The Australian Labor Party is the great ‘party of initiative’ in Australian life. Since before Australia federated, our campaigns and governments have been marked by the struggle for change.

The Chifley Research Centre is honoured to be able to present Labor’s history of progress on this new, dynamic website.

Through this site, we hope students and teachers, researchers and activists, or interested members of the Australian community will be able to explore the way Labor has shaped our nation. Labor’s history can offer all interested Australians a greater insight into Australia’s politics, and, through that understanding, make sure that their views are heard.

This website is a developing and growing resource. We hope you enjoy and make a contribution to this important project. For the first time, this site will allow individuals to contribute your own resources to the national story of the Labor Party. You can contribute pictures, material and information to the site – preserving the best of our past and bringing to light those stories which have been forgotten over the years.

No other political party has attracted such dedicated, passionate support. Labor members and supporters have always been best at making sure Labor was healthy, dynamic and ready to govern.

We hope you enjoy and make a contribution to this important project.

The peerless Labor speechwriter and historian Graham Freudenberg wrote:

“More than any other political party in the world, the Australian Labor Party reflects and represents the character of the nation which produced it.”

The Chifley Research Centre is proud to present laborhistory.org.au – your story, our story, our nation’s story.

Other topics in Foundations

Colonial Origins

The prehistory of the Australian Labor Party can be traced well back into the 19th Century, notably with the beginnings of the trade union movement in mid-century and spasmodic attempts to give workers some representation in colonial Parliaments. In most colonies in the second half…

Socialists and Labor

Its trade union origins gave the new party its own distinct progressive character. Hence, the name of 'Labour' or 'Labor' party that was almost universally used, even when not the formal title, because it was meant to represent workers. The original ideological mixture in the…

A National Party

The early Labor Party had to identify its social base if it wanted to have continuing and improving electoral success. Obviously it made an appeal to trade unionists. However, most workers were not unionists at this time.  Even many trade union members in the various…

The First Federal Election

There was a significant problem for Labor in the first election in March 1901 after the party had opposed the terms of Federation in the referendums of the 1890s. Labor leaders had previously argued that the Australian Constitution as it was drafted was undemocratic, and most would…