"It was all about the working class” : Norm Gallagher, the BLF and the Australian Labor Movement

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Moore, Aidan (2013) "It was all about the working class” : Norm Gallagher, the BLF and the Australian Labor Movement. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


The deregistration and dismemberment of the Builders Labourers’ Federation (BLF), which was executed by Federal and State Labor Governments, was one of the most significant events in Australian industrial relations history. The union and its general secretary, Norm Gallagher, continue to excite passionate debate whenever their names are invoked. Portrayed as the ugly face of trade unionism, Gallagher and the BLF provided national and state Labor Party reformers with a timely mechanism through which they could both assert their dominance over the Party and broaden its electoral appeal. This thesis incorporates BLF activities into the larger story of Labor Party transmutation that occurred between the 1960s and 1980s. By examining these shifts in the Labor Party through the prisms of Gallagher and the BLF, we can better understand Labor’s decision to deregister and ultimately destroy the union. The thesis argues that the trajectories taken by the BLF and the ALP were sufficiently divergent that conflict was inevitable. Drawing on a range of key sources, this thesis provides a new assessment of BLF deregistration, the schisms it opened up within both the Labor Party and Conservative interests, and the way in which destruction of a union represented a critical moment in Australian political and industrial history.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
URI https://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/22018
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1503 Business and Management
Historical > FOR Classification > 1606 Political Science
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > College of Arts
Keywords Norm Gallagher, BLF, ALP, Australian Labor Party, Builders Labourers' Federation, unions, labour, Australia, Victoria, Newport, Loy Yang, Building Construction Employees and Builders Labourers Federation, ABCE, Liberal Party, Building Workers Industrial Union, BWIU
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