Labor Right

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Labor Right
Student wing Student Unity
Youth wing Young Labor Right
Political position Center to Centre-left
Colours      Red
House of Representatives
24 / 150
10 / 76
Politics of Australia
Political parties

The Labor Right is the organised right-wing faction of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) at the national level that tends to be more economically liberal and socially conservative than the Labor Left faction. Labor Right is a broad alliance of various state right and centre leaning factions, which in some State branches are called Labor Unity, in New South Wales and Victoria they are called Centre Unity and in Queensland it is Labor Forum.

State branches[edit]

Factional power usually finds expression in the percentage vote of aligned delegates at party conferences. The power of the Labor Right varies from state to state, but it usually relies on certain trade unions, such as the centrist Australian Workers' Union and Transport Workers Union as well as the socially conservative Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association. These unions send faction-aligned delegates to conference, with delegates usually coming from the membership or administration of the union or from local branches their activists cover.

The Right is currently the dominant faction in the Labor party on a national level. The Labor Right faction also holds a majority on the party's National Executive. The usual arrangement is that the federal leader of the party is from the Right, while the deputy leader is from the Left, although former federal Labor leader and Prime Minister Julia Gillard was from the Left with support of the Right. Historically, most state Labor Premiers have been associated with the Right; there have been some exceptions, such as former Queensland Premier Anna Bligh, former New South Wales Premier Nathan Rees, former Tasmanian Premier Lara Giddings, current Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and current South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill all coming from their respective state Left factions.

State-based factions (national sub-factions) which make up Labor Right include:

New South Wales

  • Centre Unity


  • Labor Forum (AWU dominated faction consisting of the AWU, TWU and SDA and PTEU unions)[1]
  • Labor Unity (NUW)

Australian Capital Territory

  • Centre Coalition


  • Center Unity (also referred to as the ShortCons, denoting the alliance between the power bases of former AWU National Secretary Bill Shorten and TWU-aligned Senator Stephen Conroy)[2]
  • Labor unity (SDA)
  • Labor Action (NUW)

Western Australia

  • WA Labor Unity (formerly split into the New Right and Old Right)[3]

Northern Territory

  • NT Labor Unity

South Australia

  • Labor Unity SA

Political views[edit]

An overriding stated theme of Labor right wing governance is of balance between progressive social change and the need for sound economic management as the pathway to community development and growth.

Many Roman Catholics have been prominent and influential in the Labor Party, both inside and outside the auspices of the Labor Right faction. Labor socialists and Protestant conservatives alike have historically criticized the faction as beholden to papal authority. However, this has decreased since the 1970s with the gradual erosion of sectarianism in Australian politics.

The Right views itself as the more mainstream and fiscally responsible faction within Labor, the faction is most famous for its support of Third Way policies over Labor's traditional social democratic/democratic socialist policies, such as the economic rationalist policies of the Hawke and Keating governments, like floating the Australian Dollar in 1983, reductions in trade tariffs, taxation reforms, changing from centralised wage-fixing to enterprise bargaining, the privatisation of Qantas and Commonwealth Bank, and deregulating the banking system.

Youth Wing[edit]

While the senior faction is broken into various state and union based groupings the Young Labor Right is organised around the various parliamentarian factional leaders and power brokers. The Victorian Young Labor Right is currently divided between the Short/Cons (Labor Unity), the SDA (Conservatives), and the NUW (Young Labor Action). The NSW Young Labor Right known as Young Centre Unity or simply the NSW Right is by far the largest Labor right youth faction.

Federal Members of the Labor Right[edit]

Name Position
Bill Shorten Member for Maribyrnong
Richard Marles Member for Corio
Rob Mitchell Member for McEwen [4]
Anna Burke Member for Chisholm [5]
Anthony Byrne Member for Holt
Mark Dreyfus Member for Isaacs
David Feeney Member for Batman
Tim Watts Member for Gellibrand
Kelvin Thomson Member for Wills
Clare O'Neil Member for Hotham
Sharon Bird Member for Cunningham
Chris Bowen Member for McMahon
Shayne Neumann Member for Blair
Tony Burke Member for Watson
Justine Elliot Member for Richmond
Joel Fitzgibbon Member for Hunter
Ed Husic Member for Chifley
Michelle Rowland Member for Greenway
Matt Thistlethwaite Member for Kingsford Smith
Jim Chalmers Member for Rankin
Bernie Ripoll Member for Oxley
Wayne Swan Member for Lilley
Kate Ellis Member for Adelaide
Nick Champion Member for Wakefield
Gary Gray Member for Brand
Stephen Conroy Senator for Victoria
Sam Dastyari Senator for New South Wales
Deborah O'Neill Senator for New South Wales
Jacinta Collins Senator for Victoria
Joe Ludwig Senator for Queensland
Joe Bullock Senator for Western Australia
Glenn Sterle Senator for Western Australia
Alex Gallacher Senator for South Australia
Catryna Bilyk Senator for Tasmania
Helen Polley Senator for Tasmania
Chris Ketter Senator for Queensland

Further reading[edit]

  • Cumming, Fia (1991) Mates : five champions of the Labor right. Sydney: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86373-021-4. Library catalogue summary: Paul Keating, Graham Richardson, Laurie Brereton, Bob Carr and Leo McLeay recount events which shaped the Australian labour movement from the 1960s to the 1980s.
  • Richardson, G (1994) Whatever It Takes, Bantam Books, Moorebank, NSW. Library catalogue summary: Graham Richardson recounts his career and outlines the philosophy and operation of the NSW and National Labor Right during his time in the ALP.