Labour History

From Defeat to Catastrophe: The Labor Party in Rural New South Wales, 1988-2011

Labour History (2012), 103, (1), 227–246.


While Labor’s defeat in the 2011 New South Wales (NSW) election has received much comment an overlooked outcome is the ‘ghettoisation’ of its vote. Labor did not capture a single rural booth outside of the seat of Monaro. This article argues that this outcome stemmed not from recent organisational and policy failings but rather from trends now decades old. After 1988 few country people voted Labor. For almost 20 years, however, Labor’s plight was disguised by the Coalition’s discomfiture in the face of Independents and minor parties. Nevertheless, by 2007 NSW Labor’s alienation from rural voters was clearly contributing to the party’s problems.

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Author details

Bowden, Bradley