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Battin T. The Australian Labor Party and the Third Way. 2004.
Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://e-publications.une.edu.au/1959.11/698
The Australian Labor Party and the Third Way
The Australian Labor Party (ALP) is the oldest national political party in Australia. Formed in each of the colonies in the early 1890s, the ALP comprises a parliamentary party that has its origins in the trade union movement. Federally, the ALP has held office for only 32 years since 1901. Its longest period in government occurred most recently, from 1983 to 1996. This unique period of office under Prime Ministers Bob Hawke and Paul Keating has provoked renewed debate over the past, present and future character of the party. I review here a few of the issues raised in those debates, focusing primarily on the idea of ‘labourism', as understood by internal party critics and also by 'professional' observers outside the party. Central to contemporary debates over labourism are also questions about the party's attachment to economic rationalism, an ideology that advocates neoliberal policies for encouraging market forces, as well as reducing the size and strength of the public sector. Against the ALP rationalist, I argue that a return to Labor traditionalism is both possible and necessary.