Early conference and executive reports of the Labor Party in New South Wales
In the 1890s the trade union movement in New South Wales began a serious attempt to create something quite new – what we now recognise as a modern political party.
Labor Pains is the documentary story of the early years of the Australian Labor Party, a developing and detailed narrative told from contemporary press reports.
The debate on the party’s shape and future direction is uninhibited as leaders argue diverse points of view. Internal democracy ensures a remarkably consensual resolution of issues.
The great political issues resonate a century later: racial stereotyping and immigration policy; free trade and protection; Australia’s role in imperial wars.
Many of the debating topics have a similar, familiar, modern ring: branch stacking; rivalry between branch members and trade union delegates; tension between members of parliament and the extra-parliamentary party; clashes between idealism and political expediency.
Labor Pains climaxes in 1905 when the Australian Labor Party becomes the main opposition party in the New South Wales Parliament.
See Labor Pains Series link, to the right, for details of other Volumes.
A NSW Sesquicentenary of Responsible Government publication.