Political Parties are central to an understanding of how Australian politics works. The parties dominate state and federal parliaments, provide all governments and oppositions, and frame the nature of political debate.
The ALP is Australia’s oldest political party, formed in 1890. The only party to have been continuously represented in the House of Representatives since 1901, it experienced three debilitating splits in the twentieth century and has governed federally for about one-third of the years since federation.
Originally formed from a merger of the Protectionist and Free Trade parties in 1910, the Liberal Party has undergone several reformations, culminating in the present-day party that was formed by its iconic founder, Robert Menzies. Menzies governed for 16 years from 1949 and is Australia’s longest-serving prime minister. The Liberal Party has governed in coalition with the National Party for 41 of the last 61 years.
Originally known as the Country Party, it has held seats in the federal parliament since 1919. Changing its name to the National Country Party in the 1970s, then to National Party in the 1980s, and finally to The Nationals in 2003, the rural-based party has seen a steady decline in its voter support base.
The Greens are a phenomenon of the 1980s, arising out of a number of environmental battles of that time, such as the fight to save the Franklin Dam in Tasmania. Its leader, Bob Brown, was elected to the Senate in 1996. At the 2010 election, the party won the Victorian electorate of Melbourne and will have 9 senators from July 2011.
Formed in 1977 by a disaffected Liberal, Don Chipp, the Australian Democrats was once the most successful minor political party in Australian history. Whilst it never won a House of Representatives seat, since 1981 it held or shared the balance of power in the Senate for around twenty years. It is the only party to have elected not one, but five different women as leader. More recently, the party suffered a debilitating internal split, leadership instability and plummeting opinion poll ratings. Following the 2007 election, it lost all its representation in the Senate.
Formed by a disendorsed Liberal Party candidate, Pauline Hanson, in 1996, One Nation rose to prominence in Queensland in the 1998 state election when it won 11 seats in parliament. It followed this by winning a Queensland Senate seat in 1998 and polling 8.43% of the primary vote in the House of Representatives, making it the third largest party in terms of voter support at that time. The party quickly went into decline amid internal bickering, lost its parliamentary representation in Queensland, and faced ongoing court battles over electoral funding. The party was routed in 2001, polling 4.35% of the primary vote, many of its supporters returning to the coalition parties.
A wide range of minor political parties exist in Australia, ranging from conservative religious groups to fringe anarchist organisations.
List of Minor Political Parties
• Advance Australia Party
• Australian Commonwealth Party
• Australian Family Alliance
• Australian Men’s Party
• Australian Millionaires Party – satire
• Australian Progressive Alliance – Senator Meg Lees
• Australian Reform Party
• Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group)
• Communist Party of Australia
• Democratic Labor Party
• Democratic Socialist Party
• Family First Party
• Hope Party
• Liberal Democratic Party
• Net Effect Party
• Non-Custodial Parents Party
• Nuclear Disarmament Party
• People Power
• People Power – new political party formed
• Progressive Labour Party
• Science Technology And Research (STAR) Party
• Shooters Party
• Socialism Web Site
• Socialist Alliance
• Socialist Equality Party
• Socialist Party Australia
• United People Power Inc.
• Unity Victoria
• Vote Informal Today – Direct Democracy Tomorrow
• What Women Want (Australia)
What Our Political Parties Stand For
What does your Political party really stand for?
27 May, 2011 – http://australianpolitics.com/political-parties
Political parties traditionally are the embodiment of a set of strongly held beliefs about the way a country and economy should be managed. Sadly, most political leaders now spend more time thinking and worrying about their public image than they do about what they and their party really stands for.
In his recently published book “The Dumbing Down of Politics” Lindsay Tanner explains that political leaders are now obsessed with achieving media exposure. He goes on to explain that serious political debate about the big issues is being lost in a political sideshow that is more concerned with appearances than substance. In essence many political parties are now poorly positioned as brands. Brands actually stand for something – many political parties do not.
Lindsay Tanner explains “Politicians are now so desperate to get media coverage at almost any cost that they willingly participate in entertainment formats that have little connection to any political issue.” This media sideshow contributes towards the substance of political parties being lost.
A party’s position on an issue is often influenced by the outcomes of focus groups rather than deeply held political conviction. Adopting a popular position based upon the outcomes of a focus group means that as public opinion changes politicians regularly need to change their policy. This is not leadership – rather it is the “tail wagging the dog”. This approach drives the increasingly held belief that politicians primary agenda is to attend to what will get them elected at the next election.
Mark Latham explains that “politics has evolved into a long-running TV show, whereby its senior players gear their daily schedules, not around matters of public policy and governance, but the quest to have their comments replayed on the nightly news”.
George Megalogenis argues that: “To a visitor from outer space, it would be hard to distinguish the job description of prime minister from that of a talk show or game show host.” In essence the quest to win the ratings war directly influences the activities of politicians and they invest more time, energy and effort into this agenda than they do into the serious political debate.
Neil Postman suggests that “cosmetics has replaced ideology as the field of expertise over which a politician must have competent control”. Much public perception is now influenced by appearance and superficiality. Substance is often disregarded because of the way someone looks or the way that they present their ideas.
Political parties are not unique; many organisations focus more on style than substance. These organisations invest millions of dollars in fantastic looking television advertising, great websites and flashy premises; meanwhile their people lack a common vision and purpose. Great organisations understand that deeply held beliefs and values combined with a common vision are the drivers of long term success. Substance is critical to creating a strong brand. Political parties are no different!
The Australian Greens
Our core beliefs:
Good economic management means taking care of our earth – not treating our most precious resources like a giant business in liquidation: ‘everything must go!’. The levels of pollution in our atmosphere mean that business-as-usual will no longer work if we want to avoid dangerous climate change. The future for Australia can still be a prosperous one if we build our economy on green principles rather than short-term self-interest.
Grassroots participatory democracy
Real progress comes when enough people believe it is possible to make a difference and decide to do something about it. All Greens members and supporters are driven by the desire to work towards a better Australia. In contrast to the two major parties, which are run by executives in head office, the Greens involve members in key decisions and our campaigns are powered by thousands of ordinary people volunteering their time, skills and support.
Many of the social problems we have today – crime, discrimination, disease, poverty – could be dramatically improved if we focus on eliminating extreme inequality in Australia and across the world. The Greens believe that it should be the priority of all governments to alleviate poverty and to extend opportunity to all members of society.
Peace and non-violence
Australia’s foreign policy should be based on dialogue, diplomacy and cooperation, not aggression. Trying to prevent or counter violence with violence itself will not work. The Greens are committed to peaceful and non-violent solutions locally, nationally and internationally.
The Liberal Party
• In the inalienable rights and freedoms of all peoples; and we work towards a lean government that minimises interference in our daily lives; and maximises individual and private sector initiative
• In government that nurtures and encourages its citizens through incentive, rather than putting limits on people through the punishing disincentives of burdensome taxes and the stifling structures of Labor’s corporate state and bureaucratic red tape.
• In those most basic freedoms of parliamentary democracy – the freedom of thought, worship, speech and association.
• In a just and humane society in which the importance of the family and the role of law and justice is maintained.
• In equal opportunity for all Australians; and the encouragement and facilitation of wealth so that all may enjoy the highest possible standards of living, health, education and social justice.
• That, wherever possible, government should not compete with an efficient private sector; and that businesses and individuals – not government – are the true creators of wealth and employment.
• In preserving Australia’s natural beauty and the environment for future generations.
• That our nation has a constructive role to play in maintaining world peace and democracy through alliance with other free nations.
In short, we simply believe in individual freedom and free enterprise; and if you share this belief, then ours is the Party for you.
The Labor Party
1. As times change, our values endure. The Australian Labor Party was formed 120 years ago to help build this nation and improve the lives of ordinary workers and their families, giving them fair shares in a growing economy and supporting the vulnerable. In the 21st century, we still strive to create a fair, prosperous Australia where everyone has opportunity and nobody is left out or left behind. Our core values have been with us throughout our history and the changing fortunes of our nation: opportunity, responsibility, and fairness. This National Platform explains these values and applies them to our commitments for today and tomorrow. It celebrates our achievements and sets out our vision for Australia.
2. Labor values are Australian values. Australia is a society enriched by its diversity. Our history is one of hard work, nation building and innovation, proudly welcoming new generations of migrants, respecting Indigenous Australians, weaving a resilient social fabric to support Australians throughout their lives. We are a modern social democratic party which has made Australia better off, fairer and more sustainable. Universal health care, fairness in the workplace, and the age pension are Australian achievements, part of our tradition of working together for the common good and taking care of those with limited capacity to take of themselves.
3. Compared to other countries, we are in a good position to face the challenges ahead. Our economy is strong and we emerged from the Global Financial Crisis more successfully than other advanced economies. We have a great record of job creation, low unemployment while maintaining strong public finances and very low public debt. We have a huge flow of mining investment but patchwork pressures, brought in part by the rise of Asia, mean that some parts of our economy are strained by growth while others are being left behind.
4. Global power is shifting to our region and our economy is transforming. We need to make sure that the Asian century is also an Australian century. New technologies are reshaping the way we live and work, empowering people to take control of their lives and at the same time creating new uncertainties. We are facing the threat of climate change and seizing the opportunities of a clean energy future. Society is changing too. People live longer lives. Communities and households are taking new forms.
5. For Australia, Labor has always been the champion of change. We are ready to meet the new economic, social and environmental challenges of this century and make sure that change works in the best interests of the nation. In government, Labor embraces our tradition of reform and nation building and applies our enduring values to these new challenges.
6. Australians were the first people to vote a nation into existence and we are one of the world’s oldest parliamentary democracies. Ours is one of the first Labor parties to be formed around the world. We are the original Australian party — in name, purpose and identity — a party deeply woven into this nation’s fabric. Every other party formed in Australia in the past 120 years has been in response to Australian Labor.
7. Labor has been shaped by the people of Australia and in turn has shaped the character, culture and opportunities of Australians. In the late 19th century, we grew from the collective struggle for social justice, fighting for better living and working conditions, uniting union members with others to overcome the vested interests of employers and governments. Labor is the party of opportunity and security for working people. Working with a strong trade union movement, in the early 20th century we laid this nation’s social foundations through votes for women, fair pay, reasonable working hours, unemployment benefits, workers’ compensation and decent pensions.
8. In the mid-20th century, we built our national infrastructure and strengthened Australia’s cities and suburbs, through the monumental Snowy Hydro Electricity Scheme, transcontinental railways, providing sewerage and running water to Australian homes. In the 1970s, we opened access to education, health care and legal services, protected our heritage and natural environments and modernised our international relationships. In the 1980s and 1990s, we opened our economy to the world, laying the foundations for today’s prosperity, introduced universal superannuation, expanded higher education and legislated for native title. In each period of our history, Labor’s values have shaped our core commitments:
9. Labor is committed to a sustainable market economy. We work for long term prosperity, fairly shared by the whole community. We believe a properly functioning market economy creates wealth and provides opportunity and we look for market-based solutions, with robust and balanced regulation. Market design should promote sustainable growth that delivers for working people, combining free and open exchange with strong and durable institutions. Through a dynamic market-based economy we are committed to giving all Australians opportunities and making sure no-one is left behind. Unrestrained greed is damaging to the public interest.
10. Labor is a party of active government. The Global Financial Crisis demonstrated how markets can fail and prompted new thinking about government’s responsibility to ensure that markets works in the public interest, not only for individual gain. Labor believes in the unique and positive role that can be played by government in a market economy. Only governments can ensure universal, high quality education, health care and a social safety net; protect national security; plan for and meet national infrastructure needs and protect the natural environment. Government has a responsibility to invest in public goods, including assets, infrastructure and services, to provide the legal and institutional underpinning for efficient, competitive markets and to intervene where there is market failure. In these and other areas, government involvement achieves better outcomes for all Australians than would be achieved solely through market forces.
11. The Labor party and the trade union movement work together as partners. As a political party, Labor was born out of the labour movement and its struggle for social justice. By working with the movement to create and defend good jobs and fair work and to promote participation and shared responsibility across the workforce, Labor has given millions of Australians the opportunity to build a secure, decent and dignified life and to improve their own and their children’s life chances. Labor will continue to protect and advance the rights of working people, including their right to join unions, to organise in the workplace, to bargain collectively and to take industrial action, including the right to strike.
12. Trade unions are the largest and most representative community movements in Australia, looking after two million Australians and their families and campaigning for the interests of all workers. We believe a strong trade union movement is necessary to deliver fairer, more cooperative workplaces and contribute to a more equitable and democratic Australia. Our partnership with the trade union movement remains crucial for Australia’s future.
13. Labor is a party of its members. Our success depends on the support and activism of our members. They provide our candidates at every level of government, and they enrich our policy discussion. Working shoulder-to-shoulder with the trade union movement, members are the party’s backbone. We will continue to renew and refresh the experience of members and their involvement in the party and its campaigning.
14. Labor supports families. Families form a fundamental part of our society as a basic organising unit and government has a duty to help families give children the best possible start in life. This is essential to providing the opportunity to live, work and be a part of their community and in ensuring all Australians can share in all that this nation can offer.
15. Labor is the party of educational opportunity. From our inception, the transformative power of education has been at the heart of Labor’s mission. Opening the doors of learning to people who could not otherwise access a quality education has been the achievement, in every generation, of Labor reform. By expanding and reforming education, from early years to schools, from trades and vocations to universities, Labor has transformed the lives of millions of Australians, enabling them to get on and get up. In the 21st century, our mission is to demonstrate that demography is not destiny: that background and the circumstances of birth are no barrier to educational excellence and that every Australian can contribute to our national success.
16. Labor is a party of community. As a nation we are at our best when we are working together for the common good. Individual self-interest alone does not create a fair and decent society. We are committed to a society in which every person is treated with respect and dignity and can actively participate and contribute to the life of their community. Labor believes a strong and resilient not for profit sector is part of the nation’s social economy, working to provide services and opportunities that enrich Australian lives. We will work to strengthen them and improve their skills and capabilities. We recognise the contribution of philanthropy and will work to foster a regulatory environment which fosters a culture of giving. We celebrate diversity and respect the rights and responsibilities of Australian citizenship.
17. Labor is a party of equality. We defend equal rights of citizenship and before the law, support social and economic equality, promote gender equality in the community and the workplace and refuse to accept discrimination and inequality of opportunity in our society.
18. Labor is a party of reconciliation. We have apologised for past injustices in the National Apology to Australia’s Indigenous People. We have worked for land rights and native title. We are investing to reduce Indigenous disadvantage and we are working to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
19. Labor defends Australia’s national security, promotes our national interest and protects human rights. For more than a century, Labor has played a significant role in defending our national security, fighting against oppression and injustice and supporting international efforts for peace and development. While the challenges change, our resolve to protect Australia does not. As a nation, we can give no greater respect than to those who take up military service in the defence of Australia and of our values in the world. We honour and cherish our military veterans for their proud contribution to our nation and their willingness to sacrifice themselves for our common good.
20. Labor believes Australia’s interests are best protected and advanced by promoting peace and cooperation, including through our historic alliance with the United States, international forums like the United Nations, engaging with Asia, through public diplomacy and overseas aid and development.
21. Labor is a democratic party. Labor believes that every person has the right to a say, directly or indirectly, in the decisions that affect his or her life. We believe in an individual’s freedom of conscience and their right to express beliefs without fear. We are committed to open, democratic and accountable government and to empowering citizens and improving their participation in governance and fostering advocacy for those who cannot advocate for themselves. Only Labor believes in genuine broad based engagement in government and tackling the opportunities and challenges facing Australia. Labor believes in genuine tripartite processes in dealing with industrial, economic and reform challenges and in genuine community and industry engagement in delivering a clean energy future.
22. Labor is a party of human rights. Labor believes in a just and tolerant society that fully protects the rights and freedoms of all people in Australia. Labor supports the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the international treaties to which we are a signatory.
23. Labor is a party that shares the opportunities of this rich and diverse country. A country where privilege and power do not determine the life course of each individual or community. A country where people can shape their own lives and work together to contribute proudly to the life of their communities.
24. Australia can be a nation in which everybody has opportunity to shape their own lives, develop their potential and enjoy the rewards of hard work. Labor believes that background and privilege should not determine success in life.
25. We believe in:
a. giving all Australians the opportunity to achieve their potential and contribute to their community and national life
b. empowering all Australians to shape their own lives for the better
c. making available the dignity and benefits of work to all those Australians who can participate
d. providing the best education, from cradle to grave, where background is no barrier to achievement
e. supporting family life and improving living standards and quality of life
f. rewarding the effort of hard work and supporting people to enter, re-enter and progress in the workforce.
g. providing access to employment, education, housing, health care, a strong social safety net, information technology, culture and recreation, and legal rights
h. building an economy which provides sustained economic growth and opportunity, decoupled from the growth of emissions and environmental damage.
26. At the core of Labor’s history, beliefs and aspirations is the need to make sure everybody gets a fair go.
27. Labor believes in:
a. treating all Australians with dignity and respect
b. sticking together and sharing fairly the risks that we all face
c. upholding the rights, benefits and duties of citizenship and democratic participation
d. a fair distribution of wealth and income
e. a reconciled Australia where Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians create a stronger future together
f. support for Australians with particular needs, including Indigenous Australians, people from non-English speaking backgrounds, the homeless, people with disabilities and mental illness and older Australians, to live decent and dignified lives, access opportunity and participate along with other Australians.
28. Labor believes that taking active responsibility for ourselves, each other and our future is a fundamental value, at the heart of our identity and our success as a community.
29. Responsibilities and rights come together and they require us to:
a. protect and support children and families and respect the caring responsibilities of parents and family members
b. take individual responsibility for ourselves, including the responsibility to get work and contribute to our independence and personal development through work, as far as each of us is able
c. share responsibility for our environment and protect it for future generations, including by taking action to create a clean energy future
d. ensure that businesses act responsibly, obey the law, pay their fair share and contribute to the communities in which they operate
e. hold governments and other institutions to account and ensure they meet high standards and work in the public interest.
30. Our National Platform sets out our values and a framework for the policies that will deliver a better future for Australia. It does so in the following areas:
a. a strong and diverse economy, economic management and reform, more job opportunities and greater workforce participation through investment in skills, innovation and incentives to work, save and learn
b. achieving growth across the whole nation: our national infrastructure, regional Australia and primary industries
c. the transition to a clean energy future and protecting our heritage and natural environment
d. fairness and opportunity for working families
e. our ageing population
f. education, early childhood, science and research
g. our long-term health needs and challenges
h. ensuring all Australians get a fair go, including Indigenous Australians, people with disability, carers and people with mental illness
i. democracy and good government
j. foreign affairs, national security and defence.
31. Labor is working to create a better future for Australian: a prosperous, forward looking nation, a stronger and united community and a fair society where every Australian has opportunity to live a good life and nobody is left behind. Our party platform applies these values to the challenges of today and tomorrow and renews our determination to deliver them for all Australians.
1. Family First believes families should be at the centre of our Australian way of life, not politicians and government bureaucracies.
2. Family First’s aim is for families to be self reliant – “a home of your own, kids doing well, reliable car in the garage, healthy food in the fridge, safe neighbourhood to live in, finances under control etc. ” Families care for the elderly, the disabled, the mentally unwell, the unemployed, single parents and others who have fallen on hard times.
3. Family First believes public finances should be diverted from expensive (high tax) government bureaucracies to families.
4. When funding public services (education, health, public transport etc), Family First believes governments should, wherever possible, fund the ‘user’ of the service rather than the ‘provider’
5. Family First believes property rights, free markets and voluntary arrangements provide the best opportunity for Australia and Australians to prosper.
6. Family First believes government controls over the lives of its citizens should be wound back and individuals should be encouraged to take more responsibility for their lives.
7. Family First believes it is now the only Party that can be relied on to promote policies and defend values that most Australians hold dear (see policy topics on State pages).
The National Party seeks to develop a dynamic regional Australia, based on innovation, enterprise and equality of opportunity. Our objective is to encourage maximum regional and rural development, on a sustainable basis, balancing economic development with responsible conservation and environmental protection.
We are, in essence, the responsible nation builders.
We will meet our goals through a combination of policies that make regional investment attractive and, through that, ensure a genuine incentive for more private sector investment beyond the capital cities. We will provide an environment that makes more people want to live and work in country and regional Australia.
We will also further develop philanthropic investment by fostering a greater commitment by corporate Australia to nurture social and economic innovation and development across rural and regional Australia.
Our objectives must be met if the nation’s vital regions are to grow more, develop more, produce more and prosper more. They are essential if we are to bind greater social cohesion and national unity and drive a genuine and meaningful path of reconciliation based on present and future opportunities. They will avoid a ‘two nations’ scenario of the city-based ‘haves’ and the country-based ‘have nots’.
The National Party is unequivocally committed to a united Australia, where all citizens are equal, irrespective of race, sex or religion, and where all citizens, no matter where they live, have equality of opportunity and access to government services.
Innovations in on-line communications and e-commerce make ‘a country life’ a real option for the 21st century. But they must be balanced with more traditional job opportunities in country and regional areas and matched with equitable access to the fundamentals of life including health, education, communications and community services.
The National Party is the only party in Australia that exclusively works and aspires for a better country Australia. The Federal Party was formed more than 80 years ago and has since that time never been unrepresented in the Federal Parliament. It has a proud record of nation building achievement.
Because of the National Party, there is more concentration now by the Federal Government on country and regional Australia than at any time since Federation.
The Party’s basic philosophy is to protect the freedom of the individual and foster individual responsibility within society. It believes Australians can best fulfil their aspirations through a vigorous, broadly-based private enterprise economy with minimum interference from government.
The values upon which Australia has been built are those of the National Party. Our objectives for a continuing just and prosperous nation in the 21st century are to:
• promote freedom of speech, communication, worship and assembly for all Australians
• maximise individual choice and opportunity for all citizens
• maximise the contribution rural, remote and regional Australia make to national wellbeing and ensure country people receive due recognition and reward for meeting those goals
• break down the barriers between city and country Australia so all people have equality of access to government services and programs no matter where they live
• provide an economic framework that rewards individual effort
• strengthen the family as the foundation of society
• encourage the pursuit of excellence by all Australians in all fields of endeavour
• support and strengthen the Constitution and by example inspire loyalty to the nation and respect for our national institutions and the Flag
• promote pride in our nation, its history and traditions and its unique heritage and identity
• foster our democracy through free elections for governments at Federal, State and Local levels
• help the disadvantaged
• enhance the quality of life of all Australians develop a united Australian society free of discrimination on any grounds.