About

Our History

In 1944, the Liberal Party of Australia was founded after a three-day meeting held in a small hall not far from Parliament House in Canberra. The meeting was called by the then Leader of the Opposition (United Australia Party) Robert Menzies.

Robert Menzies had already served as Prime Minister of Australia (1939-41), but he believed that the non-Labor parties should unite to present a strong alternative government to the Australian people.

Eighty men and women from 18 non-Labor political parties and organisations attended the first Canberra conference.

They shared a common belief that Australians should have greater personal freedom and choice than that offered under Labor’s post-war socialist plans.

Robert Menzies believed the time was right for a new political force in Australia - one which fought for the freedom of the individual and produced enlightened liberal policies.

In his opening address at that meeting, he said:

...what 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.

It is often said that Robert Menzies stood for the ‘forgotten people’ of Australia; those mainstream Australians whose goals, needs and aspirations had been ignored by Government.

On October 16, 1944, the name The Liberal Party of Australia was adopted, uniting the many different political organisations. Two months later, at the Albury Conference, the Party’s organisational and constitutional framework was drawn up.

The name Liberal was chosen deliberately for its associations with progressive nineteenth century free enterprise and social equality. By May 1945 membership of the Liberal Party had swelled to 40,000.

It fought its first election in 1946 with some success and in 1947, the Liberal Party won State Government in Western Australia, South Australia and Victoria. In 1949 the Liberals, in coalition with the Country Party, were first elected to national government.

Sir Robert Menzies went on to lead Australia and the Liberal Party for 17 years, before he retired from politics in 1966.

The Liberal Party has become Australia’s most successful postwar party; it was elected to Government for 23 years from 1949 to 1972, and for another term of more than seven years from 1975 to 1983.

In 1996, the Australian people again re-elected the Liberal Party, in Coalition with the National Party of Australia, to govern Australia in a landslide win, and in 1998, 2001 & 2004 that government was re-elected.

On 18 September 2013, Tony Abbott was sworn in as Australia’s 28th Prime Minister after leading the Coalition to a landslide victory over the discredited Rudd-Gillard-Rudd Labor Government which delivered record debt and deficit to Australia. The Abbott Government was elected on a platform of delivering a strong, prosperous economy and a safe, secure Australia.

Our Leaders from 1944 Onwards

Robert Menzies

1944 - 1966

Prime Minister

Harold Holt

1966 - 1967

Prime Minister

John Gorton

1968 - 1971

Prime Minister

William McMahon

1971 - 1972

Prime Minister

Bill Snedden

1972 - 1975

Leader of the Opposition

Malcolm Fraser

1975 - 1983

Prime Minister

Andrew Peacock

1983 - 1985

Leader of the Opposition

John Howard

1985 -1989

Leader of the Opposition

Andrew Peacock

1989 - 1990

Leader of the Opposition

John Hewson

1990 - 1994

Leader of the Opposition

Alexander Downer

1994 - 1995

Leader of the Opposition

John Howard

1995 - 2007

Prime Minister

Brendan Nelson

2007 - 2008

Leader of the Opposition

Malcolm Turnbull

2008 - 2009

Leader of the Opposition

Tony Abbott

2009 - present

Prime Minister

Our Electoral Success - from Past to Present

Federal

Governed in coalition
1949 - 1972
1975 - 1983
1996 - 2007
2013 -

Victoria

Governed in own right
1948 - 1950
1955 - 1982


Governed in coalition
1943 - 1945
1947 - 1948
1992 - 1999
2010 -

New South Wales

Governed in coalition
1965 - 1976
1988 - 1995
2011 -

Queensland

Governed in coalition
1957 - 1983
1996 - 1998

Governed as Liberal National
Party

2012 -

South Australia

Governed as Liberal Country League
1933 - 1965
1968 - 1970

Governed as Liberal Party
1979 - 1982
1993 - 2002

Western Australia

Governed in coalition
1947 - 1953
1959 - 1971
1974 - 1983
1993 - 2001
2008 - present

Tasmania

Governed in coalition
1969 - 1972


Governed in own right
1982 - 1989
1992 - 1998

Northern Territory

NT Country Liberal Party elected
as majority party in 1974.

1974 - 2001
2012 -

ACT

Self-government since 1989

Governed in coalition
December 1989 - June 1991
1995 - 2001