Confusion: The Making of the Australian Two-Party System

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Paul Strangio, Nick Dyrenfurth
Academic Monographs, Nov 15, 2009 - Political Science - 320 pages
In Confusion, some of Australia's foremost political historians including Judith Brett and Stuart Macintyre revisit the seminal moment when liberals threw in their lot with the conservatives. In May 1909, Alfred Deakin, the radical liberal doyen, struck an agreement for a controversial 'fusion' with the anti-Labor factions, with the new grouping later adopting the name 'Liberal Party'. After a heated campaign, Labor won the 1910 election, forming the first majority government in the history of the Commonwealth. The Australian party system; as we still largely know it one hundred years on; had crystallised. How had this occurred? For most of the previous decade Labor and Deakin had been allies. Was the anti-Labor alliance the inevitable outcome of middle-class men rallying against the growing electoral might of the workers' party? What were the long-term consequences for both sides of politics? With Labor in power federally and in all but one state, the non-Labor side of politics has been plunged into a period of introspection about its coalition arrangements, and about the legitimate traditions of Australian liberalism. Can the current Liberals learn from the events of a century ago?


The Dilemma of Deakin and
The Free Traders and the Puzzle
Labors View of Fusion
Confusion in New South Wales?
Political Housekeeping and Fusion
Personalities Ideas and the Drama of Fusion
Whatever Happened to Deakinite Liberalism?
Whatever Happened to Free Trade Liberalism?
Labors Fusion Legacy

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About the author (2009)

Paul Strangio is a Senior Lecturer of Politics in the School of Political and Social Inquiry at Monash University. A biographer and political historian, he has written extensively in the field of Australian political history. He is the author and editor of several books, including Keeper of the Faith: A Biography of Jim Cairns (2002), The Great Labor Schism: A Retrospective (2005) and The Victorian Premiers, 1856_2006 (2006). He has also been a frequent commentator on Australian politics in both the print and electronic media. Nick Dyrenfurth is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Discipline of Work and Organisational Studies at the University of Sydney. He is currently Associate Editor of the journal Labour History. He previously taught history and politics at Monash University, where he also wrote his PhD on the culture of the early ALP. His work has been published in Labour History, Australian Journal of Politics and History, Australian Journal of Political Science and Journal of Australian Studies. In addition, he has written for The Australian, The Age and The Canberra Times.

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