The Howard Government inherited an economy suffering from high government debt, a Budget in deficit, high unemployment, and one where inflation and interest rates had risen to unacceptable levels.

Initiatives of the period:

Responsible Economic Management

  • Over 800,000 new jobs created since March 1996;

  • Unemployment has fallen to a ten year low of 6.3 per cent;

  • Home loan interest rates down from 17 per cent in the late 1980s to around 8 per cent today;

  • By June next year $50 billion out of a $96 billion Government debt will have been repaid – the debt interest bill has been reduced by $3 billion;

  • The new tax system delivered the largest income tax cut in Australia’s history so that 4 in every 5 taxpayers pay a top tax rate of 30 cents in the dollar or less; and

  • An extra $2.4 billion in family benefits and child care assistance.

Work for the Dole

  • 2,000 Work for the Dole projects have begun providing places for over 70,000 young Australians.

Cracking Down on Welfare Cheats

  • Tightening welfare and targeting welfare cheats is saving decent taxpayers over $2 million a day.

Tough on Drugs

  • The $500 million Tough on Drugs Programme is the largest single initiative ever undertaken in this country to tackle the drug problem.

Fairer Workplaces

  • The Government has seen the lowest level of strikes since 1913; and

  • Compulsory unionism outlawed.

Education and Training

  • The National Literacy Plan to improve basic skills for children to read, write, add and subtract; and

  • New apprenticeships at an all time high with 268,000 young Australians in training.

Better Health Care

  • Parents rewarded for taking personal responsibility for their family’s health care with the 30 per cent private health insurance rebate; and

  • To cut waiting lists and to improve public hospitals State health funding has been increased by 25 per cent in 5 years.

Country Australia

  • Up to 500 rural transaction centres to restore country services including banking;

  • Rural health package to open regional health centres and encourage doctors back to regional areas;

  • Diesel costs down 24 cents a litre for heavy road transport in regional Australia; and

  • Black spots programme to improve country roads.

Older Australians

  • Pensions up 4 per cent and guaranteed to stay above the cost of living;

  • Gold Card extended to Australian World War II veterans 70 years or over with qualifying service; and

  • Provisional tax abolished and capital gains tax relief provided.

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 Prime Minister Gough Whitlam.

Initiatives of the period:

  • 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 the Commonwealth Heads of Government Regional Meeting, CHOGRM, 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 assistance with employment schemes and encouraging employment growth
  • new mineral resources found and developed
  • assistance given to sportsmen to help them compete more effectively at world level
  • primary producers helped through the most severe drought ever
  • succession of programmes introduced to assist businesses both large and small
  • 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 the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park
  • five properties placed on the World Heritage List (Great Barrier Reef, Kakadu, Wilandra Lakes, Lord Howe Island and South West 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 (SBS) 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 to address family issues
  • 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 and the 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 a number of bodies (eg National Aboriginal Conference) to further the cause of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders
  • introduced income equalisation deposits as a self-help aid to primary producers to assist them in times of drought, etc
  • more referendum questions carried under the Fraser Government (3) than under any other government

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

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

Since its formation in late 1944, the Liberal Party has governed Australia for more than 30 years, as well as holding power in all States for varying periods.

The Liberal Party has become Australia’s most successful post war party; it was elected to Government for 23 years from 1949 to 1972, and for another term of more than seven years from 1975 to 1983.

In 1996, the Australian people elected the Liberal Party to govern Australia again, in coalition with the National Party of Australia,  in a landslide win.  In 1998, 2001 and 2004 that government was re-elected.

To offer a list of major achievements is a most difficult exercise and the material provided in this section represents only a small proportion of the achievements. The complexity of a modern government is such that the full details of even a single department would be immense.

The Liberal Party is a party of initiative and enterprise

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 by government.

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.

The Liberal Party is a party of initiative and enterprise, valuing the importance of the family, individual freedom and private enterprise while caring for those in need.

The Liberal Party of Australia was created to provide members with the greatest possible influence and interaction over both the policy and activities of the Party. The Liberal Party is proud of and shows a strong and steady commitment to all of its members, providing support and assistance for groups within the Liberal Party including the Women’s Council, Rural and Regional Committee and the Young Liberals.

The NSW Division of the Liberal Party of Australia works to provide the best possible standard of living for the people of NSW.


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