The DLP Years
The DLP Split
An organisation known as "The Movement" led by B.A. Santamaria and strongly influenced by Catholic social doctrines was to have a great impact on the Party from the 1940s to the 1960s.
In 1945 industrial groups were set up in some States to oppose communists in union elections. "The Movement", which operated as a secret organisation, had significant influence in some of the industrial groups and built up increasing influence within the Party itself. As with the Communist Party this influence within the ALP by an outside organisation created problems for the ALP and was of concern to many. In a protracted struggle between 1954 and 1957, some supporters of "The Movement" and the industrial groups formed the Democratic Labor Party (DLP). The NSW the Party Assistant General Secretary, Jack Kane was pro DLP which had a devastating effect on the Party in NSW. In June 1956 the Federal Executive replaced the NSW ALP Executive. Jack Kane became a DLP Senator from NSW in 1970,but the DLP ceased to be a political force by the late 1970's.
The "split" as it came to be known, left the ALP in an extremely weakened position. In Victoria the DLP and in Queensland the Queensland Labor Party under former Premier Vince Gair, openly split with the Party. In NSW the largely Catholic right wing group adopted a more moderate position and remained within the Labor Party. Through twenty years the DLP was a political force that meant the ALP did not hold power in Victoria or Queensland, and only gained power federally in 1972. That decision owes much to the then Secretary, Bill Colbourne, Premier Joe Cahill and to the strategy of Sydney Catholics, and in particular to Cardinal Gilroy and Bishop James Carroll, who took a more moderate position than the Victorian Church . Cardinal Gilroy made it clear that Santamaria's forces were not welcome in NSW and there was a deal of acrimony between the Melbourne and Sydney dioceses. And Bill Colbourne remembered the open splits in the 1930s which paralysed the Party.
Federally the Party lost three elections under Evatt who resigned in 1960. Under a new leader, Arthur Calwell, Labor narrowly lost the 1961 election. The Party's political fortunes declined in the following years, plunging to a disastrous defeat in the 1966 election, which was dominated by the controversy over Australia 's participation in the Vietnam War. In the 1969 Federal Election, under Gough Whitlam's leadership, the Party's polled well. In 1972 Labor was elected to power.