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Young Liberal Movement
Leader Rachel Fry
Founded 1945
Headquarters Melbourne
Ideology Conservative liberalism,
Liberal conservatism,
New Right
International affiliation International Young Democrat Union
Young Liberal Movement
Politics of Australia
Political parties

The Young Liberal Movement, or the Young Liberals, is the youth-division of the Liberal Party of Australia, and membership is open to those between 16 and 30 years of age. Members of Young Liberals have full party-membership, and have the choice of which part they join. They are active in Liberal Party campaigning during all state and federal elections.

The Young Liberals today are one of the largest divisions of the wider Liberal Party of Australia, and are major contributors to policy development and campaigning at election time.

The Movement is predominantly organised on the state division level, with each state organising its own events and policy and electing its own executive. A national executive also exists with representatives made up from delegates from each state division. Policy can also be adopted by the Movement's federal body.

The current Federal President of the Young Liberals is Rachel Fry.

The Young Liberal Movement is a separate movement to the Liberal students who are based around campus clubs that support the Liberal party but are not officially a part of it. While the Young Liberal is the peak body of local Young Liberal branches, Liberal students are represented by the Australian Liberal Students Federation. However, in 2006 the NSW State Representative of the Australian Liberal Students Federation said "I am pleased to report that the link between NSW Liberal Students and the NSW Young Liberal movement is stronger than ever. Through joint functions and campaigns we have achieved a unity of purpose enabling us to work together to promote Liberalism".[1]



The Young Liberal Movement was first formed on 12 December, 1945, just a few months after the official inauguration of the Liberal Party on the 31 October in the same year, and, as for the Party proper, much of the credit for its creation can be attributed to Sir Robert Menzies. The formation occurred through a meeting at the Melbourne Town Hall, at which 750 people were present.[2] However, the Young Nationalists Organisation, also founded by Menzies in Victoria, and which became part of the Liberal Party at its founding, can be seen as its earliest form.

The Movement soon spread from Victoria to the other states of Australia, and by 1946 it played an important role in the electoral campaign of the Liberal Party.


In 2005, the Young Liberals in Melbourne attracted media attention for their behaviour at social functions and accusations of rivalry between ALSF and the Young Liberal movement. [3]

On 17 July 2006, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Four Corners program broadcast allegations that factional leaders within the Liberal Party in New South Wales had been used "as the foot soldiers in factional warfare in which control goes to the faction which has the most branches."[4] The program quoted John Hyde Page, a former Young Liberal and author of a book on his experiences, said that he had worked for the moderate faction to engage in branch stacking in Sydney while he was a member of the Young Liberals, and that currently the right faction was engaged in branch stacking also.[4] Former federal Liberal leader John Hewson expressed his concern that in more recent times, the right faction had taken control of the Young Liberals in New South Wales in an "extreme right takeover", that "in my day as leader the Young Liberals were a burr under my saddle from the left" whereas now they had come to support the agenda of right factional leaders such as David Clarke.[5]

Conservative Sydney Morning Herald columnist Miranda Devine said after the program was broadcast that the shift to the right within all areas of the Liberal Party simply reflected the political climate of the Howard era, and suggested that the moderate faction was merely angry at losing influence because "the left has controlled the NSW Liberal Party for more than two decades and always regarded the Young Liberals as its personal breeding ground." [6] She also said, that "As the pendulum swings back from the extremes of political correctness which made the state party unelectable, feelings are bound to be hurt and a few little old ladies in blue-ribbon branches might be trampled."[6]

In July 2006, Young Liberal Movement was the subject of controversy after the ABC's Lateline program aired footage from the 2005 National Union of Students' conference in Ballarat. The video showed Liberal students chanting "We're racist, we're sexist, we're homophobic". The president of the New South Wales Young Liberals released a statement condemning the outbursts.[7]

Make Education Fair

In February 2008, the Young Liberals launched a campaign titled Make Education Fair. The campaign documented incidents of bias experienced by students, including photos, stories and course guides and asked students to "dob in" an academic. [8][9] The Young Liberals were motivated by comments by former Prime Minister John Howard who said "The left-liberal grip on educational institutions and large, though not all, sections of the media remains intense". [10] The President of the Young Liberals said that his organisation wanted a "a charter of academic freedom to promote intellectual diversity" [11]



In response to this campaign, the Senate announced an Inquiry into Academic Freedom [12] in June 2008 with the Inquiry Into Academic Freedom - Parliament of Australia terms of reference. In calling the enquiry, Victorian Liberal Senator Mitch Fifield said that he was disturbed by students' reports of academic bias.[13]

Liberal Senator Brett Mason noted that, although the campaign was aimed at left-wing academics, it was important to deal with "teaching bias on both sides of the political spectrum."[14]

Others described the campaign as a "witch hunt" or McCarthyism, and as an attack on the professionalism of academics[15].

In response to Make Education Fair, the National Tertiary Education Union said "there is no evidence of widespread left-wing bias" [16] and launched its own campaign entitled "Academic Freedom Watch". [17]. The President of the NTEU dismissed the accusation that academics are running their own agendas in the classroom as "nonsense". [10]

New South Wales Greens politician John Kaye said "any school or university educator who expresses an opinion would be at risk from the young Liberals plan to create a McCarthy-ist environment on campuses and schools"[18]

External links


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ Feathers fly at Young Liberals' shindig - National -
  4. ^ a b Cohen, Janine (2006-07-17). "Program Transcript - The Right Stuff". Four Corners. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2006-07-20.  
  5. ^ Cohen, Janine (2006-07-17). "Interview - Dr John Hewson". Four Corners. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2006-07-20.  
  6. ^ a b Devine, Miranda (2006-07-20). "Rough play won't spoil the party". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2006-07-20.  
  7. ^ Stewart, John (2006-07-19). "Footage released of 'racist' Young Liberals". Sydney: Lateline. Retrieved 2008-06-19.  
  8. ^,25197,23916884-12149,00.html
  9. ^
  10. ^ a b
  11. ^,25197,23582647-12332,00.html
  12. ^ Senate tests academic freedom - Herald Sun
  13. ^,25197,23916884-12149,00.html
  14. ^
  15. ^ Josephine Tovey (2008-10-10). "Academics rally against Young Liberal 'witch-hunt'". Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax Digital). Retrieved 2008-10-10.  
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^


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