Ferguson Left

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Ferguson Left
Political position Centre-left
Colours      Red
Politics of Australia
Political parties
Elections
Martin Ferguson, founder of the Ferguson Left.

The Ferguson Left is a political tendency within the Australian Labor Party.[1] It was founded by Martin Ferguson, a former president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU). The Ferguson Left only exists in the New South Wales and Victorian branches of the party.

The tendency is ideologically centrist and seeks consensus with the Labor Right on policy objectives.[2]

In New South Wales the Ferguson Left, commonly known as the Soft Left, is a minority sub-faction within the New South Wales Socialist Left faction. It is led by Martin Ferguson's brother, Laurie Ferguson. It commands the allegiance of the construction and general division of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union and the small Plumbing Trades Employees Union. Its membership base is in south-west Sydney, including the federal electorates of Parramatta, Banks, Werriwa, Fowler and Reid.

The Soft Left was the dominant group on the Labor Left Steering Committee in New South Wales until March 1989, when the Soft Left's Jan Burnswoods was defeated by the Hard Left's Anthony Albanese in an internal faction ballot for the leading position of Assistant General Secretary of the New South Wales Labor Party.[3] The new Hard Left majority changed the name of the faction to the Socialist Left in November 1989, and in response the Soft Left split and formed a short-lived faction aligned with the Labor Right until it was forced to dissolve eight months later.[4] The large union United Voice supported the Soft Left until 2010, when it joined the Hard Left after a change of leadership.[5]

In Victoria the Ferguson Left is a small sub-faction within the Victorian Socialist Left. Until January 2015 it existed as a separate faction called the Independent Left, although it was represented only by Brendan O'Connor in federal Parliament. At the last conference of the Victorian Labor Party before it dissolved it had only five per cent of delegates.[6] Members include Martin Ferguson, Michael O'Connor and Julia Gillard.

In the Australian Labor Party leadership spill, October 2013 the support of the Ferguson Left for the Labor Right's Bill Shorten proved crucial to his victory over the National Left's candidate Anthony Albanese.[7]

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