Markey, Ray, Social democracy and the agrarian issue: Australia, 1870 - 1914, Department of Economics, University of Wollongong, Working Paper 97-3, 1997, 48.
The dramatic rise of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) as the single largest electoral force in the country between 1890 and 1910 has traditionally been associated with the mobilisation of the votes of the urban and mining working class. However, this paper argues that, in fact, the ALP relied heavily on support from farmers and rural workers for its parliamentary success. The pattern of rural support for the ALP was affected by the varying geography of land tenure and of rural industry. The Australian Workers’ Union (AWU) was also central in organising Labor’s rural support. The AWU was probably unique amongst unions anywhere In the world in organising small farmers as well as rural workers, and in this way brought a culture of collectivism to farmers. Because of the AWU’s success in delivering rural parliamentary seats to the ALP, it assumed a dominant position in the leadership of the party, and as a result of this it brought a rural culture to bear upon Labor ideology and policy at the turn of the century. Some of the ‘typically Labor’ policies for which it provided major momentum were state support for small farming, republican nationalism, white Australia, and the compulsory state arbitration system.