Independent Labor (Australia)

Independent Labor (or Independent Labour) is a description used in Australian politics, often to designate a politician who is an Australian Labor Party (ALP) member but not endorsed by the party at elections or if sitting in a parliament, not a member of the Labor party room caucus.[2] The label has also been used to describe candidate who identify with the labour movement, but not the ALP.[3][4]

Independent Labor
AbbreviationInd. Lab[1]
Victorian Legislative Assembly
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The label is often used at local government elections, especially in states or local government areas where the ALP does not endorse any candidates.[5][6] However, registering a party or affiliation as an "Independent Labor" is not permitted in New South Wales under section 64 of the Electoral Act 2017, and the use of the term in electoral material is also considered an offence under section 180 of the act.[7][8]

As of July 2024, the only MPs who are rank-and-file members of the Labor Party yet are not part of the party's parliamentary caucus are both members of the Victorian Legislative AssemblyDarren Cheeseman and Will Fowles.



The first Independent Labour MP in federal politics was James Wilkinson, who was elected at the 1901 election.[9] He had been a member of the ALP previously, and rejoined the party in 1903.[10]

The Blackburn-Mutton Labor Party was formed in June 1947 by Doris Blackburn, the member for Bourke, and Charlie Mutton, the member for Coburg in the Victorian Legislative Assembly. It was created as a guarantee company so that both MPs could keep describing themselves as Independent Labor after the ALP attempted to restrict the use of the word "Labor".[11][12] The party later merged into the Progressive Labor Party.[13][14]

The Independent Labor Group was a grouping in the New South Wales Legislative Council from 1959 to 1977, after a number of Labor MLCs were expelled from the party for voting against the abolition of the Legislative Council, which was then party policy.[15][16]

In more recent years, the label has been rarely used outside of local elections. Former MP Brenton Best nominated as an Independent Labor candidate in 2017, and Territory Labor MP Jeff Collins used the label after resigning from the party in 2019, before later joining Territory Alliance.[17][18]

On 23 August 2021, former Tasmanian Labor leader David O’Byrne resigned from the party caucus to sit as an Independent Labor MP, which he continued to do so until resigning his ALP membership on 4 February 2024.[19][20]

On 5 August 2023, Ringwood MP Will Fowles was asked to resign from the parliamentary Victorian Labor Party by then-Premier Daniel Andrews following allegations of a serious assault.[21]

In 2024, Darren Cheeseman was suspended from the Victorian Labor Party caucus over allegations of misconduct.

Similar political descriptions


Australian politicians have also been elected under other independent labels, including Independent Liberal, Independent National, Independent Free Trade, Independent UAP and Independent Socialist.[22][23]

See also



  1. ^ "Abbreviations of Political party names used in divisional profiles". Australian Electoral Commission. Archived from the original on 24 May 2024. Retrieved 2 July 2024. IND LAB Independent Labor
  2. ^ MacDonald, Lucy (4 February 2024). "David O'Byrne quits Tasmanian Labor after 30 years to stand as an Independent in Franklin". ABC News. Archived from the original on 1 July 2024. Retrieved 1 July 2024. He was eventually kicked out of the parliamentary Labor Party but remained a Labor member, instead sitting as an Independent Labor MP.
  3. ^ "The age of independence? Independents in Australian parliaments" (PDF). Hawker Britton. Parliament of Australia. 21 September 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 August 2022. Retrieved 1 July 2024. Some independents have also been current or former party members who did not fully support their party platform. These independents have chosen to indicate their independence of mind by prefixing the word 'independent' with their party name on the ballot paper (for example, Independent Labor).
  4. ^ Green, Antony (7 April 2009). "Fremantle By-election - Should the Liberals Run?". ABC News. Archived from the original on 1 July 2024. Retrieved 1 July 2024.
  5. ^ Holmes, Dave (15 May 2015). "Socialist councillor on dealing with the state bureaucracy". Green Left. Archived from the original on 1 July 2024. Retrieved 1 July 2024.
  6. ^ "Labor wins three seats in municipal polls". Trove. The Sun News-Pictorial. 1 September 1947. Retrieved 1 July 2024.
  7. ^ "Electoral Act 2017 No 66". NSW Government. Retrieved 29 November 2023.
  8. ^ "Regulation of electoral material and election conduct". NSW Electoral Commission. Retrieved 29 November 2023.
  9. ^ "Moreton – Australia 2022". The Tally Room.
  10. ^ "Parliamentary Handbook". Parliament of Australia. Archived from the original on 11 June 2007. Retrieved 23 May 2007.
  11. ^ "Labor title at elections". The Age. 27 June 1947.
  12. ^ "ALP move to prevent use of "Labor" by independents". The Sun News-Pictorial. 28 June 1947.
  13. ^ "Breakaway Labor Party formed". The Argus. 10 October 1950.
  14. ^ "Breakaway Labor Party formed". Border Morning Mail. 10 October 1950. A member of the organisation claims that the new party had already absorbed the Blackburn-Mutton group in Coburg, and was now forming new branches.
  15. ^ "Mr Cyril Joseph Cahill". Former members of the Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 9 June 2019.
  16. ^ Clune, David. "The Modern Legislative Council Committee System" (PDF). Parliament of New South Wales. p. 8. the Coalition needed the support of an Independent Labor group from 1967-73 to control the Council as imposing a check on the Government
  17. ^ "Brenton Best unloads on Labor after losing Braddon recount, eyes off next state election". ABC News. 4 April 2017.
  18. ^ "Northern Territory Labor 'manufactured' leaks to drive out dissenters over budget crisis, politician says". ABC News. 22 December 2018.
  19. ^ "David O'Byrne addressed parliament, calls on Labor to release Deegan report into his conduct". The Examiner. 24 August 2021.
  20. ^ "Next move: Former Labor leader David O'Byrne makes big call on his political future". The Mercury.
  21. ^ "Statement from the Premier". Retrieved 5 August 2023.
  22. ^ "Mrs Moira Deeming". Parliament of Victoria.
  23. ^ Black, David; Prescott, Valerie (1997). Election statistics : Legislative Assembly of Western Australia, 1890-1996. Perth, [W.A.]: Western Australian Parliamentary History Project and Western Australian Electoral Commission. ISBN 0730984095.