Path: Table of Contents > Essay on Party Politics > Party 022
Australian Liberal Party, 021
Variables and Codes for 1950-1962
For the concepts and variables below, use these links to Political Parties: A Cross-National Survey:
Governmental Status
Issue Orientation
Goal Orientation
Organizational Complexity
Organizational Power
Organizational Coherence
Membership Involvement
The "ac" code is for "adequacy-confidence"--a data quality measure ranging from 0 (low) to 9 (high)

Institutionalization Variables, 1.01-1.06
.01 Year of Origin and 1.02 Name Changes
1910, ac7
2, ac7
Most writers fix the origin of the Liberal Party as 1944, when Robert Menzies reorganized the various elements of the United Australia Party into a more coherent anti-Labour opposition. But the party roots certainly go back to 1909, when the anti-Labour groups fused into a liberal opposition, proclaimed the Liberal Party in 1910. In 1917, essentially the same group of activists renamed themselves the Nnationalist Party. In 1931, the Nationalists became the United Australia Party. Upon the opening of Parliament in 1945, members of the United Australia Party in Pparliament recorded the change of their party affiliations to liberal.
1.03 Organizational Discontinuity
1, ac7
Along with its name change from United Australia Party in 1944, the Liberal Party picked up new activists in its reorganization, especially as it promoted new organizations in some states. This influx of new activists is counted as a minor merger in our coding.
1.04 Leadership Competition
8, ac5
The literature in our file does not discuss at any length the major leaders of the party before it was reorganized in 1944 by Robert Menzies. One source does identify W.A. Holman from 1916-20 and B.S.B. Stevens from 1932-39 as outstanding leaders of the forerunners of the Liberal Party. Therefore the leadership changed hands at least twice before 1950, although the processes of change are not clear. From 1944 throughout the end of our time period, Menzies remained the leader of the party.
1.05 Legislative Instability
Instability is .08 , ac7
The Liberal Party held its lowest representation in 1961 and 62 at 37 percent and its highest representation from 1956 to 1960 when it held 47 percent of the seats. Like the other Australian parties the Liberals enjoy relatively stable representation.
1.06 Electoral Instability
Instability is .05, ac9
Legislative elections were held in 1951, 54, 55, 58, and 61. The Liberal Party received its lowest percentage of the vote in 1961 with 34 percent and its highest in 1951 and 1955 with 40 percent.

Governmental Status Variables, 2.01-2.07
 2.01 Government Discrimination
0 for 1950-56, ac9
0 for 1957-62, ac9
This Party has been in power for the entire period, but there is no evidence that it retains this power due to any attempt to discriminate against the other parties. It competes vigorously with the other parties in elections on an equal basis.
2.02 Governmental Leadership
7 out of 7 for 1950-56, ac9
6 out of 6 for 1957-62, ac9
The Party was in power for the entire time period.
2.03 Cabinet Participation
7 out of 7 for 1950-56, ac9
6 out of 6 for 1957-62, ac9
The Liberal Party, in coalition with the Country Party, was in power for the entire time period. Menzies chose his cabinets from his party with some country party members.
2.04 National Participation
5 for 1950-56, ac9
5 for 1957-62, ac9
The Liberal Party relied upon the country party for election victories in some rural areas of Australia.
2.05 Legislative Strength
Strength is .44 for 1950-56, ac7 and .44 for 1957-62, ac7
The Liberal Party held its lowest representation in 1961 and 62 at 37 percent and its highest representation from 1956 to 1960 when it held 47 percent of the seats. Like the other Australian parties the Liberals enjoy relatively stable representation.
2.06 Electoral Strength
Strength is .40 for 1950-56, ac9 and .35 for 1957-62, ac9
Legislative elections were held in 1951, 54, 55, 58, and 61. The Liberal Party received its lowest percentage of the vote in 1961 with 34 percent and its highest in 1951 and 1955 with 40 percent.
2.07 Outside Origin
4, ac7
A group of anti-Labor members in Parliament, called the (Liberal) Fusion (Group), was the forerunner of the Liberal Party.

Issue Orientation Variables, 5.01-5.15
 5.01 Ownership of Means of Production
3 for 1950-56, ac9 -
1 for 1957-62, ac9
When the Liberals began their rule in 1949, they were an anti-Labor, anti Socialist party. Both their program and practice described their Party's opposition to government ownership, in principle. While in office, a number of Commonwealth holdings were sold to private industry, and the Government clearly favored private enterprise in its policies. However, by 1962, the regime had accepted some government ownership in program and in practice and merely opposed any further nationalization.
5.02 Government Role in Economic Planning
2, ac9
Although seeming to prefer the private to the public answer to economic problems, the government has rarely hesitated to step in and take an active role in economic planning. Some examples of this active role include embargoes, subsidies, taxation and price fixing.
5.03 Redistribution of Wealth
1, ac3
Generally the Liberal Party had no commitment to the redistribution of wealth. Between 1950 and 1955 taxes on industry and private individuals were both raised and lowered, indicating no connection with a policy of redistribution or no redistribution. Between 1956 and 1962, there seems to have been a stabilization in taxation.
5.04 Social Welfare
4, ac9
While in power, the Liberal Party continually expanded the social welfare programs. The programs were widespread and comprehensive. Both compulsory and voluntary programs existed.
5.05 Secularization of Society
0, ac6
The information found for our time period indicated an ambiguous relationship between the Liberal Party and Church privilege. The Liberal Party would not take a stand on the local level concerning state aid to church schools by subsidy or busing. Liberals tended to make vague comments concerning this aid, and then referred the question to a commission or committee. Promises of state aid to education were finally made in 1963.
5.06 Support of the Military
2, ac3
This code is not well documented. The Liberal Party differed more with the Labor Party on the issue of conscription than on the allocation of resources. Our consultant reports that labor was opposed to conscription for overseas service, but favored universal duty. The defense budget of the Liberal Government in 1962 was 2.8 percent of the GNP, and the party was more likely to promote defense than was Labor.
5.07 Alignment with East-West Blocs
5, ac9
Australia belonged to SEATO and had an unqualified association with the United States in international affairs from 1949-1964. This included a promise of military support from Eisenhower in 1955.
5.08 Anti-Colonialism
1, ac8
The maintenance of historical ties with the British Commonwealth was always a prime factor in Menzies' foreign policy. In practice, the importance of connections to the commonwealth, especially to Britain, faded over the course of our time period, as the U.U. became increasingly essential to Australia n defense.
5.09 Supranational Integration
0, ac8
Except for concern about regional defense, Menzies and the Liberal Party showed remarkably little awareness of or interest in the possibilities of other forms of Southeast Asian regional organization. The 1950 Colombo Plan was basically a program for Australian aid to the area, not interaction with the area. Holt, who succeeded Menzies as the leader of the Liberal Party, showed far more interest in the possibilities of supranational organization in the area, as shown in the formation of the Asian and South Pacific council. However, this occurred in 1966, considerably after our time period.
5.10 National Integration
1, ac8
The literature often stated that the Liberal Party strived to maintain the federal system.
5.11 Electoral Participation
2, ac7
The party's ideals were strongly egalitarian, but in practice this was not always true. For example, the Aborigines were not enfranchised until 1962. The explanation for this restriction was that the Aborigines, who numbered less than 50,000, were incompetent to vote.
5.12 Protection of Civil Rights
3, ac7
The Liberals sided with the other major parties in a policy limiting immigration, or a large portion of it, to whites only, the "white Australia policy."
5.13 Interference with Civil Liberties
1, ac7
The Liberal Party instituted a dual radio TV system with government owned and private stations competing. An equal time rule for political speakers supposedly existed, but the Liberals sought to ban the Communist Party from access to the media and even sought authority through a 1951 referendum (which failed) to legislate against Communists or Communism.
5.14 / 5.15 US--Soviet Experts Left-Right Ratings
U.S. says, 1, conservative.
Soviets say, 1, extreme anti-Communist, capitalist, anti-progressive.

Goal Orientation Variables, 6.01-6.55
 6.00 open competition in the electoral process
4, ac9
The Liberal Party relied entirely on open competition to gain power. It led the government for the entire time period, but only in coalition with the country party. Sometimes the senate majority was held by the Liberal Party plus the country party.
6.10 Restricting Party Competition
0, ac9
Although the Liberals were in the position of power, they do not attempt to restrict party competition. They did attempt to outlaw the Communist Party, but were not granted the power by the states and were then defeated in a national referendum. The Communist Party, however, is not a real political threat to the Liberals as it does not have any concentrated strength to win seats. It is more a matter of ideological differences than political threat.
6.20 Subverting the Political System
0, ac9
It would be paradoxical to say that the Liberals would try to subvert the national government, because they were in control during the entire time period. There is also no suggestion that they attempted subversion on the local level.
6.30 Propagandizing Ideas and Program
6.31--2, ac9. The "Australian Liberal" was the official organ of the party. Local branch papers and magazines were published. No party operated a radio or TV station.
6.32--0, ac6. Although the young Liberals in New South Wales and Victoria ran speaking classes and discussion groups, this was the exception, not the rule.
6.33--2, ac9. The Liberal Party platform was revised by a party conference or council, not usually kept current. Resolutions were passed by the state and inter-state councils and taken into consideration by the Policy Committee in formulating official party policy.
6.34--2, ac9. Position papers were generally published during elections. A position paper of sorts that was always published was the platform speech of the candidate in the general election. It was published by the mass media.
6.50 Providing for Welfare of Party Members
0, ac9
There was no evidence of any Liberal Party provision for the social welfare of its members.

Autonomy Variables, 7.01-7.05
 7.01 Sources of Funds
3 (sector 04), ac8
Although donations were not accepted from professional organizations or trade associations, it seems that the major part of the party's income is derived from donations from individual firms and from party members in business, industry, and commerce.
7.02 Source of Members
5, ac9
The Liberal Party will accept anyone as a member who subscribes to the Party Constitution and pays the fee. There are no indirect members.
7.03 Sources of Leaders
2 (sectors 03, 04) for 1950-62, ac9
More than two thirds of the Liberal Party leaders are drawn from the professional and business sectors.
7.04 Relations with Domestic Parties
3, ac9
The Liberal Party has been the stronger partner in a federal coalition with the Country Party for the entire period. The Liberals needed the Country Party, but their position steadily strengthened. Cooperation was explicit on the national level andtacit when there was cooperation on the local level.
7.05 Relations with Foreign Organizations
5, ac5
Although there were no relevant sources, from extensive reading it is clear that the Liberal Party was purely national and not affiliated with any international organization. It did not belong to the Liberal International.

Organizational Complexity Variables, 8.01-8.07
 8.02 Intensiveness of Organization
4, ac9
The branch was the basic unit of party organization.
8.03 Extensiveness of Organization
5, ac7
The branches were organized geographically, with more branches in populated areas. Liberal Party organization was undeveloped in those rural areas where the Country Party was strong.
8.04 Frequency of Local Meetings
3, ac9
According to the information found in our data collection for the second half of our time period, the common frequency of local meetings was once or twice per year. Although no data was found for the first half of the period, there is no reason to believe that this number was not the same as in the later period.
8.05 Frequency of National Meetings
2, ac8
The Federal Council met annually, while the Executive Committee met more often during the duration of the year.
8.06 Maintaining Records
8, ac9
The Liberal Party expended some energies publishing propaganda, maintained a Secretariat of sorts that serves as a research unit, and tried to maintain a list of party members however inadequate and inaccurate.
8.07 Pervasiveness of Organization
3, ac9
The Liberals had many active youth and women's branches. These were definitely under party control, although they maintained a great deal of autonomy. The function of these groups was more social than political.

Organizational Power Variables, 9.01-9.08
 9.01 Nationalization of Structure
3, ac7
The party structure reflected the federal structure of the country, and the state organizations were important forces in the Party.
9.02 Selecting the National Leader
4, ac9
The leader of the party in power is the Prime Minister. Since Robert Menzies held this office for the entire period, he also remained the party leader. Technically, the leader was elected by the Parliamentary Members of the Party.
9.03 Selecting Parliamentary Candidates
4, ac9
For the most part, candidates were chosen by a selection committee on the regional level.
9.04 Allocating Funds
3, ac8
Fund raising went on at all levels of the Party. Some money was transferred from local branches to state and national organizations. The local branch was expected to raise its own maintenance and election expenses. The national organization allocated funds mainly in national campaigning.
9.05 Formulating Policy
6, ac9
Although the Parliamentary Party Members made use of standing policy committees and the council passed resolutions concerning policy, the ultimate power rested with the Parliamentary Party Leaders.
9.06 Controlling Communications
3, ac9
It appears that the official party organ, "The Australian Liberal," was published by the New South Wales branch of the Party without being subject to censorship. Local branches also published their own campaign literature and newsletters.
9.07 Administering Discipline
0, ac9
Disciplinary measures were seldom used within the Party, especially with regard to Parliamentary Party Members. Different levels of the Party had the power to administer discipline, but seldom exercised it.
9.08 Leadership Concentration
6, ac9
The leader of the Party for the entire period was Robert Menzies, Prime Minister. He was responsible to the Party to a certain extent, but had great freedom in articulating party policy.

Coherence Variables, 10.01-10.06
 10.01 Legislative Cohesion
.90, ac5
Figures were not available, but the literature indicated that the Members of Parliament, although not pledged to do so, usually maintained a great deal of cohesion.
10.02 Ideological Factionalism
0, ac7
There seem to have been no clearly organized or definable ideological factions during the period.
10.03 Issue Factionalism
1, ac6
Although there were not many direct statements, the literature indicated that unlike the ALP, the Liberal Party had been relatively free of factional tendencies promoted by disagreement over particular issues.
10.04 Leadership Factionalism
0, ac8
Menzies was the only leader during the entire period. There was no major leadership factionalism on the federal level.
10.05 Strategic or Tactical Factionalism
1, ac8
There was no indication that disagreement among party leaders over strategy or tactics ever prompted factional tendencies, although the subject was open to debate.
10.06 Party Purges
0, ac9
There were no mass expulsions of leaders or members during our period.

Involvement Variables, 11.01-11.06
11.01 Membership Requirements
3, ac9
The new member must fill out an application and pay a fee.
11.02 Membership Participation
0, ac9
Although there was an increase in activity at election time, the majority of party members seemed to be nominal.
11.03 Material Incentives
Insufficient information.
11.04 Purposive Incentives
1, ac3
Strong anti-Labor sentiment was behind the formation of the Liberal Party, and some militants probably reflect its force.
11.05 Doctrinism
0, ac9
The Liberal Party has a platform and a constitution, neither of which are kept up to date or referred to often. Menzies himself said "we have no doctrinaire political philosophy."
11.06 Personalism
0, ac7
Although the party was reorganized and led by Robert Menzies for the entire period, it appears that success for the Liberals came through his abilities as a politician to appeal to interests rather than through any charismatic qualities. Personalism has not played any particular role. This explanation is not accepted, however, by a few dissenting opinions.