Path: Table of Contents > Essay on Party Politics > Party 021
Australian Labour Party, 021
Variables and Codes for 1950-1962
For the concepts and variables below, use these links to Political Parties: A Cross-National Survey:
Governmental Status
Issue Orientation
Goal Orientation
Organizational Complexity
Organizational Power
Organizational Coherence
Membership Involvement
The "ac" code is for "adequacy-confidence"--a data quality measure ranging from 0 (low) to 9 (high)

Institutionalization Variables, 1.01-1.06
1.01 Year of Origin and 1.02 Name Changes
1890, ac9
0, ac9
The party was organized on a national level in 1890. Other dates cited in the literature were not considered discrepancies because they did not refer to the party's year of origin at the national level. Other dates cited were 1891, the year the party first participated in elections; 1892 and 1894, years that the party formed in some of the states; and 1888, the year that some individual candidates who supported Labor were elected. The party was called "Labor" after 1908 and throughout our time period.
1.03 Organizational Discontinuity
12, ac9
The Labor Party experienced at least one significant split before 1940, when the New Labor Party was expelled in 1931 only to be re-absorbed later. But after 1940, which marks the beginning of our scoring of organizational discontinuity, there were two noteworthy splits. In 1954, a Catholic-based schism in the ALP crystallized into the Democratic Labor Party in 1955. A split of lesser importance occurred in 1957, when the Queensland Labor Party fought an election against the official Labor Party and later merged with the Democratic Labor Party.
1.04 Leadership Competition
15, ac9
J.B. Chifley was the leader of the ALP when our period began, but he died in 1951 and was succeeded by H.V. Evatt. Evatt led the party until 1960, when he retired. A.A. Calwell was elected by the combined House and Senate representatives of the Labor Party to replace Evatt, and Calwell served out our period in that position.
1.05 Legislative Instability
Instability is .10 ac7
Legislative strength for the Labor Party ranged between a low of 37 percent in 1959 and 1960 to 49 percent in 1961 and 1962, producing relatively stable representation.
1.06 Electoral Instability
Instability is .05, ac8
Legislative elections for lower house were held in 1951, 54, 55, 58, and 61, and Labor Party's percentage of votes ranged between 43 percent in 1958 to 50 percent in 1954.

Governmental Status Variables, 2.01-2.07
 2.01 Government Discrimination
0 for 1950-56, ac9
0 for 1957-62, ac9
There is no hint of discrimination. Although the Labor Party functioned as the opposition for the entire period, they always hoped to regain control. The Party competed against the Liberal- Country coalition aggressively.
2.02 Governmental Leadership
0 out of 7 for 1950-56, ac9
0 out of 6 for 1957-62, ac9
The Labor Party was never in power during the 1950-62 time period.
2.03 Cabinet Participation
0 out of 7 for 1950-56, ac6
0 out of 6 for 1957-62, ac6
There was no Labor government or coalition on the national level during our time period.
2.04 National Participation
6 for 1950-56, ac5
6 for 1957-62, ac6
According to 1961 sample survey data, reported by Rose and Urwin in Comparative Political Studies (April, 1969), Labor's percent of support according to region in proportion to population varied by only 1.5 percentage points across regions.
2.05 Legislative Strength
Instability is .10 ac7
Strength is .42 for 1950-56, ac8 and .41 for 1957-62, ac7
Legislative strength for the Labor Party ranged between a low of 37 percent in 1959 and 1960 to 49 percent in 1961 and 1962, producing relatively stable representation.
2.06 Electoral Strength
Strength is .48 for 1950-56, ac8 and ..45 for 1957-62, ac7
Legislative elections for lower house were held in 1951, 54, 55, 58, and 61, and Labor Party's percentage of votes ranged between 43 percent in 1958 to 50 percent in 1954.
2.07 Outside Origin
8, ac9
The ALP was formed by labor union leaders, who can be regarded as leaders of major legal social organizations.

Issue Orientation Variables, 5.01-5.15
 5.01 Ownership of Means of Production
2, ac7
During the 1940s, the Labor government passed a number of acts aimed at the creation of public enterprises and the nationalization of existing ones, witness the formation of a government airline, the Snowy River development for power and water, the government shipping line, and the nationalization of banks - later invalidated by the high court. Many authors identify these activities, particularly the nationalization of banks, as the source of Labor's defeat in the 1949 elections. Despite these concrete actions in favor of government ownership, the Labor Party was not strongly united on this basic principle of socialism. The party was often characterized as being unintellectual and more in favor of material gains for its constituency than in promoting socialist doctrine per se. During our time period, the Party was described as having largely abandoned nationalization except as an ad hoc remedy for particular situations.
5.02 Government Role in Economic Planning
3 for 1950-56, ac6
3 for 1956-62, ac9
There seemed to be a consensus of opinion among the parties as to the desired amount of government intervention in economic planning. Our consultant advises that both sides were firm practitioners of central economic planning, the Liberals reluctantly, Labor enthusiastically.
5.03 Redistribution of Wealth
1, ac9
The Labor Party favored changes in the existing graduated income tax that would redistribute wealth more fairly, that is, that would make income load lighter for the poor and harder on the wealthy and the middle class. Nothing other than taxation of various kinds had been suggested as a means of redistribution.
5.04 Social Welfare
5, ac 9
Throughout the entire period the Labor Party never waivered from its struggle to abolish the dual compulsory / voluntary system instituted by the Liberal government. It favored universally available social welfare through a program of public assistance.
5.05 Secularization of Society
0, ac7
Most Catholics in Australia are Laborites. Catholic institutions are more likely to gain concessions from a Labor government than a Liberal one. But the party could not arrive at a clear policy on state aid to private schools during our time period.
5.06 Support of the Military
1, ac3
There is very little documentation of this code. Labor stood opposed to military conscription except for home defense and proposed cuts in military spending, but not in the context of support for some other program. One source says that the Australian Army was largely part time and politically neutral.
5.07 Alignment with East-West Blocs
1, ac8
The Labor Party, in line with strong anti-Communist sentiment in Australia, denied sympathy with the USSR. It favored U.S. over USSR and Great Britain over both U.S. and USSR.
5.08 Anti-Colonialism
1, ac6
During most of our time period, the ALP was not especially concerned with foreign policy issues, and the party accepted the standing policy of Australian membership in the British Commonwealth.
5.09 Supranational Integration
0 for 1950-62, ac6
In keeping with its general neglect of foreign policy issues, the ALP gave little recognition to possibilities of regional international organizations during our time period. Its policy on supranational integration of the area was ambiguous at best.
5.10 National Integration
1, ac6
Our consultant advises that Labor was more centralist than federalist in orientation.
5.11 Electoral Participation
2, ac6
Labor continually argued that the electoral system was gerrymandered against the Party's representation in the legislature and sought to amend the system according to the principle of "one vote, one value," which would have reduced the rural over-representation. But the important issue for scoring this variable has to do with enfranchisement of the Aborigines, who were not specifically given the right to vote in federal elections until 1962. The Labor Party accepted this exclusion and did not agitate for securing the Aborigines' right to vote under existing laws. Less than 50,000 individuals were involved, however.
5.12 Protection of Civil Rights
3, ac8
The Labor Party advocated a "white Australia policy" of limiting immigration for the most part to white Europeans.
5.13 Interference with Civil Liberties
3, ac5
While leader of the ALP, Evatt led the opposition to the amendment of the Constitution which would have led to the validation of the Communist Party dissolution act. His actions in defense of the civil liberties of Communists led, in part, to a split in the Party and the formation of the Democratic Labor Party.
5.14 / 5.15 US--Soviet Experts Left-Right Ratings
U.S. says, 3, non-Communist left.
Soviets say, 2, social democratic, reformist, bourgeoisie.

Goal Orientation Variables, 6.01-6.55
 6.00 Open Competition in the Electoral Process
4, ac9
It is clear that even though the ALP was the opposition party for the entire period, it was successful at the local level and depended entirely on the electoral process to gain power.
6.10 Restricting Party Competition
0, ac9
Although each side accused the other of gerrymandering in local, state, or federal elections, no accusation was proven. It competed openly against the Liberals, and when it felt it was being restricted, it proposed bills in Parliament to amend the electoral system.
6.20 Subverting the Political System
0, ac9
The ALP was an opposition party from 1950 to 1962 and changed its policies from socialist to more moderate in order to win votes and power on local level. It did not attempt to subvert the government.
6.30 Propagandizing Ideas and Program
6.31--1, ac9. Spotty attempts were made to publish a Labor Party organ, but they were mainly local. Some publications mentioned are-- Labor, Tocsin, Australia News Review, Standard, and Barrier Daily Truth.
6.32--0, ac5. Attempts were made in the past to have inner-party schools or university sponsored adult courses, but they were before the period in question.
6.33--2, ac9. The party had a platform which was reviewed tri-annually by an inter- state conference. Resolutions were passed at all levels of the party organization.
6.34--2, ac9. Position papers were published during elections. News coverage of the candidate's "platform speech" provided the clearest picture of the Party's position on the issues. The published position papers were usually more general.
6.50 Providing for Welfare of Party Members
0, ac9
No mention was made of any Labor Party participation in the social welfare activities defined in this variable.

Autonomy Variables, 7.01-7.05
 7.01 Sources of Funds
1 (sector 01), ac9
The main source of ALP income was the affiliation fees of the trade unions. This was augmented on the local level by social functions, e .g., raffles.
7.02 Source of Members
5, ac5
One source in our file refers specifically to membership in the ALP coming through membership in trade unions, but our consultant advises that members join the party directly as individuals. Party members must, however, join a union if qualified to do so.
7.03 Sources of Leaders
1 (sector 01), ac7
About two thirds of the Labor Party M.P.s appeared to come from the labor sector.
7.04 Relations with Domestic Parties
7, ac9
The ALP occasionally aligned itself with Communists or even with the country party in local elections. This was not common practice, however. The ALP did not generally seek alliances.
7.05 Relations with Foreign Organizations
5, ac9
The ALP did not become a member of the socialist international until 1966.

Organizational Complexity Variables, 8.01-8.07
 8.01 Structural Articulation
7, ac6
The major national organizations in the ALP during our time period were the Federal Conference (composed of six delegates from each of the six states), the Federal Executive (composed of two delegates from each state), and the Federal Parliamentary Labour Party, FPLP, which had its own leader who was normally considered the party leader.
8.02 Intensiveness of Organization
4, ac9
The branches of the ALP were strongly organized and more active than those of the Liberals and the Country Party.
8.03 Extensiveness of Organization
6, ac9
Branch organizations were set up geographically. The coverage was thorough although the branches vary widely in membership and activity.
8.04 Frequency of Local Meetings
5, ac8
The frequency varied from area to area, but the literature indicated that on the whole Labor branches were active and met monthly. A score of five was given because many branches did not meet monthly.
8.05 Frequency of National Meetings
3, ac9
The federal executive generally met twice a year, but may have met more often under special circumstances.
8.06 Maintaining Records
4, ac9
The Party produced little propaganda, did not maintain any sort of archive and maintained incomplete and inaccurate membership lists.
8.07 Pervasiveness of Organization
10, ac9
The ALP was partially created by trade unions and as a Labor Party was affiliated with unions. A union member was not necessarily an ALP member, but the unions supported the ALP financially and were represented at its conference by people who had to be members of the ALP in their own right.

Organizational Power Variables, 9.01-9.08
 9.01 Nationalization of Structure
3, ac8
The federal conference and the federal executive consisted of representatives from the powerful state organizations. Although the federal conference was empowered to determine the legitimacy of state parties, it used this power gingerly, and state parties tended to operate independently of federal control although not in federal matters.
9.02 Selecting the National Leader
4, ac9
The leader was elected by an exhaustive ballot of the Parliamentary party members.
9.03 Selecting Parliamentary Candidates
3, ac6
The method for selecting parliamentary candidates varied from state to state. Sometimes the selection committee chose the candidate and sometimes the selection began with a pre-selection ballot of active party members. But the state executive, rather than the national organization, controlled selection.
9.04 Allocating Funds
4, ac9
State organizations raised the bulk of party funds primarily from the affiliation fees of trade unions. Local branches raised only routine expenses. The state organizations financed the running of the federal organization.
9.05 Formulating Policy
6, ac7
The Party Conference was not a policy-making body. The National Executive was thought to make party policy but the Parliamentary Caucus had some freedom in policy-making because of its National Executive.
9.06 Controlling Communications
3, ac9
The ALP did not publish any influential papers on the local, regional, or national level. The few that were published intermittently were done so locally or regionally without a great circulation.
9.07 Administering Discipline
2, ac7
Although the Federal Executive is formally entrusted with the enforcement of decisions of the Federal Caucus, in practice the state organizations account for most of the disciplinary activity within the Party.
9.08 Leadership Concentration
2, ac7
The leader of the Parliamentary Party and the head of the Federal Executive might appear to share the leadership, but each are essentially spokesmen for their groups. Usually, the FPLP leader is considered the authoritative party spokesman, but when the FPLP clashes with the Federal Executive, as it has on several occasions, then the decentralized leadership is evident.

Coherence Variables, 10.01-10.06
 10.01 Legislative Cohesion
.95, ac6
Although there was no material on roll call votes of any kind, the literature made it clear that ALP members were pledged to follow the majority opinion of the Caucus and that the ALP was a highly cohesive force in the Parliament.
10.02 Ideological Factionalism
6 for 1950-56, ac9
4, for 1957-62, ac8
Industrial groups with Catholic action support were actively anti-Communist until 1954, when the party became completely polarized over the Petrov case and this right wing faction split to form other parties. Since that time, other groups became organized within the party.
10.03 Issue Factionalism
5, ac8
Federalism and conflicting interests of unions strongly represented in ALP, combined to produce intense, recurring, but continually shifting fissures within the party at the federal level. State aid to private schools was an especially divisive issue during our time period.
10.04 Leadership Factionalism
6 for 1950-56, ac8
1 for 1957-62, ac9
Evatt, the ALP leader, drew intense opposition from conservative and Catholic members for his alleged softness on Communism. The opposition split away to form the Democratic Labor Party.
10.05 Strategic or Tactical Factionalism
1, ac9
Although strategy and tactics are open to debate, there were no factional disagreements.
10.06 Party Purges
0 for 1950-56, ac8
0 for 1957-62, ac8
The ALP anti-Communists, later known as the Democratic Labor Party, split in 1955. A minor split occurred in 1957 with the formation of the Queensland Labor Party. These splits did not involve any purges.

Involvement Variables, 11.01-11.06
11.01 Membership Requirements
3, ac9
A new member must sign a document saying that he accepts the principles of the ALP, pay a fee, and be accepted by a branch. This branch acceptance is usually only a matter of form, not a period of probation.
11.02 Membership Participation
3, ac3
Branches are generally active but no percentage estimates were given as to how many members were regular attenders.
11.03 Material Incentives
0, ac3
Documentation was sparse, but reading suggests that material incentives were not the prime motivation for party militants. However, no information was found to support any particular incentive.
11.04 Purposive Incentives
2, ac3
It seems that some party militants were active as a result of commitment to purpose rather than just material gain, but the literature never really indicated any particular incentive.
11.05 Doctrinism
0, ac9
The ALP has a party platform and a constitution, but neither are referred to often or kept up to date. The party is pragmatic. Marxist writings have little relevance to the ALP.
11.06 Personalism
0, ac9
Labor Party leaders were often unpopular with a lot of party militants . Their leadership had been achieved through working their way up rather than being propelled to leadership through personal magnetism.