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Jul 18, 2013

The party's over: which clubs have the most members?

Australia's political parties are on the nose as they desperately try to sandbag dwindling membership. Crikey has investigated which parties, teams and clubs have the most members -- and you might be surprised at the results.



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17 thoughts on “The party’s over: which clubs have the most members?

  1. Fiona Patten

    As of yesterday the Australian Sex Party memberaship is 5,583 We don’t ask if people are members of other parties. We have been called non-monogamous in this area. We ask people to pay using the following formula:
    Short of cash $20
    Doing okay $50
    Doing well $100

  2. Paracleet

    What are those fabian terrorist warmists at AusTrek trying to hide huh?!?

  3. Scott Grant

    I joined a minor party once, now defunct. That was a pretty informal affair. A friend asked me to, because the party needed the numbers to get registered. It is the only time in my life anyone has personally invited me to join any party.

    I got serious, once, about joining one of the larger parties currently in parliament. I went through a web form, filling in details, and came to a bit that I agreed to abide by their constitution or something along those lines. I stopped to download and read the document in question. I never finished it and I never joined the party. Nowadays, I doubt I would ever again join any party because I don’t want to sign away my freedom to act and vote as I choose.

  4. Cathy Alexander

    Thank you Fiona. I will add your party into the table, you will come in above One Nation and below the Nationals. Not sure what you’ll make of that!

  5. Cathy Alexander

    Just heard this from an insider:

    “… the Federation of Australian Historical societies counts everyone who is a member of any historical society in Australia as a member of FAHS, whether they want to be or not. Most of them wouldn’t know they were being counted as members – they don’t have to sign up or anything. So it’s all a bit bogus.”

  6. James Goodwin

    I’d suggest the largest and most influential membership is that of the motoring clubs of Australia. They have a combined membership of 7.2 million Australians and the national body is the Australian Automobile Association(AAA).

    Average membership is about $100 a year and entitles people to emergency roadside assistance and transport advocacy. Most of the clubs were established more than 100 years ago to advocate on behalf of motorists for better roads.

    New South Wales – National Roads and Motorists Association (NRMA)
    Victoria – Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV)
    Queensland – Royal Automobile Club of Queensland (RACQ)
    South Australia – Royal Automobile Association (RAA)
    West Australia – Royal Automobile Club (RAC)
    Tasmania – Royal Automobile Club of Tasmania (RACT)
    Northern Territory – Automobile Association of the Northern Terriory (AANT)

  7. Damien McBain

    I’m a previous member of the Liberal party (a country Vic branch). It bored me to tears. I was in my late 20s then and few other branch members were under retirement age. The agenda items were trivial rubbish and the state conference spots were hogged by stalwarts.
    Presumably things haven’t improved, in which case it’s no surprise membership is lagging. There’s no forum to be active, no way to influence policy and nothing interesting to talk about at meetings.

  8. Maisie

    As someone who is a member of the Greens, and once was a member of the ALP, it is obvious to me that whilst the ALP may have more members, the Greens have more active members.

  9. Maisie

    I’m also wondering whether crikey looked at how many people are members or at least subscribers to get up. I think you would find that among young people organisations like Get Up! are quite popular.

  10. Edward James

    For years it has been apparent to me Australians have been essentially pushed around by a very small minority of the population. These Political allsorts and fellow travelers developers who are serious about getting into government, positions of influence.
    Or activist busy getting things done. Can and do influence how our democratic process functions or disfunction’s on our behalf. Depending on your point of view.
    Consider the attempt at branch stacking in Malabar exposed a few days ago. Minister Rudd and John Robertson two very prominent Labor Party leaders. Trumpeted the assurance, the Labor Party would expel any member who brought the party into disrepute or acted corruptly.
    Clearly the threat held no threat to those responsible for paying for the stack! Australians have the tools to change the way we are represented.
    They are called ballot papers, which simply need to be exercised for effective change, by directing your own preferences and putting dead wood politicians last!. Edward James

  11. Douglas Evan

    A series of interesting comparisons. Here are a couple more. For a piece of writing I did some research into numbers. My source gave me a different membership number for the Liberals but the comparison with AFL Clubs is interesting.
    If we accept that the current ALP membership is 44,000 and the current Liberal Party membership is 78,000 Labor has about the same membership as the Adelaide Crows AFL club and the Liberals just exceed the somewhat more successful Collingwood Football Club.

    Australia’s population is roughly 22,300,000. A total of 719,582 Australians are members of an AFL Club.The ALP has 44,000 members and the Liberal Party has 78,000 members. My computer’s calculator tells me that this means:

    One in every 31 Australians belongs to an AFL club.
    One in every 506 Australians belongs to the ALP.
    One in every 286 Australians belongs to the Liberal Party.

    Australians are more than nine times more likely to belong to an AFL club than to the Liberal Party and about seventeen times more likely to belong to an AFL club than to the ALP.

    Writing for Inside Story Norman Abjorensen states that the median age of Victorian Liberal members in 2008 was 62 (presumably higher in 2013) against the median age of Victorians of 43. There is no reason to believe that the membership of their coalition partner the Nationals is more youthful. According to Latham, 55% of Labor’s national membership is in the ‘concessional’ membership category, largely retirees.

    Given the strong influence of the Union movement over the ALP you might expect that a high percentage of Labor members would be members of trade unions. You would be wrong. In his Quarterly Essay Latham claims that roughly 5800 unionists Australia wide belong to the ALP. About 16% of the membership. This is less than 0.5% of the membership of ALP affiliated unions, hardly a resounding vote of confidence in the continued relevance of the ALP by the members of the Unions whose dues bankroll the Party. For some really interesting further reading try.
    See also

  12. Mike Smith

    @James Goodwin: AN intersting poit. DO you suppose we’d vote for them if they put candidates forward?

  13. Mike Smith

    Two words and two typos… (An interesting point) TGIF, I suppose.

  14. Edward James

    Good information Douglas Evan! Edward James

  15. meegan maguire

    The number of members does not equal the number of people who share the ideologies and visions of a particular party. Many public servants or people who support parties that believe in a ‘fair go for all’ are too scared to join in case their professional opportunities are affected. The number of volunteers at an election booth versus the well funded parties (aka LNP paid people to hold signs and hand out how to votes) should be a general sign of comfort for where the people choose to give their support, whether or not they are comfortable enough in their job stability to actually join a political party. I’ve known many people who support a minor or major party in this way without becoming a member due to impacts on their future careers. Numbers are numbers. The volunteers who support their local candidate should speak volumes compared to paid people to stand and hold a sign. There are your numbers.

  16. Cathy Alexander

    Hi Douglas Evan, where did you get your number of 78,000 Liberal members from? I asked around quite widely and found party insiders either had no idea, or estimated somewhere within 40-50,000 (one insider guesstimated 55,000, which was the highest I heard). I’m very interested in your number!

  17. Danielle Lehrer

    Hi Cathy.
    Then there’s VoteFLUX.org – new to the hustings this year and already with 3,833 members- which, at our daily rate of growth, sees us set to eclipse the Greens as the third major party by the end of 2016!
    Membership is free and once we’re elected, will include the Flux app (also free). This is a blockchain-based app that allows registered Australian voters to direct how Flux members of Parliament vote on pieces of legislation by expressing their preference in real time on issues before parliament.
    For the techies: voting takes place on an immutable and distributed ledger, which resolves key existing issues associated with online voting including incorruptibility, privacy, ballot secrecy, end-to-end transparency and verification.
    For the non techies: it’s actual democracy! Hope you love it.
    Kind regards,
    Danielle Lehrer, Candidate for Victoria


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