Labour History

“Ballot-Faking Crooks and a Tyrannical Executive”: The Australian Workers Union Faction and the 1923 New South Wales Labor Party Annual Conference

Labour History (2013), 105, (1), 93–111.


A faction based on the Central Branch of the Australian Workers Union (AWU) controlled the New South Wales Labor Party from 1919 to 1923. According to the historiographical literature, it was the AWU faction’s corruption that caused it to then lose control of the party. This article argues that the downfall of a much diminished AWU faction in 1923 was instead the result of a broad rejection of its authoritarianism and abuse of Executive power. Furthermore, the evidence against the AWU leadership in the ballot box scandal, and other cases of alleged corruption, remains inconclusive.

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*The author would like to thank Melanie Nolan, Peter Sheldon and the two anonymous referees ofLabour Historyfor their comments and suggestions. Google Scholar

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Author details

Stephenson, Scott