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.