Australian Labor Party (Anti-Communist)

The Australian Labor Party (Anti-Communist) (ALP-AC) was the name initially used by the right-wing group which arose from the 1955 Labor split.[1] In 1957 it changed its name to the Democratic Labor Party, and was dissolved in 1978.


As part of the ALP split of 1955, in April 1955, 7 Victorian federal MPs and 18 state MPs were expelled from the ALP. The federal MPs were: Tom Andrews, Bill Bourke, Bill Bryson, Jack Cremean, Bob Joshua, Stan Keon and Jack Mullens.

On the night of 19 April 1955, Henry Bolte raised a motion of no-confidence against Cain's government in the Legislative Assembly. After twelve hours of debate on the motion, in the early hours of 20 April, 11 of the expelled Labor members crossed the floor to support Bolte's motion. With his government defeated, Cain sought and received a dissolution of parliament later that day, with the election set down for 28 May..[2][3]

The expelled ALP members formed the Australian Labor Party (Anti-Communist) under the influence of B. A. Santamaria.[4]

At the 1955 Victorian election held in May, 11 of the 12 expelled MPs in the Victorian Legislative Assembly, as well as other candidates, and the one MP facing re-election in the Victorian Legislative Council lost their seats. The party drew 12.6% of the vote, mainly from the ALP, but because its vote was widely spread only one of its candidates, the expelled Labor member Frank Scully, was re-elected. The party directed its 12.6% vote to the Coalition, and most of its supporters followed the party's preferences. Labor won 37.6% of the vote and 20 seats to the Liberals' 34 and the Country Party's ten. In any event, the Cain Labor Government lost government at the 1955 election. Five MPs whose terms had not expired remained in the Legislative Council until the expiry of their terms at the 1958 Victorian election, and all who recontested their seats were defeated.

Frank Scully was the only expelled MP returned. He had been a Minister in the Cain Government and a member of the Catholic Social Studies Movement ("The Movement") in Victoria, and was expelled from the ministry and the ALP as part of the 1955 split.[5] He won the seat of Richmond in the Victorian Legislative Assembly in May 1955 and was the only member of the DLP in the Assembly until 1958.[6]

All the 7 expelled federal MPs were defeated at the 1955 federal election held in December. However, Frank McManus was elected as a senator for Victoria at the 1955 election, and successful ALP candidate George Cole had chosen before the election to become part of this party.

The parliamentary membership of the ALP (Anti-Communist) was almost entirely Roman Catholic. The only two non-Catholics were its federal leader, Bob Joshua, who represented Ballarat in the Australian House of Representatives, and Jack Little, who led the party in the Victoria Legislative Council between 1955 and 1958. It has been suggested that the party was substantially a party of Irish-ethnics,[7] a result of the ALP split of 1955 being a 'de-ethnicisation', a forcible removal of the Irish-Catholic element within the ALP.[8] However, many ALP (Anti-Communist) members were not of Irish descent. The party attracted many voters among migrants from Catholic countries in southern Europe, and among anti-Communist Eastern European refugees.

In 1957, the party changed its name to the Democratic Labor Party, which formally dissolved in 1978. Those party members who refused to accept the party's dissolution, formed a successor party, the Democratic Labour Party.


  1. Robert Murray (1970), The Split. Australian Labor in the Fifties, F. W. Cheshire, Melbourne, Victoria.
  2. "Victorian Govt. Defeated; Election On May 28". The Central Queensland Herald. Rockhampton, Qld.: National Library of Australia. 21 April 1955. p. 6. Retrieved 10 April 2012.
  3. Ainsley Symons (2012), 'Democratic Labor Party members in the Victorian Parliament of 1955-1958,' in Recorder (Australian Society for the Study of Labour History, Melbourne Branch) No. 275, November, Pages 4-5.
  4. Paul Strangio and Brian Costar (2005), "B. A. Santamaria: Religion as Politics", in Brian Costar, Peter Love and Paul Strangio (eds.), The Great Labor Schism. A Retrospective, Scribe Publications, Melbourne.
  5. "Frank Scully passes away, aged 95 years". Democratic Labour Party (Australia). August 14, 2015. Retrieved 18 August 2015.
  6. Ainsley Symons (2012), 'Democratic Labor Party members in the Victorian Parliament of 1955–1958,' in Recorder (Australian Society for the Study of Labour History, Melbourne Branch) No. 275, November, Pages 4–5.
  7. Lyle Allan (1988), "Irish Ethnicity and the Democratic Labor Party", Politics, Vol. 23 No. 2, Pages 28-34.
  8. Ernest Healy (1993), 'Ethnic ALP Branches - The Balkanisation of Labor,' in People and Place Vol.1, No.4, Page 38.

Further reading

  • Lyle Allan (1988), "Irish Ethnicity and the Democratic Labor Party," Politics, Vol. 23 No.2, Pages 28–34
  • Niall Brennan (1964), Dr Mannix, Adelaide, South Australia, Rigby.
  • Ken Buckley, Barbara Dale and Wayne Reynolds (1994), Doc Evatt, Melbourne, Victoria, Longman Cheshire. ISBN 0-582-87498-X
  • A.A.Calwell (1972), Be Just and Fear Not, Hawthorn, Victoria, Lloyd O'Neil. ISBN 0-85550-352-1
  • Bob Corcoran (2001), "The Manifold Causes of the Labor Split", in Peter Love and Paul Strangio (eds.), Arguing the Cold War, Carlton North, Victoria, Red Rag Publications. ISBN 0-9577352-6-X
  • Brian Costar, Peter Love and Paul Strangio (eds.)(2005), The Great Labor Schism. A Retrospective, Melbourne, Victoria, Scribe Publications. ISBN 1-920769-42-0
  • Peter Crockett (1993), Evatt. A Life, South Melbourne, Victoria, Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-553558-8
  • Allan Dalziel (1967), Evatt. The Enigma, Melbourne, Victoria, Lansdowne Press.
  • Gavan Duffy (2002), Demons and Democrats. 1950s Labor at the Crossroads, North Melbourne, Victoria, Freedom Publishing. ISBN 0-9578682-2-7
  • Gil Duthie (1984), I had 50,000 bosses. Memoirs of a Labor Backbencher 1946-1975, Sydney, NSW, Angus and Robertson. ISBN 0-207-14916-X
  • John Faulkner and Stuart Macintyre (eds.)(2001), True Believers. The Story of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party, Crows Nest, NSW, Allen and Unwin. ISBN 1-86508-527-8
  • Ross Fitzgerald, Adam James Carr and William J. Dealy, (2003), The Pope's Battalions. Santamaria, Catholicism and the Labor Split, St Lucia, Queensland, University of Queensland Press. ISBN 0-7022-3389-7
  • Colm Kiernan (1978), Calwell. A Personal and Political Biography, West Melbourne, Thomas Nelson. ISBN 0-17-005185-4
  • Michael Lyons (2008), "Defence, the Family and the Battler: The Democratic Labor Party and its Legacy," Australian Journal of Political Science, September, 43-3, Pages 425-442.
  • Frank McManus (1977), The Tumult and the Shouting, Adelaide, South Australia, Rigby. ISBN 0-7270-0219-8
  • Patrick Morgan (ed.)(2007), B. A. Santamaria. Your Most Obedient Servant. Selected Letters: 1918-1996, Carlton, Victoria, Miegunyah Press. ISBN 0-522-85274-2
  • Patrick Morgan (ed.)(2008), Running the Show. Selected Documents: 1939-1996, Carlton, Victoria, Miegunyah Press. ISBN 978-0-522-85497-8
  • Robert Murray (1970), The Split. Australian Labor in the fifties, Melbourne, Victoria, F.W. Cheshire. ISBN 0-7015-0504-4
  • Paul Ormonde (1972), The Movement, Melbourne, Victoria, Thomas Nelson. ISBN 0-17-001968-3
  • Paul Ormonde (2000), "The Movement - Politics by Remote Control," in Paul Ormonde (ed.) Santamaria. The Politics of Fear, Richmond, Victoria, Spectrum Publications. ISBN 0-86786-294-7
  • P.L Reynolds (1974), The Democratic Labor Party, Milton, Queensland, Jacaranda. ISBN 0-7016-0703-3
  • B.A. Santamaria (1964), The Price of Freedom. The Movement - After Ten Years, Melbourne, Victoria, Campion Press.
  • Kylie Tennant (1970), Evatt. Politics and Justice, Cremorne, NSW, Angus and Robertson. ISBN 0-207-12533-3
  • Tom Truman (1960), Catholic Action and Politics, London, England, The Merlin Press.
  • Kate White (1982), John Cain and Victorian Labor 1917-1957, Sydney, NSW, Hale and Iremonger. ISBN 0-86806-026-7
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