Debating Our Socialist Objective

In 1921, the ALP adopted its socialist objective. The objective was amended a number of times since 1921 with its current form adopted in 1981.

The current objective outlines Labor's commitment to the  “democratic socialisation of industry, production, distribution and exchange, to the extent necessary to eliminate exploitation and other anti-social features in these fields.”

Debate about whether the socialist objective should remain has existed for over a decade.

Most recently Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen called for a new objective and moved at the 2014 NSW ALP Conference to re-open debate about the objective at the next ALP National Conference in 2015.

Some advocates of removing the objective have likened it to a “Clause IV” moment, similar to Tony Blair’s removal of British Labour’s clause about common ownership, signalling New Labour.

Supporters of the objective have challenged this, pointing out that socialisation in Australia has not meant nationalisation and that, while old fashioned, the words convey the social democratic belief in prioritising society over the market.

Whether the socialist objective should remain is a debate that will continue in the lead-up to the 2015 ALP National Conference and the Left will play a leading role in it.

Follow the debate here.

Showing 4 reactions

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  • commented 2015-02-25 20:08:23 +1100
    It is obvious the profit motive is selfish and a caring government can spread more care if it owns essential industries. Also economically if a Government industry can be run properly it should be more economic as profits (20%) do not need to be taken out unless we get a greedy Liberal government.
    The only problem I have seen with Government enterprises is that some workers, seeing they are protected, let it go to their heads and become officious rather than helpful. I am sure this can be fixed so we can successfully train our young people, both technically and socially. Hopefully this is the way we go or we become no different to our opponents.
    Let us hope the right in NSW never get this through conference.
  • commented 2014-10-20 18:33:54 +1100
    Hi Toby, no the socialist objective is still very much there. If you have a copy of the national platform it is at the beginning. Also in the beginning of the rules of your state I would guess (It’s there for NSW ALP Rules 2014).

    There has been much debate over the decades about it, and a few PMs have said they are effectively going to ignore it, but that’s not the same as getting rid of it, or amending in a significant way.
  • commented 2014-10-20 00:49:01 +1100
    I’m sorry about this but I was pretty sure the Labor Party under Bob Hawke got rid of the Socialist Objective as that determining the Labor Partys platform! In something like 1987? Or maybe 1985 or ‘84? Unless it had more to do with him proposing this as being gotten rid of! I’d like someone to confirm that what was first written here about this was correct!
  • commented 2014-10-13 07:49:26 +1100
    Labor should get rid of the factions, absolutely. They have been damaging and I do note that most of the shit seems to be coming from the so called ‘Right’. That said, the Socialist objectives need to be modernised and re written. Socialising Industry sounds somewhat out of step and it will put a lot of people off who read it – they will see it as extremist. Labor should not be an extemist political party – it needs to be in touch with the majority. It should not be called ‘Left’ or ‘Right’ .. that is divisive. It should be guided by Socialism, but never restricted by it or anything else. Labor should be Labor and it should take the best ideas from where ever they come for the betterment of society. Labor should be seen to invest heavily in Science and Education. And should always be the supporter of the social welfare safety net. I want the right wing GONE. And the idea that we have Right Wing Unions? Socialism was such a good idea, the ‘Right’ just had to destroy it. By infiltrating it!! No Right. No Left. No limits. Just the best facts and ideas to move the nation forward. And fair election processes to ensure the best people are elected. Try that, Labor.