Path: Table of Contents > Essay on Party Politics > Party 023
Australian Country Party, 023
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
1.01 Year of Origin and 1.02 Name Changes
1919, ac9
0, ac9
Beginning in 1914, each of the six states in Australia experienced the rise of farmer-based parties which recruited existing members of parliament and elected new members oriented to the interests of the wheatfarmers and graziers. Following the 1919 election, the members of Parliament who were sponsored by these "country parties" formed the Fral Country Party, which we regard as the national party in our study. There have been no name changes since the Party's inception.
1.03 Organizational Discontinuity
0, ac9
The Party experienced no significant splits or mergers during our period of interest for scoring this variable. Its alliance with the Liberal Party is not treated as a merger.
1.04 Leadership Competition
11, ac8
Earl Page is credited as the first leader of the Country Party. He was succeeded in 1939 by Cameron and then in 1941 by Arthur Fadden, who served until he retired in 1958. McEwen was then selected by the Country Party members of Parliament to replace Fadden. McEwen served as party leader through the rest of our time period.
1.05 Legislative Instability
Instability is .06, ac8
The Country Party's legislative representation presents marked stability, ranging only between 14 and 16 percent.
1.06 Electoral Instability
Instability is .07, ac9
Legislative elections were held in 1951, 54, 55, 58 and 61. The Country Party's proportion of votes ranged between 8 percent in 1961 and 10 percent in 1951, 54, and 55.

Governmental Status Variables, 2.01-2.07
 2.01 Government Discrimination
0, ac9
The fact that the Country Party governed in coalition with the Liberals for the entire period, and that locally they have often either contested jointly or not at all in deference to each other, has not been included in coming to the final scoring. Any deferential treatment was simply an arrangement between the two parties not meant to discriminate against the others or to take advantage of any electoral laws.
2.02 Governmental Leadership
0 out of 7 for 1950-56, ac9
0 out of 6 for 1957-62, ac9

Robert Menzies led the government for the entire period. The Country Party supported him and ruled in coalition with him, but he was a Liberal.
2.03 Cabinet Participation
7 out of 7 for 1950-56, ac9
6 out of 6 for 1957-62, ac9
The Menzies government was in power during the whole time period. McEwen of the Country Party was a member of the Cabinet from the beginning to the end of the period. Fadden was a member and second in command to Menzies from 1949-58. There were also additional members of the Country Party represented in the Cabinet.
2.04 National Participation
4, ac8
Nationally the Country Party governed in coalition with the Liberals, who needed their support to remain in power. In local elections, one party often deferred to the other in order to prevent a Labor victory. The party was quite active on a local level due to its representation of rural interests. This variable has been coded a four mainly on the basis that the party serves a more important function in the national scene than mere representation of the rural interests. However, the basis of support for the Country Party is essentially sectional.
2.05 Legislative Strength
Strength is .14 for 1950-56, ac8 and .15 for 1957-62, ac8
The Country Party's legislative representation presents marked stability, ranging only between 14 and 16 percent.
2.06 Electoral Strength
Strength is .09 for 1950-56, ac9 and .09 for 1957-62, ac9
Legislative elections were held in 1951, 54, 55, 58 and 61. The Country Party's proportion of votes ranged between 8 percent in 1961 and 10 percent in 1951, 54, and 55.
2.07 Outside Origin
8, ac7
There is room for disagreement in fixing the status of the creators of the Country Party. On the one hand, the Party can be viewed as being formed by Parliamentary Members in office, as the Federal Country Party was indeed created in 1919. On the other hand, these members were elected to their positions with the assistance of "country parties" in the states, and these were founded by associations of farmers, settlers, and graziers. Because the Country Party originated from stimuli external to Parliament, we have coded opted for the more "outside" status in scoring this variable.

Issue Orientation Variables, 5.01-5.15
 5.01 Ownership of Means of Production
1, ac6
The Country Party represented the protection of rural interests on the national level. As such, it opposed the nationalization or control measures that would tend to hurt these interests. But it did allow for the nationalization of some basic industry, particularly services, and advocated the regulation of markets when approved by the industries involved as being in their interests.
5.02 Government Role in Economic Planning
2, ac6
The Country Party theoretically favored as little national government intervention as possible, with more power given to states or individuals. However, in practice it accepted the increasing government role in economic planning.
5.03 Redistribution of Wealth
No information.
5.04 Social Welfare
2, ac3
There is very little information on Country Party policy concerning social welfare. But the Party did favor voluntary programs and opposed nationalization of health services.
5.05 Secularization of Society
Insufficient information.
5.06 Support of the Military
2, ac3
There is not much information on the Country Party's position on this issue. There is no indication that the Country Party favored changing the military budget in any way, and it generally supported the Liberal government on defense policy.
5.07 Alignment With East-West Blocs
5, ac8
Australia belonged to SEATO. The Country Party did not favor withdrawal.
5.08 Anti-Colonialism
1, ac3
The Country Party presumably followed Liberal Party initiatives in foreign policy, for there is little discussion of Country Party positions on foreign issues. Apparently, it supported Menzies maintenance of close ties with the British through membership in the Commonwealth.
5.09 Supranational Integration
0, ac3
Like the Liberal Party, the Country Party showed little interest in supranational regional organizations during our time period, and little attention was given to structural relationships among Pacific nations.
5.10 National Integration
2, ac8
Despite the debates concerning centralization of economic control, Australia has a strong federal system. The federal organization of the parties is weak compared with the local organizations, and the various governmental departments do not seem to be too effectively coordinated. The Country Party, in particular, is primarily interested in the welfare of one group, rural independent farmers. This alone would indicate that it supported decentralization under the federal system. Indeed, it favored the creation of one or more new states.
5.11 Electoral Participation
2, ac7
In coalition with the Liberals for the entire time period, the Country Party did not agitate to give the vote to the Aborigines. They went along with the Liberals in discrimination against them. Exclusion of the aborigines, numbering less than 50,000, was argued on the basis of incompetence.
5.12 Protection of Civil Rights
3, ac6
The Country Party advocated the protection of individual rights from unjust encroachment by the government. Yet, it favored the "white Australia policy" that limited immigration, or the largest part of it, to whites only. The Country Party also favored active campaigns to encourage European immigration, especially British.
5.13 Interference With Civil Liberties
1, ac3
The Country Party governed in coalition with the Liberals who advocated a dual system of mass media, but nothing was said concerning the Country Party. It did, however, favor banning the Communist Party, which is interpreted as an infringement of civil liberties.
5.14 / 5.15 US--Soviet Experts Left-Right Ratings
U.S. says, 1, conservative.
Soviets say, 1, same as Liberal Party -- extreme anti-Communist, capitalist, anti-progressive.

Goal Orientation Variables, 6.01-6.55
 6.00 Open Competition in the Electoral Process
4, ac9
The Country Party did not expect to gain complete control of the government. It was a sectional, interest oriented party that sought representation through open competition.
6.10 Restricting Party Competition
0, ac9
The Country Party was in no position to attempt restriction of other parties, but even if it were, there is no reason to believe that it would. It merely sought the maximum representation of its own rural and primary interests.
6.20 Subverting the Political System
0, ac9
Since the Country Party received more representation in the Liberal - Country Party coalition than it would in an ALP government, and since it does not pretend to expect control of the government, there is no reason to think it would attempt to subvert the Liberal government leadership.
6.30 Propagandizing Ideas and Program
6.31--2, ac9. Of all the parties, the Country Party produced the best party newspaper, "The Countryman." No party operated its own radio or TV station.
6 .32--0, ac6. There is no indication that any kind of Party school had ever been operated by the Country Party.
6.33--2, ac9. The Party platform was written and revised by the general conference of the Party. All branches had the right to initiate resolutions regarding the platform, policy, and constitution of the Party, though they seldom did so unless the issue concerned rights and privileges within the Party institution itself.
6.34--1, ac6. General Party literature was published during elections and the platform speech of the candidate is published in the mass media, but there was no indication it was a regular practice of the Party.
6.50 Providing for Welfare of Party Members
0, ac9
There was no indication that the Country Party provided for the social welfare of its members.

Autonomy Variables, 7.01-7.05
 7.01 Sources of Funds
7, ac9
The Country Party relied heavily on its membership fees as a principal source of income. It augmented this during campaigns by soliciting donations from party supporters.
7.02 Source Of Members
5, ac9
Membership was entirely direct.
7.03 sources of leaders
3 (sector 02), ac6
Documentation was not conclusive, but it seemed that about half the party leaders were farmers or farm managers, and the rest were drawn from several other sectors.
7.04 Relations With Domestic Parties
2, ac9
The Country Party often made local electoral agreements with the Liberal Party. The Country Party was the weaker member of a federal coalition for the entire period. Its influence continued to diminish over time.
7.05 Relations With Foreign Organizations
5, ac5
Although there was no discussion in the file, it is clear from previous reading that the Country Party was not affiliated with any international organizations.

Organizational Complexity Variables, 8.01-8.07
 8.01 Structural Articulation
6, ac7
The literature is confusing, but it appears that there existed a central council and a conference, whose members were chosen for the most part by prescribed selection and whose functions overlapped to a certain extent. Our consultant notes that the organization varied from state to state. During our period, the party had branches in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, and Western Australia.
8.02 Intensiveness of Organization
4, ac9
Branches were the smallest units of organization in the Country Party, but party membership was direct to a central organization and the branches were not strong.
8.03 Extensiveness of Organization
4, ac9
The Country Party branches were generally active in the rural areas where the population was dispersed.
8.04 Frequency of Local Meetings
3, ac5
Some branches met only during campaigns, some bimonthly, and some once or twice a year.
8.05 Frequency of National Meetings
2, ac9
Besides the one source that mentioned standing committees, the consensus is that the Parliamentary Party Members have great power over policy making between annual Federal Council meetings.
8.06 Maintaining Records
5, ac9
The Country Party produced a party newspaper, and kept lists, although not accurate, of the membership. The party does not maintain an archive.
8.07 Pervasiveness of Organization
No information.

Organizational Power Variables, 9.01-9.08
 9.01 Nationalization of Structure
3, ac9
Local branches sent delegates to electorate councils for each state and federal legislative constituency. Chairmen of these councils and some coopted members formed the Central Council, which elected from among its members a Central Executive. Except in formulating federal policy, the state organizations were all but autonomous.
9.02 Selecting the National Leader
4, ac9
All the parties elected their leader by vote of caucus, which consists of the ParliamentaryMembers of the Party.
9.03 Selecting Parliamentary Candidates
3, ac8
Generally, candidates were selected by a selection committee on the electorate level, subject to veto by the State Central Council. Plebiscites were also mentioned as a means of selecting candidates, at least in Queensland.
9.04 Allocating Funds
2, ac9
The primary source of Country Party funds was membership dues. These were collected locally or mailed to the head office, which then gave the local branch a certain amount of money per member. Local branches and electorate councils generally raised their own operating and campaign expenses.
9.05 Formulating Policy
6, ac9
Although the conference wrote and amended the party constitution and platform, and the council met with the Parliamentary party Members to discuss policy, the real day-to-day policy makers were the Parliamentary Party Members.
9.06 Controlling Communications
2, ac8
The "Countryman" appeared to be published by the Victoria branch of the Party without national censorship. One source said that the literature prepared by the Central Office was old fashioned, so most of it was handled locally. Our consultant states that each state branch put out its own paper.
9.07 Administering Discipline
0, ac7
There were no cases of party discipline cited. It seems that the leaders were fairly autonomous and are disciplined only by the Party's power to endorse and reelect.
9.08 Leadership Concentration
6, ac9
The Country Party leader had great autonomy. He can independently commit the party to action and can present party policy.

Coherence Variables, 10.01-10.06
 10.01 Legislative Cohesion
.90, ac5
Although there was no information concerning roll call votes on specific issues, it is clear that as the minority party in a coalition, solidarity and legislative cohesion were necessary for the existence of the Party.
10.02 Ideological Factionalism
0, ac7
The Country Party existed to further country interests, therefore there is no emphasis placed on ideology. Although the subject is open to debate, factional tendencies are not evident.
10.03 Issue Factionalism
0, ac7
There is no indication in the literature that any particular issue had led to factionalism in the Party.
10.04 Leadership Factionalism
0, ac6
One source stressed the emphasis placed on leadership and the respect given to the leader. There were only two leaders during our time period, with McEwen succeeding Fadden upon his retirement. Although another source says that page, the venerable early leader of the party, prevented McEwen from being named leader when Fadden was elected in 1941, there is no indication of any leadership contests during our period.
10.05 Strategic or Tactical Factionalism
1, ac8
Although the subject of alliance with the Liberals was open to debate, there was no indication of factional tendencies.
10.06 Party Purges
0, ac9
There were no mass expulsions during our period.

Involvement Variables, 11.01-11.06
11.01 Membership Requirements
3, ac9
Registration as a party member was usually accomplished by merely noting the name on the bank order of the new member, who subscribed to support the Party at a fixed rate per year.
11.02 Membership Participation
0, ac9
Most members were nominal and content to let Party leaders run the Party.
11.03 Material Incentives
No information.
11.04 Purposive Incentives
1, ac3
Our consultant states that the Party had a rural ideology laying stress on the contributions and problems of country people, especially farmers. We assume that some activists were so motivated.
11.05 Doctrinism
0, ac9
The Country Party had a platform, but it was not a source of orthodoxy. The Party had to be pragmatic in order to maintain its bargaining power as the junior member of a ruling alliance.
11.06 Personalism
0, ac5
Leadership was transferred easily, without noticeable disruption of party militants. Each leader worked his way up through the Party ranks.