Labour History

The Australian Labor Party and its Relations with Business: The Case of the Margarine Industry

Labour History (2017), 112, (1), 81–98.


Given its relationship with the union movement, its formal commitment to public enterprise and its status as a party of the Centre-Left, the Australian Labor Party (ALP) has often faced questions about the nature of its relationship with the business sector. This article explores the theme of party-business relations through a study of the long-term connection between the ALP and the margarine industry. In doing so, an evaluation is undertaken of the historical restrictions on margarine production in Australia, limits designed to assist the dairy industry, and the impact these had on the alliance built between the Labor Party and some margarine manufacturers. Despite periodic accusations that this was a corrupt relationship, the two partners cooperated primarily because of their shared interests, which in turn arose from the broader phenomenon of state intervention in Australian agriculture.

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*The author would like to thank Labour History’s two anonymous referees. Google Scholar

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Author details

Abbott, Malcolm