Australian Democrats

The Australian Democrats is a centrist[4][6] political party in Australia.[7] Founded in 1977 from a merger of the Australia Party and the New Liberal Movement, both of which were descended from Liberal Party dissenting splinter groups, it was Australia's largest minor party from its formation in 1977 through to 2004 and frequently held the balance of power in the Senate during that time.[6]

Australian Democrats
PresidentLyn Allison
Vice President(s)Tim Burrow, Andrew Castrique, Craig Hill
FounderDon Chipp
Founded1977; 44 years ago (1977)[n 1]
Merger of
Youth wingYoung Democrats[1]
Political positionCentre[4]
Colours  Gold
SloganKeep the bastards honest.[5]
House of Representatives
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Official website

The Democrats' inaugural leader was Don Chipp, a former Liberal cabinet minister, who famously promised to "keep the bastards honest". At the 1977 federal election, the Democrats polled 11.1 percent of the Senate vote and secured two seats. The party would retain a presence in the Senate for the next 30 years, at its peak (between 1999 and 2002) holding nine out of 76 seats, though never securing a seat in the lower house. The party's share of the vote collapsed at the 2004 election and was further diminished in 2007 with the last senators leaving office in 2008.

Due to the party's numbers in the Senate, both Liberal and Labor governments required the assistance of the Democrats to pass contentious legislation, most notably in the case of the Howard Government's goods and services tax. Ideologically, the Democrats were usually regarded as centrists, occupying the political middle ground between the Liberal Party and the Labor Party.

Over three decades, the Australian Democrats achieved representation in the legislatures of the ACT, South Australia, New South Wales, Western Australia and Tasmania as well as Senate seats in all six states. However, at the 2004 and 2007 federal elections, all seven of its Senate seats were lost.[8] The last remaining State parliamentarian, David Winderlich, left the party and was defeated as an independent in 2010.

The party was formally deregistered in 2016 for not having the required 500 members.[9] In 2018 the Australian Democrats merged with Country Minded, an Australian political party seeking accountable regional and agricultural representation.[10] On 7 April 2019 the merged entity regained registration of the name "Australian Democrats" with the Australian Electoral Commission.[11]

As of 2020, the National President of the party is former Parliamentary Leader and Senator, Lyn Allison.[12]