Australian Labor Party (South Australian Branch)

Last updated
Australian Labor Party
(South Australian Branch)
Leader Peter Malinauskas
Deputy Leader Susan Close
President Rhiannon Pearce
SecretaryAemon Bourke [1]
Founded1891;132 years ago (1891)
Headquarters141 Gilles Street, Adelaide
Youth wing South Australian Young Labor
Women's wing Labor Women's Network
LGBT wingRainbow Labor
Ideology Social democracy
Political position Centre-left
National affiliation Australian Labor Party
House of Assembly
27 / 47
Legislative Council
9 / 22
Seats in local government
4 / 12
Charles Sturt
4 / 17
Holdfast Bay
1 / 13
1 / 13
Port Adelaide Enfield
7 / 18
1 / 9
Tea Tree Gully
2 / 14
West Torrens
4 / 15

The Australian Labor Party (South Australian Branch), commonly known as South Australian Labor, is the South Australian Branch of the Australian Labor Party, originally formed in 1891 as the United Labor Party of South Australia. It is one of two major parties in the bicameral Parliament of South Australia, the other being the Liberal Party of Australia (SA Division).


Since the 1970 election, marking the beginning of democratic proportional representation (one vote, one value) and ending decades of pro-rural electoral malapportionment known as the Playmander, Labor have won 11 of the 15 elections. Spanning 16 years and 4 terms, Labor was last in government from the 2002 election until the 2018 election. Jay Weatherill led the Labor government since a 2011 leadership change from Mike Rann. During 2013 it became the longest-serving state Labor government in South Australian history, and in addition went on to win a fourth four-year term at the 2014 election. After losing the 2018 election, the party spent 4 years in opposition before leader Peter Malinauskas led the party to a majority victory in the 2022 election.

Labor's most notable historic Premiers of South Australia include Thomas Price in the 1900s, Don Dunstan in the 1970s, John Bannon in the 1980s, and Mike Rann in the 2000s.


ULP parliamentarians following the 1893 colonial election. SAULP1893.jpeg
ULP parliamentarians following the 1893 colonial election.

A United Trades and Labor Council meeting with the purpose of creating an elections committee was convened on 12 December 1890, and held on 7 January 1891. The elections committee was formed, officially named the United Labor Party of South Australia (unlike state Labor, prior to 1912 their federal counterparts included the 'u' in their spelling of Labour) with John McPherson the founding secretary. Four months later, Labor enjoyed immediate success, electing David Charleston, Robert Guthrie and Andrew Kirkpatrick to the South Australian Legislative Council. A week later, Richard Hooper won the 1891 Wallaroo by-election as an Independent Labor member in the South Australian House of Assembly. McPherson won the 1892 East Adelaide by-election on 23 January, becoming the first official Labor leader and member of the House of Assembly.

Prior to party creation, South Australian politics had lacked parties or solid groupings, although loose liberal and conservative blocs had begun to develop by the end of the 1880s. The 1893 election was the first general election Labor would stand at, resulting in liberal and conservative leaning MPs beginning to divide, additionally with unidentified groupings and independents, as well as the subsequent formation of the staunchly anti-Labor National Defence League. The voluntary turnout rate increased from 53 to 68 percent, with Labor on 19 percent of the vote, and 10 Labor candidates including McPherson and Hooper were elected to the 54-member House of Assembly which gave Labor the balance of power. The Kingston liberal government was formed with the support of Labor, ousting the Downer conservative government. Kingston served as Premier for a then-record of six and a half years, usually implementing legislation with Labor support.

Thomas Price formed the state's first Labor minority government and the world's first stable Labor Party government at the 1905 election with the support of several non-Labor MPs to form the Price-Peake administration, which was re-elected at the 1906 double dissolution election, with Labor falling just two seats short of a majority. So successful, John Verran led Labor to form the state's first of many majority governments at the 1910 election, just two weeks after the 1910 federal election where their federal counterparts formed Australia's first elected majority in either house in the Parliament of Australia, the world's first Labor Party majority government at a national level, and after the 1904 Chris Watson minority government the world's second Labor Party government at a national level. [2] [3] [4]

Known as the United Labor Party of South Australia until 1917, the Australian Labor Party at both a state/colony and federal level pre-dates, among others, both the British Labour Party and the New Zealand Labour Party in party formation, government, and policy implementation. [5]


Parliamentary Party Leader
Peter Malinauskas (cropped).png
Peter Malinauskas
since 9 April 2018
Inaugural holder John McPherson
Deputy Susan Close

Thirteen of the nineteen parliamentary Labor leaders have served as Premier of South Australia: Thomas Price (1905–1909), John Verran (1910–1912), Crawford Vaughan (1915–1917), John Gunn (1924–1926), Lionel Hill (1926–1927 and 1930–1931; expelled from party but continued as Premier until 1933), Frank Walsh (1965–1967), Don Dunstan (1967–1968 and 1970–1979), Des Corcoran (1979), John Bannon (1982–1992), Lynn Arnold (1992–1993), Mike Rann (2002–2011), Jay Weatherill (2011–2018) and Peter Malinauskas (2022–Present) . Robert Richards was Premier in 1933 while leading the rebel Parliamentary Labor Party of MPs who had been expelled in the 1931 Labor split; he would later be readmitted and lead the party in opposition. Bannon is Labor's longest-serving Premier of South Australia, ahead of Rann and Dunstan by a matter of weeks. Every Labor leader for more than half a century has gone on to serve as Premier.

Deputy Premiers

Since the position's formal introduction in 1968, seven parliamentary Labor deputy leaders have served as Deputy Premier of South Australia: Des Corcoran (1968 and 1970–1979), Hugh Hudson (1979), Jack Wright (1982–1985), Don Hopgood (1985–1992), Frank Blevins (1992–1993), Kevin Foley (2002–2011), John Rau (2011–18) and Susan Close (2022– Present). Foley is the state's longest-serving Deputy Premier.

List of parliamentary leaders

List of deputy parliamentary leaders

Current federal parliamentarians



Historic party officials

State election results

ElectionLeaderSeats won±Total votes %Position
1893 John McPherson
10 / 54
Increase2.svg1016,45818.8%Third party
12 / 54
Increase2.svg239,10724.3%Third party
1899 Lee Batchelor
11 / 54
Decrease2.svg140,75625.4%Third party
1902 Thomas Price
5 / 42
15 / 42
Increase2.svg10148,55041.3%Minority government
20 / 42
Increase2.svg5143,57744.8%Minority government
1910 John Verran
22 / 42
Increase2.svg2197,93549.1%Majority government
16 / 40
1915 Crawford Vaughan
26 / 46
Increase2.svg10153,03445.9%Majority government
1918 Andrew Kirkpatrick
17 / 46
1921 John Gunn
16 / 46
27 / 46
Increase2.svg11192,25648.4%Majority government
1927 Lionel Hill
16 / 46
30 / 46
Increase2.svg14102,19448.6%Majority government
1933 Edgar Dawes
6 / 46
1938 Andrew Lacey
9 / 39
1941 Robert Richards
11 / 39
16 / 39
13 / 39
1950 Mick O'Halloran
12 / 39
14 / 39
15 / 39
17 / 39
1962 Frank Walsh
19 / 39
21 / 39
Increase2.svg2274,43255.0%Majority government
1968 Don Dunstan
19 / 39
27 / 47
Increase2.svg8305,47851.6%Majority government
26 / 47
Decrease2.svg1324,13551.5%Majority government
23 / 47
Decrease2.svg3321,48146.3%Majority government
27 / 47
Increase2.svg4383,83151.6%Majority government
1979 Des Corcoran
20 / 47
1982 John Bannon
24 / 47
Increase2.svg5353,99946.3%Majority government
27 / 47
Increase2.svg3393,65248.2%Majority government
22 / 47
Decrease2.svg5346,26840.1%Minority government
1993 Lynn Arnold
10 / 47
1997 Mike Rann
21 / 47
23 / 47
Increase2.svg2344,55936.4%Minority government
28 / 47
Increase2.svg5424,71545.2%Majority government
26 / 47
Decrease2.svg2367,48037.5%Majority government
2014 Jay Weatherill
23 / 47
Decrease2.svg3364,42035.8%Minority government
19 / 47
2022 Peter Malinauskas
27 / 47
Increase2.svg8436,13440.0%Majority government

Note: Following the 2014 election, the Labor minority government won the 2014 Fisher by-election which took them to 24 of 47 seats and therefore majority government. Prior to the 2018 election, a Labor MP became an independent, reducing them back to a minority 23 seats.

See also

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  2. "History of South Australian elections 1857-2006, volume 1 - ECSA". Archived from the original on 2 March 2014. Retrieved 5 January 2016.
  3. Sound of Trumpets: History of the Labour Movement in South Australia - By Jim Moss
  4. Why did a 'labour movement' emerge in South Australia in the 1880s? - By Nicholas Klar
  5. "Australian Labor Party". 6 October 2013. Retrieved 11 December 2014.