What Is “Labor” About Labor State Governments In Australia?

Rob Manwaring, Geoffrey Robinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
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This article examines the phenomena of Australian Labor Party state governments in Australia.Studies of Labor governments tend to focus on the national, rather than state level. The articleoffers a systematic analysis of the ideological and policy profile of four cases of recent state Laborgovernments. The key contribution is to better understand what is “Labor” about state Labor.Using a framework adopted from Armando Barrientos and Martin Powell, the articles examinesthe discourse, values, policy goals and policy mechanisms of four state Labor governments. Thefour cases are the McGowan Government in Western Australia, the Weatherill government inSouth Australia, the Andrews government in Victoria, and Palaszczuk government in Queensland.To date, there has been no systematic and comparative analysis of these cases. We find that,generally speaking, these governments tend not to invoke the rhetoric or common labels associatedwith social democracy or Labour politics. To better understand these governments, we employMichael Freeden’s notion of morphology to examine how they seek to (re)interpret core conceptsin the social democratic tradition. Overall, we find clear continuities with more “traditional”aspects of social democracy, modern state Labor downplays other values, but also seeks toinnovate in other policy domains.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-21
Number of pages19
JournalAustralian Journal of Politics and History
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 21 Apr 2020

Bibliographical note

© 2020 The Authors. Australian Jour nal of Politics and History published by University of Queensland and John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd.
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly


  • Labor
  • States
  • Social democracy
  • systematic analysis


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