The Australian Labor Party (New South Wales Branch), also known as NSW Labor and Country Labor in regional areas, is the New South Wales branch of the Australian Labor Party. The parliamentary leader is elected from and by the members of the party caucus, comprising all party members in the Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council. The party factions have a strong influence on the election of the leader. The leader's position is dependent on the continuing support of the caucus (and party factions) and the leader may be deposed by failing to win a vote of confidence of parliamentary members. By convention, the premier sits in the Legislative Assembly, and is the leader of the party controlling a majority in that house. The party leader also typically is a member of the Assembly, though this is not a strict party constitutional requirement. Barrie Unsworth, for example, was elected party leader while a member of the Legislative Council. He then transferred to the Assembly by winning a seat at a by-election.

When the Labor party wins sufficient seats to be able to control a majority in the Legislative Assembly, the party leader becomes the State Premier and Labor will form the government. When Labor is the largest party not in government, the party leader becomes the Leader of the Opposition. To become a Premier or Opposition Leader, the party leader must be or within a short period of time become a member of the Legislative Assembly.

History

Early history

The New South Wales Branch of the Australian Labor Party, known as the Labor Electoral League of New South Wales from 1891 to 1917, first won 35 of the 141 seats in the New South Wales parliament at the 1891 election. The initial caucus voted against appointing a leader and the party was directed by a steering committee of 5 members until, following a request from the party's extra-parliamentary executive, Joseph Cook was elected as the first leader in 1893. Cook left the party in the following year when he was obliged to sign a pledge that he would support all caucus decisions in parliament. James McGowen, who signed the pledge, succeeded Cook as party leader in 1894. At the 1894 state election Labor representation was reduced to 18. After the 1898 election, Labor held the balance of power with George Reid's Protectionist Government being dependent on Labor to push through New South Wales' adoption of Federation. McGowen's support for Federation was critical to Labor maintaining its support for the adoption of measures to implement Federation, even though the party remained opposed to the adopted Constitution, which it saw as biased in favour of business interests.

First Government in New South Wales

At the 1910 election the Labor Party first won government in New South Wales with a slim majority of 46 of 90 seats, and McGowen was premier from 1910–13. He was deposed by his deputy William Holman after McGowen attempted to break a gas workers' strike by threatening to replace strikers with non-union labour.

Conscription split

The conscription issue divided the Labor Party and wider Australian community in 1916. While much of the Australian labour movement and general community was opposed to conscription, Australian Labor Prime Minister Billy Hughes and Premier Holman strongly supported conscription, and both crossed the floor to vote with the conservative parties, and both were expelled from the Labor Party. Ernest Durack became state party leader, while Holman formed a coalition on 15 November 1916 with the leader of the opposition Liberal Reform Party, Charles Wade, with himself as Premier. Early in 1917, Holman and his supporters merged with Liberal Reform to form the state branch of the Nationalist Party of Australia, with Holman as leader. At the 1917 election, the Nationalists won a huge victory. During his leadership of the Nationalist Government, Holman vigorously defended the government-owned enterprises from his fellow conservatives in power. Durack's leadership lasted only for about three months, and he was succeeded by John Storey in February 1917. At the 1920 election, Holman and his Nationalists were thrown from office in a massive swing, being succeeded by a Labor Government led by Storey. Labor won the 1920 election with a majority of one.

Dooley-Storey era

On Storey's death in October 1921, James Dooley became leader of the party and premier. His government was defeated on the floor of the House on 13 December 1921, but new Premier George Fuller lost a vote within seven hours of his appointment, and Dooley regained power. He lost the 1922 election to Fuller in a highly sectarian election campaign.[1] As the result of a dispute with a party executive, dominated by the Australian Workers' Union, Dooley was expelled from the party in February 1923 and replaced by Greg McGirr as leader, but the Federal Executive intervened and appointed Bill Dunn as an interim leader until Jack Lang was elected by the caucus.[2]

Lang era

Lang led the ALP to victory in the 1925 election and became Premier. His support in the caucus was challenged in 1926 and in that year the party's annual State Conference, which strongly supported Lang, assumed the right to select the leader instead of caucus. The following year Lang and his extra-parliamentary allies drastically altered the party rules so that State Conference delegates and members of the Central Executive were elected in a complicated group system.[3] The ALP was defeated at the 1927 election but won in a landslide at the 1930 election.

Lang opposed the Premiers' Plan to combat the Great Depression agreed to by the federal Labor government of James Scullin and the other state Premiers, who called for even more stringent cuts to government spending to balance the budget. In March 1931, the NSW branch of the party was expelled by the Federal Executive in the Federal Conference.

In October 1931, Lang's followers in the federal House of Representatives crossed the floor to vote with the conservative United Australia Party and bring down the Scullin government.

This action split the NSW Labor Party in two - Lang's followers and the expelled NSW branch became known as Lang Labor, while Scullin's supporters, led by Chifley, became known in NSW as Federal Labor. Most of the party's branches and affiliated trade unions supported Lang. Furthermore, Lang's persistence with his plan led to the Lang Dismissal Crisis in 1931-32 which led to his dismissal as premier by the State Governor on 13 May 1932. The Governor appointed the UAP leader, Bertram Stevens, as premier and Stevens immediately called the 1932 election, at which Labor was heavily defeated. In February 1936, the NSW branch rejoined the Australian Labor Party and became the official NSW branch of the ALP again.[4] Federal Labor was then abolished.

Lang's lack of success at state elections eroded his support within the labour movement. He had not won a state election since 1930. This led some members of caucus, including Bob Heffron, to break away to form the Industrial Labor Party. In 1939, following intervention by the Federal Executive, the two factions were reunited at a state conference. This gathering also reversed the "red rules" and returned the power of selecting the party leader to the caucus. Lang was deposed in 1939.

McKell and post-war era

William McKell became party leader, reuniting and rejuvenating the party. Under his leadership the extreme left wing of the party had been expelled and had contested the 1941 election as the far left wing State Labor Party. McKell led Labor to a convincing victory and became Premier. State Labor's poor showing had resulted in its dissolution shortly after the election. During World War II McKell became a close collaborator of Labor Prime Ministers John Curtin and Ben Chifley, being a particularly close friend of the latter. Labor unity was again threatened by Jack Lang who had been expelled from the Labor Party in 1943 and formed another version of the Lang Labor Party. On this occasion he received no support from the rest of the caucus and spent the rest of the term as the sole member. At the 1944 election McKell won another victory, the first time a New South Wales Labor government had been re-elected. On early 1947 he resigned and announced acceptance of appointment as Governor General.[5] James McGirr was elected leader and premier and led Labor to another victory at the 1947 election. McGirr nearly lost the 1950 election and was replaced in 1952 by Joseph Cahill.

Labor in Government, 1952–1965

Cahill decisively won the 1953 election. He was desperate to keep the New South Wales branch of the ALP united despite the sectarian and ideological split that resulted in the formation of the right-wing Democratic Labor Party in 1954. He achieved this by controlling the anti-DLP faction in his party. The DLP did not contest the 1956 election, which Labor won. Cahill was returned in the 1959 election, but died in office later that year. He was succeeded as leader and premier by Bob Heffron. Heffron continued the Labor reign in New South Wales winning the 1962 election. Heffron resigned the leadership and premiership in 1964, and was succeeded by Jack Renshaw, who lost the premiership at the 1965 election ending 24 years of Labor power in the state.

Opposition, 1965–1976

Renshaw also lost the 1968 election, after which he resigned the leadership, to be succeeded by Pat Hills. Hills lost the 1971 and 1973 election after which he was deposed by Neville Wran.

Wran-Unsworth era, 1976–1988

Wran narrowly won the 1976 election and remained premier until 1986. He was succeeded by Barrie Unsworth who took over the premiership until Labor's loss at the 1988 election, after which he resigned.

Carr era and beyond, 1988–2011

Bob Carr became leader in 1988 and led Labor to victory in the 1995 election. Carr was premier for 10 years, before resigning in 2005. Carr was succeeded by Morris Iemma, who led Labor to victory in the 2007 election, before resigning in 2008 after his Centre Unity faction withdrew its backing. He was succeeded by Nathan Rees, who was leader and premier for only 15 months, before he was deposed by Kristina Keneally, who resigned after Labor was defeated in a landslide at the 2011 election.

In opposition, 2011–present

She was succeeded by John Robertson. He resigned in December 2014, after the 2014 Sydney hostage crisis, after it was revealed that he had had contact with Man Haron Monis, who was one of Robertson's constituents. On 5 January 2015 Luke Foley was elected leader. In the 2015 state election, Labor achieved a 9.9% two-party-preferred swing, but the Coalition comfortably retained government. Foley resigned in November 2018 in the face of sexual assault allegations, and was succeeded by Michael Daley in the resulting leadership contest. In the 2019 election, the party recorded a small TPP swing in its favour and won two seats, but remained in opposition. On 25 March 2019, Daley announced his intention to step down as leader. Penny Sharpe, who was elected deputy leader in November 2018, served as interim leader until the leadership ballot was held in June; Jodi McKay was elected leader.

Attempted party reforms

Between 2009 and 2014, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) began or completed a series of investigations into the behaviours of a number of Labor politicians, including Angela D'Amore,[6] Tony Kelly,[7] Ian Macdonald,[8][9][10] Eddie Obeid,[11][12][13] Karyn Paluzzano,[14][15] and Joe Tripodi.[12] The ICAC made a series of adverse findings against all six politicians, although Paluzzano was the only one to face criminal charges. For bringing the party into disrepute, Kelly had his membership of Labor terminated in 2011;[16][17] both Macdonald and Obeid had their membership terminated in 2013;[18] and Tripodi suffered the same fate in 2014.[12][13] Other investigations and criminal charges were laid against Craig Thomson, a federal politician from New South Wales, and Michael Williamson, a senior Labor official, also from New South Wales. Both Thomson and Williamson were adversely implicated in the Health Services Union expenses affair. Their membership of NSW Labor was terminated in 2014.[19][20]

Seeking to stamp out perceived corruption and factional infighting, Senator John Faulkner began a process of reforms that proposed to include rank–and–file members in decisions such as the selection of candidates for Senate and Legislative Council vacancies and party tickets, and a vote in the direct election of the New South Wales parliamentary leaders.[21] However, Faulkner's reform proposals were mostly rejected at NSW Labor's 2014 conference.[22] The direct election of party leader gained support with effect from after the 2015 election.[23]

Country Labor

Country Labor is a subsection of the ALP, and is used as a designation by candidates contesting elections in rural areas. It functions as a sort of ginger group within the party, and is somewhat analogous to its youth wing. The Country Labor Party is registered as a separate party in New South Wales,[24] and is also registered with the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) for federal elections.[25]

The creation of a separation designation for rural candidates was first suggested at the June 1999 ALP state conference in New South Wales. In May 2000, following Labor's success at the 2000 Benalla by-election in Victoria, Kim Beazley announced that the ALP intended to register a separate "Country Labor Party" with the AEC;[26] this occurred in October 2000.[25] The Country Labor designation is most frequently used in New South Wales. According to the ALP's financial statements for the 2015–16 financial year, NSW Country Labor had around 2,600 members (around 17 percent of the party total), but almost no assets. It recorded a severe funding shortfall at the 2015 NSW state election, and had to rely on a $1.68-million loan from the party proper to remain solvent. It had been initially assumed that the party proper could provide the money from its own resources, but the NSW Electoral Commission ruled that this was impermissible because the parties were registered separately. Instead the party proper had to loan Country Labor the required funds at a commercial interest rate.[27]

List of parliamentary leaders

# Leader Term start Term end Time in office Premier Departure notes
1 Steering Committee of 5 July 1891 October 1893 No Caucus decision to elect a leader
2 JosephCook2.jpg Joseph Cook October 1893 25 June 1894 No Left the Labor Party
3 James McGowen Premier.png James McGowen 25 June 1894 30 June 1913 19 years, 5 days Yes (1910–13) Deposed
4 William Holman 1919.jpg William Holman 30 June 1913 15 November 1916 3 years, 138 days Yes (1913–1920)
(As Nationalist after 1916)
Expelled from the Labor Party
5 Ernest Durack, c1913.png Ernest Durack 15 November 1916 21 February 1917 98 days No Resigned
6 John Storey cropped.jpg John Storey 21 February 1917 5 October 1921 4 years, 226 days Yes (1920–1921) Died in office
7 James Dooley MLA.jpg James Dooley 5 October 1921 31 July 1923 1 year, 299 days Yes (1921–1921, 1921–1922) Expelled from the Labor Party by the state executive
* J. J. G. (Greg) McGirr, c1917.png Greg McGirr 9 March 1923 16 April 1923 38 days No Imposed by the state executive
* William Fraser Dunn, MP, c1920.png Bill Dunn 16 April 1923 31 July 1923 106 days No Imposed by the federal executive
8 JackLang.jpg Jack Lang 31 July 1923 5 September 1938 15 years, 36 days Yes (1925–1927, 1930–1932) Deposed following a caucus vote
9 Williammckell.jpg William McKell 5 September 1938 6 February 1947 8 years, 154 days Yes (1941–1947) Resigned to become Governor-General
10 JamesMcGirr1947.jpg James McGirr 6 February 1947 3 April 1952 5 years, 57 days Yes (1947–1952) Resigned
11 JosephCahill1956.jpg Joseph Cahill 3 April 1952 22 October 1959 7 years, 202 days Yes (1952–1959) Died in office
12 BobHeffron1963.jpg Bob Heffron 22 October 1959 30 April 1964 4 years, 191 days Yes (1959–1964) Resigned
13 JackRenshaw1963.jpg Jack Renshaw 30 April 1964 1968 Yes (1964–1965) Resigned
14 Pat Hills.jpg Pat Hills 1968 1973 No Deposed following the 1973 election
15 Neville Wran CNZM (cropped).jpg Neville Wran 1973 4 July 1986 Yes (1976–1986) Resigned
16 Barrie Unsworth 4 July 1986 11 April 1988 1 year, 282 days Yes (1986–1988) Resigned following the 1988 election
17 Bob Carr.jpg Bob Carr 11 April 1988 3 August 2005 17 years, 114 days Yes (1995–2005) Resigned
18 Morris Iemma cropped.jpg Morris Iemma 3 August 2005 5 September 2008 3 years, 33 days Yes (2005–2008) Resigned
19 Nathan Rees.jpg Nathan Rees 5 September 2008 3 December 2009 1 year, 89 days Yes (2008–2009) Deposed following a caucus vote
20 Kristina KeneallyCrop.jpg Kristina Keneally 3 December 2009 31 March 2011 1 year, 118 days Yes (2009–2011) Resigned following the 2011 election
21 Minister for Climate Change and the Environment, John Robertson, addressing attendees at the Local Government Excellence in the Environment Awards (2)-crop.jpg John Robertson 31 March 2011 23 December 2014 3 years, 267 days No Resigned following the 2014 Sydney hostage crisis
* Linda Burney MP.jpg Linda Burney 23 December 2014 5 January 2015 13 days No Interim leader until the 2015 leadership contest
22 Luke Foley - June 2014 (cropped).jpg Luke Foley 5 January 2015 8 November 2018 3 years, 307 days No Resigned
23 Michael Daley 8 November 2018 25 March 2019 137 days No Resigned following the 2019 state election
* Penny Sharpe MLC, Nov 2012.jpg Penny Sharpe 25 March 2019 29 June 2019 96 days No Interim leader until the 2019 leadership election
24 Jodi McKay 29 June 2019 Incumbent 1 year, 2 days No

List of deputy parliamentary leaders

Deputy Leader Term start Term end Time in office Deputy Premier Leader Departure notes
Unknown 1893 1923 Joseph Cook
James McGowen
William Holman
Ernest Durack
John Storey
William Fraser Dunn, MP, c1920.png Bill Dunn 1922 1923 No James Dooley Became leader
Greg McGirr
JohnMarcusBaddeley.jpg Jack Baddeley 1923 1949 Yes (1941–1949) Bill Dunn
Jack Lang
William McKell
James McGirr
JosephCahill1956.jpg Joseph Cahill 1949 3 April 1952 Yes (1949–1952) James McGirr Became leader
BobHeffron1963.jpg Bob Heffron 1953 22 October 1959 Yes (1953–1959) Joseph Cahill Became leader
JackRenshaw1963.jpg Jack Renshaw 22 October 1959 30 April 1964 4 years, 191 days Yes (1959–1964) Bob Heffron Became leader
Pat Hills.jpg Pat Hills 30 April 1964 1968 Yes (1964–1965) Jack Renshaw Became leader
Syd Einfeld 1968 1973 No Pat Hills
Jack Ferguson 1973 10 February 1984 Yes (1976–1984) Neville Wran Resigned
Ron Mulock 10 February 1984 25 March 1988 4 years, 44 days Yes (1984–1988) Neville Wran Resigned following the 1988 election
Barrie Unsworth
Andrew Refshauge 11 April 1988 3 August 2005 17 years, 114 days Yes (1995–2005) Bob Carr Resigned
John Watkins 3 August 2005 3 September 2008 3 years, 31 days Yes (2005–2008) Morris Iemma Resigned
Carmel Tebbutt 3 September 2008 28 March 2011 2 years, 206 days Yes (2008–2011) Nathan Rees Resigned following the 2011 election
Kristina Keneally
Linda Burney MP.jpg Linda Burney 28 March 2011 7 March 2015 3 years, 344 days No John Robertson Moved to federal politics
Luke Foley
Michael Daley 7 March 2015 10 November 2018 2 years, 248 days No Became leader
Penny Sharpe MLC, Nov 2012.jpg Penny Sharpe 10 November 2018 25 March 2019 135 days No Michael Daley Became interim leader
Yasmin Catley 29 June 2019 Incumbent 1 year, 2 days No Jodi McKay

Executive leaders

Presidents

President Period
Frederick Flowers 1895–1898
Frederick Flowers 1906–1907
Ernest Farrar 1912–1914
Richard Meagher 1914–1915
John Daniel FitzGerald 1915–1916
Jack Power 1921–1923
Albert Willis 1923–1925
Francis Kelly 1943–1947
John Ferguson 1947–1952
Bill Colbourne 1952–1955
Jim Shortell 1955–1956
Fred Campbell 1956–1960
Charlie Oliver 1960–1971
John Ducker 1971–1979
Paul Keating 1979–1983
John MacBean 1983–1989
Terry Sheahan 1989–1997
Peter Sams 1997–1998
Steve Hutchins 1998–2002
Ursula Stephens 2002–2006
Bernie Riordan 2006–2010
Michael Lee 2010–2014
Mark Lennon 2014–present

General Secretaries

General Secretary Period
Walter Evans 1939–1940
William Dickson 1940–1941
John Stewart 1941–1950
Ernest Gerard Wright 1950–1952
Charles Wilson Anderson 1952–1954
Bill Colbourne 1954–1969
Peter Westerway 1969–1973
Geoff Cahill 1973–1976
Graham Richardson 1976–1983
Stephen Loosley 1983–1990
John Della Bosca 1990–1999
Eric Roozendaal 1999–2004
Mark Arbib 2004–2007
Karl Bitar 2007–2008
Matt Thistlethwaite 2008–2010
Sam Dastyari 2010–2013
Jamie Clements 2013–2016
Kaila Murnain 2016–2019
Bob Nanva 2019–present

State election results

Election Leader Seats won ± Total votes % Position Council Seats
1891 Steering Committee
35 / 141
Increase 35 37,216 20.62% Third party
1894 James McGowen
15 / 125
Decrease 20 33,143 16.49% Third party
1895
18 / 125
Increase 3 20,028 13.20% Third party
1898
19 / 125
Increase 1 21,556 12.18% Third party
1901
24 / 125
Increase 5 35,952 18.44% Third party
1904
25 / 90
Increase 1 92,426 23.3% Opposition
1907
32 / 90
Increase 7 152,704 33.31% Opposition
1910
46 / 90
Increase 14 280,056 48.92% Majority government
1913 William Holman
49 / 90
Increase 3 311,747 46.63% Majority government
1917 John Storey
33 / 90
Decrease 16 262,655 42.63% Opposition
1920
43 / 90
Increase 10 68,175 43.03% Majority government
1922
36 / 90
Decrease 7 85,361 38.37% Opposition
1925 Jack Lang
46 / 90
Increase 10 108,225 45.99% Majority government
1927
40 / 90
Decrease 6 488,306 43.00% Opposition
1930
55 / 90
Increase 15 729,914 55.05% Majority government
1932
24 / 90
Decrease 31 536,897 40.16% Opposition
1935
29 / 90
Increase 5 532,486 42.42% Opposition
1938
28 / 90
Decrease 1 412,063 34.82% Opposition
1941 William McKell
54 / 90
Increase 26 706,014 50.8% Majority government
1944
56 / 90
Increase 2 572,600 45.2% Majority government
1947 James McGirr
52 / 90
Decrease 4 730,194 45.95% Majority government
1950
46 / 94
Decrease 2 753,268 46.75% Minority government
1953 Joseph Cahill
57 / 94
Increase 11 852,276 55.03% Majority government
1956
50 / 94
Decrease 7 800,410 47.25% Majority government
1959
49 / 94
Decrease 1 838,836 49.12% Majority government
1962 Bob Heffron
54 / 94
Increase 5 936,047 48.57% Majority government
1965 Jack Renshaw
45 / 94
Decrease 9 883,824 43.31% Opposition
1968
39 / 94
Decrease 6 931,563 43.1% Opposition
1971 Pat Hills
45 / 96
Increase 6 1,007,538 45.02% Opposition
1973
44 / 99
Decrease 1 1,069,614 42.93% Opposition
1976 Neville Wran
50 / 99
Increase 6 1,342,038 49.75% Majority government
1978
63 / 99
Increase 13 1,615,949 57.77% Majority government
23 / 43
1981
69 / 99
Increase 6 1,564,622 55.73% Majority government
24 / 44
1984
58 / 99
Decrease 11 1,466,413 48.77% Majority government
24 / 45
1988 Barrie Unsworth
43 / 109
Decrease 15 1,233,612 38.48% Opposition
19 / 45
1991 Bob Carr
46 / 99
Increase 3 1,204,066 39.05% Opposition
18 / 42
1995
50 / 99
Increase 4 1,408,616 41.26% Majority government
17 / 42
1999
55 / 93
Increase 5 1,576,886 42.21% Majority government
16 / 42
2003
55 / 93
1,631,018 42.68% Majority government
18 / 42
2007 Morris Iemma
52 / 93
Decrease 3 1,535,872 38.98% Majority government
19 / 42
2011 Kristina Keneally
20 / 93
Decrease 32 1,061,352 25.55% Opposition
14 / 42
2015 Luke Foley
34 / 93
Increase 14 1,500,855 34.08% Opposition
12 / 42
2019 Michael Daley
36 / 93
Increase 2 1,516,143 33.31% Opposition
14 / 42

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