in Western Australia also suffered a landslide defeat in
March March is the third month of the year in both the Julian calendar, Julian and Gregorian calendars. It is the second of seven months to have a length of 31 days. In the Northern Hemisphere, the Meteorology, meteorological beginning of Spring (se ...
.


Abbott government


Turnbull government

Turnbull's time in office saw tensions between
Moderate Moderate is an ideological category which designates a rejection of radical politics, radical or extremism, extreme views, especially in regard to politics and religion. A moderate is considered someone occupying any mainstream position avoiding ...
and Conservative factions within the Liberal Party. On 21 August 2018 after a week of mounting pressure on Turnbull's leadership over his handling of energy policy and election strategy, the prime minister used the regular party-room meeting to spill the party leadership in an attempt to head off a growing conservative-led move against him by Home Affairs Minister
Peter Dutton Peter Craig Dutton (born 18 November 1970) is an Australian politician who has been leader of the opposition The Leader of the Opposition is a title traditionally held by the leader of the Opposition (parliamentary), largest political part ...
. Turnbull survived the challenge, winning 48 votes to Dutton's 35. A further spill was called by Turnbull, in which he declined to stand and the leadership of the party was decided in favour of Treasurer Scott Morrison, over Dutton.


Morrison government

In August 2018, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton unsuccessfully challenged Turnbull for the leadership of the Liberal Party. Leadership tension continued, and the party voted to hold a second leadership ballot on 24 August, with Turnbull choosing not to stand. In that ballot, Morrison was seen as a compromise candidate and defeated both Dutton and Foreign Minister
Julie Bishop Julie Isabel Bishop (born 17 July 1956) is an Australian former politician who served as Minister for Foreign Affairs (Australia), Minister for Foreign Affairs from 2013 to 2018 and Liberal Party of Australia#List of deputy leaders, deputy lead ...
to become leader of the Liberal Party. He was sworn in as prime minister by the
governor-general Governor-general (plural ''governors-general''), or governor general (plural ''governors general''), is the title of an office-holder. In the context of governors-general and former British colonies, governors-general are appointed as viceroy t ...
later that day. Morrison went on to lead the Coalition to an unexpected victory in the 2019 election.


2022 outcome

In the 2022 election, the Liberal Party lost control of the Australian Parliament. During the election, which also saw Morrison resign as Liberal Leader and Liberal Deputy Leader Josh Frydenberg lose his seat in Parliament, the Liberal Party lost what was determined to be the most significant number of seats since the Party's creation in 1944. The departure of Morrison and Frydenberg's defeat made recent Leader of the House and Minister for Defence Peter Dutton the only viable candidate to become the next Liberal Party leader.


Ideology and factions

As of 2021, the Liberal Party currently consists of three broad factional groupings: a moderate wing, a centre-right wing and a right wing, led by
Simon Birmingham Simon John Birmingham (born 14 June 1974) is an Australian politician who has been a Australian Senate, Senator for South Australia since 2007. A member of the Liberal Party of Australia, Liberal Party, he served in the Morrison Government as Mi ...
,
Scott Morrison Scott John Morrison (; born 13 May 1968) is an Australian politician. He served as the 30th prime minister of Australia and as Leader of the Liberal Party of Australia from 2018 to 2022, and is currently the member of parliament (MP) for th ...
and
Peter Dutton Peter Craig Dutton (born 18 November 1970) is an Australian politician who has been leader of the opposition The Leader of the Opposition is a title traditionally held by the leader of the Opposition (parliamentary), largest political part ...
respectively. The Liberal Party generally advocates
conservative Conservatism is a Philosophy of culture, cultural, Social philosophy, social, and political philosophy that seeks to promote and to preserve traditional institutions, practices, and values. The central tenets of conservatism may vary in r ...
policies including
economic liberalism Economic liberalism is a List of political ideologies, political and economic ideology that supports a market economy based on individualism and private property in the means of production. Adam Smith is considered one of the primary initial wr ...
. 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 an anti-socialist grouping of liberals and conservatives. 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 The name Robert is an ancient Germanic given name, from Proto-Germanic "fame" and "bright" (''Hrōþiberhtaz''). Compare Old Dutch ''Robrecht'' and Old High German ''Hrodebert'' (a compound of '' Hruod'' ( non, Hróðr) "fame, glory, h ...
envisaged that Australia's middle class would form its main constituency. Towards the end of his term as Prime Minister of Australia and in a final address to the Liberal Party Federal Council in 1964, Menzies spoke of the "Liberal Creed" as follows: Soon after the election of the Howard Government the new Prime Minister
John Howard John Winston Howard (born 26 July 1939) is an Australian former politician who served as the 25th prime minister of Australia from 1996 to 2007, holding office as leader of the Liberal Party of Australia, Liberal Party. His eleven-year tenur ...
, 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: Until the 2022 election, the Liberals were 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 The Australian Democrats is a centrism, centrist political party in Australia. Founded in 1977 from a merger of the Australia Party and the New Liberal Movement, both of which were descended from Liberal Party of Australia, Liberal Party dissent ...
, founded in 1977 by former Liberal minister Don Chipp and members of minor liberal parties. During the prime ministership of John Howard, the Liberals did increasingly well among socially conservative working-class voters. Until 2022 the Liberal Party's key support base remained the upper-middle classes— in 2010, 16 of the 20 richest federal electorates were held by the Liberals, most of which were safe seats. Following the 2022 election, 16 of the 20 poorest seats in Australia were held by the Liberal Party, while it held only five of the 20 wealthiest electorates. In country areas they either compete with or have a truce with the Nationals, depending on various factors. Menzies was an ardent
constitutional monarchist A constitutional monarchy, parliamentary monarchy, or democratic monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the monarch exercises their authority in accordance with a constitution and is not alone in decision making. Constitutional monarchies dif ...
, who supported the
monarchy in Australia The monarchy of Australia is Australia's form of government embodied by the Australian sovereign and head of state. The Australian monarchy is a constitutional monarchy, modelled on the Westminster system of Parliamentary system, parliamentary ...
and links to the
Commonwealth of Nations The Commonwealth of Nations, simply referred to as the Commonwealth, is a political association of 56 member states, the vast majority of which are former territories of the British Empire. The chief institutions of the organisation are the C ...
. Today the party is divided on the question of republicanism, with some (such as former leader
Scott Morrison Scott John Morrison (; born 13 May 1968) is an Australian politician. He served as the 30th prime minister of Australia and as Leader of the Liberal Party of Australia from 2018 to 2022, and is currently the member of parliament (MP) for th ...
) being monarchists, while others (such as his predecessor
Malcolm Turnbull Malcolm Bligh Turnbull (born 24 October 1954) is an Australian former politician and businessman who served as the 29th prime minister of Australia from 2015 to 2018. He held office as leader of the Liberal Party of Australia. Turnbull grad ...
) are republicans. The Menzies Government formalised Australia's alliance with the United States 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 A tariff is a tax imposed by the government of a country or by a supranational union on imports or exports of goods. Besides being a source of revenue for the government, import duties can also be a form of regulation of foreign trade an ...
protection. Liberal leaders from Menzies to
Malcolm Fraser John Malcolm Fraser (; 21 May 1930 – 20 March 2015) was an Australian politician who served as the 22nd prime minister of Australia from 1975 to 1983, holding office as the leader of the Liberal Party of Australia. Fraser was raised on hi ...
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 New Right is a term for various Right-wing politics, right-wing political groups or policies in different countries during different periods. One prominent usage was to describe the emergence of certain Eastern European parties after the Dissol ...
"—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 include both 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 Harold Edward Holt (5 August 190817 December 1967) was an Australian politician who served as the 17th prime minister of Australia from 1966 until his Disappearance of Harold Holt, presumed death in 1967. He held office as leader of the Liber ...
; Holt's 1967 Referendum on Aboriginal Rights;
John Gorton Sir John Grey Gorton (9 September 1911 – 19 May 2002) was an Australian politician who served as the List of Prime Ministers of Australia, nineteenth Prime Minister of Australia, in office from 1968 to 1971. He led the Liberal Party of Austr ...
's support for cinema and the arts; selection of the first Aboriginal Senator,
Neville Bonner Neville Thomas Bonner Order of Australia, AO (28 March 19225 February 1999) was an Australian politician, and the first Aboriginal Australians, Aboriginal Australian to become a member of the Parliament of Australia. He was appointed by the Parl ...
, in 1971; and Malcolm Fraser's
Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1976 The ''Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976'' (ALRA) is Australian federal government legislation that provides the basis upon which Aboriginal Australian Aboriginal Australians are the various Indigenous peoples of the ...
. A West Australian Liberal, Ken Wyatt, became the first
Indigenous Australian Indigenous Australians or Australian First Nations are people with familial heritage from, and membership in, the ethnic groups that lived in Australia before History of Australia (1788–1850), British colonisation. They consist of two distin ...
elected to the
House of Representatives House of Representatives is the name of legislative bodies in many countries and sub-national entitles. In many countries, the House of Representatives is the lower house of a bicameral Bicameralism is a type of legislature, one divided ...
in 2010. The
Prime Minister of Australia The prime minister of Australia is the head of government of the Commonwealth of Australia. The prime minister heads the executive branch of the Australian Government, federal government of Australia and is also accountable to Parliament of A ...
,
Scott Morrison Scott John Morrison (; born 13 May 1968) is an Australian politician. He served as the 30th prime minister of Australia and as Leader of the Liberal Party of Australia from 2018 to 2022, and is currently the member of parliament (MP) for th ...
, stated the following in his 2019 victory speech;
This is, this is the best country in the world in which to live. It is those Australians that we have been working for, for the last five and a half years since we came to Government, under
Tony Abbott Anthony John Abbott (; born 4 November 1957) is a former Australian politician who served as the 28th prime minister of Australia from 2013 to 2015. He held office as the leader of the Liberal Party of Australia. Abbott was born in Londo ...
's leadership back in 2013. It has been those Australians who have worked hard every day, they have their dreams, they have their aspirations; to get a job, to get an apprenticeship, to start a business, to meet someone amazing. To start a family, to buy a home, to work hard and provide the best you can for your kids. To save for your retirement and to ensure that when you're in your retirement, that you can enjoy it because you've worked hard for it. These are the quiet Australians who have won a great victory tonight.
The Liberal Party is a member of the
International Democrat Union The International Democrat Union (IDU) is an political international, international alliance of centre-right politics, centre-right political party, political parties. Headquartered in Munich, Germany, the IDU consists of 84 full and associa ...
and the
Asia Pacific Democrat Union The Asia Pacific Democrat Union (APDU) is an international regional association of member parties, associated to the International Democrat Union. Sri Lankan President of Sri Lanka, President Ranil Wickramasinghe is the current chairperson of the ...
.


Organisation

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 bar the Gorton government 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. 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. 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. 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.


Federal parliamentary leaders


State and territory divisions

For a brief period between 27 October 2020 (appointment of Elizabeth Lee as leader of Canberra Liberals) and 12 November 2020 (resignation of Deb Frecklington as leader of the LNP), five Liberal Party state and territory divisions were led by women, the highest number in Liberal Party history. The leaders were: * ACT: Elizabeth Lee * Queensland: Deb Frecklington * New South Wales:
Gladys Berejiklian Gladys Berejiklian (born 22 September 1970) is an Australian former politician who served as the 45th premier of New South Wales and the leader of the Liberal Party of Australia (New South Wales Division), New South Wales division of the Liberal ...
* Western Australia: Liza Harvey * Northern Territory: Lia Finocchiaro


Federal presidents

: ''Shown in chronological order of presidency'' * 1945: Sir Malcolm Ritchie (first term) * 1947: Richard Casey (later, The Lord Casey) * 1950: Sir Malcolm Ritchie (second term) * 1951: Sir William Anderson * 1956: Lyle Moore * 1960: Sir
Philip McBride Sir Philip Albert Martin McBride, (18 June 1892 – 14 July 1982) was an Australian politician. He was a United Australia Party The United Australia Party (UAP) was an Australian political party that was founded in 1931 and dissolved in 19 ...
* 1965: Sir Jock Pagan * 1970: Sir
Robert Southey Robert Southey ( or ; 12 August 1774 – 21 March 1843) was an English poet of the Romantic poetry, Romantic school, and Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom, Poet Laureate from 1813 until his death. Like the other Lake Poets, William Wordswor ...
* 1975: Sir John Atwill * 1982: Dr Jim Forbes * 1985: John Valder * 1987: John Elliott * 1990: Professor Ashley Goldsworthy * 1993: Tony Staley * 1999: Shane Stone * 2005: Chris McDiven * 2008: Alan Stockdale * 2014: Richard Alston * 2017: Nick Greiner * 2020:
John Olsen John Wayne Olsen, AO (born 7 June 1945) is a former Australian politician, diplomat and football commissioner. He was Premier of South Australia between 28 November 1996 and 22 October 2001. He is now President of the Federal Liberal Party, ...


Federal election results


House of Representatives


Donors

For the 2015–2016 financial year, the top ten disclosed donors to the Liberal Party were: Paul Marks (Nimrod resources) ($1,300,000), Pratt Holdings ($790,000), Hong Kong Kingson Investment Company ($710,000), Aus Gold Mining Group ($410,000),
Village Roadshow Village Roadshow Limited is an Australian company which operates cinemas and theme parks, and produces and distributes films. Before being acquired by private equity company BGH Capital, the company was listed on the Australian Securities Exc ...
($325,000), Waratah Group ($300,000),
Walker Corporation Walker Corporation is an Australian privately-owned property development company. Most notably, Walker Corporation is responsible for the development and restoration of several significant Australian sites, including King Street Wharf, Finger W ...
($225,000), Australian Gypsum Industries ($196,000), National Automotive Leasing and Salary Packaging Association ($177,000) and
Westfield Corporation Westfield Corporation was an Australian Commercial property, commercial real estate company and operator of Shopping mall, shopping centres. It was founded with the Corporate spin-off, spin-off of the Westfield Group in 2014, where assets in ...
($150,000). The Liberal Party also receives undisclosed funding through several methods, such as "associated entities". Cormack Foundation, Eight by Five, Free Enterprise Foundation, Federal Forum and Northern Sydney Conservative forum are entities which have been used to funnel donations to the Liberal Party without disclosing the source.


See also

* Country Liberal Party (Northern Territory) * Liberal National Party (Queensland) *
Liberal Party of Australia (New South Wales Division) The Liberal Party of Australia (New South Wales Division), commonly known as the New South Wales Liberals, is the state division of the Liberal Party of Australia in New South Wales. The party currently governs in New South Wales in coalition wi ...
*
Liberal Party of Australia (South Australian Division) 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. It was formed as the Liberal and Country League (LCL) in 1932 and b ...
*
Liberal Party of Australia (Tasmanian Division) The Liberal Party of Australia (Tasmanian Division), commonly known as the Tasmanian Liberals, is the state division of the Liberal Party of Australia in Tasmania. The party currently governs in Tasmania. The party is part of the federal Liberal ...
*
Liberal Party of Australia (Victorian Division) The Liberal Party of Australia (Victorian Division), branded as Liberal Victoria, and commonly known as the Victorian Liberals, is the state division of the Liberal Party of Australia in Victoria (Australia), Victoria. It was formed in 1949 as ...
* List of political parties in Australia * Turnbull Government * Abbott Government * Liberalism in Australia * Moderates * Young Liberal Movement of Australia


Notes


References


Further reading

* Henderson, Gerard (1994). ''Menzies' Child: The Liberal Party of Australia 1944–1994'', Allen and Unwin, Sydney, New South Wales. * Jaensch, Dean (1994) ''The Liberals'', Allen and Unwin, Sydney, New South Wales. * Nethercote, John (ed.)(2001), ''Liberalism and the Australian Federation'', Federation Press, Annandale, New South Wales. * Simms, Marian (1982) ''A Liberal Nation: The Liberal Party and Australian Politics'', Hale and Iremonger, Sydney, New South Wales. * Starr, Graeme (1980) ''The Liberal Party of Australia: A Documentary History'', Drummond/Heinemann, Richmond, Victoria. * Tiver, P.G. (1978), ''The Liberal Party. Principles and Performance'', Jacaranda, Milton, Queensland.


External links

*
Liberal Party of Australia ephemera
digitised and held by the National Library of Australia
Records of the Victorian division of the Liberal Party
held at the University of Melbourne Archives {{DEFAULTSORT:Liberal Party of Australia 1945 establishments in Australia Classical liberal parties Conservative liberal parties Conservative parties in Australia International Democrat Union member parties Liberal conservative parties Liberal parties in Australia Centre-right parties Political parties established in 1945