Melbourne University ALP Club

Melbourne University ALP Club

The Melbourne University Australian Labor Party Club is a political student club at the University of Melbourne. It is the oldest political club at the University of Melbourne, and one of the oldest general clubs at that university. Many members go on to be members of ParliamentFact|date=May 2007. It was founded to provide a means of organising students who support the Australian Labor Party.The club has been hugely influential on the Melbourne University Student Union, and its members have held numerous positions within it.


In recent history the club has been decidedly left-leaning. This is markedly contrasted to the MU Labor Club who are right-wing. Within the ALP the club identifies with the Labor left, which in Victoria is called the Socialist Left Faction.

The National Union of Students is a body representing students from most Australian Universities. When the ALP Club sends representatives (which are elected by the student body) they align with National Labor Students, the national Labor Left student faction. Prior to the formation of this faction in 2006, the club was part of Australian Labor Students (ALS), and had been part of the National Organisation of Labor Students (NOLS) prior to the split between NOLS and ALS in 1997. Between 1997 and 1999 the executive of the club comprised individuals from both NOLS and ALS, this was an untenable situation and an unproductive time for the club. In 1999 This changed with the election of Alan Black and an entirely ALS-affiliated executive.

Though the politics of individual club members differ, it can be generally held that most members are progressive left-wingers. Accordingly the ALP club supports campaigns for free education and free healthcare, Aboriginal reconciliation, universal student unionism and feminism among many other concerns. The club's t-shirts and flyers tend to bear the motto: "Socialism, Feminism, Unionism, Democracy."

Club structure

The Club is organised around the general caucus, its highest decision making body, and the club executive, which is its administrative body directed by the caucus. The club caucuses regularly, making decisions by democratic show of hand vote, and secret ballots for elections and preselections. There is also an autonomous women's caucus convened by the club's women's officer.

The executive is made up of seven members, elected annually at the club's general meeting. The executive consists of:
*Wom*n's Officer
*Campaigns Officer
*2 First-year representatives filling the positions of Activities and Publicity Officer


Records in the university archives indicate that the ALP Club was established during the 1920s. The ALP Club has been affiliated to the Melbourne University Student Union (MUSU) for decades. Records in the student union show the club as affiliated since at least 1955.

In the 1960s, a split in the MU ALP CLub led to the formation of two separate student clubs, the MU ALP CLub and the MU Labor Club. Originally, the ALP CLub represented the right-wing and the Labor Club the left-wing. However, due to very successful attempts of each to stack the other, the situation has been reversed since the early 1990s.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the ALP Club was closely involved in the Left Alliance, a group of left-wing students that opposed the "unholy marriage" between the Labor Club and Liberal Club. Left Alliance transformed into Left Focus around this time.

The '90s

Following the success of the Melbourne University Liberal Club and its coalition with other non-Left student groups in winning union elections in the early-mid 1990s (under the "VITAL" banner), the ALP Club changed tactics in attempting to control the Melbourne University Student Union by running on the "Left Focus" ticket with other left-wing student groups. The Left Focus ticket led by the ALP Club dominated student politics at Melbourne University for almost a year. After the 1997 NOLS split, the ALP Club ceased its affiliation (and effective control) of "Left Focus", ceding it to the hard Left. []

In 2000, the Club made the decision to work with their erstwhile opponents, the Labor Right to regain control of the student union under the banner of "Real Students". This alliance did not have any electoral success, and in 2002, the Club ran under its own name. The Labor Club ran on "Real Students" in 2001; following a court battle, almost every other group was thrown out of the election for not getting their nominations to the returning officer on time. Some now believe that this action led to the demise of the Student Union, as various right-wing forces controlled the union up until the 2004 annual elections. This meant the exclusion of both the radical and moderate Left groups, including the ALP CLub.

Crisis period

As a result of the NOLS split, the ALP Club suffered a decline, its active membership in 1999 dropping to a mere 3 members. In 2003, the Clubs & Societies Department of the student union, which had a Liberal Club and Labor Club majority, disaffiliated the ALP Club on a technicality. At the same time, the electoral regulations were changed to favour clubs forming tickets (using a process called "Universal Voting"). Despite lengthy attempts to overturn this decision, the student union was put into liquidation before the issue could be resolved.


Since 2000, club has rebuilt itself. Coming back from the disastrous "State of the Union" elections in 2003, the left groups won the student union elections in 2004. In 2005, the ALP Club ran on a joint ticket called "Left Union" with Socialist Alternative and took the elections again, along with other left groups including Activate. In 2005, the ALP Club won the positions of President, Secretary and Education Officer (Academic affairs) in the Student Union, as well as the student position on University Council. The Wom*n's office was also held from second semester 2006. []


In the 2006 UMSU elections, the club ran with some notable independents on a new ticket called "Stand Up!". During election negotiations, relations with Socialist Alternative went sour and the ALP Club turned to the Activate and More Activities! groups, signing a Golden Triangle preference deal. The late withdrawal of the Melbourne University Liberal Club's tickets [] and strong fellowship with the other Left groups contributed to electoral success for Stand Up! and the other left groups over the MU Labor Club's "One" ticket. As in 2005, ALP Club candidates were elected to the positions of President, Secretary and Education Officer (Academic affairs) in the Student Union, as well as the student position on University Council.

In 2007, many members of the ALP Club ran on the Stand Up! ticket again. Other members also ran under the club's own name. Both tickets enjoyed great success with the smaller ALP Club Ticket electing candidates to 4 committee positions, including one member of Students Council. Stand Up! elected candidates to four office bearer positions in UMSU, but failed to hold on to the University Council position previously held by members of the ALP Club. Together, these tickets elected 2 or three representatives from almost every multi-member ballot held, excluding only the Queer and Indigenous Committees. Two delegates from Stand Up! were elected as delegates for the National Union of Students. []

Office Bearers elected for 2008 included:
*Elizabeth "Libby" Buckingham (UMSU President)
*Scott Bloodworth (UMSU Secretary)
*Onagh Bishop (UMSU Education Officer for Academic Affairs)
*Iain Finlayson and Robert Anderson-Hunt (UMSU Education Officers for Public Affairs)

Club presidents

*Alan Black (1999-2000)
*Danny O'Keefe (2000-2001)
*Benjamin Barnett (2001-2003)
*Paul Erickson (2003-2004)
*Joshua Cusack (2004-2005)
*Caitlyn O'Dowd (2005-2006)
*Dean Rizzetti (2006-2007)
*Michael Griffith (2007-2008)
*Onagh Bishop (2008-)

External links

* [ Melbourne University ALP Club]
* [ Account of Union history]


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