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Left-of-Centre Parties and Trade Unions in the Twenty-First Century$
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Elin Haugsgjerd Allern and Tim Bale

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198790471

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198790471.001.0001

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The Australian Labor Party and the Trade Unions

The Australian Labor Party and the Trade Unions

‘Til Death Do Us Part’?

(p.54) 3 The Australian Labor Party and the Trade Unions
Left-of-Centre Parties and Trade Unions in the Twenty-First Century

Phil Larkin

Charles Lees

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the paradox presented by the Australian Labor Party (ALP). The party was created by the labour movement and unions affiliated to it have traditionally dominated the party machine. They retain a prominent role in the party’s formal decision-making processes as well as in its more informal structures. In particular, through their position in the party’s system of highly organized factions, they have been able to have a significant behind-the-scenes role, particularly in areas such as the selection of candidates for elected office, in the allocation of ministerial portfolios, and in leadership contests. The affiliated unions have retained this role in spite of pressures to ‘delink’. Yet, this central role has done little to impede the gradual adoption by the party of a more economically liberal, catch-all strategy aimed at attracting the median voter.

Keywords:   Australia, unions, Australian Labor Party, ALP, factions, leadership

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