Labor Left

  (Redirected from Socialist Left (Australia))

The Labor Left, also known as the Socialist Left and Progressive Left, is an organised Left faction of the Australian Labor Party. It competes with the more economically liberal Labor Right faction.

Labor Left
National convenorsPat Conroy and
Andrew Giles[1]
Student wingNational Labor Students
Youth wingYoung Labor Left
IdeologySocial democracy
Political positionCentre-left to left-wing[2]
National affiliationAustralian Labor Party
Colours     Red
House of Representatives
25 / 151
10 / 76
Federal Caucus
35 / 94

The Labor Left operates autonomously in each State and Territory of Australia, and organises as a broad alliance at the national level. Its policy positions include party democratisation, economic interventionism, progressive tax reform, refugee rights, gender equality and gay marriage.[3]

Factional activityEdit

Most political parties contain informal factions of members who work towards common goals. However the Australian Labor Party is noted for having highly structured and organised factions across the ideological spectrum.[4]

Labor Left is a membership-based organisation which has internal office bearers, publications, and policy positions.[4] The faction coordinates political activity and policy development across different hierarchical levels and organisational components of the party,[5] negotiates with other factions on political strategy and policy, and uses party processes to try to defeat other groups if consensus cannot be reached.[6]

Many members of parliament and trade union leaders are formally aligned with the Left and Right factions, and party positions and ministerial allocations are negotiated and divided between the factions based on the proportion of Labor caucus aligned with that faction.[4][6]


Labor Party split of 1955Edit

The modern Labor Left emerged from the Labor Party split of 1955, in which anti-Communist activists associated with B. A. Santamaria and the Industrial Groups formed the Democratic Labor Party while left-wing parliamentarians and unions loyal to H. V. Evatt and Arthur Calwell remained in the Australian Labor Party.[7]

The split played out differently across the country, with anti-Communists leaving the party in Victoria and Queensland but remaining within in most other states. This created a power vacuum which allowed the Left to take control of the Federal Executive and Victorian state branch, while its opponents were preserved elsewhere.[7]

From 1965 organised internal groups emerged to challenge the control of the Left, supported by figures such as John Button and Gough Whitlam. After the Victorian branch lost the 1970 state election in the midst of a public dispute with Whitlam over state aid for private schools, the South Australian Left, led by Clyde Cameron, and New South Wales Left, led by Arthur Gietzelt, agreed to support an intervention which saw the Victorian state branch abolished and subsequently reconstructed without Left control.[7]

Labor Left split in the 1980sEdit

During the 1980s, after a prolonged dispute over ideological and tactical issues a split occurred within the South Wales Labor Left creating two fractions; the 'Hard Left' and the 'Soft Left'.[8] A significant event which caused the split was the election of the Secretary Assistant of the New South Wales Labor Party, where the Hard Left faction supported Anthony Albanese while the Soft Left faction supported Jan Burnswoods.[8] The Hard Left faction aligned itself and gained support from grassroots movements, maintaining "closer links with broader left-wing groups, such as the Communist Party of Australia, People for Nuclear Disarmament and the African National Congress" as well as the wider trade union movement.[8] The Soft Left was aligned with the Labor Right faction and rank and file party branches.[8] The factions had significantly different views on policy. The Soft Left supported Keating's privatisation of the Commonwealth Bank and Qantas, as well as the Gulf War, while the Hard Left members were more often against these.[8]

Labor Left factions from all jurisdictionsEdit

Jurisdiction Major Left Grouping Conference Floor Percentage 2015 Majority
New South Wales NSW Socialist Left 40%[9] No
Victoria Victorian Socialist Left 42%[9] Stability Pact with Centre Unity and NUW
Western Australia Broad Left 65%[9] Yes
Queensland The Left 54% Yes
ACT Left Caucus 51%[9] Yes
South Australia Progressive Left Unions and Sub-Branches (PLUS) 35%[9] No
Tasmania The Left 70%[9] Yes
Northern Territory The Left 60%[9] Yes
National National Left 48%[9] No

Federal Members of the Labor LeftEdit

Name Parliamentary seat Other positions State/Territory
Anthony Albanese[10] Member for Grayndler Leader of the Opposition NSW
Tanya Plibersek[10] Member for Sydney Shadow Minister for Education and Training NSW
Stephen Jones[11] Member for Whitlam Shadow Assistant Treasurer; Shadow Minister for Financial Services NSW
Jenny McAllister Senator for New South Wales NSW
Julie Owens Member for Parramatta NSW
Sharon Claydon Member for Newcastle NSW
Susan Templeman Member for Macquarie NSW
Pat Conroy[12] Member for Shortland Shadow Minister for International Development and the Pacific; Shadow Minister Assisting for Climate Change; Shadow Minister Assisting for Defence NSW
Anne Stanley Member for Werriwa NSW
Linda Burney Member for Barton Shadow Minister for Families and Social Services; Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians NSW
Catherine King[13] Member for Ballarat Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, and Regional Development Victoria
Brendan O'Connor[13] Member for Gorton Shadow Minister for Employment and Industry; Shadow Minister for Science; Shadow Minister for Small and Family Business Victoria
Andrew Giles[12] Member for Scullin Shadow Minister for Cities and Urban Infrastructure; Shadow Minister for Multicultural Affairs; Shadow Minister Assisting for Immigration and Citizenship Victoria
Julian Hill Member for Bruce Victoria
Kim Carr[14] Senator for Victoria Victoria
Maria Vamvakinou Member for Calwell Victoria
Lisa Chesters Member for Bendigo Victoria
Ged Kearney[15] Member for Cooper Victoria
Terri Butler[16] Member for Griffith Shadow Minister for the Environment and Water Queensland
Graham Perrett Member for Moreton Queensland
Murray Watt Senator for Queensland Shadow Minister for Northern Australia; Shadow Minister for Natural Disaster and Emergency Management Queensland
Sue Lines Senator for Western Australia WA
Louise Pratt Senator for Western Australia WA
Josh Wilson Member for Fremantle Shadow Assistant Minister for the Environment WA
Patrick Gorman Member for Perth WA
Anne Aly Member for Cowan WA
Mark Butler[13] Member for Hindmarsh Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy; Deputy Manager of Opposition Business in the House of Representatives SA
Tony Zappia Member for Makin SA
Penny Wong[10] Senator for South Australia Leader of the Opposition in the Senate; Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs SA
Julie Collins[17] Member for Franklin Shadow Minister for Ageing and Seniors; Shadow Minister for Women Tasmania
Carol Brown[17] Senator for Tasmania Tasmania
Anne Urquhart[17] Senator for Tasmania Tasmania
Brian Mitchell[17] Member for Lyons Tasmania
Katy Gallagher Senator for the Australian Capital Territory Shadow Minister for Finance; Shadow Minister for the Public Service; Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate ACT
Warren Snowdon Member for Lingiari NT
Malarndirri McCarthy Senator for the Northern Territory NT

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Crowe, David. "New trade tensions inside Labor as Left faction pushes for greater labour restrictions". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 30 May 2019.
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Labor faction chiefs lose control, leaving way open for left-wing issues such as gay marriage". The Sydney Morning Herald. 17 June 2015. Retrieved 31 December 2015.
  4. ^ a b c Leigh, Andrew (9 June 2010). "Factions and Fractions: A Case Study of Power Politics in the Australian Labor Party". Australian Journal of Political Science. 35 (3): 427–448. doi:10.1080/713649348.
  5. ^ Parkin, Andrew (1983). Machine Politics in the Australian Labor Party. George Allen and Unwin. p. 23.
  6. ^ a b Faulkner, Xandra Madeleine (2006). The Spirit of Accommodation: The Influence of the ALP's National Factions on Party Policy, 1996-2004 (Thesis). Griffith University. Retrieved 18 January 2019.
  7. ^ a b c Oakley, Corey (Winter 2012). "The rise and fall of the ALP left in Victoria and NSW". Marxist Left Review. Retrieved 23 January 2016.
  8. ^ a b c d e Leigh, Andrew. "Factions and Fractions: A Case Study of Power Politics in the Australian Labor Party" (PDF). Australian Journal of Political Science. 35 (3): 427–448.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h "agitate, educate, opine" (2 September 2014). "What is the factional breakdown at Labor Conferences?". Retrieved 22 January 2016.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  10. ^ a b c Matthewson, Paula. "It can be tricky knowing left from right in the ALP". The New Daily. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  11. ^ Koziol, Michael. "Labor Left rallies behind Albanese as Plibersek pulls out of leadership race". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  12. ^ a b Crowe, David. "New trade tensions inside Labor as Left faction pushes for greater labour restrictions". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  13. ^ a b c "The 12 Labor figures who will do the heavy lifting in government". Australian Financial Review. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  14. ^ Schneiders, Ben. "Big union merger vows to tackle wage theft, redistribute wealth, shift Labor left". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  15. ^ Middleton, Karen. "Albanese juggles Labor frictions". The Saturday Paper. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  16. ^ Blaine, Lech. "Terri Butler's rise through the rancour". The Monthly. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  17. ^ a b c d Langenberg, Adam. "Two Tasmanians on Left shadow cabinet ticket". The Advocate. Retrieved 14 March 2020.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit