What Does the Liberal Party Actually Stand for?

liberal party policies 2022

The Liberal Party has held government, in coalition with the National Party, for the past nine years. Soon, they are hoping to extend their reign by another three years in the upcoming federal election.

Polling shows that they are well behind in terms of party of preference between themselves and Labor. Entering an election this far behind is going to be tricky for them, however, there is good reason to think they may well form the next government after May 21.

Many of the Liberal-held seats across the country are very safe, meaning it would take a huge change of opinion across them to change their MP. Couple this with the fact that many of the most marginal seats are held by Labor, by margins as small as 0.2% of the vote, and the fact that polling typically narrows before an election, and it’s not at all certain that they won’t win the election.

The Liberal Party is led by Prime Minister Scott Morrison — who you might recognise from being, well, everywhere (and nowhere) over the past three years. Morrison is very adept at drumming up support and the campaign trail is where he thrives. He’s also just ahead of Labor Leader Anthony Albanese in the preferred leader polling.

So, if we are to have another term of Coalition government, or if you’re not quite sure what exactly they stand for, here is our guide to The Liberal Party.

Who is the Liberal Party

The Liberal Party is one of the country’s most dominant political institutions. They have always governed in coalition with The Nationals and have been in power for a total of 51 years since their foundation in 1944.

The party was founded in its current form after World War Two out of the United Australia Party and a collection of anti-socialist parties whose histories stretch back to the federation of Australia.

Their leaders have included Prime Ministers like Robert Menzies, Harold Holt, Malcolm Fraser, John Howard, Malcolm Turnbull, Tony Abbott, and, of course, Scott Morrison.

The party gets its name from the ‘liberal’ philosophy of economic policy — meaning fewer rules and restrictions from government on trade and the operations of businesses. This doesn’t mean they are ‘liberal’ in the social sense, though. In fact, they are conservative when it comes to social values.

They style themselves as the party of ‘mainstream’ Australians — the ‘aspirational’ middle class who they believe should be left alone by the government to get on with living their lives.

They currently hold government outright in the state of Tasmania and in coalition in New South Wales. In all other states and territories they stand in opposition.

Who is Scott Morrison?

Scott Morrison has been the leader of the Liberals since 2018 after the resignation of Malcolm Turnbull.

He likes to style himself as an everyman — just a regular bloke who’s giving the job of country leader a red hot crack. His relatively unknown status and his ability to appear affable in public were considered assets in the 2019 election. Now, as voters have a much better idea of just who Morrison is, that image is now considered something of a threat to Liberal election chances.

Born in Waverley to a police officer father who later became Mayor of the district in Eastern Sydney, Morrison studied geography at University before working in tourism. In 2004 he became the managing director of Tourism Australia, famously signing off on the ‘so where the bloody hell are you?’ campaign. He was sacked in 2006, with the suspicion here being that Tourism Australia advertising contracts had been unfairly awarded to those close to Morrison. His work here is why he picked up the nickname ‘Scotty from Marketing’.

He was elected the member for Cook, in southern Sydney, in 2007 and later served as shadow minister for housing and local government, immigration and citizenship, and then Minister for Immigration under Tony Abbott.

During his time in the Abbott Government, he launched Operation Sovereign Borders to crackdown on what he saw as “illegal arrivals” and “illegal boats”. Many of the refugees currently in detention onshore and in offshore processing facilities like Christmas Island Nauru were detained under Morrisons’ leadership.

He had a brief stint as Minister for Social Services before being appointed to Treasurer in the Turnbull administration. This is when he made the infamous “this is coal” speech, waving around a lump of the black stuff in Parliament.

As Prime Minister, Morrison was criticised heavily for his trip to Hawaii during the Black Summer Bushfires, his failure to protect women in Parliament which was brought to light by the assault of Brittany Higgins, his claims that the vaccine rollout was “not a race,” his failure to take in more refugees during the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, and, more recently, his handling of the floods in eastern Australia.

Morrison has always made public his Christian faith and support for religious freedoms. He was raised Presbyterian but now attends the Pentecostal Horizon Church.

He has been married to his wife Jenny Morrison, nee Warren, since 1990 and has two daughters, Abbey and Lily. They attend an independent Christian school, as Morrison wants to avoid “the values of others being imposed on my children.”

What Are The Liberal’s Main Policies?

The Liberals will be campaigning on economic security during the election. This means talking up their economic success, like the rollout of financial support during the pandemic, and the low unemployment rate. They will also mainly be positioning Labor as an economic threat to the finances of the ‘everyday’ Australian and that taking a ‘risk’ on a new government isn’t one worth taking.

Here’s what they say they’re going to do on the following key issues if elected again.

Climate and the Environment

Climate change policy is going to be one of the biggest issues for the Liberal party during election time. That being said, their plan is not vastly stronger than Labor’s, and it’s unlikely the opposition will want to take them to task on the topic.

The Liberals are promising to continue with their plan to get Australia to net-zero by 2050, although there are no plans for staged reductions, meaning it could all have to be made up in the final half of the 2040s with a lot more carbon released until that time. When it was released, the Liberal plan for net-zero was ridiculed for its lack of detail, and they haven’t done much to update it since.

They say they will spend $250 million on transforming recycling, spend $1 billion on protecting the Great Barrier Reef (despite fighting tooth and nail to stop it from being listed as endangered), spend $74 million on koala conservation, and $2.8 billion on Antarctic operations.

Their plan to “lower energy prices” includes the construction of another gas-fired power station, a $22 billion investment in “low-emissions technologies”, and “driving over $88 billion of total investment to reduce emissions.”

The Economy

The big topic for the Liberals, and the one that they are the keenest to impress with. They lead their election manifesto with “Strong economy. Stronger future,” so you know they’re banking on the idea that people care about their own finances above all else.

In terms of policies, much of their election strategy centres on ‘cost of living’ policies: tangible things that people can understand. This means bills, childcare, taxes, and day-to-day spending.

They have announced a promise to create 1.3 million additional jobs over the next five years, keep unemployment below 4%, cut taxes for small business owners, and spend $17.9 billion on infrastructure investment.

In terms of tax cuts, the Liberals have extended the low and middle-income tax relief to $1,500 for the coming tax year only. Their planned ‘stage three’ tax cuts will remove the 37 cents bracket, creating just three tax brackets. This means income between $45,000 and $200,000 will be taxed at the same rate, something analysts say will benefit men at the top end of the financial spectrum the most.

The government also says they will expand the first home super saver scheme, the first home buyer deposit scheme, and the family home guarantee, which they say will create an additional 40,000 construction jobs.

They also say they will upgrade the NBN with a $4.5 billion upgrade as well as a $480 upgrade to wireless and satellite networks by 2024.

Healthcare and Wellbeing

Much of the healthcare platform that the government is running centres around their policies during the pandemic. As for what they’re going to do in the future, they’ve offered the below.

A $2.1 billion winter response plan to deal with both COVID and the flu during the upcoming cooler months.

$18.8 billion to improve aged care over five years. This includes 40,000 home care packages, 34,000 additional training places, and 7,000 new personal care workers.

They plan to increase funding for public hospitals by $3.5 billion over the next two years and talk about the increased coverage of medicines on the PBS (while ignoring the vast number of services removed from Medicare in the past few years) and a commitment to lower the PBS threshold later this year.

The government also says it will increase its spending on mental health services, which they have been pushing for a while. No mention of an addition of mental health to medicare, however.

They will continue with the No Jab, No Pay policy — one that denies childcare benefits to families who don’t vaccinate their children.

An additional $800 million will be spent on the National Ice Action Strategy to “tackle the scourge of ice.”

It doesn’t fit very neatly under ‘well-being’, but “strong national security,” “strong border protection,” and a “stronger defence force,” are also a big part of their strategy.

To this end, they plan to spend, $575 billion on Defence Force upgrades over the next decade, $15 billion on cyber defence, and an additional $70.5 million on home-care services for veterans.

They also say they will continue to cancel the visas of people convicted of serious crimes, remove citizenship from dual-nationals who engage in terrorism, and continue to push ‘turn back the boats’ policies.

Social Justice

Equality is another sore spot for the Coalition, particularly around women’s safety.

Supporting women here appears to mean supporting employment. The $2.1 billion pledged during the budget includes drivers for women’s safety at work, women’s participation in the workforce, supporting women in leadership roles, and improving health outcomes for women and girls in Australia.

Much of these ambitions are somewhat vague in the details of how they will be achieved, including the stated ambition to close the gender pay gap. Of the above money, $1.3 billion will be spent on protecting women and their children from domestic violence, while $16.6 million will be spent on telephone services to support women experiencing online harassment.

For older Australians, the Libs say they will spend an additional $6.7 billion over the next year on income support, a one-off cost of living payment of $250, and save Aussies $17.9 billion over 10 years through superannuation reform.

For young people, the Liberals are pushing an employment strategy again. They cite an increase in school funding — although much of this is to private schools — an increase in school chaplains, a focus on youth mental health protections, and $5,000 payments to new apprentices.

Aside from the above, there is no mention of disability support and very little new policy for Indigenous Australians. The Liberal Party makes no mention of wanting to reduce social inequality or address racism in our society, except through limited measures like home-ownership access benefits.

The Liberal Party are hoping that you will judge them on their economic record and their ability to ‘steady the ship’ during the rocky few years we’ve had.

Whether or not you choose to remember their governance as successful or beneficial depends on whether you’ve been paying attention during that time and where exactly you sit on that ship.

Most Australians are far more attuned to politics following the pandemic and many are frustrated with the way things have been managed. Whether or not Scott Morrison’s ‘go Sharkies’, ‘Jenny and the girls’, ‘here’s a curry I made’, schtick will still fly come election time remains to be seen — but at least you now know what they promise to do over the next few years. Delivering on that is, again, another story.

Want to know more about what the other political parties stand for? Read our guide to The Labor Party here and our guide to The Greens here.

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