Australian Fabian Society

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Australian Fabians
Australian Fabians logo.jpg
Other nameAustralian Fabian Society
Established1947; 76 years ago (1947)
National ChairBilly Colless
BudgetA$75,291 (2019)[1]
MembersIncrease1,000+ (2019)[1]

The Australian Fabians (also known as the Australian Fabian Society) is an Australian independent left-leaning think tank that was established in 1947. The organisations said aims are to “contribute to progressive political thinking” as well as “progressive political culture.”[2][3]

The Australian Fabians have historically had close ties with the Australian Labor Party (ALP). This is evidenced by the number of past ALP prime ministers, federal ministers and state premiers who were active members of the Australian Fabians while in office. The role of patron of the Australian Fabians is currently vacant and has been held by media and social commentator and feminist Eva Cox and former Australian prime minister, the late Gough Whitlam.[4]

The Australian Fabians have had a significant influence on public policy development in Australia since the Second World War,[citation needed] with many of its members having held influential political offices in Australian governments.[citation needed]


An earlier experiment with Fabianism in Australia was initiated in Adelaide in 1891 by the Rev Charles Marson,[5] who had joined the Fabians in London in 1885 and drew in trade unionists like David Charleston, Robert Guthrie and John McPherson as well as social reformers like James & Lucy Morice into the first overseas branch of the UK Fabian Society.[6] The Australian members retained their membership for ten years until the Adelaide branch was wound up in 1902.

During the 1960s, the Victorian branch was closely aligned with the Participants grouping within the Victorian Labor Party, "who became the centre of organised support for Whitlam and opposition to the hard-left dominated Victorian Central Executive".[7] The Victorian Labor Party at the time was run by the historic left grouping, while Whitlam and other states were involved with the historic right grouping.[8][9]

In 2020 the Fabians began publishing the Australian Fabian Review a magazine featuring "...original essays, interviews, letters, book reviews and fiction from a wide range of important progressive voices, from politicians, union officials, and community leaders to academics, activists and Australian icons." The review is published bi-annually.[10][11]


The Australian Fabians' Statement of Purpose states:[12]

Australian Fabians promote the common good and foster the advance of social democracy in Australia through reasoned debate by:

a) Contributing to progressive political thinking by generating ideas that reflect a level of thinking that meets the challenges of the times.
b) Contributing to a progressive political culture by disseminating these ideas and getting them into the public domain.
c) Creating an active movement of people who identify with, are engaged in and who encourage progressive political debate and reform, and
d) Influencing the ideas and policies of political parties, especially the Australian Labor Party.


  1. ^ a b "2019 Annual Report" (PDF). 2019.
  2. ^ "About us". Australian Fabians. Retrieved 12 September 2019.
  3. ^ "Mission and History".
  4. ^ "Executive". Australian Fabians. Archived from the original on 20 August 2006.
  5. ^ Sutcliffe,D The Keys of Heaven, biography of Charles Marson
  6. ^ Mathews, Race Australia's First Fabians 1993 Cambridge University Press
  7. ^ Bongiorno, Frank (16 December 2013). "Whitlam, the 1960s and the program". Inside Story. Retrieved 12 September 2019.
  8. ^ Sendy, John (March 1971). "Socialism and the ALP Left". Australian Left Review.
  9. ^ Oakley, Corey. "The rise and fall of the ALP left in Victoria and NSW". Marxist Left Review. Retrieved 12 September 2019.
  10. ^ "Fabian: Australian Fabians Review". Australian Fabians. Retrieved 16 March 2022.
  11. ^ "Available Online - Australian Fabians Review - Issue 1". Australian Fabians. Retrieved 16 March 2022.
  12. ^ "Who We Are". Australian Fabians. Archived from the original on 16 March 2006.

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