The Organisational and Parliamentary wings of the Liberal Party each have clearly defined and separate roles. In the Liberal Party, the Organisational wing cannot dictate policy but consults with and advises the Parliamentary wing, particularly on the development of longer-term policies.
The Organisational Wing
The Organisational wing is based on the Party’s paid membership of supporters. Across Australia, the Liberal Party has more than 80,000 members in more than 2000 branches which are governed by their respective State Liberal Party structure - known as 'Divisions'. It is responsible for:
- Party’s Platform - the broad statement of Liberal fundamental beliefs and intentions
- Pre-selection of the Party’s candidates for elections
- Management and conduct of election campaigns
The Parliamentary wing
The Parliamentary wing of the Liberal Party is made up of Federal and State Parliamentarians. It is responsible for:
- Representation of electorates held by Liberal Party Members of Parliament
- Liberal Party’s policies, strategies and parliamentary priorities guided by the principles contained in the Party Platform
The Liberal Party of Australia is a Federation of Divisions
There is one Division for each of the six states, as well as the Australian Capital Territory. The Northern Territory Country Liberal Party is an affiliate of the Liberal Party.
Each of the Liberal Party’s seven Divisions is autonomous and has their own constitutions.
Each Division has its own Party headquarters to service the State Organisation, as well as the State Parliamentary Party. They also assist Members of Federal Parliament in their home electorates.
The constitution of each Division lays out the structure of the Party for that State or Territory and lays down the rules of membership, election of office-bearers, pre-selection of candidates for both State and Federal Parliaments, and the policy advisory process.
Each Division undertakes its own fund raising, its relations with other political parties, and the planning and conduct of its election campaigns, in conjunction with the Federal Secretariat.
The Federal Secretariat
The national headquarters of the Liberal Party is known as the Federal Secretariat. It is located in Canberra and provides professional support for both the Federal and State Organisations and the Parliamentary Party.
The Federal Director is responsible for the overall co-ordination of the Secretariat’s activities and liaison with the State Divisions.
The Secretariat is the Liberal Party’s national centre for administration, research and campaign planning. It offers assistance to the Divisions in State elections and is able to provide specialist support in such areas as policy development, research and strategic planning. It also co-ordinates the Liberal Party’s international relations. The Federal Secretariat is located at R.G. Menzies House in Canberra which was opened by the Party’s founder, Sir Robert Menzies in 1965.
The Federal Organisation has established a network of committees which contribute towards the maintenance and development of the Party’s Organisational objectives and policies and provides support to the Parliamentary party. These include:
- Staff Planning Committee
- Advisory Committee on Federal Policy
- Federal Finance Committee
- Federal Women's Committee
- Federal Young Liberal Executive
- Federal Regional and Rural Committee
- Federal Secretariat staff also liaises with the Australian Liberal
Students’ Federation and the Party’s overseas branches
At the national level, the coordinating body of the Liberal Party is called the Federal Council.
The Federal Council comprises eight delegates from each State - the State President, the State Parliamentary Leader, a representative of the Young Liberal Movement, a representative of the Women’s Section and four other delegates. The ACT has four delegates to Council.
Other members of the Federal Council include Federal Parliamentary Leaders and Federal Office bearers of the organisation.
The Federal Council is responsible for the Party’s Federal Constitution and Federal Platform. It is the Organisational wing’s highest forum for debating Federal policies. Views of the Federal Council are not binding on the Parliamentary party, but do carry considerable weight as the stated position of the organisation on a range of policy issues.
Between meetings of Council, the management and control of the Party’s affairs are vested in the Federal Executive. The Executive, which is comprised of the Federal office bearers, the Divisional Presidents and the Federal Parliamentary Leadership Group, normally meets at least four times a year. The seven Divisions come together at the Federal level under a structure which draws together the self-contained Divisions into a national body and supports and services the needs of the Federal Parliamentary Liberal Party.