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  Victorian ALP Branch
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DescriptionHistory of the Victorian ALP
The Victorian branch was formed as a branch of the Australian Labor Party at the time of Federation.

The formation of the branch built on a history of labour movement involvement in Victorian politics, including Trades Hall supported candidates in the Victorian parliament.

The Victorian branch is one of the biggest: it currently has approximately 15000 members. There are twenty-two unions affiliated to the Victorian ALP.

The ALP, like Australia, is a federation. Each state or territory has its own branch, with its own membership, rules and policies.

These branches then join together to form the national ALP organisation, with national policies and members of Federal Parliament.

A comprehensive history of the ALP and details of nation policies and MPs is available on the national ALP WWW site at [Link]

ALP Government in Victoria
John Cain led the ALP to victory in the Victorian State Elections of April 1982.

The ALP had not been in government in Victoria for 27 years. The previous Labor Premier in 1955 was also John Cain (the new Premier's father).

The Cain team offered an alternative of a clean, hard-working government. The ALP provided many credible policy alternatives and people who had proven their management skills while the Party had been in Opposition.

The Labor Government embarked on a series of major reforms over the following 10 years.

The transport system was substantially improved with new trams, trains and buses and extended tram and train lines. The housing and building sectors received large increases in government assistance so as to improve the economic base of the State.

The wowser state began to loosen up, starting with liberalised liquor laws which allowed Melbourne's vibrant cafe life to develop. Housing regulations were also liberalised to allow dual occupancy and medium density development, and increase the range of permissable building materials and styles. New, more attractive public housing was built, and a major program of revitalisation of housing estates was established.

The constitution was amended so that governments would be in power for a minimum of three years and a maximum of four. There were far reaching reforms in education, including introduction of the Victorian Certificate of Education, higher retention rates, and integration of children with disabilities into the mainstream school system. The need for expensive drawn out litigation over workplace injury was eliminated by the introduction of WorkCare, and Occupational Health and Safety systems were established.

During its time in office, the Labor Government was often frustrated in its legislative efforts by the hostile Upper House, which had a Liberal majority.

May 1985 saw the re-election of the Cain Labor Government, with control of the Legislative Council (the Upper House). However, the control was lost when the election for one seat, Nunawading, was overturned by the Court of Disputed Returns, after the result was tied and decided by the Returning Officer drawing the name of the ALP candidate from a hat. The ALP lost the subsequent re-election for Nunawading.

In October, 1988, the Cain Government was re-elected for a historic third term. During this last term it became caught up in a disastrous economic downturn. Unfortunately for Victorian Labor, Victorian financial institutions had taken enthusiastic part in the lending frenzy of the late 80s boom.

The Victorian State Bank was among the banks left with huge losses from its lending program. It also ended up as the sole remaining partner of the group of banks which had established the Tricontinental bank, with another set of heavy losses. The Cain Government had maintained a policy of arms length management of state owned enterprises, and had not been in involved in monitoring lending. But its detachment from the decision making could not save it from taking political blame for the losses.

Joan Kirner succeeded John Cain as Premier in September 1990. She became Victoria's first female Premier, and Australia's second, after Carmen Lawrence in Western Australia. Her first decision as Premier was to sell the devastated State Bank to the Commonwealth.

With the downturn in the economic cycle hitting Victoria particularly hard, the ALP Government had struck a financial crisis. Government income dropped dramatically as areas like stamp duty fell away. But at the same time, the demand for government services increased, and the Government was reluctant to pass its crisis onto the community through increased taxes and charges at a time when there was widespread unemployment and Victorian families were themselves suffering the direct effects of the recession.

The Government decided not to attempt to balance the budget while the economic cycle was at such a low point. It would make budget cuts, but not dramatic enough to bring the budget within state revenue at such a low ebb. It would ultimately depend on a future upturn to bring the State budget back in balance, and pay off debt accumulated in the meantime.

This decision turned out to be politically devastating. With worldwide economic fashion favouring balanced budgetting, the Victorian Labor Government gained little sympathy for its approach.

The Liberal National Party Coalition made debt and a balanced budget the main election issues of 1992. The ALP lost Government in October 1992 to a Coalition government led by Jeff Kennett.

The Kennett Government has since pursued a radical Thatcherite agenda. This has involved massive cuts in goverment programs, especially health and education; large rises in government taxes and charges; sale of government assets, including utilities; and a range of policies designed to weaken unions and political opposition.

The Kennett Government was re-elected in March 1996.

Labor's Achievements in Government in Victoria
Upgraded public transport system
Youth Guarantee
WorkCare and Occupational Health and Safety Legislation
Freedom of Information
Improved consultation with community groups
Improved industrial relations climate
Job creation through capital works
Improved industrial training
Improved education funding and consultation
Deinsitutionalisation of people with disabilities
Dual occupancy and medium density housing codes developed
Government housing stock upgraded
Reforms to health system
Established the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) and dramatically improved school retention rates
Established Ethnic Affairs Commission
Established equal opportunity programs
Introduced Anti-Discrimination Legislation
Electoral reforms, including four year terms for government
Law reforms including the establishment of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions
Liberalised liquor laws
Labor's achievements in Federal Government include:
Establishment of an Australian Navy
Foundation of the Commonwealth Bank
Introduction of maternity allowances
Advancement towards equality of educational opportunity
Snowy Mountains Scheme
Introduction of broad Social Services
Establishment of QANTAS
Post-war migration scheme
Recognition of China and adherence to independent Australian Foreign Policy
Legal Aid
Independent Papua New Guinea
Land Rights for Aborigines recognised
Equal pay for women
Created Schools Commission and provided Federal funds for primary and secondary education
Medicare and Medibank
Economic Planning Advisory Council
Prices and Incomes Policy (Accord)
Saving the Franklin River in Tasmania
Youth Traineeship Scheme
Consultation with major community groups
Improved industrial relations climate
Maintenance of strong economic growth and employment growth with low inflation
Reforms of taxation system
National Occupational Health and Safety Commission
Launched AUSSAT
Sex Discrimination Act
Affirmative Action Program
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