Australian Labor Party

Published 11th August, 2013

The Australian Labor Party or ALP was founded in 1901 and until 1912 was called the Australian Labour Party. Prior to its foundation there had been a number of individual Labour Parties in the colonies as early as 1891 and Labor claims descent from these. The party describes itself as Centre-left and believes in Social democracy, Progressivism and the Third way.

The ALP first formed a government in 1904 albeit briefly but in 1910 was the first party to form a majority in either house. Since 1922 the ALP has been the only party to have held power on its own until the 2010 – 2013 government when it needed the support of Independents to form a majority.

During the early 1900s the ALP governed for usually one three year term. That changed in 1943 when they governed until 1949, but serious internal ideological divisions during the Cold War kept them out of office until 1972 when, under the leadership of Gough Whitlam, they were returned to office for a three year term.

Bob Hawke, a former president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (Labor has always had close links with the trade unions) led the party to four successive victories in 1983, 1984, 1987 and 1990 and in total they ruled for 13 years until 1996, their longest period in power to date.

They were out of power again until 2007 when Kevin Rudd led them to victory, winning 83 of the 150 seats in the House of Representatives. Kevin Rudd remained Prime Minister until he stood down in June 2010 following a leadership challenge by Julia Gillard which he adjudged he could not win. Julia Gillard took the party to another victory in August 2010, but this time only with the support of Independents. The ALP won 72 seats as did the Coalition. Julia Gillard became the first woman prime minister of Australia but her premiership was difficult and in June 2013 she lost a leadership challenge against Kevin Rudd who led the party into the 7th September 2013 general election.

The Australian Labor Party is a member of Socialist International and also the Progressive Alliance.

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