Labour History

Template for a Labor Faction: The Industrial Section and the Industrial Vigilance Council of the NSW Labor Party, 1916-19

Labour History (2009), 96, (1), 79–100.


The years of the first Labor government in New South Wales (1910-16) saw increasing tension between the parliamentary and extra-parliamentary wings of the NSW Labor Party, with hostility directed especially towards Attorney-General and then Premier William Holman. By 1915 the ‘Industrialists’, led by the Australian Workers Union (AWU), resorted to a new form of internal party organisation in order to take control of the state executive and conference and impose discipline over Members of Parliament. The virulence of the split in the party over conscription in 1916 was intensified by the activity of this faction. The organisation was closed down in 1919 because of a struggle for control within the faction between the moderate leaders of the AWU and the more radical ambitions of the One Big Union fraction. The structure and culture of the Industrial Section, later the Industrial Vigilance Council, set the pattern for later factional organisation in the NSW and Federal Labor parties.

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Author details

Hogan, Michael

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