What are the principles and characteristics of the Australian Labor Party?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The Australian Labor Party is a center-left political party.  This means that its principles are more consistent with the ideas of social democracy or democratic socialism than they are with classical liberalism.  Let us look at what this means.

Political scientists typically say that political beliefs can be classified on a left-right continuum.  On the far left are people who believe in communism.  On the far right are fascists.  On the right, not very far from the center, are liberals like those of the Australian Liberal Party.  Liberals believe in having an economy that is relatively free from government intervention.  They want the economy to be able to run more or less on its own.  They think that taxes and government regulations make it harder to have a strong economy. 

On the left, not very far from the center, are people like those of the Australian Labor Party.  These are people who want the government to try to ensure fairness in economic outcomes.  Members of this party tend to believe that private companies will abuse their employees and will abuse the people in general if they are allowed to have their way.  Members of the party typically believe that the government must get involved in the economy to ensure fairness and economic growth.  This is why Labor’s website talks about its $1 billion jobs program and about “big reforms” that need to be put in place.

Center left parties are typically somewhat less traditional on social issues than center right parties are. As an example of this, Kevin Rudd described himself during the recent election campaign as a strong supporter of gay marriage.

Thus, the Australian Labor Party is basically a center-left party that believes in more government intervention in the economy and in relatively progressive and untraditional social values.

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