The early elections at the federal level were three cornered contests between the NSW free traders, the Victorian protectionists and the first organized political party in Australia: Labor. The NSW and Victorian contingent were not the tightly disciplined parties that we see today, they were more amorphous in the loyalties, but were of similar class, social standing and ideology. The Victorians, led by Alfred Deakin, and Labor, led by Chris Watson, agreed on many common political principles; protectionism, restricted immigration, unemployment benefits and minimum wages.
After numerous minority Victorian Protectionist governments, propped up by the support of Labor, finally the Deakinists split with Labor for good. Judith Brett argues that the reason for the schism wasn't policy, but instead principles of party organisation.
Protectionists to Liberals
The early years of the American Republic were dominated by the Virginian Presidents of Washington, Jefferson, Madison and Munroe. They set the tone for what was a Virginian Republic. Australia carries a similar legacy, the Victorians under Deakin dominated Federation and the early years of parliament, achieving a Constitutional Monarchy of limited but not complete independence. NSW was republican and free trade, yet the monarchist and protectionist Victorians set the tone of what Australian government would be. Immigration took seventy years to remove, the protectionist economy eighty years - and we are still working toward making Australia a constitutional republic.
manoeuvred the NSW Free Traders out of holding government by forming a minority government with Chris Watson's Labor government
. Minority government is relatively volatile in a parliamentary system, as shown below. George Reid was Prime Minister, but held government only for a recess period, as soon as parliament convened he was unable maintain his majority.
William Lyne (Premier NSW) 1901 appointed and unable to form a government
Edmund Barton (Protectionists) 1901 - 1903 minority
Alfred Deakin (Protectionists) 1903 - 1904 minority
Chris Watson (Labor) 1904 - 1904 minority
George Reid (Free Trade) 1904 - 1905 coalition
Alfred Deakin (Protectionists) 1905 - 1908 minority
Andrew Fisher (Labor) 1908 - 1909 minority
Alfred Deakin (Fusion) 1909 - 1910 coalition
Andrew Fisher (Labor) 1910 - 1913 majority
Joseph Cook (Liberal) 1913 - 1914 majority
Joseph Cook is an interesting Prime Minister, and represents the organisational split between Labor and Liberal well.
Cook was born in Staffordshire in England to a coalminer. Cook left school to work in the pits at age nine, and by age twelve his father died in an industrial accident. Cook supported his family, later becoming a preacher, a railway worker and then a unionist. He married a school teacher who's family had already emigrated to Australia. The Cooks followed soon after, settling in Lithgow. Once settled, he soon became involved in Unionism again, and in 1891 Cook won election in the NSW Legislative Assembly as the Labor member for Lithgow. Two years later he was the leader of the NSW Labor Party.
Labor had grown in electoral popularity as an outgrowth of the Shearer's Strikes in rural Queensland. There workers and unions decided political power lay through the hands of parliament. In Queensland Labor regularly collected more than a quarter of the vote, and was able to claim to having the world's first Labor government in 1899.
In NSW, Labor success was almost instant, with the Labor Party in 1891 winning thirty-five seat and the balance of power in the NSW Assembly. But the inexperienced Labor members were quickly wedged over a fiscal issue which split the free trade and protectionist Labor representatives. The caucus was decimated, and the thirty-five members for Labor was quickly reduced to seventeen.
This led Labor to establish a far more disciplined caucus. Labor believed the only way it could wield power in parliament was by a united front to any opposition through absolute party power. For the Labor representatives there was a conundrum for them, did they represent their electorate, or the labor movement. The caucus took that decision out of their hands at the 1894 Labor Conference which required all Labor candidates and representatives to sign a pledge, "to vote in the house, as a majority of the party, sitting in Caucus, has determined."
Joseph Cook refused to sign the pledge, stating;
.. the pledge destroyed the representative character of a member and abrogated the electoral privilege of a constituency.
Those who signed the pledge returned as Labor members, while the twelve who would not sign, including Cook, returned to the Assembly as Independent Labor representatives. From this point on the Labor Executive only chose candidates who signed the pledge. Cook was not hard done by and became the Postmaster-General in George Reid's Free Trade government.
Joseph Cook in 1909 managed to reconcile the NSW Free Traders with Deakin's Protectionists when they banded together to oppose Labor. Cook led the first Liberal Party Government, and was the Prime Minister at the outbreak of World War I. Cook's other claim to fame was getting the Governor-General to agree to the first double-dissolution election.
Liberal and Labor Sitting in a Tree ... K.I.S.S. Oh Gee
The early governments in Federation were minority ones, led by Alfred Deakin with Labor support. But in 1910 Labor achieved the first majority government, polling nearly 50% of the vote. This left the Protectionists and Free Traders in a bind. Labor was politically disciplined, electorally popular and leaned toward the socialist side of politics. Since the Protectionists and Labor shared many policies, such as economic protectionism, unemployment benefits,minimum wages and restricted immigration, Deakin had hoped that Labor would get absorbed into the Protectionists.
The leader of the Free Traders (and Anti-Socialists), George Reid did not get along with Deakin, and there could be no union between those parties while Reid and Deakin led them. In 1908 Reid retired from federal politics and his able deputy, Joseph Cook took over. At this point the parties combined to form the short-lived Fusion Party, which was then replaced by the Liberal Party.
Traditionally the formation of the Labor, anti-Labor duopoly at this point is looked at in class terms. However Judith Brett argues, that is was not class that caused the Protectionists and Free Traders to set aside their policy differences, but instead party organization. Brett writes;
The insurmountable barrier between the Deakinite Liberals and the Labor Party was not Labor's policies not its attitude toward the state, but the nature of the party's organization: the demands which it made on its members to subordinate their own views and judgements to the collective will of the party and the implications this had for parliamentary government.
The problems Labor's organisation posed for the Liberals was particularly apparent in Labor's hostility to alliances. Labor simply refused to play the parliamentary game as it had hitherto been played, and parliamentary leaders found themselves stalled at every turn as they tried to put together workable majorities in the usual way.
Essentially Labor changed the way politics was done at the State and Federal level. With the establishment of the Liberal Party (as opposed to the Fusion Party), the Liberals, led by Deakin wrote down their party planks. To differentiate themselves from Labor they included a plank which originally said that the Liberals opposed the caucus methods of the Labor Party, but this was changed to one that asserted;
... all representatives of the people should be directly and solely responsible to the people for their votes and actions.
With this statement, it is easy to see why the ascension of Joseph Cook to lead the Free Traders made it easy for them to join in union with the Protectionists. Cook had years earlier left the Labor Party on the same issue. Judith Brett argues that the line the Deakinist Liberals were not prepared to cross, was the one where individuals subordinated their freedom of judgement and integrity of conscience to the iron discipline of the party organisation.
I remain convinced that left-right are useless descriptors for determining political beliefs. Its main value appears to be partisan, in that the world can be divided approximately 50/50 between true believers and unbelievers. This artificial division can then be used for all manner of monolithic descriptions and projections of behaviour - not just political. The two modern political parties, Labor and Liberal, which supposedly define the left-right divide are so similar in outlook it is embarrassing. As a binary description left-right is only useful for the construction of strawmen. Is there a binary descriptor that is useful for describing political choices?
Both major parties in Australia are approximately conservative-nationalist with economic liberal policies. There are some arguments in this area, but for the most part you would need a hot butter knife to divide a line between them. The main argument from party leaders is how well their 'particular' national narrative matches their political stance and why that should inform which party you vote for.
There is consensus on most issues and the arguments over policies are rarely even one of degree and more one of semantics. The creation of an artificial and monolithic left-right in such an environment is only useful for partisan description purpose - and we already have names for the two major parties - ie ALP and Liberals.
Is there a binary description that is useful in describing political doctrine? In my opinion there is and it involves the individual and state. Notice the left-right is less about how the individual and state relate to each other and more about 'values' and other wishy washy nonsense.
The two political positions a philosophy, doctrine, etc can take is: one the individual is the dominant political entity, or two, the state is the dominant political entity. This binary choice has huge ramifications for policy, governance and political structure.
If the individual is the dominant entity this removes the ability for the state to act in many areas. For instance a state backed/enforced culture becomes meaningless. Citizenship becomes dictated by any individual being under the jurisdiction of the government - not due to accidents of birth. Liberalism, republicanism, libertarianism and progressivism at their purest are examples of this.
If the state is the dominant political entity that means all manner of discrimination and arbitrary governance can occur. For instance sedition laws are natural in this environment as the state must protect itself and its future from individuals. Habeous Corpus becomes a quaint curiosity, rights are meaningless as the individual has no 'just' place in demanding liberties. If the state is dominant, those that wield the executive are too. In this category would be statists, authoritarians, conservatives and nationalists. Without the state being dominant in certain areas of political life these political movements lose meaning.
Dividing political action in this binary manner enables political decision and policies to be easily understood. Did the executive act as if the individual was dominant or the state? Did the legislative create a bill that assumed the individual was dominant or the state?
This has more meaning than values, left, right, centre, meh, feh and all the other non-empirical and airy fairy excuses the political uses.
NSW has two periods of party activity. The first is prior to the 1930s when most governments were minority governments and elections highly competitive. Since the 1930s and the UAP winning the election after Lang's dismissal NSW has seen the increasing party discipline form of government with strong majorities and long electoral success.
The party system as we know it in Australia is Labor's innovation. Prior to Labor's appearance in Australian electoral politics the governments were fluid bodies of coalitions who would often form around a strong leader. Because of the pledge and Labor's discipline to the party's national executive this factional form of organisation was broken.
The Liberals formed in 1904 as a response to Labor and basically out party organised the Protectionists and Ministerialists such that the latter two parties were not electorally competitive.
Rodney Smith writes:
The New South Wales Branch (of labor) is widely regarded as one of the most successful but conservative of Labor's state branches. Labor governed for 58.7 per cent of the period from 1910 to 2000, a proportion only bettered by Tasmania's 60.6 per cent.
Smith argues that the reason for NSW Labor's success has been that it has seen winning elections as its organisational goal. Consequently it has placed itself ideologically to match the wider electorate - both urban and rural.
Most Popular on South Sea Republic
The articles that have been viewed the most:
Most Popular Restaurants in Phoenix
Phoenix Eats Out
is the restaurant review site for Phoenix
and Old Town Scottsdale
which lists the modernist and contemporary restaurants, taverns and bars in the greater Phoenix area.
This is the list of the most popular restaurants pages from phoenixeatsout.com that have been viewed the most;
My personal favourite restaurants in Phoenix are AZ88
, Humble Pie
, Orange Table
, The Vig
and others coming close behind. View the complete list with the photo-journalistic style images on phoenixeatsout.com
Most Popular Hikes in Arizona
Arizona is an outdoor state and has lots of hiking in the city and around the state. Phoenix is unusual for most cities in having several large mountains in the center of the city with great hiking. Anyone who comes to Phoenix has to do the Echo Canyon trail on Camelback
and the Summit Hike on Squaw Peak
or Piesta Peak. The views of the city, suburbs and surrounding mountains are wonderful from Camelback and Piesta Peak.
For more experienced hikers there is the McDowell Mountains in North Scottsdale that has several difficult and strenuous hikes in Tom's Thumb
and Bell Pass
. Alternatively, you can hike the highest mountain in Arizona. At 12,600 feet Humphrey's Peak
is a long and difficult hike.
Alternate Australian Constitutions
Between 2004 and 2009 this site, southsearepublic.org
, was a constitutional blog based on scoop which focused on Australian and global constitutional issues.
One of the strongest aspects of it was the development of constitutions by those involved in the blog. These constitutions are the outcome:
The constitutions were built using principles from Montesquieu's separation of powers, the enlightnment's universal political rights and the ancient Athenian technology of sortition and choice by lot.
Archives For South Sea Republic
South Sea Republic started in 2004 as an Australian constitutional blog in 2004 based on scoop software. It was an immigrative outgrowth of Kuro5hin. The archives for each year since then;
The articles are ordered by views.
Who Is Cam Riley
I am an Australian living in the United States as a permanent resident.
I am a software developer by trade and mostly work in Java and jump between middleware and front end.
I originally worked in the New York area of the United States in telecommunications before moving to Washington DC and
working in a mix of telecommunications, energy and ITS. I started my own software company before heading out to
Arizona and working with Shutterfly. Since then I have joined a startup in the Phoenix area and am thoroughly enjoying myself.
I do a lot of photography which I post on this website, but also on flickr. I have a photo-journalistic website which lists
the modernist and contemporary restaurants in phoenix. I have a site on the Australian Flying Corps [AFC]
which has been around since the 1990s and which I unfortunately
lost the .org URL to during a life event; however, it is under the www.australianflyingcorps.com
The AFC website has gone through several iterations since the 90s and the two most recent are Australian Flying Corps Archives(2004-2002)
Australian Flying Corps Archives(2002-1999)
which are good places to start.
Websites Worth Reading
Websites of friends, colleagues and of interest;