Socialist Left (Australia)
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The Socialist Left also known as Labor left is a faction of the Australian Labor Party. The Left is an organised political faction that advocates within the party for traditionally Labor interventionist and socialist economic policies. However, since the party reforms by Gough Whitlam in the 1970s, the Left has also been the principal champion in the party of socially liberal values, such as women's rights, gay rights, reconciliation with Aboriginal Australians and land rights. It advocates an independent foreign policy which benefits Australia and its citizens rather than its foreign allies as many members of the faction are unenthusiastic about the Australian–US Alliance.
History of the Socialist Left faction
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Historically, the name "Socialist Left" is a truncation of the full faction's name, the "Combined Unions Socialist Left". This was first adopted by the left-wing of the Victorian branch of the Australian Labor Party.
Federal executive intervention
The NSW 'Steering Committee', or the 'Socialist Left' began as a reaction movement to the anti-communist campaigns by the 'Groupers' led by B.A. Santamaria in 1955.
Industrial Groups of the ALP existed to counter Communist Party of Australia activities within trade unions. In 1955, the majority of the branches and members of the Victorian branch were expelled with similar moves, although to a much lesser extent, in New South Wales.
The formation of the faction occurred after intervention by the Federal Executive of the party into the Victorian branch. The Federal Executive's intervention resulted in the sacking of its elected officers and dissolution of the branch in 1970. Gough Whitlam sought to modernise the Victorian branch to increase its chances of electoral success. Dismissed officers are tabled below.
|Assistant Secretary||Glyde Butler|
Response to dismissals
In response to their dismissal, Hartley and Crawford formed the Socialist Left as a rank and file organisation to propagate socialist views within the Australian Labor Party. It published a fortnightly newspaper called Action that covered union, community and internal party matters. The faction emerged from intervention as the largest faction with strong discipline and a program of monthly general meetings.
The faction also drew considerable support from the trade union movement, especially from figures such as Ken Carr and Jim Roulston. Incidentally, George Crawford was also a prominent leader in the Plumbers and Gasfitters Employees Union of Australia.
The faction's membership included several notable members of state and federal parliament including Bill Brown, Jim Cairns, Kim Carr, Moss Cass, Bruce Childs, Joan Coxsedge, Arthur Gietzelt, Gerry Hand, Brian Howe, Dr Harry Jenkins, Joan Kirner, Andrew Theophanous, Tom Uren.
Expulsion of Bill Hartley
Founding faction chairman, Bill Hartley was expelled from the Australian Labor Party in 1986, despite being regularly elected to Federal Executive and the National Conference of the ALP, because he was found to have brought the Party into disrepute by reason of his persistent public criticism of Labor Prime Minister Bob Hawke.
Contemporary Left Faction
The Left is the smaller of the two main factions in the federal Caucus. Under factional agreements, the Labor Leader in the Senate comes from the Left, their Deputy from the Right, ordinarily the reverse of the situation in the House of Representatives. Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard of the left is a historical exception. Key members of the Left include the Deputy Leader and Foreign Affairs Spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek, former Minister for Defence, Senator John Faulkner, the Leader of the Government in the Senate Chris Evans, the Manager of Government Business in the House of Representatives Anthony Albanese, the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs Jenny Macklin and the Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Mark Butler.
Factions in federal Caucus
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Federally, the Left is split internally between the "hard left" who promote a more confrontational stance towards the dominant Labor Right faction and a return to core Labor values e.g. Socialism, and the "soft left" Ferguson group who are historically more acquiescent to policy initiatives of the Right. Yet in recent years the Ferguson Left have shifted to a more aggressive left base, with policy in support of a one state solution in the Middle East and the support for a BDS. This shift along with internal battles have left the Ferguson Left weak and at reduced numbers within the left and the broader party. As a result the Hard left remains the dominate voice of the Left.
Federal Members of the Left
|Alan Griffin||Member for Bruce|
|The Hon. Alannah MacTiernan||Member for Perth|
|Anne McEwen||Senator for South Australia|
|Anthony Albanese||Former Deputy Prime Minister of Australia, Member for Grayndler, leader of the NSW Socialist Left|
|Brendan O'Connor||Member for Gorton|
|Carol Brown||Senator for Tasmania|
|Catherine King||Member for Ballarat|
|Claire Moore||Senator for Queensland|
|Doug Cameron||National Socialist Left leader, Senator for NSW|
|Gavin Marshall||Senator for Victoria|
|Graham Perrett||Member for Moreton, leader of the Queensland Socialist Left|
|Jan McLucas||Senator for Queensland|
|Jenny Macklin||Member for Jagajaga|
|Jill Hall||Member for Shortland|
|John Faulkner||Senator for NSW|
|Julie Collins||Member for Franklin|
|Julie Owens||Member for Parramatta|
|Kate Lundy||Senator for the ACT|
|Kim Carr||Senator for Victoria, leader of the Victorian Socialist Left|
|Laurie Ferguson||Member for Werriwa|
|Lisa Singh||Senator for Tasmania|
|Louise Pratt||Senator for Western Australia|
|Maria Vamvakinou||Member for Calwell|
|Mark Butler||Member for Port Adelaide, leader of the South Australian Socialist Left|
|Melissa Parke||Member for Fremantle|
|Penny Wong||Senator for South Australia|
|Stephen Jones||Member for Throsby|
|Tanya Plibersek||Member for Sydney, Deputy Leader of the Opposition|
|Tony Zappia||Member for Makin|
|Warren Snowdon||Member for Lingiari|
- Barcan, Alan, (1960) The socialist left in Australia 1949-1959 Sydney : Australian Political Studies Association (Occasional monograph (Australian Political Studies Association)) no. 2.
- http://www.challengemagazine.com.au Challenge website (A Publication of the Socialist Left)
- http://www.nswleft.com/ NSW Socialist Left website