Australian Political Parties: In Decline or Renewal?

Panel Code

This panel will critically review the current state of the Australian political parties, and consider the extent to which there might be decline or renewal. Like other advanced industrial countries, the Australian Party System is facing a range of pressures, including the rise and growth of minor parties, and a flurry of party leadership instability with 6 Prime ministers since 2017. The panel will focus on specific political parties including the Australian Labor Party (ALP), the Liberals and also the Greens, and offer insights into their institutional dynamics, representative roles, and electoral performance. The panel will also consider broader issues, including the changing dynamics of Australian party system, and the relationship between the parties with each other.

A key question to be examined by the panel is to examine if there is decline or renewal with Australian political parties? Whilst there is a growth in minor parties, some of these seem to be ephemeral phenomena (e.g. Palmer United). Further, whilst the Major parties will dominate the lower house; the first preference vote of the majors, especially the ALP, seems to be decline. There is also a general decline in party membership across many advanced industrial countries, including Australia. It also remains far from clear how the parties are using web-technologies and social media to revitalise their integrative and representative roles - perhaps reflecting a further distancing from wider civil society. In all, the Australian party system seems to be facing a new range of pressures and tensions.