The founder of the Liberator was Joseph Symes, a disillusioned Methodist minister who had migrated to Melbourne to preach the gospel of free thought. This first issue in June 1884 promised to publish ‘all the blasphemy its pages can carry’. The paper ridiculed the Queen, attacked imperialism and lampooned Christian ministers as ‘sky-pilots’.
At various stages, police raided the Liberator premises, the paper was refused carriage by post and Symes himself was charged with various offences, but the government resisted pressure to ban the Liberator outright. Eventually the paper lapsed into obscurity after Symes fell out with his freethought allies.