Patterns of party personnel renewal during opposition: the Liberal Party of Australia 1983 – 1996, 2007 – 2013

Stream: Panel 12 - Australian Politics / Media & Politics:  Political Parties and Interests Groups
Date: Monday, 26 September 2016
Time: 2.00 pm – 3.30 pm


A party’s opposition years are an important time for renewal of ideas and personnel as long-serving parliamentarians are defeated or retire. The Liberal Party of Australia (LPA) is unusual in that it grants its parliamentary party extraordinary authority to determine the policy direction and electoral strategy of the party. Coupled with its weak conflict resolution structures, the personnel make-up of the parliamentary party assumes greater importance for both internal party management and shaping the party’s overall direction. Thus, this study asks how cycles of personnel renewal have impacted on the LPA during its opposition years. Data on LPA cohorts, by year of entry into parliament, for both the 1983-1996 and 2007-2013 opposition periods is analysed. The paper reveals uneven patterns of renewal across LPA state divisions. It argues that the rise and decline of cohorts into the shadow cabinet and executive of the party contributed to major shifts in the personality and ideological conflicts dominating the party in the 1980s and 1990s. In the post-2007 period, the picture is one personnel renewal on the backbench, but stasis within the shadow cabinet and the party’s policy platform.


Marija Taflaga (Presenter), ANU
Marija is a recently submitted PhD Candidate from the School of Politics and International Relations at the ANU. Marija's research interest include political parties and their interface with parliament and the media.