Since its formation in late 1944, the Liberal Party has governed Australia for 42 years as well as holding power in all States for varying periods.
Below is a brief summary of some of the major achievements of the Menzies, Holt, Gorton, McMahon, Fraser, Howard, Abbott and Turnbull Liberal Governments.
Some Achievements of the Menzies Era (1949-1966)
In this formation period the advances of the Menzies Government's were considerable. The Liberal governments moved ahead in the areas of new Liberal concern.
Some features of the period include:
The Menzies period is recognised as a golden era in Australia's history with widespread prosperity, a flourishing economy and work for all. Some features:
- High living standards for all Australians and the level of consumer goods per head (cars, radios etc) rose dramatically;
- ratio of home owners rose from little over 50% to around 75% of the population in a decade;
- Great progress in industry, manufacturing output, primary industry production and mineral development;
- Australia achieved a position in the world's top ten trading nations;
- Instigation of some of the major foreign powers treaties including SEATO and ANZUS, along with close; co-operation with the Commonwealth and other allies;
- Consistent spending on defence programmes;
- The arrival of 1 million immigrants in ten years;
- Introduction of a succession of social security measures such as creating the Pensioner Medical and Free Medicines Service;
- Expansion of support for education programmes;
- Introduction of needed improvements such as the national divorce laws;
- Among specific initiatives of this period: child endowment introduced for the first child;
- Free medical treatment for pensioners and dependants;
- Free milk to school children;
- Abolished land and entertainment tax;
- Introduced Medical Benefits Scheme, and introduce free life-saving drugs for needy;
- Helped negotiate ANZUS and SEATO treaties;
- Promoter of Columbo Plan assisting SE Asian nations;
- Reciprocity in social security with United Kingdom;
- Encouraged growth of Canberra as a national capital;
- Introduced Homes for Aged Scheme;
- Introduced capital grants to mental hospitals and aid for teaching hospitals;
- Tax deductions introduced for school fees and allied expenditure;
- Introduced National Health Scheme based on self-help, providing cover for all citizens;
- Completed rail standardisation Sydney to Melbourne and funded other standardisation works;
- Completed dams including Chowilla and Blowering;
- Tax concessions introduced for married pensioners;
- Development of beef roads scheme to develop the inland;
- Special grants introduced for anti-tuberculosis campaigns;
- Introduced Department of Housing, Home Savings Grants Scheme and Housing Loans Insurance Corporation to help more Australians own their own home;
- Establishment of sheltered workshops;
- Introduced Aged Pensioners Home Assistance Scheme;
- Introduced invalid pensions;
- Established Australian Universities Commission;
- Established Commonwealth Scholarships and the introduction of Commonwealth scholarships for secondary schools as means of introducing State Aid to all schools.
Some Achievements of the Holt/Gorton/McMahon Era (1966-1972)
In this short period of six years, the advances of the Menzies period were consolidated. The Liberal governments moved ahead in the areas of traditional Liberal concern – health, education and welfare. The period is significant for a number of reasons, including foreign policy and defence initiatives, commitment to the aboriginal people and involvement with the rapidly changing world of technology, energy conservation and the environment.
Some features of the period include:
- Over half the existing homes in Australia were constructed since 1949;
- Urban and regional development programmes begun;
- Introduction of Department of Education and Science to take account of new technology;
- Support for water conservation projects;
- Emphasis on development of Northern Australia with new railways, road and ports and continued funding for beef roads;
- Rapid expansion and support for tourist industry;
- Continuation of full employment, high growth rates, exports doubled over decade to 1969, and work force rose over a million in same period;
- Continuation of beneficial social security policies (eg assistance to sheltered workshops, handicapped schools etc) and health policies (eg grants to facilitate home nursing care);
- Continuation of the heavy migration programme and provision of services (eg English language courses) for new citizens;
- Initiatives in the fields of the Arts (eg Australian Council for Arts, Australian Film and Television Corporation);
- Increased grants for Aboriginal programmes and
- The establishment of energy advisory and environmental bodies.
- Among the specific achievements are:
- New teacher training colleges funded;
- Expansion of assistance to secondary schools for science laboratories;
- Social service benefits provided to mentally retarded;
- Assistance to deserted wives introduced;
- Assistance scheme for pensioners wanting hearing aids introduced;
- Aboriginal Affairs Office established along with Council for Aboriginal Affairs;
- Introduction of tapered means test;
- Legislation introduced to protect against unfair takeover activity;
- Established Institute of Marine Science;
- Assistance to institutions training handicapped people;
- Meals on Wheels assisted;
- Introduction of language courses for migrants;
- Established Australian Council for the Arts;
- Aid for the establishment of Ord River Scheme;
- Established twelve mile fishing zone;
- Carriage of the referendum allowing aboriginals to be regarded as full citizens;
- Gordon River irrigation and conservation;
- Funding of housing support for young widows scheme and
- Established Bureau of Transport Economics in order to analyse costs of transport facilities.
Some Achievements of the Fraser Government (1975-1983)
The Fraser Government faced difficult economic times; the aftermath of the world oil shock; record-breaking droughts; unsettled world markets; and the legacy of the profligate Labor Government under Whitlam.
Some features of the period include:
- Introduction of far-reaching new Federalism programmes;
- Large scale new development projects (roads, dams, etc);
- Focus on conservation, the environment and development of national parks;
- New developments in the social security area, led by the new family allowance scheme;
- Involvement on the world's stage such as the instigation of CHOGM, facilitating the emergence of Zimbabwe and playing a leading role in the resettlement of Vietnamese refugees;
- Major new developments in the wages and industrial relations areas;
- Focus on assisting with employment schemes and encouraging employment growth;
- New mineral resources found and developed and solutions found to the problems of world oil difficulties;
- Assistance given to sportsmen to help them compete more effectively at world level;
- Primary producers helped through the most severe drought ever and
- Succession of programmes introduced to assist businesses both large and small.
Among the specific achievements are:
- Introduction of family allowance providing direct help for mothers and families;
- Family income supplement introduced;
- Lone fathers' benefit introduced;
- Means test on pensions replaced by simpler income test;
- Automatic indexation of pensions;
- New pensioner housing scheme introduced;
- Abolition of estate and gift duties;
- Establishment of Office of Child Care;
- Progressive legal reforms with introduction of Ombudsman, National Companies and Securities Commission, Human Rights Commission, Freedom of Information legislation;
- Ratification of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;
- Prohibition of sand mining on Fraser Island;
- Whaling banned in Australian waters;
- Declaration of Great Barrier Reef Marine Park;
- Five properties placed on World Heritage List (Barrier Reef, Kakadu, Wilandra Lakes, Lord Howe Island and SW Tasmania);
- Northern Territory given self government and land rights granted there;
- Agreement reached with States to restore their powers in territorial seas and to establish joint authorities for mining, fishing etc in off-shore areas and beyond;
- States and local government given permanent and guaranteed shares of personal income tax collections;
- National Women's Advisory Council established;
- Establishment of Institute of Multicultural Affairs;
- Establishment of Special Broadcasting System with special television and radio programmes;
- Nuclear safeguards agreement negotiated with ten nations;
- Introduction of child migrant education programme;
- Introduction of import parity oil pricing as a means of conserving existing supplies and encourage exploration;
- Office of Youth Affairs and Institute of Family Studies set up as indication of concern with family considerations;
- National Youth Advisory Group established;
- Began SYETP (Youth Training), school to work transition programme, programme for unemployed youth, youth employment task force, relocation assistance scheme, Job Bank computer system as a means of helping young people;
- Established commercial FM radio;
- Established Australian Institute of Sport;
- Established Sport Development Programme, National Athlete Award Scheme, National Committee on Sport and Recreation for the Disabled;
- Established number of bodies (eg National Aboriginal Conference) to further the cause of aboriginals;
- Introduced income equalisation deposits as a self-help aid to primary producers to assist in times of drought etc;
- More referendum questions carried under the Fraser Government (3) than under any other Government
Some achievements of the Howard Government (1996 - 2007)
The Howard Government guided Australia through one of the most successful periods in the country's history, helping to take Australia to the forefront of the world’s leading economies. Its economic policies rebuilt Australian prosperity after yet another period of Labor economic mismanagement (under the Hawke/Keating government), which had resulted in the worst recession (and highest unemployment) for 60 years.
The Howard government's policies enabled Australia to resist the impact of the Asian economic downturn, and restored effective full employment.
The prudential supervision of the financial system put in place by the Howard government meant that Australia had no domestic sub-prime crisis. Strong financial institutions underpinned the economy when the global financial crisis occurred in 2008.
The Howard Government's policy success was based on its firm commitment to Liberal values, and a commonsense approach to dealing with problems. John Howard described his philosophy as a combination of economic liberalism and social conservatism.
Some of the features of the Howard era include:
- a focus on strong economic management with a commitment to surplus budgets and zero government debt;
- the strengthening of Australia’s national security through an increase in defence spending and a substantial boost to defence-ready troop numbers;
- record low levels of unemployment achieved by a freeing up of labour markets, a massive expansion in opportunities to acquire skills, and greatly improved job placement assistance for the unemployed – allowing workers to become less reliant on unions;
- record federal government funding into the education and health sectors;
- a major effort to overcome educational disadvantage (illiteracy and innumeracy), to increase school accountability and strengthen the ability of parents to choose the best school for their child;
- encouraging one of the highest levels of private investment in education and training in the world;
- low interest rates, strong economic growth and lower taxation;
- unprecedented commitment to restoring and protecting Australian land, waters, vegetation and biodiversity;
- major improvements in protection of Australia's national heritage;
- fostering pride in Australia's achievements and resistance to the 'black armband' view of Australian history;
The economic prosperity achieved by the Howard Government meant that people had more money to invest in savings for the future. Australia’s strong position also allowed the government to invest in new roads and rail, as well as in environmental projects throughout the country.
The most significant achievements of the Howard Government include:
- eliminating Labor’s $96 billon government debt - by 2007 Australia was saving $8.8 billion a year in interest payments;
- a GDP growth rate of 3.6 per cent on average per year;
- increase in average household income between 1994-95 and 2007-08 of 50 per cent;
- decline in number of households dependent on government pensions and allowances from 28.5 per cent in 1994-95 to 23.2 per cent in 2007-08;
- creation by small and large businesses of over 2 million jobs;
- restoring Australia’s AAA credit rating;
- establishing the Charter of Budget Honesty and the independence of the Reserve Bank to manage monetary policy;
- New prudential supervision of financial institutions through the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority (APRA;)
- an increase in real wages by 21.5 per cent between 1996 and 2007;
- providing the largest tax relief in Australia’s history, and a much fairer tax system from 2000 with the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) – followed by further tax relief in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007;
- lifting productivity on Australia's waterfront to world standards;
- the improvement of telecommunications through the privatisation of Telstra and enhanced competition in the industry;
- an increase in the number of apprentices in training by more than two-and-a-half times – from 154,800 in March 1996 to 397,400 by December 2006;
- ending the discrimination against Australian domestic students by allowing them to invest in their own education, as overseas students were able to do;
- increase in total revenue for higher education institutions from $8.6 billion in 1997 to $16.8 billion in 2007;
- an increase in the number of higher education students from 659,000 in 1997 to 1,029 846 in 2007;
- extension of income-contingent loan schemes to graduate and fee-paying students, including at private higher education providers;
- the establishment of a specific Future Fund, providing for the future superannuation liabilities of Australian public servants;
- Australia's first national literacy and numeracy standards to identify and overcome disadvantage;
- The Socio-Economic Status funding system for independent and systemic schools;
- Priority for school-to-work programs such as Jobs Pathway and enterprise education;
- development of the civics education program Discovering Democracy to help young people understand our democratic system of government;
- an increase in funding for government schools from $1.4 billion to $3.5 billion in 2007/08;
- record growth in the manufacturing industry and a record increase of manufacturing exports to $81.3 billion in 2006;
- the introduction of the Work for the Dole program, helping to get long-term unemployed back into the workforce;
- replacement of the ineffective and bureaucratic CES with the world-leading Job Network comprising not-for-profit and private providers;
- increased funding for the Australian Federal Police and an increase in staff numbers from around 2,000 to more than 6,000;
- an 88 per cent increase in health spending, with more than $51 billion allocated for 2007;
- large increase in the proportion of children receiving immunisation against poreventable diseases;
- a nationwide strategy to involve communities in the protection of the environment through the establishment with the States of catchment management authorities across the continent under the Natural Heritage Trust and the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality;
- a Water Quality Action Plan with the Queensland government to protect the Great Barrier Reef lagoon;
- setting new international standards in the protection of marine areas by expanding from 5 per cent to 33 percent the proportion of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park protected from exploitation;
- establishing the National Oceans Office and the commencement of marine protected areas around the entire continental shelf;
- establishment of the National Heritage Council and the National Heritage list for the effective protection of Australia's national heritage;
- building of the National Portrait Gallery and planning the new Museum of Democracy;
- the Alice Springs - Darwin railway;
- Instituting nation-wide gun controls following the Port Arthur massacre;
- Strengthening Australia's defence forces and defence co-operation with the United States and Britain;
- Declaration of the operation of the ANZUS Treaty following the 9/11 terrorist attack on the United States;
- co-operation with other nations and the upgrading of internal security leading to the successful prevention of any terrorist attack on Australian territory;
- Effective humanitarian response to the Bali bombing
- Leadership of the United Nations mission to restore independence and democracy to East Timor;
- Mission to the Solomon Islands to restore democracy;
- Support for the successful mission with the United States, Britain and many other nations to restore democracy to Iraq;
- Participation with the United States, Britain and other nations to defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan and destroy the terrorist infrastructure in that country;
- Maintenance of one of the world's largest programs to assist refugees, while preventing illegal immigration and people smuggling.
Some Achievements of the Abbott Government (2013-2015)
The Abbott Government was elected on a platform of building a stronger, more prosperous economy for a safe and secure Australia. Following six years of chaos and mismanagement, the Abbott Government moved quickly to clean up Labor’s mess.
Some of the achievements of the Abbott Government include:
- The repeal of Labor’s carbon tax, saving families $550 a year on average;
- The repeal of Labor’s mining tax, restoring confidence to this important sector;
- Stopping the boats and stopping the deaths at sea;
- The conclusion of three free trade agreements with China, Japan and South Korea;
- Rolling out the largest infrastructure investment in Australia's history - $50 billion to improve road and rail links, reduce travel times and support economic growth;
- Ending five decades of indecision by approving a second airport for Sydney to be located at Badgerys Creek;
- Delivering the lowest small business tax rate in half a century;
- Beginning the task of Budget repair;
- Legislating four tranches of national security legislation, to keep Australians safe;
- Providing more resources for our security and law enforcement agencies to combat terrorism;
- Establishing counter-terrorism units at all international airports;
- Providing environmental approvals to 176 projects valued at more than $1 trillion;
- Establishing the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption;
- Scrapping Labor’s bank deposit tax, to protect the savings of hard-working Australians
- Establishing the New Colombo Plan;
- Establishing the Medical Research Future Fund; and
- Committing to take an additional 12,000 refugees from the war torn Middle East.
Some Achievements of the Turnbull Government (2015-2018)
Some of the achievements of the Turnbull Government include:
- A strong record of jobs growth. In 2017, 403,100 more Australians found employment – at the rate of more than 1,000 new jobs a day. This was the most new jobs created in a calendar year on record.
- Tax cuts for small and medium enterprises, helping 3.2 million businesses employing 6.7 million Australians to get ahead and create more jobs.
- Extending the Instant Asset write-off, used by 300,000 small businesses each year to invest in new equipment and machinery.
- An innovation and science agenda, which resulted in 3,000 new investments in over 300 early stage innovation companies.
- Tackling union lawlessness, including restoring the ABCC (a tough building industry watchdog to tackle CFMEU thuggery), a ban on secret and corrupting payments between business and unions, and creation of a new Registered Organisations Commission to make unions as transparent to their members and the public.
- A new National Energy Guarantee to deliver more affordable and reliable energy, plus enabling the largest renewable project in half a century Snowy Hydro 2.0.
- Landmark reform of Australia’s competition law – to help small companies compete with big business.
- The 2016 Defence White Paper which will secure Australia in the 21st century.
- A defence industry plan, which included building 54 new ships and which backs local advanced manufacturing and create thousands of ongoing jobs.
- Boosting resources for our security agencies (now co-ordinated by a new Department of Home Affairs), introducing numerous tranches of tougher anti-terror laws.
- Continuing our strong border protection and overseeing the release of all children from onshore immigration detention (which compares with Labor’s record of 8,469 children in detention).
- New laws to close loopholes for multinationals, which have resulted in an additional $4 billion tax raised from multinationals last year.
- Legislating to implement the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement and continuing our push to boost exports, with a new Free Trade Agreement with Peru.
- Bringing our media laws into the digital age and ensuring local media outlets remain viable.
- Banning excessive surcharges on credit cards to protect Australian consumers.
- Implementing a record $75 billion investment in infrastructure, including congestion busting road and rail projects across Australia, along with important public transport projects, including the Gold Coast Light Rail, Sydney Metro and Melbourne Metro.
- The abolition of Bill Shorten’s truck tribunal (the RSRT) which was putting owner-operator truck drivers out of business.
- Legislation that protected volunteer firefighters from Victoria’s Country Fire Authority from hostile union takeover.
- Landmark reforms to help working parents with child care, including abolishing the $7,500 cap for families (incomes up to $185,000) and a new Child Care Subsidy, which means around one million families will be better off.
- A breakthrough agreement for schools funding, which replaces 27 secret deals and will provide needs based funding for all students and delivered an extra $23.4 billion, or an average 50% funding increase for the average student over a decade.
- Better immunisations, including successful implementation of the No Jab, No Pay policy has result in 210,000 extra children being immunised in the first year. Further, all 12 and 13 year olds will now get free protection against HPV virus.
- Taking action against domestic violence, with a record $275 million a year investment to improve frontline services; improve the legal system; ensure better, safer use of technology; and drive cultural change.