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The Liberal Party is a party of initiative and enterprise

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 Menzies period is recognised as a "golden era" in Australia’s history with widespread prosperity, a flourishing economy and work for all.

Initiatives of this period:

  • high living standards for all Australians and the level of consumer goods per head (cars, radios etc) rose dramatically
  • the 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
  • consistent spending on defence programmes
  • the arrival of 1 ¼ 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
  • the introduction of child endowment for the first child
  • free medical treatment for pensioners and dependants
  • free milk to school children
  • abolished the land and entertainment tax
  • introduced Medical Benefits Scheme, and introduce free "life-saving" drugs for the needy
  • negotiations with respect to the ANZUS treaty, to join Australia, New Zealand and the United States in a defence alliance pact
  • negotiations with respect to the South East Asian Treaty Organisation, SEATO
  • promoter of Columbo Plan assisting South East 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
  • voted in the international forum to restrict nuclear
  • completed rail standardisation between Sydney and Melbourne and funded other standardisation works
  • completed dams including Chowilla Dam in SA and Blowering Dam in NSW
  • tax concessions introduced for married pensioners
  • development of Beef Roads Scheme to develop inland Australia
  • 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
  • introduction of Commonwealth scholarships for secondary schools as means of introducing State Aid to all schools
  • Funding for Colleges of Advanced Education

The first New South Wales Liberal/Country Government was elected to office on 1 May 1965 under the leadership of Sir Robert Askin. The New South Wales Liberal/National Coalition was re-elected to government in three successive State elections and remained in government until 1 May 1976. Sir Robert Askin retired on 3 January 1975. The following Premiers of the New South Wales Liberal/Country Government were Tom Lewis and then Eric Willis. Under the premiership of these individuals, the Liberal Government progressed in a variety of activities, including:

  • The introduction of Australia's first pollution control legislation.

  • Australia's first consumer protection legislation.
  • The construction of the Eastern Suburbs Railway.
  • The establishment of the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
  • The establishment of the NSW Law Reform Commission.
  • Completion of the Sydney Opera House.
  • The establishment of the first Women's Advisory Board and Ethnic Affairs Bureau.
  • The abolition of death duties.
  • Free school transport.
  • The introduction of Colleges of Advanced Education.
  • The introduction of four weeks annual leave.

The second New South Wales Liberal/National Government was elected to office on 19 March 1988 under the leadership of Nick Greiner. With the resignation of Premier Nick Greiner on 24 June 1992, John Fahey was elected to the premiership. The Greiner and Fahey Governments presided over a period of substantial structural reform that traversed industrial relations, State finances and micro-economic reform in many State utilities. Some of the achievements of the Greiner and Fahey Governments include:

  • Selective High Schools.
  • Last payment on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
  • The establishment of the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).
  • The successful bid for the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
  • The Parramatta River Cat.
  • The appointment of the first Minister for the Status of Women.
  • The launch of the New South Wales Senior's Card.
  • The establishment of the Office of Ageing and the Senior's Media Network to combat negative stereotypes about ageing.
  • The abolition of compulsory retirement.
  • The passage of the Disability Services Act to guarantee the rights of all disabled people in New South Wales.
  • The establishment of the Environment Protection Authority to protect and improve the State's environment.


Prime Minister Robert Menzies retired on the 20th January 1966. For the next six years the Liberal/National Government was led by Prime Ministers Harold Holt, John Gorton and William McMahon.

In this period, the advances of the Menzies period were consolidated and 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.

Initiatives of the period:

  • 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, roads 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 the decade to 1969, and the work force rose over a million in the 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 established the Australian Council for Arts and the Australian Film and Television Corporation)
  • increased grants for Aboriginal programmes
  • establishment of energy advisory and environmental bodies
  • 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
  • legislation introduced to protect against unfair corporate takeover activity
  • established Institute of Marine Science
  • assistance to institutions training handicapped people
  • Meals on Wheels assisted
  • introduction of language courses for migrants
  • 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
  • established Bureau of Transport Economics in order to analyse costs of transport facilities

The Liberal Party of Australia New South Wales Division was created to provide members with the greatest possible influence and interaction over both the policy and activities of the Party.