The Liberal Party of Australia was founded on 16 October 1944.
The Party was formed after a three-day meeting in Canberra
convened by the then Leader of the Opposition (United Australia
Party), Robert Menzies.
Robert Menzies had already served as Prime Minister of Australia
(1939-40), but he believed the non-Labor parties should unite to
present a strong alternative government to the people of Australia.
Eighty men and women from 18 different non-Labor political parties
and organisations such as the Democratic Party, the Liberal Democratic,
the United Australia Party, the Institute of Public Affairs, the
Australian Women’s National League and the Queensland Women’s Electoral
League attended the first Canberra conference. They shared a common belief
that Australians should have greater personal freedom and choice than
that offered under Labor’s post-war socialist plans.
Robert Menzies believed the time was right for a new political force in
Australia – one that fought for the freedom of the individual and produced
enlightened liberal policies. In his opening address at that meeting, he said:
"......what we must look for, and it is a matter of desperate importance to our
society, is a true revival of liberal thought which will work for social justice
and security, for national power and national progress, and for the full
development of the individual citizen, though not through the dull and deadening
process of socialism."
It is often said that Robert Menzies stood for the ‘forgotten people’ of Australia;
those mainstream Australians whose goals, needs and aspirations had been ignored
On October 16, 1944, the name The Liberal Party of Australia was adopted, uniting
the many different political organisations. Two months later, at the Albury Conference,
the Party’s organisational and constitutional framework was drawn up. By May 1945
membership of the Liberal Party had swelled to 40,000.
The name Liberal was chosen deliberately for its associations with progressive nineteenth
century free enterprise and social equality.