Labour History

Labor, Capital and Land: The Transnational Dimensions of the 1910 Federal Land Tax

Labour History (2013), 105, (1), 113–129.


While Australian labour historians have devoted attention to land radicalism in the 1890s, its continuation into the 1900s has attracted less attention. This article highlights the importance of land taxation in federal Labor politics, focusing on the struggle surrounding the progressive land taxes introduced by Andrew Fisher’s government in 1910. It uses these struggles to engage with a recent transnational turn amongst labour historians, highlighting the heavy influence by New Zealand precedents, and the ways debates drew on a global vocabulary of examples. Nonetheless, these transnational influences were deployed in the service of locally (or nationally) determined goals. This contrasted with capital’s organisationally integrated transnational campaign against the tax, led by the London-based pastoral finance lobby. Finally, an examination in the defeat of this lobby suggests that the attraction of the nation state to politicised labour was in part a product of the more intensive globalisation of capital.

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*I would like to thank Dr Andrew Newby, Dr Frank Bongiorno, the participants of the Australian Studies Seminar at King’s College London, and the two anonymous referees ofLabour Historyfor comments on earlier versions of this article. All errors remain, of course, my own. Google Scholar

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Author details

Dilley, Andrew