Free Trade Party


Free Trade Party

Infobox Australian Political Party
party_name = Free Trade Party
party_
party_wikicolourid = Free Trade
leader = George Reid
deputy =
foundation = 1889
predecessor =
disbanded = 1909
successor = Commonwealth Liberal Party
ideology = Free Trade,
Conservatism,
Liberalism
position =
international =

The Free Trade Party (officially Australian Free Trade and Liberal Association), renamed in 1906 as the Anti-Socialist Party, was an Australian political party, formally organised from 1889 until 1909. It favoured the abolition of protective tariffs and other restrictions on trade, arguing that this would create greater prosperity for all. It was centred in New South Wales, where its leaders were Sir Henry Parkes and Sir George Reid. It dominated New South Wales colonial politics before federation.

In the elections for the first Commonwealth Parliament, the Free Traders formed the second largest group in the Australian House of Representatives, with 25 seats. Reid became the Parliament's first Opposition Leader with William McMillan as his deputy, later becoming Prime Minister in 1904-05. Joseph Cook became deputy leader of the party on McMillan's retirement in 1903.

After the question of tariffs had largely been settled, Reid cast around for another cause to justify his party's existence. He settled on opposition to socialism, criticising both the Australian Labor Party and the support offered to it by the Protectionist Party, led by Alfred Deakin. The Free Trade Party was eventually renamed the Anti-Socialist Party (ASP) before the 1906 federal election. The Labor Party and the FTP/ASP continued to grow in electoral strength at the expense of the Protectionist vote. Some Protectionists continued their exodus to Labor and the ASP.

Reid retired in 1908, with the party leadership passed to Joseph Cook, who agreed to merge with the Protectionists to become the Commonwealth Liberal Party in 1909.

ee also

*Liberalism
*Contributions to liberal theory
*Liberalism worldwide
*List of liberal parties
*Liberal democracy
*Liberalism in Australia

References

* [http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A110362b.htm Australian Dictionary of Biography - George Reid]


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