A Short History of Australian Liberalism

This study was written in response to what I see as the misleading nature of the studies of Australian liberalism that have been produced to date. The dominant theme of these studies has been to trace the history of liberalism from the protectionists of 19th century Victoria to the Deakinites of the early 20th century and then via Menzies into the current Liberal Party. Hence it has been assumed that in Australia some version of what has been generally termed ‘social liberalism’ has been the predominant form of liberalism. According to this view, the ‘normal’ practice of Australian liberals is to use the state to pursue something called ‘social justice’. Recent developments in Australian liberalism, such as economic rationalism, can be defined as aberrant, and not in line with the best traditions of Australian liberalism.