QuikStats: Australian Political Party Membership

by Shane Granger

“There are more people on the waiting list to join the Melbourne Cricket Club than there are rank-and-file members in all Australian political parties put together.” (Cathy Alexander, 18th July 2013)

1 - PolPartyMembership_Infographic_131015

With the very recent election of Bill Shorten as Opposition Labor Leader much has been made of the lack of political membership in the Australian Labor Party. Party membership across all the parties is in sharp decline. On that point, I was unable to find any actual detail on the Liberal Party, with the exception of Our Structure which states 80,000 in the Organisational Wing. Instead of using the website figures I’ve chosen to go with the wider held view that the LP has only about 50,000 paid members given that in 2008 there were just 13,000 members in Victoria. The best data I could get on the Greens was from a 2010 Age article which had them above 10,000 for the first time in their political history.

To emphasise just how poor the health of political party membership is I thought to put together an infographic on how they stack up against other organisations as originally suggested by Cathy Alexander in her recent Crikey piece plus some additional groups that I have thrown in.

As shown above both the Liberal and Australian Labor Party memberships are lower than

  • Organ donors in Tasmania;
  • The combined organ donors in the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory;
  • The Australian Defence Force (regular Army, Navy and Air Force only as I didn’t include Reserves);
  • Scouts Australia;
  • The Collingwood Football Club;
  • Federation of Australian Historical Societies;
  • The Returned Services League;
  • The combined membership of the NRL (the combined Australian Football League (742,899) has almost 15-times either party);
  • The Shop, Distributive and Allied Employee Association; and finally
  •  The Melbourne Cricket Club waiting list.

Luckily for both the Liberal and Labor party’s they still outnumber criminal bikie gang numbers.

For now.