The Commonwealth Liberal Party (CLP, also known as the Deakin–Cook Party, The Fusion, or the Deakinite Liberal Party) was a political movement active in Australia from 1909 to 1917, shortly after Federation. The CLP came about as a result of a merger between the two non-Labor parties, the Protectionist Party and the Anti-Socialist Party (formerly Free Trade Party) which most of their MPs accepted. The CLP is the earliest direct ancestor of the current Liberal Party of Australia.
Commonwealth Liberal Party
|Historic leaders||Alfred Deakin,|
|Merger of||Protectionist Party,|
|Merged into||Nationalist Party of Australia|
George Reid adopted a strategy of trying to reorient the party system along Labour vs non-Labour lines – prior to the 1906 election, he renamed his Free Trade Party to the Anti-Socialist Party. Reid envisaged a spectrum running from socialist to anti-socialist, with the Protectionist Party in the middle. This attempt struck a chord with politicians who were steeped in the Westminster tradition and regarded a two-party system as very much the norm.
The Commonwealth Liberal Party was formed in response to Labor forming its second government under Andrew Fisher in 1908. Under considerable pressure from middle- and upper-class interests, Alfred Deakin, the leader of the Protectionists, and Joseph Cook, leader of the Anti-Socialists, joined forces in order to counter Labor's growing popularity. In 1909, the two parties at a meeting in Melbourne's Parliament House agreed to merge into the CLP, based on a shared anti-Labor platform. Deakin was the new party's first leader, with Cook as deputy leader. The merger didn't sit well with several of the more liberal Protectionists, who defected to Labor or sat as independents.
Between them, the Protectionists and Anti-Socialists held a majority of seats on the floor of the House of Representatives. As a result, the newly merged party used its numbers to force Fisher to hand power to Deakin. However, the CLP was defeated by Labor at the 1910 election, which saw Labor with an elected majority in both houses, the first federal occurrence for a party.
Cook took over the leadership from Deakin shortly before the 1913 election and won government by a single seat. However, only a year later, Cook deliberately introduced a bill abolishing preferential treatment for public-service union members. Cook knew the Labor-controlled Senate would vote the bill down, giving him an excuse to call a double dissolution election, the first time one would be called. When the Senate rejected the bill twice, Cook called the 1914 election. The CLP was again defeated with Labor again winning a majority in both houses.
The CLP remained in opposition until November 1916, when it reached a confidence and supply agreement with Prime Minister Billy Hughes, who had recently been expelled from Labor for supporting conscription in World War I and organised his followers as the National Labor Party. In February 1917, the CLP and National Labor formally merged to form the Nationalist Party of Australia. Although the merged party was dominated by former Liberals, Hughes became its leader with Cook as his deputy. Hughes would stay on as Prime Minister until the 1922 election where the new Country Party of Australia (later The Nationals) stripped the Nationalists of their majority, and demanded his resignation in exchange for confidence and supply. Stanley Bruce subsequently became Prime Minister.
The Commonwealth Liberal Party is often referred to by the retronym "Deakinite Liberal Party" in order to distinguish it from the later Liberal Party of Australia, which was officially founded in 1945.
|House of Representatives|
|Election year||# of
overall seats won
31 / 75
38 / 75
32 / 75
|Election year||# of
overall seats won
14 / 36
7 / 36
5 / 36
Albert Clayton Palmer (1859 – 14 August 1919) was an Australian politician. Born in Melbourne, he received a primary education before becoming a bank clerk and later a flour-miller and grazier. He sat on Euroa Shire Council and was the leader of the Kyabram Reform Movement, a conservative rural group that aimed to reduce the number of state parliamentarians. In 1906 he was elected to the Australian House of Representatives for the seat of Echuca, defeating the sitting member for the abolished Moira, Thomas Kennedy, by just 32 votes. This election was declared void by the Court of Disputed Returns, and Palmer won the subsequent by-election more comfortably. Palmer joined the Commonwealth Liberal Party in 1909 and the Nationalist Party in 1917, and held Echuca until his death in 1919.Alfred Conroy
Alfred Hugh Beresford Conroy (7 April 1864 – 28 November 1920) was an Australian politician. Born in Winchelsea, Victoria, he was educated at Hawthorn Grammar School in Melbourne. Becoming a bank clerk and surveyor, he moved to Goulburn in New South Wales in 1883. In 1893 he became a barrister, and he was an alderman on Goulburn Council. In 1901, he was elected to the Australian House of Representatives as the inaugural member for Werriwa, representing the Free Trade Party. In 1906, he was defeated by Labor candidate David Hall, but in 1913 he was returned to the Parliament, again as the member for Werriwa but this time representing the Commonwealth Liberal Party. He was defeated again in 1914, and retired, dying in 1920.Alfred Deakin
Alfred Deakin (3 August 1856 – 7 October 1919) was an Australian politician who served as the second Prime Minister of Australia, in office for three separate terms – 1903 to 1904, 1905 to 1908, and 1909 to 1910. Before entering office, he was a leader of the movement for Australian federation.Deakin was born in Melbourne, and attended the University of Melbourne before training as a barrister. He was elected to the Victorian Legislative Assembly in 1879, aged 22, and became a government minister in 1883. Deakin was a major contributor to the establishment of liberal reforms in the colony, including pro-worker industrial reforms. He also played a major part in developing irrigation in Australia.
Throughout the 1890s Deakin was a participant in conferences of representatives of the Australian colonies that were established to draft a constitution for the proposed federation. He played an important role in ensuring that the draft was liberal and democratic and in achieving compromises to enable its eventual success. Between conferences, he worked to popularise the concept of federation and campaigned for its acceptance in colonial referenda. He then fought hard to ensure acceptance of the proposed constitution by the Government of the United Kingdom. After Federation, Deakin was Attorney-General in the Barton Government from 1901 to 1903. He was one of the chief architects of the White Australia policy, overseeing the drafting of the Immigration Restriction Act 1901.
As Prime Minister, Deakin completed a significant legislative program that makes him, with Labor's Andrew Fisher, the founder of an effective Commonwealth government. He expanded the High Court, provided major funding for the purchase of ships, leading to the establishment of the Royal Australian Navy as a significant force under the Fisher government, and established Australian control of Papua. Confronted by the rising Australian Labor Party in 1909, he merged his Protectionist Party with Joseph Cook's Anti-Socialist Party to create the Commonwealth Liberal Party (known commonly as the Fusion), the main ancestor of the modern Liberal Party of Australia. The Deakin-led Liberal Party government lost to Fisher Labor at the 1910 election, which saw the first time a federal political party had been elected with a majority in either house in Federal Parliament. Deakin resigned from Parliament prior to the 1913 election, with Joseph Cook winning the Liberal Party leadership ballot.Arthur Cocks (politician)
Sir Arthur Alfred Clement Cocks, (27 May 1862 – 25 April 1943) was an Australian politician, elected as a member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly.Carty Salmon
Charles Carty Salmon (27 July 1860 – 15 September 1917), generally known as Carty Salmon, was an Australian politician and Speaker of the House of Representatives.Edward Corser
Edward Bernard Cresset Corser (1852 – 31 July 1928) was an Australian politician. Born in Birmingham, England, he was educated at Worcester and migrated to Australia in 1864. He was a sugar worker and bank officer in Maryborough in Queensland, eventually becoming a businessman. In 1909, he was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Queensland as the member for Maryborough. He transferred to federal Parliament, winning the 1915 Wide Bay by-election caused by the resignation of Labor Prime Minister Andrew Fisher; Corser was a member of the Commonwealth Liberal Party. In 1917, together with the rest of his party, he became a Nationalist. He held the seat until his death in 1928; he was succeeded in a by-election by his son, Bernard Corser, representing the Country Party.Corser died in 1928 and was buried in Maryborough Cemetery.First Fisher Ministry
The First Fisher Ministry (Labour) was the 7th ministry of the Government of Australia. It was led by the country's 5th Prime Minister, Andrew Fisher. The First Fisher Ministry succeeded the Third Deakin Ministry, which dissolved on 13 November 1908 after Labour withdrew their support and Alfred Deakin was forced to resign. The ministry was replaced by the Fourth Deakin Ministry on 2 June 1909 after the Protectionist Party and the Anti-Socialist Party merged into the Commonwealth Liberal Party "fusion" and withdrew their support in order to form what became the first majority government in federal Australian history.Fourth Deakin Ministry
The Fourth Deakin Ministry (Commonwealth Liberal) was the 8th ministry of the Government of Australia. It was led by the country's 2nd Prime Minister, Alfred Deakin. The Fourth Deakin Ministry succeeded the First Fisher Ministry, which dissolved on 2 June 1909 after the Protectionist Party and the Anti-Socialist Party merged into the Commonwealth Liberal Party "fusion" and withdrew their support in order to form what became the first majority government in federal Australian history. The ministry was replaced by the Second Fisher Ministry on 29 April 1910 following the federal election that took place on 13 April which saw the Labour Party defeat the Commonwealth Liberals.George Fuller (Australian politician)
Sir George Warburton Fuller KCMG (22 January 1861 – 22 July 1940) was an Australian politician who served as the 22nd Premier of New South Wales, in office from 1922 to 1925 and for one day in December 1921. He previously served in the federal House of Representatives from 1901 to 1913, representing the Division of Illawarra, and was Minister for Home Affairs under Alfred Deakin from 1909 to 1910.Henry Dobson
Henry Dobson (24 December 1841 – 10 October 1918), was an Australian politician, who served as a member of the Tasmanian House of Assembly and later of the Australian Senate. He was the 17th Premier of Tasmania from 17 August 1892 to 14 April 1894.Henry Gregory (politician)
Henry Gregory (15 March 1860 – 15 November 1940) was an Australian politician. Born in Kyneton, Victoria, where he was educated, he moved to the Western Australian goldfields in 1894. He became Mayor of Menzies Shire as well as a stockbroker, farmer and press proprietor. In 1897, he was elected to the Western Australian Legislative Assembly as the member for North Coolgardie, transferring to Menzies in 1901. He served as Minister for Mines 1901–1904, Minister for Mines and Railways 1905–1911, and acting Premier and Treasurer 1910–1911. He left the Assembly in 1911, and in 1913 was elected to the Australian House of Representatives as the member for Dampier, representing the Commonwealth Liberal Party. In 1917, together with the rest of his party, he became a Nationalist. In 1920, the Country Party was formed, and Gregory was one of several Nationalist MPs to join it. He was the party's deputy leader from 21 April 1921 until his resignation due to policy differences on 22 February 1922. The abolition of Dampier led him to contest Swan at the 1922 election, while party colleague and member for Swan John Prowse contested the new seat of Forrest. He held the seat until his death in 1940.John Forrest
John Forrest, 1st Baron Forrest of Bunbury (22 August 1847 – 2 September 1918) was an Australian explorer, the first Premier of Western Australia and a cabinet minister in Australia's first federal parliament.As a young man, he won fame as an explorer by leading three expeditions into the interior of Western Australia, for which he was awarded the 1876 Royal Geographical Society's Patron's Medal.He was appointed Surveyor General and in 1890 became the first Premier of Western Australia, its only premier as a self-governing colony. Forrest's premiership gave the state ten years of stable administration during a period of rapid development and demographic change. He pursued a policy of large-scale public works and extensive land settlement, and he helped to ensure that Western Australia joined the federation of Australian states. After federation, he moved to federal politics, where he was at various times postmaster-general, Minister for Defence, Minister for Home Affairs, Treasurer and acting Prime Minister. He was affiliated with the Protectionist Party from 1901 to 1906, the Western Australian Party from 1906 to 1909, the Commonwealth Liberal Party from 1909 to 1917, then the Nationalist Party of Australia from 1917 to 1918.Shortly before his death, Forrest was informed that the King had approved his elevation to the British peerage as Baron Forrest of Bunbury.Joseph Cook
Sir Joseph Cook, (7 December 1860 – 30 July 1947) was an Australian politician who served as the sixth Prime Minister of Australia, in office from 1913 to 1914. He was the leader of the Commonwealth Liberal Party from 1913 to 1917, after earlier serving as the leader of the Anti-Socialist Party from 1908 to 1909.Cook was born in Silverdale, Staffordshire, England, and began working in the local coal mines at the age of nine. He emigrated to Australia in 1885, settling in Lithgow, New South Wales. He continued to work as a miner, becoming involved with the local labour movement as a union official. In 1891, Cook was elected to the New South Wales Legislative Assembly as a representative of the Labor Party, becoming one of its first members of parliament. He was elected party leader in 1893, but the following year left Labor due to a disagreement over party discipline. He was then invited to become a government minister under George Reid, and joined Reid's Free Trade Party.
In 1901, Cook was elected to the new federal parliament representing the Division of Parramatta. He became deputy leader of the federal Free Trade Party (later renamed the Anti-Socialist Party), again under George Reid, and in 1908 replaced Reid as party leader and Leader of the Opposition. In what became known as "the fusion", Cook agreed to merge his party with Alfred Deakin's Protectionist Party in 1909, forming a unified anti-Labor party for the first time. He became deputy leader of the new Commonwealth Liberal Party, allowing Deakin to become prime minister again, and served as Minister for Defence until the government's defeat at the 1910 election.
Cook replaced Deakin as leader of the Liberals in January 1913, and a few months later won a one-seat majority over Andrew Fisher's Labor Party at the 1913 election. His party failed to secure a majority in the Senate, making governing difficult, and as a result he engineered the first double dissolution. A new election was called for September 1914, at which the Liberals lost their majority; Fisher returned as prime minister. Cook was unable to pass much legislation during his time in office, but did oversee the early stages of Australia's involvement in World War I. He subsequently became Leader of the Opposition for a third time.
In 1917, Cook was involved in a second party merger, joining the Liberals with Billy Hughes's National Labor Party to form the Nationalist Party. He became the de facto deputy prime minister under Hughes, serving as Minister for the Navy (1917–1920) and Treasurer (1920–1921). He was a delegate to the 1919 Paris Peace Conference, where he was a member of the committee that determined the borders of Czechoslovakia, and along with Hughes was one of two Australians to sign the Treaty of Versailles. After leaving politics, Cook served as High Commissioner to the United Kingdom from 1921 to 1927. He died at the age of 86 as one of the last survivors of the first federal parliament.Liberalism in Australia
Liberalism in Australia dates back to the earliest pioneers of the area, and has maintained a strong foothold to this day. Liberalism in the country is primarily represented by the centre-right Liberal Party. The Liberal Party is a fusion of liberal and conservative forces and are affiliated with the conservative centre-right International Democrat Union. The term "little-l liberal" is often used to distinguish philosophical liberals from members of the Liberal Party.Llewellyn Atkinson
Llewellyn Atkinson (18 December 1867 – 1 November 1945) was an Australian politician.
Atkinson was born in Launceston, Tasmania. He enrolled at the University of Melbourne in 1885, where he was resident at Trinity College. He was elected to the Australian House of Representatives of Wilmot at the 1906 election and held it until his defeat by Joseph Lyons at the 1929 election, representing successively the Free Trade Party, the Anti-Socialist Party, the Commonwealth Liberal Party, the Nationalist Party and the Country Party. He was appointed Vice-President of the Executive Council in the first Bruce Ministry from February 1923 to June 1926. In 1931, he was elected as a Nationalist to the Tasmanian Legislative Council seat of Wilmot, but was defeated for re-election in 1934. He died in Latrobe.Members of the Australian House of Representatives, 1906–1910
This is a list of the members of the Australian House of Representatives in the Third Australian Parliament, which was elected on 12 December 1906.
In 1909 the Anti-Socialist Party (previously Free Trade) and most of the Protectionist Party merged to become the Commonwealth Liberal Party.Richard Foster (Australian politician)
Richard Witty Foster (20 August 1856 – 5 January 1932) was an Australian politician, a member of the Parliament of Australia.
Foster was born in Goodmanham, Pocklington, Yorkshire, England and educated at Prospect House, Tockwith and apprenticed to a draper. He emigrated to South Australia in 1880 and established a business as a grocer and general provider at Quorn. He married Elizabeth Lees in September 1884. He was elected to the Corporate Town of Quorn council in 1887 and was mayor from 1890 to 1892.Walter Massy-Greene
Sir Walter Massy-Greene KCMG (6 November 1874 – 16 November 1952) was an Australian politician and businessman.William Irvine (Australian politician)
Sir William Hill Irvine, GCMG (6 July 1858 – 20 August 1943), Irish born-Australian politician and judge, was the 21st Premier of Victoria. Irvine was born in Newry in County Down, Ireland, into a Scottish-Presbyterian family; he was the nephew of Irish revolutionary John Mitchel. He was educated at the Royal School, Armagh and Trinity College, Dublin, graduating in law in 1879 before migrating to Melbourne, where he taught in Presbyterian schools and read law at Melbourne University, gaining a master's degree in arts and law. He soon became a leading Melbourne barrister.