Under pressure: The whitlam labor opposition and class struggle, 1967-72

Ashley Lavelle*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


In periods of opposition, the Australian Labor Party (ALP) can be exposed to the influence of radical activists and movements. This article argues that a clear case in point is the ALP's response to the intensification of class struggle in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Not only did Labor Members of Parliament (MPs) endorse strikes, they defended such actions as the most effective method of improving wages and conditions. The escalation of industrial conflict also empowered the unions to press the ALP for key policy concessions, such as the withdrawal of strike penalties from the party's policy program in 1971. Yet, Labor's sympathetic response to the upsurge in militancy was not simply a case of tapping into a radical mood for electoral purposes, but was also designed to contain the discontent within mainstream political channels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-133
Number of pages17
JournalLabour History
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


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