Australian Liberal Students' Federation

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The Australian Liberal Students' Federation (ALSF) is an Australian students' political group. It is the peak national body for more than 30 campus Liberal Clubs. Although it has a similar ideology to the Liberal Party of Australia and works closely with the party, it is an independent organisation. The federation campaigned strongly for voluntary student unionism. The Federation has for decades opposed what it calls the radical left's control of some universities. Notable members include former Prime Minister John Howard, Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Eric Abetz, Michael Yabsley, Michael Kroger, Sophie Mirabella and Robert Clark.


The ALSF aims to bring together Liberal-leaning students and promote their beliefs and values on university campuses. It is well known for Liberal and conservative activism and intense policy debates[citation needed]. Although the it is not formally affiliated with any party, its name means it is frequently confused with the Liberal Party's youth wing, the Young Liberals. However, there is some crossover in the memberships of both organisations[citation needed].

The ALSF is a member of the International Young Democrat Union and its patron is Brendon Nelson. Historically, the patron is, but does not have to be, the leader of the Liberal Party.

The members of ALSF are the various campus Liberal clubs who affiliate and elect delegates to the annual federal council. State bodies also exist, including the New South Wales Liberal Students' Association, the Victorian Liberal Students' Association, South Australian Liberal Students, and the West Australian Union of Liberal Students.

The federal council is held every July.

National Union of Students[edit]

The Australian Liberal Students' Federation has had a long history of engagement and influence in national student bodies since its inception, and held numerous office bearer positions in the National Union of Australian University Students (NUAUS) in the 1950s and 1960s.[1] By the 1970s, however, Liberal students became increasingly disillusioned with student representatives' support for what they saw as radical fringe elements mostly operating in foreign countries, "many of them allegedly engaged either in terrorist activities or as front-line supporters of authoritarian regimes". It said that "Instead of properly performing its core role as an advocate for student interests and a provider of student services it became hostage to extremist views more interested in international affairs than domestic education policies".[2] The "The AUS folded in 1984 after a lengthy campaign by the Australian Liberal Students’ Federation, the Fraser Government and state Liberal Governments to destroy it." [1]

The ALSF is one of the groups within the National Union of Students (NUS) organisation. Its central policy platform is the principle of Voluntary Student Unionism (VSU) and it supports, and had input into, the reforms to Australian higher education introduced by Brendan Nelson (former minister for education, science and training, and former leader of the opposition). The ALSF supports increased deregulation of the tertiary sector, and, particularly with the implementation of VSU, presents itself as being an advocate for freedom of choice and freedom of association within universities. However, the Australian Universities Liberal Clubs (AULC), the precursor body to ALSF had for many years generally supported compulsory student unionism. After a fierce contest, this policy was changed in 1976 by a group led by Julian Glynn (then president of the Adelaide University Liberal Club), who became ALSF president in 1977 on a platform of opposing purported communist domination of student politics and support for VSU. His main supporters were Abetz, Abbott and Simon Withers (son of former senator Reg Withers), all of whom were Liberal Student Club presidents at the time.

The ALSF currently have one member on NUS national executive: Clark Cooley, Tasmanian State Branch President (University of Tasmania). At the 2012 National Conference Claire Chandler (University of Tasmania) was elected President of the Tasmanian branch of NUS. Both ALSF and the National Labor Students (NLS) had won 3 delegates each of the 6 that represent Tasmania, following a coin toss Chandler was elected. It was the second time in the history of NUS that a Liberal student has been elected as a State President. Joshua Young (University of Queensland) held the position of Queensland State Branch President in 2009.

Measured by positions elected, 2012 is to date, the most successful conference. ALSF delegates were elected across Five State Branches, in addition to those listed above. Christian Street (University of Tasmania), Charley Daniel (University of Melbourne) and Mark Briers (Swinburne University) are credited with this success.

During the 2004 NUS conference, a number of Liberal NUS delegates were condemned after they interrupted the traditional indigenous Australian welcome-to-country ceremony with a rendition of 'God Save the Queen'.[3]

In July 2006, the Young Liberal Movement were the subject of controversy after the ABC's Lateline program aired footage[4][5] from the 2005 National Union of Students' conference in Ballarat. The video included Liberal students chanting "We're racist, we're sexist, we're homophobic". The president of the New South Wales Young Liberals released a statement condemning the outbursts,[6] while the Queensland division of the Young Liberals said that although one prominent Young Liberal member was involved, the students were delegates elected by their university's student body; as such, they were members of the Australian Liberal Students' Federation.

Despite attempts by Student Unity to gain the votes of Liberal students in favour of Unity Candidate Camden Gilchrist, Liberal students delivered their votes to Mathew Chuk, an independent, thus ensuring his victory.[7]

During a conference for Liberals in July 2008 in Canberra, about 40 university students from the ALSF - some of them Young Liberals, were thrown out and banned from a youth hostel after an all night drinking rampage and disruptive behaviour, including some of them being caught having sex in the hostel.[8][9]


In September 2012, during a Sydney University Liberal Club function, Alan Jones spoke concerning the death of Prime Minister Julia Gillard's father, John. Jones said that Mr Gillard had "died of shame to think that his daughter told lies every time she stood for parliament". Jones' speech was secretly recorded by a News Limited journalist.[10]

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