Independent Liberal (Australia)

Independent Liberal is a description used in Australian politics, often to designate a politician who is a Liberal Party member but not endorsed by the party at elections, or refers to a person who is a member of a parliament and a member of the Liberal Party, but has been expelled or removed from the Liberal party room.

Independent Liberal
Victorian Legislative Council
1 / 40
Local government (NSW)
7 / 1,480
Local government (Tas)
5 / 254

The term has also been used by politicians and political candidates who identify as a liberal, but is independent from the party.

Independent Liberals are present at the local level in several councils. For example, the Liberal Party chose not to endorse candidates in several Sydney councils for the 2021 local elections, with the elected members contesting as independents despite being affiliated with the Liberal Party.[2][3] However, registering a party or affiliation as an "Independent Liberal" is not permitted in New South Wales under section 64 of the Electoral Act 2017, and the use of the term in electoral material is also considered an offence under section 180 of the act.[4][5]

Currently, the only Independent Liberal MP in a state parliament is Moira Deeming, who was expelled from the parliamentary Victorian Liberal Party in May 2023.[6]

History edit

The label was first used at a federal election in 1910, following the formation of the Commonwealth Liberal Party in 1907. The party dissolved in 1919, before the present-day Liberal Party of Australia was formed in 1944.

George Wise won the seat of Gippsland at that election as an Independent Liberal. He was a Protectionist who refused to join the party at the Fusion of 1909.

Bob Suggett won re-election in Moorabbin as an Independent Liberal in 1964 after losing party endorsement in 1961. He was then re-admitted to the party.[7]

In 1972, Jeff Bate was an Independent Liberal in Macarthur for two months after losing Liberal preselection. He lost his seat when he contested the federal election later that year.

Bob Such served as an Independent Liberal in the South Australian House of Assembly from 2000 until his death in 2014.[8] His widow, Lyn, said he never put 'Liberal' in his political branding because "if you’re independent, you’re independent – that was his thinking".[9]

Pete Smith ran as an Independent Liberal at the 2015 South-West Coast Victorian state by-election to 'represent Liberal supporters who were not members of the party'. He achieved 1.8% of the vote.[10]

Duncan McFetridge quit the Liberal Party in 2017 to sit as an Independent Liberal. He attempted to get permission from the party to formally use the description on the ballot paper at the 2018 state election, but was unsuccessful.[9]

Activist Saru Rana contested the 2019 Enfield state by-election in South Australia as an Independent Liberal.

At the 2022 Victorian state election, former Liberal Party member Fred Ackerman ran as a 'Liberal Independent' on a ticket with Mark Barrow.[11][12]

Western Metropolitan MP Moira Deeming started sitting as an Independent Liberal in April 2023 after receiving a 9-month suspension from the parliamentary party.[13][14] She was later expelled from the parliamentary party in May 2023, but remains a rank-and-file Liberal member.[15]

Multiple members of the Western Australian Legislative Assembly have been elected as Independent Liberals, including Harry Shearn (Maylands), Noel Butcher (Gascoyne), Bill Grayden (South Perth) and Edward Oldfield (Mount Lawley). Alfred Cove MP Janet Woollard began sitting as an Independent Liberal after her party, Liberals for Forests, dissolved in 2008.[16][17] She was defeated at the 2013 state election.[18]

Similar political descriptions edit

Australian politicians have also been elected under other independent labels, including Independent Labor, Independent Free Trade, Independent UAP and Independent Socialist.[19]

See also edit

Related Australian political terms edit

Similar concepts elsewhere edit

References edit

  1. ^ "Hansard" (PDF). Parliament of Victoria. p. 3.
  2. ^ "'Factional battle': Liberals drop problem councils in local government elections".
  3. ^ "Liberals retreat from Sydney councils". 5 November 2021.
  4. ^ "Electoral Act 2017 No 66". NSW Government. Retrieved 29 November 2023.
  5. ^ "Regulation of electoral material and election conduct". NSW Electoral Commission. Retrieved 29 November 2023.
  6. ^ Kolovos, Benita (12 May 2023). "Moira Deeming expelled from Victorian Liberal party room after threat to sue leader John Pesutto". The Guardian.
  7. ^ "Suggett, Robert Harris". Parliament of Victoria. Archived from the original on 31 March 2011.
  8. ^ Richardson, Tom (24 February 2015). "Bob Such's widow lashes Hospice closure". InDaily.
  9. ^ a b Richardson, Tom (19 January 2018). "Party over for "Independent Libs" as McFetridge snubbed by former colleagues". InDaily.
  10. ^ "Ind Lib could split Vic by-election vote". Nine News. 25 September 2015.
  11. ^ "Religious right roadmap to Liberal Party control revealed as internal ructions over church groups increase". ABC News. 6 November 2022.
  12. ^ "LIVE RESULTS: All the seats changing hands & how every party went in the Victorian state election". 6 News Australia. 13 December 2022.
  13. ^ Ilanbey, Sumeyya; Eddie, Rachel; Smethurst, Annika (27 March 2023). "Deeming spared expulsion after plea to colleagues and Pesutto backflip". The Age. Retrieved 27 March 2023.
  14. ^ "Mrs Moira Deeming". Parliament of Victoria.
  15. ^ "Ousted Victorian MP Moira Deeming says she will never quit or resign from Liberal Party". ABC News. 14 May 2023.
  16. ^ "Extract from Hansard" (PDF). Parliament of Western Australia. p. 1. I am an Independent Liberal, but as was pointed out today, I am not a member of the Liberal Party
  17. ^ "Alfred Cove". PerthNow. 29 July 2008.
  18. ^ "WA votes 2013". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 10 March 2013. Retrieved 10 March 2013.
  19. ^ "Northern Territory Labor 'manufactured' leaks to drive out dissenters over budget crisis, politician says". ABC News. 22 December 2018.