- Free Trade Party
Infobox Australian Political Party
party_name = Free Trade Party
party_wikicolourid = Free Trade
leader = George Reid
foundation = 1889
disbanded = 1909
Commonwealth Liberal Party
Free Trade, Conservatism, Liberalism
The Free Trade Party (officially Australian Free Trade and Liberal Association), renamed in 1906 as the Anti-Socialist Party, was an
Australianpolitical 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 Cookbecame 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 Partyand 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 Partyin 1909.
Contributions to liberal theory
List of liberal parties
Liberalism in Australia
* [http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A110362b.htm Australian Dictionary of Biography - George Reid]
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