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The ALP left in Leichhardt municipality in the 1980s

'Primal Socialist Innocence and the Fall'?: the ALP Left in Leichhardt Municipality in the 1980s

By Tony Harris*


From the History Cooperative.

During the 1970's and the early 1980's, hundreds of people flooded into the ALP branches of the Municipality of Leichhardt. They constituted a new element of the ALP Left, influenced to one degree or another by the social movements of the late '60s and early '70s, or by the experience of the Whitlam Government. They became locked into a fierce struggle for power with local political machines, and behind them a state ALP branch, dominated by the Labor Right. But when, in the early 1980's, the moment of power arrived, this Left fell into bitter disarray, fragmenting along a spectrum that spilled out of the Party. This tale of political 'innocence' and 'fall' traces through the loss of the municipal council and state parliamentary seat and is dramatically symbolised in the fraught struggle over the future one of the most significant labour (and Labor) history sites: Mort's Dock. As such it reveals the historically contingent nature of the 'middle-classing' of the ALP during this period.

1
On a warm, early spring night in 1980, a group of 100 people or so crowded into the Mori Gallery on Catherine Street, in the inner Sydney municipality of Leichhardt, and spilled out onto the footpath. The occasion was a fund-raising party for two Australian Labor Party (ALP) candidates for the Annandale ward in the Leichhardt Municipal elections, due at the end of September. The gathering enthusiastically anticipated the results of these elections. They would see a triumph for a Left that had been locked in a fierce struggle with a conservative, patriarchal and predominantly working-class Labor Right within the ALP branches of the municipality for a decade or more. These local 'shrines to conservatism within the ALP'1 had been linked to the most formidable, conservative and influential of the Labor Party's state machines, the NSW Branch of the ALP. At stake had been the right of a new and radicalised generation to join the Party, to advocate an agenda emerging from the politics and social movements of their age, and challenge for control of the local council and parliamentary seats. This struggle had reached its climax with the transformative event of the bashing of ALP Left Member of the Legislative Council (MLC) and branch membership recruiter, Peter Baldwin, just a few months before.2 2
Late in the evening, one of those present, state ALP Left parliamentarian George Petersen, gave a rendition of the Wobblies' (Industrial Workers of the World — IWW) song Bump Me Into Parliament3 with the crowd chiming in on the chorus. If the irony of a politician singing this syndicalist and anti-parliamentary anthem at an electoral event was evident at the time, it becomes more-so in retrospect. The victory of the two Annandale candidates over incumbent Left aldermen in the ALP branch preselection earlier in the year had been achieved at a heavy price. The Annandale branch was divided and within months of their election, these two candidates, Hall Greenland and Bill Hume, would barely be on speaking terms themselves. The incoming Left-dominated council would become riven by personality and policy conflicts that signalled a wider opening up of political division within the ALP Left and the municipality. Later in the decade the ALP would lose the state parliamentary seat of Balmain, birthplace of the ALP, and control of Leichhardt Council would pass to independents. Throughout the 1980s, the primary votes for Labor candidates at all electoral levels in the area would shift to independents, Democrats and Greens and many of those who joined the ALP throughout the 1970s and in the early part of the 1980s would desert the Party. 3
From the mid to late 1960s there had been major population shifts within the wards that made up the Municipality of Leichhardt: Annandale, Balmain, Glebe, Lilyfield, Rozelle and Leichhardt proper. As the population declined, 'white-collar' workers, semi-professionals, students and assorted bohemians began replacing the traditional 'blue-collar' working class and many sought membership of the ALP.4 Many of these new members had been motivated by a political radicalism that had flourished in the extra-parliamentary, social movements of the late 1960s and early 1970s and in the hopes engendered by the 1972–75 Whitlam federal Labor government. For them Petersen's rendition of Bump Me Into Parliament would come at the beginning of a downward arc of political radicalism and prove a harbinger of the pitfalls of parliamentary politics and the ambiguous relationship of the labour movement, as well as the more recent social movements, to parliamentarism.5 4
This article is shaped around this ambiguity and contradiction and is set in a context of political downturn that characterised the experience in Leichhardt Municipality, the ALP and in the wider political world during the mid 1980s. Such an interpretation might, perhaps, be seen as fitting into the critical stream of labour history that Stuart Macintyre identified in his Manning Clark memorial lecture at the ALP National Conference in September 1994. Macintyre characterised this critical stream as dwelling on the 'idea of a Faustian compact' as a central metaphor of the Labor Party's historical quest for political power:
Childe and Fitzpatrick, followed by Ian Turner, Russel Ward, Miriam Dixon, Bob Gollan, Lloyd Churchward, Ken Buckley and Eric Fry, followed in turn by their students, yielded by the 1970's a labour history that regarded the Labor Party with disfavour. At best it was a necessary evil; at worst, a brake on the better political instincts of the working class.6
Decades earlier, in his introduction to Vere Gordon Childe's How Labour Governs, F.B. Smith had characterised this 'interpretive framework' as a 'Doctrine of Primal Socialist Innocence and the Fall'.7
5
The shift from elated 'innocence' to the 'fall' of electoral humiliation among the ALP Left in Leichhardt Municipality during the 1980s was poignantly marked by the corrosive debate over one of the most important sites in Australian labour movement and Labor Party history, Mort's Dock. The decision by the New South Wales Housing Department to place public housing on this former waterfront industrial site set off a bitter battle around the issues of housing and open space. This was to be a struggle infused with political symbolism; bringing to the surface emerging tensions between issues of the environment, participatory democracy and socio-economic equality; generating political schisms within the ALP, and burgeoning ex-ALP, Left. The Mort Bay project was nothing less than a battle for control of the political heritage of the Labor Party in the area; a heritage that was intimately connected with the site and the industrial and political history of Balmain.8 6
   

The 'Middle-Classing' of Labor

 
There has of course been a considerable debate in recent times around the 'middle-classing' of the ALP, and this article constitutes a case study of outcomes of that phenomenon. Two diverse examples of analysis of middle classing are provided in the work of Andrew Scott and Michael Thompson. Scott's 1991 study of ALP membership changes, Fading Loyalties: the Australian Labor Party and the Working Class,9 expressed concern that the increasing domination of the ALP branches by the middle class, which he defined as encompassing those in administrative, professional and para-professional occupations. This was at the expense of a working class made up of non-professional white collar and blue collar workers. The middle class had succeeded, he argued, 'in redefining Left politics to reflect their own interests, and in a way which marginalises the more 'boring' bread and butter concerns of the less privileged'.10 Scott was writing from very much a Left ideological perspective, concerned at 'the growing contradiction between Labor's membership and its constituency'11 He argued the need to reform the Party to encourage greater participation from the working class. 7
Thompson, in his 1999 book, Labor Without Class: the Gentrification of the ALP,12 challenged Scott's interpretation of the declining working-class involvement in the ALP, an interpretation he argued that was mired in the 'language of the privileged tertiary educated' and 'blinded by his support for the social movements'.13 For example, he questioned Scott's, and other writer's, beliefs that it had been the Hawke Labor Government's 'economic rationalism' that had disenchanted the traditional working class. Thompson argued that it was the 'political correctness' of the middle class now dominating the ALP with their 'coercive and self-interested agendas' who offended the values of the working-class; values of the fair go, hard work, the family and respect for government and the rule of law.14 8
While approaching this very real problem from different perspectives, both Scott and Thompson share a tendency to ascribe to the middle-class membership of the ALP some kind of uniform motivation or 'interest'. This is also evident in the work of gentrification analysts who in examining the intersecting context of the conflict over urban space and power, implicitly ascribe to those in the middle class the political and social values of a 'gentry'.15 However these macro approaches obscure the ambiguities and contradictions of those located in the middle class, especially in the ALP where they are generally members of unions, albeit those not affiliated to the Party. Scott and Thompson failed to explain why, as Scott's study revealed, both the middle class and working class began to abandon membership of the ALP in the late 1980s, something that may point to substantial common interest among some of the middle class and working-class membership.16 This is true of Leichhardt Municipality where the decline in membership in the late 1980s was characterised by an effective reversal of middle-classing in absolute, though not relative, terms. This study then explores the reasons for this reversal, focussing on the interrelationship of human agency with the local and wider historical context and revealing the political contradictions that emerged among the middle-class Left. 9
   

Leichhardt Municipality in the Early 1980s: Innocence Betrayed?

 
The bashing of Peter Baldwin in 1980 gave the name 'Baldwinites' to the dominant grouping of young ALP branch recruiters who had been active in the municipality from the mid-1970s. The shock and anger at the assault together with the esprit de corps of successful branch stacking campaigns produced a potent hubris that generated opposition within the ALP Left. This opposition emerged in the preselections for the federal seat of Sydney (1981) and state seat of Balmain (1983) and were the foundation of the divisions within the Steering Committee (later Socialist Left) in NSW that persist to the present. The Baldwinites were triumphant with Peter Baldwin taking the federal seat and his co-recruiter, Peter Crawford, successful in the state preselection. The divisions revealed in these preselections were closely linked to the politics of the new Leichhardt Council elected in September 1980. This was an all-ALP council with the Left dominating eight to four.17 10



 
Figure 1
    The preselection for the federal seat of Sydney, November 1981. John Faulkner, NSW ALP Assistant Secretary and future Labour Senate leader, carries the ballot box down the steps of Leichhardt Town Hall; it was deposited for safe-keeping at the local police station.
    Source: Challenge, issue 50, 4 December 1981, p. 1.
 

 

 
There were two phases of division on council. The first was when Annandale Ward alderman Hall Greenland parted company with his co-alderman Bill Hume and, with the support of the branch majority, began challenging council over a range of issues. Chiefly these were council's perceived weakness in resisting redevelopment of former commercial and industrial land, the state government's underlying policy of 'urban consolidation' and the principles of resident participation in decision making or 'open council'. This latter policy had been at the core of the independent dominated 1971–73 council during the mayoralty of ex ALP post-Trotskyist Nick Origlass and was rooted in the libertarian politics of the social movements of the late 1960s and early 1970s. The Annandale ALP branch had been anchored in this political milieu and was, until 1978, the only Left-controlled branch in the municipality. For much of the 1970s however, this Left in the branch was diverse and distant from the broader ALP factional politics. Greenland and his compatriots in the branch also had close personal and political links to Origlass.18 11
Divisions had opened up in the branch in the late 1970s around dissatisfaction with the performance of the incumbent Left aldermen from Annandale, Tim Kelly and Charles Rocks, and inroads into the branch of the more factional politics of the Steering Committee. As 'one-out' among the ALP Left aldermen after 1980, and with support in Annandale branch sliding, Greenland resigned from council in 1983. He and others from the branch were expelled from the ALP for supporting Origlass, his Balmain co-alderman Issy Wyner, and/or various independents, in the 1984 municipal elections and some went on to form the Sydney Greens that same year.19 12
Greenland's confrontation with the other seven Left aldermen on council masked personal and political divisions among them and in particular the growing rift between the two wings of the Steering Committee. This rift that was being played out around the 'Baldwinite' emphasis on branch recruitment on the one-hand and the links by others to the more traditional, union-based, Steering Committee 'establishment'. More specifically this divide sharpened around the bitter 1983 state preselection, with alderman Peter Crawford opposed by co-alderman Robyn Floyd. Underlying these tensions were the problems of working within the ALP local and state structures while at the same time accommodating the extra-party, urban environmental and resident action tradition. The result among the ALP Left aldermen by the end of their (extended) term was a mixture of a sense of achievement of reforms within the limited powers of council, particularly in service provision and town planning, coupled with a palpable sense of exhaustion. Only two recontested the delayed 1984 elections and only one of these was successful.20 13
   

The Mid-1980s: Labor's Changing Fortunes

 
The existence of Labor governments at all levels, federal state and local, in the mid 1980s might have presented the dominant ALP Left in Leichhardt Municipality with unprecedented political opportunities to push a Left agenda. But the reverse was true. The Left was coming under intense pressure from a disaffected constituency at all levels. The federal Labor government, elected in early 1983, had begun to lose support over a range of issues: uranium and anti-nuclear issues, Aboriginal land rights, and the general shift to neo-liberal economic policies. The federal elections of December 1984 saw the emergence of Nuclear Disarmament Party (NDP), and in the federal seat of Sydney, the first Green candidate, Daphne Gollan. The primary vote for Labor in the federal seat of Sydney fell to 57 per cent in 1984 (from 67 per cent in 1983) and in 1987, to just over 50 per cent. Communist Party member and former Builders Labourers Federation (BLF) activist, Jack Mundey, received 13 per cent of the primary vote in the seat in 1987. However, the seat was still one of the safest for Labor on a two-party preferred basis. Nationally, the ALP was increasingly dependent on the preferences of environmental and independent candidates.21 14
At the NSW state level, Labor was heading for defeat. Neville Wran resigned as Premier in 1986. His successor, former NSW Labor Council secretary, Barry Unsworth, inherited a legacy of perceived corruption and mismanagement. A decade of restraint in federal government expenditure had impacted on state grants and spending in areas like health, education and public transport and ALP Left Minister for Education, Rodney Cavalier antagonised the Teachers Federation over education funding and industrial issues. There was also a revolt among Labor voters in the inner city over projects like the mono-rail, Darling Harbour and the Harbour Tunnel as well as the state government's manipulations of the Council of the City of Sydney, dominated after 1984 by environmentalists and independents.22 15
The developing split within the official Left Steering Committee was crystallising around two state Labor ministers. Cavalier, close to the Baldwinite branch activists, was questioning the role of the unions in the Party, while Minister for Housing, Frank Walker, had closer links to the traditional union-based Left. In the context of what were seen as neo-liberal, authoritarian, and insensitive, federal and state Labor governments, the ALP Left in Leichhardt Municipality was struggling for identity and purpose.23 16
   

Counter-Revolution on Council

 
The new council that took office in Leichhardt, after the delayed elections of April 1984 saw the return of Origlass and Wyner in Balmain and the defeat of the former Labor Mayor, Evan Jones, and his running mate in Leichhardt ward. In 1980, Origlass and Wyner had unsuccessfully contested the Balmain ward against candidates of the ALP Left who had won control of the Balmain branch in 1978. There were eight Labor aldermen on the new 1984 council, two each from Annandale, Rozelle, Lilyfield and Glebe.24 17
The numbers among the Labor eight soon fell around a curious alliance. At the core of this was the new Mayor, Bill Brady. Brady was a variety performer and Actor's Equity official who had replaced Greenland as alderman for Annandale in early 1983. He had come up the hard way, working in vaudeville and as a steward on coastal ships. It was here, through the Seamens Union, that he had developed much of his socialist thinking. He was associated with the Socialist Objective Committee within the ALP, which had split off from the Steering Committee in the late 1960's. This had parallelled the split between the pro-Moscow Socialist Party of Australia and the post 1968, Moscow-critical, Communist Party of Australia. This defined the distinctly 'old' Left nature of his politics. He was joined by Lilyfield Ward's Harry Mitchell, a Miscellaneous Workers Union official also associated with the Socialist Objective Committee. Together with Sharon Page, an audiologist and resident activist from Lilyfield Ward, they were the core of the council. They dominated the caucus first by dominating the Left, which also included a school teacher from Annandale ALP branch, Larry Hand and Rozelle masseuse, and gay and lesbian activist, Margaret Lyons. The Brady trio also linked up with two Right wing aldermen from Glebe, in particular Brian Thompson, a staffer for leading state Labor Right minister Pat Hills. This coalition would lead a political swing back to a more traditional, economistic, development-friendly Laborism, critical of the preoccupations of the 'trendy' middle-class Left and resident action politics. The Brady group also became the political and public face of a corporatisation of council administration under its controversial Town Clerk/General Manager, Ron Eggins.25 18
Larry Hand was troubling to this ruling group and began to cooperate with Origlass and Wyner. Hand, who had been quite close to the more libertarian Left tradition in the Annandale branch, stayed in the ALP when Greenland and others left in 1984. By early 1985 he had earned enough of the ruling group's ire to face charges under ALP rules. Caucus secretary Harry Mitchell accused Hand of 'delinquency' for introducing a resolution of support on council for the anti-nuclear position of New Zealand Prime Minister, David Lange without first raising it in caucus. Hand was also charged for absenting himself from council during the contentious rezoning of the site for the development of Mort Bay (see below) and in presenting 'half truths and innuendos' in briefing his branch about the background to caucus decisions. Mitchell claimed he was also 'deliberately [seeking] to be provocative and endlessly prolong or disrupt meetings of caucus'.26 19
The NSW ALP suspended Hand from the party for three months. In the third month of his suspension he and Margaret Lyons were both reported for voting to amend caucus proposals to change the ward system for Leichhardt. The number of wards was to be reduced from six to four, with three aldermen to be elected from each. An accompanying proportional representation system would nominally favour independents but the break up of traditional suburb representation and larger wards might favour Labor. There was considerable opposition in the municipality, and in the ALP. Hand and Lyons also sided with local residents critical of the Brady group's limited approach to their demands for waterfront parkland in Glebe and Annandale. Both aldermen gained support in the ALP, including from the large Forest Lodge branch, in Glebe. This had been the last effective bastion of the Right in the municipality and fell to the Left in 1984 after a recruiting campaign by future state parliamentarian Sandra Nori and her then partner, Assistant General Secretary and future Labor Senate Leader, John Faulkner.27 20
It was from this point that Lyons apparently decided to focus on 'achievable outcomes' and function within the current caucus. Hand was suspended from the Party for a further 12 months. This situation was part of a growing rift within the Left branches over the Brady group's control of council. In contrast to the Forest Lodge branch resolution, the Leichhardt branch, in late 1985, had called for 'severe disciplinary action' to be taken against Hand and Lyons. Leichhardt ALP Municipal Committee president, Brian Daley claimed that Lyons and Hand had 'undermined the basic principles of democracy within the ALP'. In the Annandale branch, in a repeat of the earlier conflict between Greenland and Hume, the branch see-sawed in its support for Hand and Brady, with the Brady forces gradually winning dominance.28 21
Earlier in 1985, the council had endured the embarrassment of a prolonged strike by garbage collectors over a 35 hour week campaign. In October of that year, ALP members, Ralph Catts, Bill Hume and Barry Butler, husband of Labor Women's president Kate Butler and a former council staffer, had circulated a document throughout the Labor Party in the area. It had criticised the Brady group and its council decisions. This included the abandonment of open council procedures and not taking up federal funding for a children's services coordinator. The latter related to a dispute over long day care. This issue was backgrounded by the debate over child-care funding at the federal level, with Finance Minister, Peter Walsh's criticisms of the perceived subsidising of middle, and high, income earners. Brady argued in his regular mayoral column in the Glebe that family day care (as opposed to long day care) would favour non-working parents, was cheaper, and could cater for more. The delay in getting the centre functioning, and dissembling over the financial cost to council, over and above federal funding, provoked critical resolutions from branches and caused the federal member for Sydney, Peter Baldwin, to write to council, attacking the mayor and his administration. Brady also angered Labor feminists by referring to them at one point as the 'petticoat mafia'.29 22
The Butler, Catts and Hume document had also expressed concern over the unfair treatment of two women employees in the council's community services department over leave entitlements and duties. Both these women, Helen Hanify and Ros Riordan, were members of the Party and the issue was hotly debated through the branches. Brady was also taken to task by the Forest Lodge branch (on the motion John Faulkner) for his 'boofheaded' comments to the press to the effect that parks only attracted dog 'poop'.30 23
   

1987: the Council Crash

 
Alderman Larry Hand's final expulsion from the Party came in January 1987. He had objected to Harry Mitchell continuing to represent Lilyfield ward when he relocated to his union's Melbourne office. Hand also publicly criticised a council restructuring around fewer meetings, intended partially to accommodate Mitchell. After his expulsion, Hand continued on council as an independent.31 24
As the September 1987 municipal elections approached, the Brady group on council switched tack on the question of ward boundaries and achieved their abolition. The elections were fought out in a Senate-style ballot with 12 aldermen elected from the municipality as a whole. Even more-so than the earlier proposal to reduce the number of wards, this was seen as favouring the Labor Party. However concerned about the damaging divisions emerging in the ALP, the Party's NSW Branch abandoned preselections and withheld endorsements. Any ALP member could contest the elections provided they exchanged preferences. Two ALP teams did so.32 25
The 'Mayor's Team' was team led by Brady, Sharon Page and Brian Thompson. The 'Members' Team' was headed up by Kate Butler who had been President of the NSW Labor Women's Committee at the time of its controversial abolition in 1986. It was hoped among the Baldwin/Faulkner forces that the members' team might prevail but this was not to be. They had recruited to their ticket, Bob Heffernan, an old Right-winger from Rozelle and running mate of former Deputy Mayor Dan Casey. Casey had been pressured to resign from the ALP in 1980 in the aftermath of the bashing of Baldwin and allegations of corrupt membership practices in the Rozelle East branch. Lower down the ticket, the canny Heffernan ran his own side-campaign among local supporters, leap-frogging onto council behind Butler. With the top three on the Mayor's ticket elected and the overall control of council shifting to independents, Butler was the only representative of what might be termed the progressive element within the ALP Left.33 26
This disaster in late 1987 was compounded in early 1988 with the loss of the state seat of Balmain and the state government itself. In the municipality, a key factor was the destructive debate that took place over the Mort Bay public housing project. 27
   

The Peninsula Crusades

 
The unpopularity of the Brady group on council created problems for state member for Balmain, Peter Crawford in a situation where the Baldwinite grouping in the municipality was fracturing. Crawford was a friend of Baldwin's, they had learnt the 'branch-stacking' craft together under Norm Hanscombe in the upper North Shore area during the early 1970s. On the other side of the divide, both Crawford and Brady appealed to the same constituency in the branches, especially the now pro-Brady Annandale and Lilyfield branches. Crawford, as much as the rest of the ALP Left, was struggling for political identity and purpose in the midst of this maelstrom. What better form of relevance and purpose than that provided in the bricks and mortar of public housing, and in particular that proposed for the Mort's Dock site in Balmain.34 28
A dry dock for the servicing of ships in the busy port of Sydney was first constructed on Waterview Bay (now Mort Bay), at the Northern end of the Balmain peninsula, in the mid 1850s. It was the beginning of the industrialisation of Balmain, and Sydney generally. The facility that would become known as Mort's Dock and Engineering Company became Sydney's biggest employer by the end of the nineteenth century and developed on into the twentieth century with ship repair, ship construction and general metal manufacturing and engineering.35 29
The industrial development of the company was linked to the emergence of the labour movement on the Balmain peninsula, the industrial disputation of the last decades of the nineteenth century and the formation, in Balmain in 1891, of the first Labor Electoral League. One of the four Labor members of NSW parliament elected from Balmain in 1891 was a boilermaker from Mort's Dock, as was a later state member for Balmain and Labor Premier of NSW (1920–21), John Storey. In the late 1940's, the dock was to be one of the important sites for the struggle for control of the Ironworkers union. This was a struggle that saw the demise of the union's Communist leadership and the rise of anti-communist labour movement figure, Laurie Short. It was also an important political milestone in the life of local Trotskyist, Mort's Dock boilermaker's assistant and future Leichhardt mayor, Nick Origlass. Origlass's political associate and co-alderman from Balmain, Issy Wyner, had also been connected to Mort's Dock as Secretary of the NSW Branch of the Ships Painters and Dockers Union. This was the descendant organisation of the original Balmain Labourers Union, which maintained its offices in Mort Street Balmain until it was absorbed in the wave of union amalgamations at the end of the 1980's.36 30
The dock and engineering works closed in 1957 and the site was to be the focus of the emerging resident action groups in Balmain in the late 1960s when it became a shipping container terminal, generating truck traffic through Balmain's narrow streets. The Origlass-led council of 1971–73, was able to erect gates to control truck movements. With the departure of the Australian National Line and its containers and associated truck traffic from the Mort Bay site by the end of the 1970s, the post-1980 ALP Left dominated council leant towards a mix of housing and open space on the site. The state government eventually acquired the site and developed its approach.37 31
The intense political battle came early in 1985, with Leichhardt Council moving to rezone the site, at state government request, for a mixture of public and private housing, open space and maritime use. As a result of public pressure, maritime uses were eventually abandoned, the size of the residential development moderated and the amount of open space increased from about one-third to just over half the area. The residential area was to consist of two sections of public housing, a total of 210 housing units plus community facilities and two small shops. The marked out area of the original dock, an area recognised by the Heritage Council as of historical significance, was to form part of the open space. The project itself commenced at the beginning of 1987 and was due for completion at the end of that year. However it was not to be completed until the beginning of the 1990s. The 'public housing versus open space' battle that raged from 1985 through to 1987 was by no means the only political issue in the municipality but was a significant and symbolic one. It had as much to do with political power and the future of the Labor Party in the area as it did with either public housing or open space.38 32
   

The Battle Joined

 
From the beginning of the project, Peter Crawford took up the issue of public housing with a passion. The principal organisation demanding all open space for the Mort Bay site, was the Mort Bay Action Group (MBAG), and just as passionate was its principal spokesperson, Jean Lennane. A psychiatrist working with alcoholic patients at Rozelle Psychiatric Centre, Lennane was to be dismissed from the NSW Health Department for publicly criticising the downgrading of psychiatric hospitals in favour of under-funded and inadequate 'community' based care. She subsequently became a founder and president of an organisation for 'whistleblowers'.39 33
Of the ten people at the core of the MBAG, about seven were Labor supporters and three liberals. The MBAG encouraged members to enter political parties in order to influence the situation. A Balmain branch of the Liberal Party was set up, while Lennane and others joined the Labor Party. During its campaign against the development, the MBAG emphasised the need for open space, especially as play areas for children and criticised the urban consolidation plans of the state government, of which the Mort Bay project was part. The development, they argued, would cause overcrowding of the Balmain peninsula and generate parking and traffic problems.40 34
The MBAG was joined in its campaign for all open space by local aldermen Origlass and Wyner and their consequent opposition to public housing at Mort Bay became disquieting to many of their traditional Left supporters. The Balmain duo could, of course, claim considerable credit for initiating the federal government's purchase and rehabilitation of the Glebe Estate, when Origlass was Mayor in 1971–73. Origlass himself lived in a Department of Housing flat in Nicholson Street Balmain. Originally, when Mort's Dock closed in the late '50s, the Balmain aldermen had considered the possibility of its use for housing. Both of them had been involved in a council development of a waterfront site for this purpose in East Balmain in 1960. However, both underwent a change in political attitude related to their increasing political awareness of the environment and the importance of the 'amenity of neighbourhoods'. This was linked to the changing nature of waterfront industrial use away from relatively benign traditional ship-building and repair to more environmentally threatening container wharves, coal loader and chemical and oil storage.41 35
By the 1980s Origlass and Wyner's attitude to waterfront industrial land had evolved towards a firm belief that all waterfront land that was not needed for benign industrial purposes, genuinely needing a water frontage, should be used for open space. This was seen as the principal means of democratising access to Sydney Harbour. That meant opposition to all waterfront residential development, public or private. However their relationship to the conflict over Mort Bay in the mid 1980s was dominated by a problem of electoral politics. This can be illustrated in the campaign which was the forerunner to Mort Bay, the conflict over a small site at the corner of Wallace and Adolphus Streets, Balmain, which incorporated the run-down, heritage cottage of Clontarf.42 36
   

Clontarf

 
Clontarf was a small stone cottage built in 1844 by Robert Blake; a former soldier and speculative builder. It eventually became an industrial site. It was rezoned for open space in 1968 and purchased by Leichhardt Council for that purpose in 1974. This was a time when any such small site would be a valued addition to open space. Leichhardt Municipality was 38th out of the 40 municipalities of the Sydney area in terms of open space in the mid 1980s, with 1.41 hectares per 1000 residents compared to an average of 45.22 hectares.43 37
When the Left took power in Balmain branch in 1978, a tension emerged. This was between the branch Left, in particular the Crawford element, keen to win public office, and Origlass and Wyner, appealing to the same constituency, and keen to seek vindication for their role in the 'wilderness' of independent politics. Just prior to the 1980 municipal elections, Ports Minister Jack Ferguson, handed Leichhardt Council a much larger piece of land for open space, close to Clontarf and overlooking White Bay. This was largely through the efforts of Peter Crawford, who had worked on his staff, his co-candidate and future Deputy Mayor, Nick O'Neill (a harbour foreshores activist) and others in the Balmain ALP branch. During the ALP Left dominated 1980–84 council, Leichhardt Municipality entered into an arrangement with the then Housing Commission to hand over the Adolphus Street site for the construction of 22 pensioner units. In exchange, the Commission would restore Clontarf and maintain access for community use.44 38
Given the large area of public open space now available at White Bay, this arrangement appeared reasonable. Not however for Origlass and Wyner or vocal residents who had their hearts set on the original proposal for a Clontarf restoration as part of all open space. It became a conflict between two rival sets of political achievements; between the assertion of two rival political memories. For Origlass and Wyner it was a memory of a long struggle for open space going back to the 1960s and of their long campaign against the Right waged outside the ALP. For the Left Balmain branch, the memory of political achievement lay in the branch stacking campaign against the right, the acquisition of the White Bay park and the successful defeat of Origlass and Wyner electorally in 1980 as part of the ALP Left's broader coming to power in the municipality. To add insult to injury, the White Bay park was to be on the site of the chemical tank farm, opposition to which had been the cause of Origlass and Wyner's 1968 expulsion from the ALP. Origlass, Wyner and their supporters at the time had received little or no support from the official Left Steering Committee, which was now poised to reap the benefits of their campaigning. Ultimately the pensioner units were built, though not without direct action and civil disobedience on behalf of local residents wanting a park. Origlass himself was arrested and the photograph of this makes up the front cover of Greenland's biography Red Hot.45 39
   

Mort Bay: Public Housing Versus Open Space?

 
The Clontarf issue shaded into the more significant battle over Mort Bay entrenching a polarised, open space versus public housing, debate. There were, after all, strong arguments on both sides. On the one, there was the desire to expand open space in a suburb of small houses and narrow streets, still populated by a social mix of middle class and working class. There was the aim to liberate as much of the waterfront as possible, as part of Sydney Harbour National Park, and perhaps memorialise an important site of Australian industrial and labour history. On the other there was the desire to contain the forces of economic gentrification, maintain the social mix of Balmain and address social inequities, through the provision of public housing. In the generally fraught political context of the mid-1980s, the contest for allegiance of a broadly Labor oriented political constituency in Balmain allowed little room for a reasoned outcome and the debate became intense, abusive and politically corrosive.46 40
Those protesting the Mort Bay project were characterised as yuppies who did not have any compassion, and trendies preoccupied with mortgages. The Balmain ALP branch secretary attacked opponents of the public housing project as a 'doctor-Trotskyite-Liberal Party coalition' and 'a comfortable coalition of self-interested radicalism'. A core of Crawford's supporters attended public meetings and heckled and abused the open space advocates. Posters were placed on telegraph poles mocking the all-open space proponents: one a photograph of Adolf Hitler captioned '"Local" real estate agent addresses Balmain area hysteria workshop'; another a Nazi officer with Alsatian, captioned 'Balmain residents utilising existing open space'. Supporters of open space argued that the ALP was only interested in using public housing as a means to stack voters into the electorate and Crawford was burned in effigy on the site. Pro-open space advocates insisted that they were not opposed to public housing per se, just that on the Mort Bay site, and accused Crawford and the Labor state government of arrogance, fanaticism, and trying to punish the citizens of Balmain for deviating electorally from Labor. They cited the case of the Labor Mayor of Drummoyne, Peter Fitzgerald, a staffer of Planning Minister Bob Carr, who had succeeded in deferring a public housing project much smaller than that proposed for Mort Bay. Crawford's supporters lashed the Mort Bay critics for their 'unscrupulous, mischievous and dishonest campaign' and defended the amount of open space being created in Balmain as well as Crawford's own environmental record. He had spoken in state parliament on National Parks.47 41
In 1985, Lennane joined the ALP through the new system of applying through Head Office but when she tried to register at the Balmain branch she was blocked. In spite of representations on her behalf by the state secretaries of the Health and Research Employees Association, an ALP affiliated union, and the Nurses Association, ALP Head Office cancelled her membership. An attempt through the branches to proscribe the MBAG failed though Head Office put the group on notice. This was a curious echo of attempts in the early '70s, by the Leichhardt ALP Right, to proscribe resident associations. In opposing Lennane's ALP membership, Crawford argued in terms that effectively negated his and Baldwin's own recruitment methods in the 1970s, often based as they were on 'single issues', especially town planning:
It is inappropriate that a person actively ridiculing Labor Ministers and Labor legislation, Labor councils and the local State member of parliament should join on one issue, with a view not to promoting the Labor Party but promoting the issue.48
In spite of assertions by the MBAG that it was not opposed to public housing, its arguments were at best limited and defensive. In the principal leaflet circulated the group focussed on the 'sleaze factor' of 'who gets into Housing Department properties' and the political motivation behind the project:
The NSW Housing Department: Helping Poor People ??? Or a strong arm political machine to create jobs for the boys and houses for their mates? Keep the government in power and costing you — the taxpayer — a fortune!
...
Do they keep building ghettoes because the Labor Party wants to be able to import large numbers of 'safe' voters where they are needed?49
The MBAG 'solution' to housing shortages lay in clearing up the waiting list by moving out those in public housing who did not need it (claimed by MBAG to be 40 per cent), ensuring that tenants did not occupy bigger properties than they needed and supplementing with spot buying.50
42
Throughout this, local aldermen Origlass and Wyner refused to compromise on their demand for all open space for Mort Bay, drawing on a strong labour movement tradition in struggling for harbour foreshore. Origlass cited the example of N.R.W. Neilson, an Australian Workers Union official and the 'Harbour Vigilance Committee', active in the early 1900s. Neilson, as the first Minister for Lands, created what is now Neilson Park. While concerned at elitist aspects of the MBAG, Origlass attacked the 'guilt complex of leading lights of the Balmain Branch' and countered the stereotyping of open space supporters as selfish 'trendies' with his own, romanticised vision:
Most of the newer residents of Balmain are wrongly designated 'middle-class' on the criteria of education, comportment, lifestyle, speech, lucidity. Does the tendency of Air pilots, journalists, doctors, teachers, social workers, public servants, nurses etc etc. towards organised action bear any relationship to that of the classical middle class?

No! What is developing apace is the new proletariat, whose most basic urge is to freedom and self-determination, complementing that of the traditional one. And as they inevitably move towards the recognition that only a benign technology to serve human needs and conserve finite resources can save the planet earth and humankind from disaster, their role of 'Voter in the terrace houses' will expand to that of activist in the public arena.

The current State ALP member Mr Crawford may well have grounds for present fears. He condemns the presence here of residents he attacks as 'trendies' and 'the gentry' and misrepresents their laudable environmental objectives, seemingly unaware that the logic of his position would condemn him to a return to Wahroonga.51
There were differences within the Balmain ALP branch but these mainly appear to have been over the nature of the mix of housing and open space, questions of design, and the way in which the project was being handled. There was the earlier lack of consultation by the Housing and Environment departments and the Brady-led Leichhardt Council, and what was seen as an insensitive, combative and abusive approach by Crawford and some of his pro-public housing supporters. Ann Catling, who had contested the preselection for the federal seat of Sydney against Baldwin in 1981, lived on Mort Bay was involved in the debate from early on, concerned to achieve a better outcome in terms of the juxtaposition of the housing and open space on the site.52
43
Catling's political associate and former Whitlam urban affairs minister Tom Uren, also became involved when he was invited to address one of the public meetings. Uren, who has been a major campaigner for reclaiming and defending Sydney harbour foreshores for public use, also supported a mix of open space and housing. Like Catling, he favoured a repositioning of the housing to maximise the amount of open space adjacent to the waterfront. He rounded on Crawford at a meeting with senior officers of the Environment and Planning Department when Crawford accused him of a conflict of interest. Uren had been born in Balmain and was approaching his parliamentary retirement. He owned a block of land in East Balmain on which he would build a house which looked towards Mort Bay.53 44
Crawford had also begun to antagonise many in the ALP Left with his 'flipflopping' on the issue, swinging from aggressive advocate of public housing to an eleventh hour attempt to modify the project to meet objections from local residents. This tension within the Left was also evident in the relationship between Crawford and the state Housing Minister Frank Walker, who along with Environment and Planning Minister Bob Carr, had joint responsibility for the project. Crawford had wanted the project completed long before the state elections and there was a feeling among his supporters that Walker, who was on the other side of the growing rift within the Steering Committee, was happy to let him 'stew' over the delay. Bob Carr, on the Labor Right, had become a close friend and bushwalking companion of Crawford. However Crawford was to be no more successful in his attempts to modify the project than Uren. His representations were rejected by Premier Unsworth and Carr had refused to negotiate with local representatives who were political opponents of the ALP. This effectively ruled out anybody of significance in the debate. The Balmain Association gave voice to a general dismay at the breakdown of communication between the local groups and the state government over Clontarf and Mort Bay and sought to act as an honest broker. The state government rebuffed the association and construction at Mort Bay proceeded.54 45
   

Outcomes

 
In retrospect, the relatively benign physical outcome at Mort Bay, with the original dock marked out and what Issy Wyner has conceded is a 'good, big park', stands in contrast to the bitterness of the debate. The fall-out was largely political and financial. The Housing Department was to be roundly condemned for gross mismanagement of a project that ballooned from $18.6 million to over $60 million, an above market value, average cost of $283,000, without land costs, for each of the 213 units. The major part of the housing was to never become public housing per se. It was leased by the Liberal state government, elected in 1988, at commercial rentals, and sold later by the Carr-led Labor government. This has given credence to the view that, in retrospect, the project was less about public housing and rather more a Trojan horse for urban consolidation in the form of private residential construction.55 46
In the state elections of March 1988, Peter Crawford was defeated by local Balmain hero, and former Olympic swimmer, Dawn Fraser, who had capitalised on discontent over Mort Bay. As Crawford ruefully put it, 'it was like trying to stand against the Statue of Liberty'.56 Fraser was helped over the line by preferences from independents, including Larry Hand, and Jane Ward, Balmain Association president and a supporter of all open space at Mort Bay. Crawford was not alone in his defeat. Ministers Frank Walker and Rodney Cavalier lost their seats as Labor was swept from office. Carr survived to become the new state Labor leader and then Premier when Labor returned to office in 1995.57 47
The major bright spot for the ALP in the 1988 state elections had been Sandra Nori's victory in McKell, the state seat to the east of Balmain which took in Glebe and parts of Annandale. She had fought off a strong challenge by former Sydney City Council Independent, future Olympian Lord Mayor, and eventual Labor cabinet colleague, Frank Sartor. As a member of the Carr government cabinet from the late 1990s, Nori would lose popularity. But for a time at the end of the 1980s and into the early 1990s she was a popular local member, reaching outside the party to appeal to locals around a range of environmental and social issues. However, in the branches, the members were leaving. Nori's and Faulkner's own Forest Lodge (later Blackwattle) branch saw a decline in membership from over 150 in the mid-1980s to less than 50 in the early 1990s. Similar falls occurred elsewhere. Annandale declined from membership of around 80 to 100 in the mid 1980s to under 40 by the early 1990s. In Balmain, the branch which in late 1977 had hundreds of prospective members crowding the town hall the night a fire extinguisher was thrown through the window, was also down to around 50 in the early 1990s compared to three times that in the mid-1980s.58 48
With the defeat of the Brady council and Crawford, the struggle for control of the Labor heritage in Balmain appeared to have been resolved in favour of Nick Origlass and Issy Wyner. Origlass was Mayor for 1987–88 and Wyner, 1989–90. Larry Hand, who was supposed to serve for the final term, was edged out when a shift in some of the independents ensured the vaudevillian mayor, Bill Brady, a brief, but significant, encore. With the Brady element dominating the ALP presence on council throughout the mid to late 1980s, the Party's stocks were so low that at one point the idea of encouraging Origlass and Wyner back into the ALP was mooted. At the 1990 mayoral elections, Kate Butler was actively encouraged to break caucus in order to try and get Hand elected ahead of Brady. She was offered 'protection' by Baldwin and Faulkner and was given a short suspension from the Party.59 49
However, the move for a generational change was catching up with Origlass and Wyner and the Mort Bay dispute had been a turning point. Their 'residents come first' advocacy for open space, and on behalf of the 'new proletariat', seemed to gloss over the changes to the social mix and the difficulties faced by low income earners trying to keep a toe-hold in the inner city. This left the perception that they had 'dropped the ball' on questions of social equity, succumbing to a reductionist populism. In the future, the group that would be seen to 'take up the ball', and appeal to the Left constituency as far as Leichhardt Council was concerned, would be the Community Independents. Their leader, Larry Hand, would be the dominant personality on council in the first half of the 1990s and his mayoral re-election in 1994, together with the defection of Kate Butler to the Community Independents, would be the central drama of Robyn Anderson's and Bob Connolly's Rats in the Ranks.60 50
The wider disaffection with Labor's cautious, post-Whitlam, reformism and neo-liberal policies had played itself out on the ground in Leichhardt Municipality in ways that intersected with local cleavages in party participation and party support. At the core of this was the collision between pragmatic Labor electoralism and the impulses of the urban social movements of the early 1970s. 51
The former called on the Labor constituency and membership to gather around the formal organisational expressions of party loyalty, endorsements and the caucus system, in a climate of adaptation to a culture of practical achievement through 'Labor in Government' at all levels. This had become entrenched among many of the new recruits into the Party through the conservatising culture surrounding branch-stacking and 'rule-mongering'. These techniques had, in many ways, been made necessary by the formidable and at times corrupt powers deployed against the Left with the encouragement and participation of the Party's Right dominated state branch. 52
This determined organisational pragmatism came up against the libertarian impulses of the social movements that had become embedded in a participatory, extra-parliamentary and extra-Party tradition in the municipality. This stretched back to the emergence of resident action, the expulsion of Origlass, Wyner and their supporters from the ALP in 1968, and the 1971–73 'open council'. It extended through to the non-Baldwinite Left in the 1980s and the various defections from the Party during that decade. The values and impulses inspired by the social movements and the best of the Whitlam era had been essential to enthusing people to move into the Party. But they were ill suited to encouraging them to endure the practicalities of traditional Party life, least of all in the cooling political temper of post-Whitlam Labor. The Left barely had time to recover or reflect before it had to face the realities of its own internal conflicts in the struggles for municipal and parliamentary positions. It began to fracture along a spectrum of bitter conflict that spilled out of the Party. 53
The struggle that ensued became one over the political heritage of Labor itself symbolised by the struggle over Mort Bay, coming as it did on the eve of the Centenary of Labor. It was a conflict as much about claims on political power, as either open space or public housing. It symbolised both the inability of a broadly defined Left to develop a cohesive yet internally diverse and tolerant culture around the problem of electoral power, and the inflexibilities of Party organisation and tradition in accommodating to the 'new politics' which the social movements had generated. Its result was a flawed and dysfunctional response to the imminent flood of urban change, specifically urban consolidation, with consequences for social equity, the urban environment and the Labor Party itself. 54
This experience in the Municipality of Leichhardt then, meshes in with the wider fortunes of the Labor Party during the 1980s with its declining membership at the end of that decade. It demonstrates the value in looking through 'broad-brush' analyses of the Party's 'middle-classing', to fully reveal both human agency and the specificities of historical context and thus deepen our understanding of this phenomenon. 55

 

Endnotes

*The quote used in the title of this article is from F.B. Smith, Introduction to Vere Gordon Childe, How Labour Governs: a Study of Worker's Representation in Australia, 2nd ed., Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 1964, p. vii.

1. Andrew Jakubowicz, 'A New Politics of Suburbia', Current Affairs Bulletin, April 1972, p. 346. The terms Left and Right used in this study relate to the historically determined factional alignments within the ALP at the local and state level. Most of the new, middle-class members were linked to identifiably Left factions and personalities within the ALP and, to one degree or another, motivated by the radical politics of the late 1960s and 1970s. The incumbent machines they confronted, as Jakubowicz points out, were dominated by a conservative element of the working class, or working class made-good, the product of the Labor struggles of the preceding decades and linked to the ALP Right. See also Max Solling and Peter Reynolds, Leichhardt: On the Margins of the City, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1997, especially chs 19 and 20, and Hall Greenland, Red Hot: the Life and Times of Nick Origlass, Wellington Lane Press, Sydney, 1998, especially chs 24–26.

2. The writer was a member of the ALP at this time and present at this fund-raiser. He was expelled from the ALP in 1984 for supporting ex-ALP independents Nick Origlass and Issy Wyner in the 1984 municipal elections, stood as a candidate on the 'Open Council' ticket in the 1987 municipal elections and was the Greens candidate for the federal seat of Sydney in 1990. This article is informed by the writer's role as participant-observer. For a discussion of this role and the relationship between history and memory, see the Introduction to Tony Harris, Basket Weavers and True Believers: the Middle Class Left and the ALP, Leichhardt Municipality, c 1970–1990, PhD thesis, School of History, UNSW, 2002. The writer would like to take the opportunity to thank his supervisor, Bruce Scates, and the thesis examiners, for their assistance in bringing this history to fruition.

3. A version of this song is located in Verity Burgmann, Revolutionary Industrial Unionism: the Industrial Workers of the World in Australia; Cambridge University Press, Melbourne, 1995, pp. 144–145.

4. For Balmain and Glebe for example, the proportion of the working age population in professional, semi-professional and administrative occupations, rose from 18 to 34 per cent and 16 to 30 per cent respectively during the 1970s. By 1991, these occupations were 47 per cent of the working population of the municipality as a whole. See Benno Engels, The Gentrification of Glebe: the Residential Restructuring of an Inner Sydney Suburb, 1960 to 1986, PhD thesis, Geography Department, University of Sydney, 1989, p. 464; Occupation Statistics, Leichhardt Municipality, Census Data, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, 1991. Within the membership of the ALP in the municipality, these changes were mainly reflected in an increase in the proportion of students and non-ALP affiliated, public sector, union members. Associated with this was an increase in the proportion of women members. For a full analysis of membership data see Harris, Basket Weavers and True Believers, pp. 43–53 and Appendices D to F.

5. George Petersen was a member of the NSW parliament from 1968 to 1988. He was expelled from the ALP in 1987 and died in 2000. See Hall Greenland, 'George Petersen (1921–2000)' Hummer, Sydney Branch ASSLH, vol. 3, no. 4, Winter 2000, pp. 40–42.

6. Stuart Macintyre, 'Who Are The True Believers?: the Manning Clark Labor History Memorial Lecture' delivered at the ALP National Conference, Hobart, 28/9/94, printed in Labour History, no. 68, May 1995, pp. 158–161.

7. Smith, Introduction to Childe, How Labour Governs, p. vii. For discussion of Childe's approach to labour history see Terry Irving, 'On the Work of Labour Governments: Vere Gordon Childe's Plans for Volume Two of How Labour Governs', pp. 82–94, Peter Beilharz, 'Vere Gordon Childe and Social Theory', pp. 162–182 and Barry Hindness, 'Sources of Disillusion in Labour and Social Democratic Politics', pp. 183–198, in Peter Gathercole, Terry Irving and Gregory Melleuish (eds), Childe and Australia: Archaeology, Politics and Ideas, University of Queensland Press, St. Lucia, Qld, 1995.

8. The Department of Housing had, prior to 1986, been known as the Housing Commission of New South Wales. References to the Department of Housing apply also to its predecessor organisation.

9. Andrew Scott, Fading Loyalties: the Australian Labor Party and the Working Class, Pluto Press, Sydney, 1991. See also work on the Victorian ALP in Ian Ward, 'The Middle-Classing of the ALP: the Victorian branch 1961–1981', Australian Journal of Politics and History, vol. 34, no. 2, 1988, pp. 201–214.

10. Scott, Fading Loyalties, p. 47.

11.Ibid., p. 62.

12. Michael Thompson, Labor Without Class: the Gentrification of the ALP, Pluto Press, Sydney, 1999.

13.Ibid., pp. 82–85.

14.Ibid., pp. ix–x, 74–85, 93–95.

15. Engels, The Gentrification of Glebe; Ronald Horvath and Benno Engels, 'The Residential Restructuring of Inner Sydney' in Ian Burnley and James Forrest (eds), Living in Cities: Urbanism and Society in Metropolitan Australia, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1985, pp. 143–159. For examples of the diverse literature exploring the nature of the middle class see Richard Hyman and Robert Price (eds), The New Working Class? White Collar Workers and Their Organisations: a Reader; Macmillan, London, 1983; Erik Olin Wright, Classes, Verso, London, 1985; Verity Burgmann and Andrew Milner, 'Intellectuals and the New Social Movements' in Rick Kuhn and Tom O'Lincoln (eds), Class and Class Conflict in Australia, Longman, Melbourne 1996, pp. 114–130; Craig McGregor, Class in Australia, Penguin, Ringwood, Vic., 1997.

16. Scott, Fading Loyalties, p. 33.

17. Andrew Leigh, 'Factions and Fractions: a Case Study of Power Politics in the Australian Labor Party', Australian Journal of Political Science, vol. 35, no. 3, November 2000, pp. 427–448; Tom Wheelright, 'New South Wales: the Dominant Right', in Andrew Parkin and John Warhurst (eds), Machine Politics in the Australian Labor Party, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1983, pp. 30–68; various editions of ALP Left newspaper Challenge during this period; interviews with Peter Baldwin, Blackheath NSW, 25/10/99 and Peter Crawford, Sydney, 6/1/00; also with their respective main Left preselection opponents: Ann Catling, Sydney, 7/5/99 and Robyn Floyd, interviewed jointly with Al Svirskis, Sydney, 3/7/99. All interviews conducted and tape recorded by Tony Harris. Copies at Tony Harris, Interviews for a Social History of Inner City Australian Labor Party, 1970–1990, CY MLOH 379, Mitchell Library, Sydney (hereafter THMLOH). The writer was also a minor Left candidate in the federal preselection.

18. Interviews with Bill Hume, Sydney, 24/2/00 and Hall Greenland, Sydney, 13/10/99, THMLOH. Hume had been an alderman on Leichhardt Council during 1971–74 and was suspended from the ALP twice for supporting the Origlass-led independents on council. See also R. Johnston, 'Participation in Local government: Leichhardt, 1971–1974' in R. Lucy (ed.), The Pieces of Politics, 2nd ed., Macmillan, Melbourne, 1979, pp. 230–257. Note that the term alderman, and its plural aldermen, were officially in currency at this time and applied to men and women. It is used in this article in this context.

19. Hall Greenland, Bill Hume, THMLOH; interview with Anthony (Tim) Kelly, Orange, NSW, 9/10/99, THMLOH. See also Paola Totaro, 'ALP vote to expel seven Greens', Sydney Morning Herald (SMH), 9/7/84, p. 5 and Tony Harris, 'Autumn Now for the Greens', Arena, no. 98, Autumn 1992, pp. 28–33.

20. Peter Crawford, Robyn Floyd, Hall Greenland, Bill Hume, THMLOH, interview with Nick O'Neill, jointly with Annette O'Neill, Sydney, 17/11/99 and Sheree Waks, Sydney, 20/9/99, THMLOH; Solling and Reynolds, Leichhardt, p. 249. See also the extensive coverage of council affairs in the principal local newspaper, Glebe, for this period.

21. Ross McMullin, The Light on the Hill: the Australian Labor Party 1891–199l, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1991, ch. 16; Geoffrey Bolton, The Oxford History of Australia: the Middle Way 1942–1988, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1990 (1993), ch. 11; Michael Steketee, 'Labor in Power: 1983–96' in John Faulkner and Stuart Macintyre (eds), True Believers: the Story Of The Federal Parliamentary Labor Party, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 2001, pp. 139–156. See also various issues of Challenge, 1983–85 and minutes of the Forest Lodge ALP branch, Records of the Australian Labor Party, New South Wales Branch, Mitchell Library, Sydney, (NSWALPR), MLMSS 5095 (uncatalogued), Annandale ALP branch, NSWALPR, MLMSS 5095/653 and Lilyfield ALP branch (with branch secretary). Australian Electoral Office, Result of Count of First Preference Votes and Distribution of Preferences, AGPS Canberra, 1983, p. 10; Australian Electoral Commission, Election Statistics, Full Distribution of Preferences; 1984, AGPS Canberra, 1985 p. 18 and1987, AGPS, Canberra 1988, p. 19. The federal seat of Sydney encompassed, and was dominated by, the municipality during the 1980s with marginal changes to the electorate's boundaries.

22. Jim Hagan and Craig Clothier, '1988' in Michael Hogan and David Clune (eds), The People's Choice: Electoral Politics in 20th Century New South Wales, Vol. 3, 1968–1999, NSW Parliamentary Library/University of Sydney, Sydney, 2001, pp. 251–281; Jim Hagan and Ken Turner, A History of the Labor Party in NSW, Longman Cheshire, Melbourne, 1991, part 4; Leigh, 'Factions and Fractions', p. 433–439; Peter Spearitt, Sydney's Century: a History, UNSW Press, Sydney, 2000, pp. 164; Shirley Fitzgerald, Sydney 1842–1992, Hale and Iremonger, Sydney, 1992, pp. 132–135.

23. Leigh, Factions and Fractions, p. 433–439; Dennis Shanahan, 'It'spragmatism v. idealism', SMH, 8/4/86, p. 19.

24. Solling and Reynolds, Leichhardt, pp. 249; issues of Glebe for 11/4/84, 17/4/84, 2/5/84 and 9/5/84.

25. Peter Crawford, THMLOH; interviews with Bill Brady, Sydney, 30/11/99, Sharon Page, Sydney, 5/8/00 Larry Hand, Sydney, 16/12/99, Margaret Lyons, Sydney, 7/11/01, THMLOH; Leigh, 'Factions and Fractions', pp. 431–432 (on Socialist Objective Committee); Minutes, Leichhardt Municipal Council (LMC) 1984–87; Glebe 1984–87.

26. Larry Hand, THMLOH; 'Leichhardt Alderman facing certain expulsion', Glebe, 1/5/85, p. 9. See also LMC Minutes, 12/2/85, 26/3/85, 9/4/85 and 23/4/85.

27. Larry Hand, THMLOH; Minutes of Forest Lodge Branch, 3/2/86; 'Mayor Brady says park deal was non-negotiable', Glebe, 16/10/85. pp. 5 and 13; Larry Hand, 'Letter to the Editor', Glebe, 30/10/85, pp. 4 and 22; LMC Minutes, 27/8/85, 10/9/85, 8/10/85, 11/10/85, 22/10/85 and 1985–87; Head Office Correspondence with Branches file 1983/85, NSWALPR, MSS 5095/63 (re ward boundaries). The small Forest Lodge branch absorbed the larger Glebe North branch in 1982 in an attempt by the NSW ALP to stave off Left control and protect local Labor member and state minister, Pat Hills. Later it absorbed Pyrmont-Denison branch and is now Blackwattle branch, Harris, Basket Weavers and True Believers, pp. 159–167.

28. Larry Hand, Marg Lyons, THMLOH; Brian Daley, Letter to Editor, Glebe, 23/10/85, p 4; Minutes of the Annandale Branch, 1985 to 1986, (including Special Meeting, 9am 1/1/86!).

29. 'Disgruntled Party Men Attack Labor Council', Glebe, 9/10/85, p. 7; Baldwin's letter of 26/5/86 is quoted in 'Labor MP blasts ALP Mayor: "Inept"', Glebe, 4/6/86, p. 5; Brady's reference to the 'petticoat mafia' is quoted in the 'Bunyip' column, Glebe, 14/5/86, p. 3. See also 'Council Shying Away From Child Care', Glebe, 30/10/85, p. 7; Minutes of Annandale ALP branch, 14/10/85 and 11/11/85, Forest Lodge ALP branch 14/10/85, Lilyfield ALP branch, 5/8/85 and 7/10/85; Peter Crawford, THMLOH and interview with Sandra Nori, Sydney, 7/1/00, THMLOH. On the general background to national child-care policy, see Deborah Brennan, 'Childcare' in Barbara Caine (ed.), Australian Feminism: a Companion, Oxford University Press, Melbourne 1988, pp. 19–25.

30. 'Disgruntled party men Attack Labor Council'; 'Leichhardt Garboes: Council Talks Deadlocked', Glebe, 5/6/85, p. 19; '"Council Holiday Girl's" Job Now Up For Grabs', Glebe, 18/9/85, p. 13; 'Municipality in Midst of Political Upheaval', Glebe, 16/10/85. p. 13; 'Council in Quandary Over Hand Case' (Hand's publicising of a report on a male council staffer allowed to resign over embezzlement, contrasting treatment of Riordan and Hanify), Glebe, 19/3/86, p. 13; 'Commission to rule on Maternity Leave Issue' (Riordan), Glebe, 19/3/86, p. 15; LMC Minutes 28/2/85, 10/12/85 and 11/3/86; Forest Lodge branch minutes, 7/4/86; Peter Crawford, and Sandra Nori, THMLOH.

31. Larry Hand, THMLOH. 'Mayor's cut-the-waffle move called "arrogance"', Glebe, 25/6/86, p. 13; 'Labor Man Charged', Glebe, 14/1/87, p. 9; 'Labor man Slams Former Comrades', Glebe, 18/2/87, p. 5; 'Hand feels Cheated By Labor Party Machine', Glebe, 13/5/7, p. 12; Larry Hand, 'An Open Letter to all Residents of Leichhardt Municipality' (re his expulsion), 30/1/87, copy in Papers of Jean Lennane, Mitchell Library Sydney, MLMSS (uncatalogued); LMC Minutes 1986.

32. 'Bunyip' column, Glebe, 29/4/87, p. 4; 'ALP push sees council ward system abolished', Glebe, 15/7/87, p. 4; Sharon Page, THMLOH.

33. Solling and Reynolds, Leichhardt, pp. 249–251; Sharon Page, Larry Hand, THMLOH and interviews with Sue Stock (member of Community Independent's team and future councillor), Sydney, 29/11/01 and Kate Butler, Sydney, June 1999, THMLOH; 'The ALP refuses to back Leichhardt candidates', Glebe, 12/8/87, p. 5; 'Liberal team steps into bizarre ALP bunfight', Glebe, 2/9/87, p. 5; Leichhardt Municipal Council, list of candidates, Glebe, 2/9/87, p. 12; various election advertisements by candidate teams, Glebe, 23/9/87. The two principal independent teams that contested the elections, Hand's Community Independents and the Open Council team around Origlass and Wyner, were dominated by former ALP members. Ironically, successful Liberal candidate and firefighter Jeff Courtney was, unlike many of ALP and ex-ALP candidates, eligible to be a member of a union affiliated to the ALP. A copy of the Open Council election news sheet in the writer's papers. For background to Danny Casey see Marian Wilkinson, The Fixer: the Untold story of Graham Richardson, William Heinemann Australia, Melbourne 1996, chs 6–9.

34. Peter Crawford, Peter Baldwin, THMLOH.

35. P. Reynolds, Mort's Dock: Origins and Changes, Balmain Places No 1, May 1985, Architectural History and Research Unit, Graduate School of the Built Environment, UNSW; Solling and Reynolds Leichhardt, chs 9 and 10; Issy Wyner, With Banner Unfurled: the Early Years of the Ships Painters and Dockers Union, Hale and Iremonger, Sydney, 1993.

36. Reynolds, Mort's Dock; Solling and Reynolds, Leichhardt, chs 9 and 10 and pp. 219–21; Wyner, With Banner Unfurled; Greenland, Red Hot, chs 15–18; Susanna Short, Laurie Short: a Political Life, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1992; Daphne Gollan, 'The Balmain Ironworkers' Strike of 1945', Labour History, Part I in no. 22, May 1972, pp. 23–41, Part II in no. 23, November 1972, pp. 62–73; interview with Issy Wyner, Sydney, 2/6/99, THMLOH.

37. Reynolds, Mort's Dock p. 8; Solling and Reynolds, Leichhardt, pp. 219–220, 236; Greenland, Red Hot, chs 22–25; Issy Wyner, THMLOH and interviews with early Balmain ALP and resident activists Alicia Lee, Sydney, 27/2/00 and Geoff Cooke, Sydney, 15/2/00, THMLOH.

38. N. Cocks, Mort Bay: a History of Urban Struggle and Class Conflict, thesis, Bachelor of Town Planning, School of Architecture, UNSW, 1986; Report on Development Applications DA 518/86 and DA 519/86, LMC 10/2/87; LMC Minutes, 12/2/85, 26/3/85, 23/4/85, 26/11/85, 22/4/86, 10/6/86, 22/7/86; Solling and Reynolds, Leichhardt, p. 236; 'Department of Housing, Mort Bay Project' Supplementary Report, Appendix PR 17, Royal Commission into Productivity in the Building Industry in New South Wales, May 1992, pp. 235–239. An extensive collection of documents regarding Mort Bay and the related Clontarf issue are in the Papers of Jean Lennane Mitchell Library, Sydney MLMSS (uncatalogued) and Further Papers of Nick Origlass, Mitchell Library, Sydney, MLMSS 7093 folios 13/1; 13/2; 15/1.

39. Peter Crawford, THMLOH and interview with Jean Lennane, Sydney, 5/5/99, THMLOH; J. Best, Portraits in Australian Health, McLennant and Petty, Sydney, 1988, ch. 2 (on Jean Lennane).

40. Jean Lennane, THMLOH; Cocks, Mort Bay, chs 5–7; Lennane Papers; Further Origlass Papers.

41. Issy Wyner, THMLOH; Greenland, Red Hot, ch. 22; LMC Minutes, 17/10/72 and 12/12/72; interview with Tom Uren, Sydney, 4/12/01, THMLOH.

42. Nick Origlass and Issy Wyner 1984 election policy leaflet, 'Balmain Residents on Guard: Mort Bay — What's in Store', dated 11/4/84, quoted in L. Miu-Sin, 'A Case Study of Mort Bay Development', dissertation, Master of Urban and regional Planning, Department of Urban and regional Planning, University of Sydney, November 1993, p. 38.

43. Peter Reynolds, 'Robert Blake (1806–1875): Soldier, Sheriff and Spec. Builder', Leichhardt Historical Journal, no. 8, 1979, pp. 16–23; documents in Further Origlass Papers: leaflet, 'Yes. Hold Clontarf Park', 16/5/84 and 'Save Clontarf Park: the continuing campaign of a Balmain Resident Action Group', Clontarf Park Action Group, June 1985. The median for open space among metropolitan municipalities was 4.25 hectares per 1000 people and the recommended minimum amount by the Department of Environment and Planning was 2.83. Table 3, '1982 Open Space Survey: Open Space in the Sydney Region', Research Study No 5, Department of Environment and Planning, Sydney 1985 (copy in Lennane Papers).

44. Catherine Lumby, 'Parks or People: It's Open Space vs Living Space', Eastern Herald, 15/9/88, pp. 1 and 9; Peter Crawford and Nick O'Neill, 1980 Municipal Campaign Leaflet, Further Origlass Papers; 'Bunyip' column, Glebe, for issues 6/4/83, 4/5/83, 18/5/83 and 22/6/83; 'Clontarf Protesters Not About To Throw The Towel In', Glebe, 14/12/83, p. 8.

45. Crawford and O'Neill, 1980 Municipal Campaign Leaflet; Balmain Association, News Sheet, December 1986 pp. 4–5; Parks and People Letter No.1 and leaflet by D. and A. Grafton re the Adolphus Street/Clontarf issue, copies in Lennane Papers; 'Pensioners to get Low Income Housing', Tiger, June 1986, p 4; Origlass and Wyner, letter to residents, 1984 municipal elections, Further Origlass Papers; Greenland, Red Hot, front cover.

46. Leichhardt Municipality Community Profile, 1991 Census, Community Services Department, Leichhardt Municipal Council, 1996, pp. 52–53. The Mort Bay debate was extensively covered in Glebe during this period and in the major press. See for example: Joseph Glascott, 'Balmain: a suburb in revolt', SMH, 6/5/86, p. 19; J. Chater, 'Of course we need public housing, but not here', SMH, 14/6/86, p. 45; Letter to the Editor, SMH, from Frank Walker, Minister for Housing, 11/8/86, p. 16; various responses from Jean Lennane, Jane Ward and Tony Harris, Letters page, SMH, 15/8/86, p. 14; David Leser, 'Balmain boys are crying foul', Australian, 22–23/11/86, p. 20.

47. Peter Crawford, Jean Lennane, THMLOH, various documents, Lennane Papers, including copy of leaflet from the Liaison Union for Public Housing (pro public housing group) and a copy of the Balmain ALP meeting notice, August 1986 (reference to 'doctor-trotskyite-Liberal coalition'); various documents, Further Origlass Papers; issues of Tiger (produced by Balmain ALP Branch), 1885–1986, located in the Mitchell Library, Sydney. See also Glebe during the 1985–86 period including: Letter to Editor from Balmain Association President (concerning ALP members disrupting Mort Bay public meeting), 26/2/86, pp. 6 and 8, 'Mayor slammed as "trendies" fight housing', 6/8/86, p. 3; '"Trendies" mocked by bill', 27/8/86, p. 7.

48. Letter from Peter Crawford, MP, to Kevin Moss, Secretary of Committees, Credentials Committee 1984–85, NSWALPR, ML MSS 5095/485. See also Head Office Correspondence with Balmain Branch, 1983–84, NSWALPR, ML MSS 5095/63. For earlier attempts to proscribe residents' associations see President's Report, Glebe Society Bulletin, 1975, No. 6 and 'Society, Associations "political": ALP outlaws four groups' Glebe, 26/3/75, p. 1.

49. Mort Bay Action Group (MBAG) Leaflet, undated (probably mid to late 1986), Lennane Papers.

50. MBAG Leaflet, Lennane Papers.

51. N. Origlass, Letter to the editor of the SMH (unpublished), 24/7/85 and N. Origlass, and I. Wyner, letters to residents, 12/6/80, 6/3/85, Further Origlass Papers.

52. Ann Catling, Kate Butler, Sue Stock, Annette O'Neill, Nick O'Neill, THMLOH; interviews with former Balmain ALP branch members Mary Jerram, Sydney, 3/5/99, Alan Rogers, Sydney, 19/4/99, Rod Madgwick, Sydney, 27/5/99, THMLOH.

53. Tom Uren, THMLOH; Tom Uren, Straight Left, Random House, Sydney, 1995, pp. 3–5, 403, 413–415.

54. Peter Crawford; Rod Madgwick, Sheree Waks, THMLOH; 'Walker threatens to shelve Mort Bay Project', Glebe, 19/2/86, p. 9; 'Balmain Medico Declares War on Nifty's Mob', Glebe, 12/3/86, p. 1. See also documents in the Lennane Papers: Letter to Premier Barry Unsworth from Norman Bull, President, Balmain Association, 8/7/86; Submission, to Planning and Environment Minister Bob Carr, Balmain Association, 2/9/86; Report of meeting between Balmain Association officers and Bob Carr, Balmain Association News Sheet, October 1986.

55. Issy Wyner, THMLOH; Mort Bay Supplementary Report, Royal Commission Into Productivity in the Building Industry, pp. 236–239; Final Report, Royal Commission into Productivity in the Building Industry in New South Wales, Parliament of NSW, vol. 7, pp. 86–87; Jane Ward, 'More About Myths', Balmain Association News Sheet, August 1988. See also Tim Bonyhady, 'The Battle for Balmain' in Patrick Troy (ed.), Australian Cities: Issues, Strategies and Politics for Urban Australia in the 1990's, Cambridge University Press, Melbourne 1995, pp. 112–141 for an examination of major urban consolidation campaigns on the Balmain peninsula at the end of the 1980s and Leonie Sandercock, 'Urban Development on the Cheap', Plan, December–January, 1983, pp. 13–17. Sandercock, a member of the Balmain ALP branch, was critical of urban consolidation on equity grounds but was also critical of resident action movements. See Leonie Sandercock, 'Citizen Participation; the new conservatism', in Patrick Troy (ed.), Federal Power in Australian Cities, Hale and Iremonger, Sydney, 1978, pp. 117–132.

56. Peter Crawford, THMLOH.

57. Peter Crawford, THMLOH; Tracey Aubin, 'Why Dawn has a Sporting chance', SMH, 19/3/88, p. 8; various reports, SMH, 21/3/88: 'Labor in shock as Independents take strongholds', p. 2; 'Ministers who were casualties', p. 32; 'The issues that tipped the balance against Labor', p. 32. See also Catherine Lumby, 'Mort Bay groups condemn plan to sell public housing', Eastern Herald, 18/8/88, p. 1; 'Dawn wins in Balmain: Crawford Concedes', Glebe, 30/3/88, p. 5.

58.Glebe, 23/3/88: 'Nori beats swing against the ALP', pp. 1 and 7 and 'It was dirty - Sartor', p. 8; Alicia Larriera,, 'Nori passes test as new era dawns', SMH, 27/5/91, p. 7; Branch Membership Returns, NSWALPR, Annandale MLMSS 5095/610 and uncatalogued; Balmain MLMSS 5095/611 and uncatalogued; Forest Lodge/Glebe North MLMSS 5095/620 and 621 and uncatalogued.

59. Kate Butler, THMLOH; T. Cowley, 'Bid to stop election of Brady fails', Glebe, 3/10/90, p. 2; Solling and Reynolds, Leichhardt, pp. 249; Greenland, Red Hot, pp. 296–297.

60. 'Breaking caucus for Leichhardt. But Kate still loves Party', Glebe, 12/9/90, p. 5; Solling and Reynolds, Leichhardt, pp. 237–238, 249–251; Greenland, Red Hot, pp. 296–297; Bonyhady, 'The Battle for Balmain'; mayoral reports by Nick Origlass and Issy Wyner in Leichhardt Council's Report to Residents, for 1987–88 and 1989–90 respectively; Rats in the Ranks (documentary film), Bob Connolly and Robyn Anderson (directors), Film Australia and Arundel Films, 1996.

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