Accounts of British Labour’s ‘third way’ tend to leave out an important antecedent for Blair’s ‘new’ politics – the Australian Labor governments of 1983–96. In this article, we argue that labour governments in Australia and Britain have pursued similar strategies for melding neoliberalism with social democracy. Key failures of Australian Labor are instructive for thinking about the future of the New Labour project, while the progressive features of Labor politics in Australia offer a challenge to Third Way social conservatism. Most critically, the Australian experience indicates how parties of the right can regroup in the face of new-style labour governments.
Carol JohnsonDepartment of Politics, University of Adelaide, Australia