Young Liberals (Australia)

The Young Liberal Movement is the youth movement of the Liberal Party of Australia representing Liberal members aged 16 to 30.[1] The Movement is organised as a Federation with events, policy and elections for each state and territory level, as well as a federal executive and delegate system. The organisation is also a founding member of the International Young Democrat Union.

Young Liberal Movement
Federal PresidentLiam Staltari (WA)
Federal Vice PresidentJocelyn Sutcliffe (SA)
Founded12 December 1945 [1]
HeadquartersCnr Blackall & Macquarie St
Barton ACT 2600
InternationalInternational Young Democrat Union
Mother PartyLiberal Party of Australia
Appointed Officers
Federal SecretaryAlexander Lisov (Vic)
Federal TreasurerAlec Pokarier (QLD)
Director of Campaigns and DevelopmentBenjamin Singline (Tas)
Immediate Past PresidentJosh Manuatu (Tas/ACT)
Divisional Presidents
Western Australian Young LiberalsMichael Heydon
South Australian Young LiberalsJames Porter
ACT Young LiberalsBen Dennehy
Tasmanian Young LiberalsBenjamin Singline
NSW Young LiberalsChaneg Torres
Young Liberal Nationals (Queensland)Nelson Savanh
Victorian Young LiberalsNicholas Lamanna

Former Federal Presidents include former MP Philip Ruddock, Economist Saul Eslake, Businessman Mark Birrell and current Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne. The current Federal President is Liam Staltari, from Western Australia.


While the Young Liberals are affiliated with the Liberal Party, they are a separate entity and have policy and political differences with the party and the Parliamentary Liberal Party.

The Young Liberals have adopted the values espoused in the We Believe statement written by Sir Robert Menzies including support for smaller government, more freedom, lower taxes and enduring institution.


The Young Liberal Movement was first formed on 12 December 1945, just a few months after the official inauguration of the Liberal Party on 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.[3] 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.

In 1966, the Liberal Party established a Federal Young Liberal Movement with the first meeting taking place on 4 March 1967. By 1968, it was decided that the Young Liberals should hold their own annual National Conventions – a tradition that continues.

The 1974 Federal Council of the Party agreed to a proposal for the Young Liberals' senior positions to be elected by a Young Liberal Federal Council, consisting of 6 delegates per Division (and held concurrently with the National Convention at which all Young Liberals were eligible to attend). The senior positions were restructured and renamed, resulting in a "Federal President", "Federal Vice-President" and "Young Liberal Federal Executive".

The Young Liberal representation on the senior party's Executive was expanded to two positions, while the Movement was also given a seat on the Joint Standing Committee on Federal Policy.

In 1982, the Movement produced a national publication called ‘The Young Australian’ which was published until 2013.

In 2007, the QLD division of the Liberal Party of Australia and the QLD National Party merged to become the Liberal National Party of Queensland. As Part of this merger process the Queensland Young Liberals and the Queensland Young Nationals were merged to become the Young Liberal National Party (Young LNP). The Young LNP is effectively the Queensland division of both the federal Young Liberals and the Federal Young Nationals.


The Federal Movement has two elected officers: the President and Vice President who are supported by an Executive made up of State and Territory Young Liberal Presidents and appointed Federal Officers.[5]The Federal President and Federal Vice-President are members of the powerful Liberal Party Federal Executive which also includes the Prime Minister and other senior Liberal Party figures.[3]

List of federal presidents

List of federal presidents of the Young Liberals:[4]

  • 1967-68: Graham Jones (NSW)
  • 1968-69: Leo Hawkins (VIC)
  • 1969-72: Warren McCullagh (NSW)
  • 1972-73: Greg Vickery (QLD)
  • 1973-74: Philip Ruddock (NSW)
  • 1974-75: Michael Loftus (VIC)
  • 1975-78: Chris Puplick (NSW)
  • 1978-79: Bruce Noble (SA)
  • 1979-80: Greg Goebel (QLD)
  • 1980-81: Robert Nestdale (NSW)
  • 1981-82: Saul Eslake (TAS)
  • 1982-83: Mark Birrell (VIC)
  • 1983-85: Chris Crawford (NSW)
  • 1985-87: Peter Coatman (VIC)
  • 1987-88: Kim Jacobs (SA)
  • 1988-89: Cam Tinley (WA)
  • 1989-91: Marise Payne (NSW)
  • 1991-92: Peter Torbey (Vic)
  • 1992-93: Stephen Forshaw (ACT)
  • 1993-94: Trent Zimmerman (NSW)
  • 1994-95: Ross McClymont (Vic)
  • 1995-96: Leon Beswick (Tas)
  • 1996-97: Matthew Marks (SA)
  • 1997-98: Jason Falinski (NSW)
  • 1998-99: Matthew Boland (QLD)
  • 1999-00: Marc Dale (WA)
  • 2000-01: Brett Hogan (Vic)
  • 2001-02: Gerard Paynter (QLD)
  • 2002-04: Grant Muller (QLD)
  • 2004-05: Nick Park (QLD)
  • 2005-06: Alex Hawke (NSW)
  • 2006-08: Mark Powell (QLD)
  • 2008-09: Noel McCoy (NSW)
  • 2009-10: Rachel Fry (Tas)
  • 2010-11: Richard Wilson (WA)
  • 2011-12: Michael van Dissel (SA)
  • 2012-13: Trent Hasson (Tas)
  • 2013-14: Tom White (WA)
  • 2014-15: Ben Riley (QLD)
  • 2015-16: Simon Brehney (Vic)
  • 2016-17: Claire Chandler (Tas)
  • 2017-18: Aiden Depiazzi (WA)
  • 2018-19: Josh Manuatu (ACT)
  • 2019-: Liam Staltari (WA)

Activities and Roles

The Young Liberals are most active during local, state and federal elections by campaigning for the election of Liberal Members and Governments.

Each year, the Young Liberals hold a Federal Convention which is held all around Australia.


Voluntary Student Unionism

In 2005, the Howard Government introduced legislation to repeal compulsory student unionism in Australia following an effective campaign run by the Young Liberal Movement, notably led by its then Federal President, now Federal MP, Alex Hawke.

Make Education Fair

In February 2008, the Young Liberals launched a campaign titled Make Education Fair that alleged there was bias in the educational system.[5][6] 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".[7]

In response to the campaign, the Senate announced an Inquiry into Academic Freedom [8] in June 2008 with the Inquiry Into Academic Freedom - Parliament of Australia terms of reference.[5] Others described the campaign as a "witch hunt" or McCarthyism, and as an attack on the professionalism of academics.[9] In response to Make Education Fair, the National Tertiary Education Union said "there is no evidence of widespread left-wing bias" [10] and launched its own campaign entitled "Academic Freedom Watch".[11] The President of the NTEU dismissed the accusation that academics are running their own agendas in the classroom as "nonsense".[7] 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"[12]

Student Services and Amenities Fee

Since 2016, the Young Liberals have taken a strong position against the Student Services and Amenities Fee, including publishing a comprehensive report on the subject.


In 2005, the Young Liberals in Melbourne attracted media attention for their antisocial behaviour at social functions and accusations of rivalry between the Australian Liberal Students' Federation and the Young Liberal movement.[13]

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."[14][14] 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.[15]

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." [16]

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.[17]

During a conference for Liberals in July 2008 in Canberra, about 40 university students from the Australian Liberal Students' Federation - some of them Young Liberals, were thrown out and banned from a youth hostel after an all night drinking rampage and disruptive behaviour, including some of them being caught having sex in the hostel.[18][19]

In April 2010, Nick Sowden, a Young Liberal National party member from Queensland, likened US President Barack Obama to a monkey on his Twitter account. After a backlash, Sowden responded by saying that it was a poor attempt at irony that had been taken out of context. As a result of the comments, he was expelled from the party.[20] Further controversy arose in June, 2010, when a member of the Young Liberal National Party organised an event via Facebook to celebrate the ill health of former Australian Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam. The event, which 17 members of the Young Liberal National Party are reported to have subsequently attended, aimed to celebrate that...”the old man is old and nearly dead [former PM, Gough Whitlam], he got sacked, and he is shit....So lets (sic) celebrate and be happy”.[21][22]

In September 2012, during a Young Liberals dinner in Sydney, Alan Jones spoke concerning the death of the then Prime Minister Julia Gillard's father. Jones said that Mr Gillard had "died of shame to think that his daughter told lies every time she stood for parliament". Jones' speech was secretly recorded by a News Limited journalist, and the incident is referred to as the Alan Jones "died of shame" controversy.[23]

In April 2014, during hearings by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (New South Wales) into the alleged corrupt conduct of MP Chris Hartcher, it was revealed that a Hartcher staff member who is also Young Liberal member set up a "black ops" team inspired by the film Fight Club with the intention of destroying political opponents.[24]

In August 2014, Young Liberal students from Melbourne University were reported to have been posting misogynistic, crude and racist comments on their Facebook page. One comment in particular referred to, 75 year old academic, Germaine Greer as a "lying fucking cum guzzling slut".[25][26]

In September 2015 a New South Wales Young Liberal Council meeting caused controversy after an alleged altercation occurred. Young Liberal and member of the conservatives Jakov Miljak allegedly grappled Moderate James Camillieri following a debate over the Liberal Party of Australia leadership spill, September 2015.[27] The following day Mr Miljak resigned from his part-time employment with Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells.[28]

In April 2017, it was revealed that Young Liberal and President of the Melbourne University Liberal Club, Xavier Boffa, had told a female member of the club that she was not invited to a club event because 'a couple of the guys were uncomfortable about inviting a chick'.[29]

In October 2017, Mr Boffa became the subject of a police investigation after he was allegedly involved in an ugly stoush with this same woman in the aftermath of a heated club meeting. It was also alleged that he assaulted another male club member from an opposing faction.[30]

In February 2019, four members of the NSW Young Liberals were suspended from the party for six months when they approached women on Tinder in order to convince them to vote Liberal, and then shared personal information about the women and made "lewd and derogatory" comments about them in a group chat room that was meant for planning the group's campaigning efforts.[31] Several women in the chat complained to NSW Young Liberals president Harry Stutchbury (son of Michael Stutchbury), who said that the behaviour was unacceptable but took no further action. Liberal Party officials did not learn of the events until 12 months later, via The Sun-Herald, at which point NSW Liberals' state director Chris Stone applied the suspension.

In July 2019, former Australian Liberal Students Federation past president Xavier Boffa glassed Melbourne University Liberal Club member Benedict Kusay in a bar in Adelaide. Kusay was attending the annual general meeting of the Australian Liberal Student Federation (ALSF) as a delegate, when the former President of the institution Boffa assaulted him with two glasses. Kusay receiving emergency medical treatment and was released with three metal staples in his head. Boffa was arrested and released on bail. He was due to appear in court in mid November, facing a potential conviction for aggravated assault with a weapon. Despite of many Liberal Party members calling for Boffa's membership to be terminated or suspended, no action was taken pending the court date.[32][33]

In December 2019, Young Liberal National party leader Barclay McGain and Young Liberal member Jake Scott faced controversy after a video was released on the Young Liberal's Facebook page. The video showed McGain purporting to be interviewing young adults at random during Schoolies week regarding their opinions of Prime Minister Scott Morrison. In one interview McGain is shown laughing as Scott criticised Aboriginal Australians for not being able to "even invent the bloody wheel". Scott described himself in the video as "a bit of a leftie", however, subsequent investigations showed him to be a Liberal Party volunteer and active Young Liberal member. Scott and McGain both declined to comment on the video, which was widely criticised and labelled as racist by the Queensland State Government. McGain was later suspended from his role as party leader, pending further internal investigation from the Liberal Party.[34][35]

See also


  1. History: Young Liberals
  2. Young Liberals Life Members & Past Presidents, Young Liberals, 2006, archived from the original on 21 December 2005, retrieved 8 July 2006
  4. "History: Former Office Bearers". Young Liberals. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  5. 25 June 2008 12:00AM (25 June 2008). "Libs push for bias probe | The Australian". Retrieved 9 July 2010.
  7. "Meet the new vanguard in culture wars - National". 1 April 2008. Retrieved 9 July 2010.
  8. "Senate tests academic freedom - Herald Sun". 26 June 2008. Retrieved 9 July 2010.
  9. Josephine Tovey (10 October 2008). "Academics rally against Young Liberal 'witch-hunt'". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Digital. Retrieved 10 October 2008.
  10. "Tertiary union denies accusations of left-wing bias - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)". 1 April 2008. Retrieved 9 July 2010.
  11. "The World Today - Inquiry into academic freedom accused of bias". Retrieved 9 July 2010.
  12. "Young Liberals on university 'witch-hunt' - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)". 1 April 2008. Retrieved 9 July 2010.
  13. "Feathers fly at Young Liberals' shindig - National". Melbourne: 2 August 2005. Retrieved 9 July 2010.
  14. Cohen, Janine (17 July 2006). "Program Transcript - The Right Stuff". Four Corners. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 20 July 2006.
  15. Cohen, Janine (17 July 2006). "Interview - Dr John Hewson". Four Corners. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 20 July 2006.
  16. Devine, Miranda (20 July 2006). "Rough play won't spoil the party". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 20 July 2006.
  17. Stewart, John (19 July 2006). "Footage released of 'racist' Young Liberals". Sydney: Lateline. Retrieved 19 June 2008.
  18. - Drunken Liberal students thrown out and banned from hostel
  19. Crikey - Two Ts Whittney a Young Lib with libations
  21. See: As Future Leaders Go Not Much to Rejoice About, Bella Counihan, National Times, Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Brisbane Times, June 1st,
  22. 31 May 2010,
  23. "Gillard refuses to be drawn on Jones controversy". ABC. 3 October 2012. Retrieved 19 March 2014.
  25. "Misogynist rants from Young Libs". The Age. Fairfax Media. 10 August 2014. Retrieved 10 August 2014.
  26. "Why the Coalition will never win over Australian women". Fairfax Media. 11 August 2014. Retrieved 18 August 2014.
  27. "Young Liberal meeting turns violent after leadership spill". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 10 January 2016.
  28. "When putsch came to shove: Young Liberal faces expulsion after factional debate led to tussle". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 10 January 2016.
  29. "'They felt uncomfortable about inviting a chick': Young Libs accused of misogyny". The Age. Retrieved 5 February 2018.
  30. "Young Liberals' fight causes young woman to seek intervention order from police". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 5 February 2018.
  31. "Young Liberals booted from party for lewd comments about women". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 17 September 2019.
  34. "Gold Coast Young LNP leader suspended over Schoolies video denigrating Indigenous culture". The Guardian. 3 December 2019. Archived from the original on 3 December 2019.
  35. Fernando, Gavin (3 December 2019). "Two Gold Coast Young Liberals in hot water after posting racist slur video online". Archived from the original on 3 December 2019.
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