Australian Labor Party Caucus

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The Federal Parliamentary Australian Labor Party, commonly known as The Caucus which consists of the Federal Labor Party's currently elected members of Parliament, is divided along formal factional lines. The two biggest factions are the National Right and the National Left. Each of these factions contains smaller state-based factions, such as (on the Right) the Victorian Labor Unity group and (on the Left) the Victorian Socialist Left. Members who are not associated with either faction are described as Independents. The two main factions hold factional meetings once a week during Parliamentary sitting weeks.

Factional discipline has declined considerably in recent years. During the leadership contest between Kim Beazley and Mark Latham in December 2003, for example, members of both Left and Right were found in the camps of both candidates. Some of the most hostile relations in the Caucus are between members of the same faction: the relationship between Beazley and Simon Crean is one example.

Factional allegiances in the Caucus tend to be closely related to state political loyalties, and also to trade union affiliations. Large unions such as the Australian Workers' Union, the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union and the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association, regard as "theirs" Members and Senators who formerly held office in those unions, or who have received union support in gaining their preselections, and expect them to act in the union's interests.

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