ALP Premiers: Delegates of the Party, Autonomous Actors or Somewhere in Between?

Danielle Miller (2010). ALP Premiers: Delegates of the Party, Autonomous Actors or Somewhere in Between? PhD Thesis, School of Political Science & International Studies, The University of Queensland.

       
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Author Danielle Miller
Thesis Title ALP Premiers: Delegates of the Party, Autonomous Actors or Somewhere in Between?
School, Centre or Institute School of Political Science & International Studies
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2010-12
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Total pages 262
Total black and white pages 262
Subjects 21 History and Archaeology
Abstract/Summary This thesis investigates the role of selected Australian Labor Party (ALP) premiers from 1915 to 2007. The ALP began as what Duverger terms a ‘mass party’, and as such, developed internal structures designed to subordinate the parliamentary wing to the extra-parliamentary wing. However, the substantial social change of the last half century, (particularly the decline of many ‘blue collar’ industries and the emergence of television), has led many political scientists, most notably, Kirchheimer, Panebianco and Katz and Mair, to hypothesise that in order to ensure their continued existence, mass parties have evolved into new types of party organisations. A cornerstone of these new models of political organisation is the increasing autonomy of the parliamentary wing, in particular the leadership. Scholars within Australia, including Jaensch, Ward and Marsh, have applied these models in order to understand changes within Australian political parties. Most of this scholarship has focused on the federal wing of the party. This thesis, however, focuses on the state level because this is where unions affiliate to the party and where ties between the parliamentary party and the party organisation are comparatively easier to examine. In this thesis I explore the careers of four ALP premiers from the Queensland branch of the party. Queensland, with its long history of Labor governments, provides an ideal context to locate my research and the four case studies have been strategically selected from different points in the branch’s history in order to trace the degree to which the role of parliamentary leader of the ALP has evolved. I have chosen two premiers from the mass party era and two from the electoralist party era. I utilise archival and interview material to examine the careers of T.J. Ryan (1915-1919) who led the first majority Labor government in Queensland, Vincent Clair Gair (1952-1957) who was the final Labor premier of the mass party era, Wayne Goss (1989-1996) who returned Labor to power after thirty-two years on the opposition benches, and finally Peter Beattie (1998-2007) who replaced Goss as Labor leader and went on to dominate Queensland politics for much of the next decade. These four case studies lead to three central conclusions. First, that Labor premiers in the modern era enjoy greater freedom than their predecessors. Secondly, even though the prominence and power of the party organisation and affiliated unions has declined, Labor leaders continue to face political consequences for neglecting or displeasing the wider party. Finally, my thesis finds, that as would be expected in a literature that seeks to map general trends, the evolution of labour parties, as a specific party type, has not been adequately addressed. My thesis concludes that while labour parties have been forced to adapt in similar fashion to other types of political parties, they also appear to possess structures and historical links that generate resistance to evolutionary pressures.
Keyword T.J Ryan
Vincent Clair Gair
Wayne Goss
Peter Beattie

 
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