Liberal Party of Australia

Published 11th August, 2013

The Liberal Party of Australia was founded on 31st August 1945. That belies, however, a longer history which dates back to the start of democratic government in Australia.

The Liberal Party of Australia started life as a merger of the two parties which formed the first government of Australia in 1901, the Free Trade Party which was founded in 1889 and the Protectionist Party which was also founded in 1889. In 1909 both parties joined forces formally and became the Commonwealth Liberal Party. The Commonwealth Liberal Party in turn joined forces with a splinter group from the Australian Labor Party who were called the National Labour Party (formed in 1916) and together they became the Nationalist Party of Australia in 1917. In 1931 the Nationalist Party of Australia changed its name to the United Australia party (UAP) and in 1945 it became the Liberal Party of Australia.

The Liberal Party of Australia describes itself as Centre-right and believes in Conservatism, Liberal conservatism and Neoliberalism.

The Liberal Party of Australia is part of the Coalition which covers three other parties, the National Party of Australia, the Northern Territory Country Liberal Party (known as the Country Liberals) and the Liberal National Party of Queensland.

In its various guises the Liberal Party of Australia has been a major force in Australian politics since the first elections in 1901. They ruled for twelve years between 1917 and 1929 and again for nine years between 1931 and1940.

In 1949 Robert Menzies took them to victory (with the then Country Party) and the party remained in office until 1972, a total of 23 years.

During the Constitutional Crisis of 1975 they were invited by Governor-General Sir John Kerr to form a government and quickly moved to a general election under the leadership of Malcolm Fraser. They won the election taking 68 of the 127 seats in the House of Representatives and went on to govern until 1983, a period of eight years.

The Liberals next major stint in power was between 1996 and 2007, a period of eleven years when they were led by Prime Minister John Howard. In 2007 they lost 22 seats and were forced into opposition. In 2010, although the Coalition won 72 seats in the 150 seat House of Representatives, the same number as the Australian Labor Party (ALP), the ALP was able to put together a coalition with four independents.

The Liberal Party of Australia is a member of the International Democrat Union (IDU).

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