Labour History: A Journal of Labour and Social History

Triumphant, Troubled, then Terminal: An Examination of the Cain and Kirner Decade 30 Years On

Labour History: A Journal of Labour and Social History (2013), 105, (1), 27–46.

Abstract

More than 30 years have elapsed since the election of the Cain Labor government in Victoria in April 1982 and, given that only limited academic literature exists on this period of governance in Australia’s second most populous state, it is worth examining in detail the Cain and Kirner Labor governments. This article sets this period in the context of the longer political history of Victoria, provides analysis of Labor’s rise from electoral inconsequence to government, and charts the course of Labor’s decade in office until it ended unceremoniously in October 1992. The article argues that, in contrast to the Hawke and Keating federal governments, Labor in Victoria largely eschewed neoliberalism and pursued a more traditional social democratic agenda. This program proved fruitful until “the recession we had to have” severely impacted on the local economy in 1990–91 and led to the landslide defeat of 1992.

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Footnotes

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

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3.Much has been written on the history of the Labor Party. Two informative volumes are:Ross McMullin, The Light on the Hill: The Australian Labor Party 1891–1991(:Oxford University Press, 1991); andRoger McDonald, Reflecting Labor: Images of Myth and Origin Over 100 Years(:National Library of Australia, 1991). For the Party’s history up to 1920, seeDennis J. Murphy, ed., Labor in Politics: The State Labor Parties in Australia 1890–1920(:University of Queensland Press, 1975), 291–340;and Brian Costar, Peter Love and Paul Strangio, ed., The Great Labor Schism: A Retrospective(:Scribe, 2005). Google Scholar

4.Various incarnations of the Party had emerged in the last decade of the ninetheenth century, but each foundered. The United Labour and Liberal Party of Victoria (ULLP) was formed prior to the 1894 election, but was not successful. Trades Hall Council then created a United Labor Party (ULP) in 1896 but this, too, foundered. Indeed, some elected candidates disowned their Labor affiliation. In 1901, the Political Labor Council (PLC) was formed. See McMullin, The Light on the Hill, 34. Google Scholar

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Author details

Harkness, Alistair