The Post War Wilderness | 1918 - 1929

Federal Intervention

New South Wales also provided another milestone in the history of the Federal ALP. When Premier Lang (exhibiting the other, much less attractive, side of his complex persona) presided over a split in the branch that produced two hostile versions of Caucus and two State Executives, the Federal Executive was invited to adjudicate at a Unity Conference in July 1927. Although the decision of the Unity Conference backed away from disciplining Lang and the State Executive which supported him even confirming the 'dictatorship' and the so-called 'Red rules' that made a return to power of the AWU very difficult this first instance of Federal intervention helped to establish a precedent confirming what the Federal ALP had asserted a few years earlier in 1924, that the Federal ALP could compel compliance over any individual State Branch of the party.

From that time Federal intervention was always an option when any State branch became unmanageable. It was used again in 1939 to depose Lang, and again in 1940 to depose a Communist-influenced State Executive. These were precedents that have gradually changed the balance of authority in the Australian Labor Party. As was demonstrated by later interventions especially in Victoria in 1970, from this point onwards ultimate authority lies with the Federal ALP.

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