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  New South Wales ALP Branch
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DescriptionBirth of Labor in NSW


The Labor Party was formed after the Great Maritime Strike in 1890, when workers realised social change could not be achieved through industrial action alone and turned to political representation.
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The motto of the new Party was "support for concessions". With 35 elected members Labor had enough power to gain many concessions from the Government and effect some changes in social conditions and a number of electoral, administrative and economic reforms.

Labour Electoral Leagues

"In May 1891 central Electoral League was formed in the city, with branches in the various divisions of the city, and one or two



branches in the country. They had very little money, but a great deal of determination, and they were resolved to leave no stone unturned to secure victory. Once returned, their representatives would be sufficiently well provided for, owing to the fact that an honorarium of 300 pounds a year is allowed by Statute to all Members of Parliament, together with a free railway pass, available for all parts of the colony. Candidates were required to approve of every plank in the Labour Platform before they were acceptable to the Electoral League.

The Branch Leagues selected candidates for the different constituencies, and there each candidate was required, in addition to identifying himself with the Platform, to sign a bond undertaking to resign his seat in Parliament if called upon by two-thirds of his constituents."

The 1891 Election Campaign

"Although not thoroughly prepared, the Labour Leagues plunged vigourously into the contest of the general election. They had not the means to do much in the way of engaging Lords in which to address the electors, or of advertising; but they spoke at street corners and from carts -from any available vantage point, in fact - and did the major portion of their advertising by word of mouth, which was inexpensive, and, as it proved, sufficiently effective...

On the eventful day of election, the 17 June, Free Trade and Protectionist candidates had their dozens of carriages and cabs running, committees working hard, and, in some instances, at any rate, money flowing freely. The Labour candidates had no cabs and no money, but they had streams of supporters wearing the Labour colours ("blue and white"), who worked unceasingly from early morning until the closing of the poll in order to secure every available vote."*

*Extracted from: The Labour Party in New South Wales, by R.Roydhouse and H.J.Taperell, Edwards, Dunlop & Co. Ltd, Sydney, 1892.


The first Labor Members

The 35 members returned to Parliament on the Labor Platform were the following:

Bavister, T Canterbury
Black, G West Sydney
Cann, J H Sturt
Clark, E M St Leonards
Clark, G D Balmain
Cook, J Hartley
Cotton, F Newtown
Danahey, C J Canterbury
Darnley, E Balmain
Davis, T M West Sydney
Edden, A Northumberland
Fegan, J L Newcastle
Fitgerald, J D West Sydney
Gardiner, A Forbes
Gough, J G Young
Hindle, J Newtown
Hollis, L T Goulburn
Houghton, T J The Glebe
Hutchinson, G F Forbes
Johnston, J Balmain
Kelly,AJ West Sydney
Kirkpatrick, J Gunnedah
Mackinnon, J A Young
McGowen, J S T Redfern
Morgan, J The Bogan
Murphy, W A Balmain
Newman, W H Orange
Newton, J Balranald
Nicholson, J B Illawarra
Rae, A The Murrumbidgee
Scott, D Newcastle
Sharp, V H Redfern
Sheldon, J The Namoi
Vaughn, R M Grenfell
Williams, T H Upper Hunter

In addition to these members, there were a dozen or more members of Parliament who were prepared



to support almost every plank in the Labor Platform. However, these 35 members constituted the Labor Party proper and occupied seats on the cross benches in the Assembly, apart from the two main parties.


The Press Coverage

Writing of the election, the newspapers were mostly favourable to the new Party and congratulated



it for taking constitution means to redress their grievances..





25 May 1991 Labor's Triumph in NSW

On 25 May, 1991, just a few weeks before the 100th anniversary of the election of the first Labor members to NSW Parliament, the Labor Party in NSW achieved one of the greatest results in the history of politics.

The results speak for themselves. Against considerable odds, Labor won 46 out of 99 seats in NSW Parliament, forcing the Coalition into a minority Government.

For a century Labor has proved that it is a dynamic Party with policies relevant to the concerns of ordinary people.


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