Labour History

Reinterpreting the Second Fisher Government

Labour History (2012), 102, (1), 1–10.


At the April 1910 general election, the federal Labor Party, under the leadership of Andrew Fisher, became the first party of its type to form a majority government anywhere in the world. Yet the second Fisher Labor government of 1910-13 has been largely neglected by labour historians and political scientists alike. The task of this introduction and broader thematic edition is twofold. First, it explains, and places in global and comparative context, the path-breaking electoral and legislative achievements of Fisher Labor. Second, it seeks to clarify the nature of the Labor Party that emerged with such apparent political dominance from the fractious alliances and contested ideological terrain that constituted the multiparty ‘federation project’ in the decade following 1901, once again with comparative and transnational reference. The contributors to this thematic edition of Labour History range across the factors that shaped Labor’s political success, and the factors which constrained that mobilisation.

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Author details

Hearn, Mark

Dyrenfurth, Nick