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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.
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.
Labor Left is a membership-based organisation which has internal office bearers, publications, and policy positions. The faction coordinates political activity and policy development across different hierarchical levels and organisational components of the party, negotiates with other factions on political strategy and policy, and uses party processes to try to defeat other groups if consensus cannot be reached.
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.
Labor Party split of 1955
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.
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.
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.
Labor Left split in the 1980s
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'. 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. 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. The Soft Left was aligned with the Labor Right faction and rank and file party branches. 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.
Labor Left factions from all jurisdictions
|Jurisdiction||Major Left Grouping||Conference Floor Percentage 2015||Majority|
|New South Wales||NSW Socialist Left||40%||No|
|Victoria||Victorian Socialist Left||42%||Stability Pact with Centre Unity and NUW|
|Western Australia||Broad Left||65%||Yes|
|South Australia||Progressive Left Unions and Sub-Branches (PLUS)||35%||No|
|Northern Territory||The Left||60%||Yes|
Federal Members of the Labor Left
|Name||Parliamentary seat||Other positions||State/Territory|
|Anthony Albanese||Member for Grayndler||Leader of the Opposition||NSW|
|Tanya Plibersek||Member for Sydney||Shadow Minister for Education and Training||NSW|
|Stephen Jones||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||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||Member for Ballarat||Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, and Regional Development||Victoria|
|Brendan O'Connor||Member for Gorton||Shadow Minister for Employment and Industry; Shadow Minister for Science; Shadow Minister for Small and Family Business||Victoria|
|Andrew Giles||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||Senator for Victoria||Victoria|
|Maria Vamvakinou||Member for Calwell||Victoria|
|Lisa Chesters||Member for Bendigo||Victoria|
|Ged Kearney||Member for Cooper||Victoria|
|Terri Butler||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||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||Senator for South Australia||Leader of the Opposition in the Senate; Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs||SA|
|Julie Collins||Member for Franklin||Shadow Minister for Ageing and Seniors; Shadow Minister for Women||Tasmania|
|Carol Brown||Senator for Tasmania||Tasmania|
|Anne Urquhart||Senator for Tasmania||Tasmania|
|Brian Mitchell||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|
- Category:Labor Left politicians, current and former parliamentary members of the Labor Left
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- Oakley, Corey (Winter 2012). "The rise and fall of the ALP left in Victoria and NSW". Marxist Left Review. Retrieved 23 January 2016.
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- "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)
- Matthewson, Paula. "It can be tricky knowing left from right in the ALP". The New Daily. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
- Koziol, Michael. "Labor Left rallies behind Albanese as Plibersek pulls out of leadership race". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
- Crowe, David. "New trade tensions inside Labor as Left faction pushes for greater labour restrictions". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
- "The 12 Labor figures who will do the heavy lifting in government". Australian Financial Review. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
- Schneiders, Ben. "Big union merger vows to tackle wage theft, redistribute wealth, shift Labor left". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
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- Blaine, Lech. "Terri Butler's rise through the rancour". The Monthly. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
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- Barcan, Alan, (1960) The socialist left in Australia 1949–1959 Sydney: Australian Political Studies Association (Occasional monograph (Australian Political Studies Association)) no. 2.
- Leigh, Andrew, (2000) Factions and Fractions: A Case Study of Power Politics in the Australian Labor Party Australian Journal of Political Science, 2000, volume 35, issue 3, pages 427–448.
- Bongiorno, Frank (2014) The New South Wales Left at 60 NSW Left Website.