Where’s Australia’s Labourlist?

One thing I have always found odd is the lack of a political party blogging culture in Australia. Political blogging exists but bloggers tend to avoid wearing a party label or instead concentrate on a niche area like psephology or policy. Rather than through political blogs, party debates and conversation tend to occur exclusively through the traditional medium of newspaper op-eds (or on newer but similar op-ed platforms like The Drum), mediated by journalists.

In comparison, other similar countries like Great Britain has sites like LabourList and ConservativeHome. They are vibrant forums for the grassroots of the party, aligned but independent, providing party news and opinion on a regular basis and even shaping internal party debates. Anyone can contribute and everyone does from rank-and-file members, MPs, pressure groups, even yours truly. While both sites have paid staff, there are many other smaller individual and group party blogs that provide a platform for debating and discussing ideas and what is going on within and even across parties.

Arguably party discipline and a lack of supporting resources have played a role in creating a culture not so conducive to open discussion and debate in Australia, especially in New South Wales. None of this is to say that there hasn’t been any attempt encourage a culture of thinking and discussion on the Labor side of politics. There were attempts a decade ago with Evan Thornley’s ”LaborFirst” group attempting to set up a blogging network and a left-wing online newspaper Labor Tribune that briefly existed. The establishment of an online presence for Challenge Magazine (Labor Left) and Voice (Labor Right) are more recent examples but both are semi-regular at best. The Chifley Research Centre is attempting a “Left Foot Forward/ThinkProgress” model with its own blog. It is a welcome addition but it is more geared towards campaigning rather than discussion. There is an understanding of the need for these kinds of forums but the capacity is just not there yet for something like a LabourList.

Rather than just wistfully pine for something better, I thought I‘d kick things along by starting a list of what could be considered as a Labor blogosphere.

Feel free to make any suggestions (including your own blog) and I’ll keep adding to the list.


UPDATE 30/4/14: The ALP has announced it will be establishing an online news service, Labor Herald. It seems to be modelled on LabourList as it will have a full-time editor and they will be seeking content from members. The real test will be whether it publishes pieces on contentious debates and be somewhat independent like LabourList.

UPDATE: 10/9/14: It looks like the Labor Herald will not be like LabourList at all.


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