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Against the Machines

Against the Machines

Minor Parties and Independents in New South Wales 1910-2006

By Rodney Smith

The giant Labor and Coalition parties have dominated New South Wales politics since 1910 when the State settled into a two party system.

Dominated but not monopolised. Minor parties and Independents have been a consistent presence outside this duopoly. Rodney Smith tells their story. He covers

  • early challengers to the major parties, such as David Storey's Democrats, the sectarian Democratic Party and Protestant Independent Labor Party;
  • the various minor parties sparked by the turbulent politics of the Lang era;
  • post-war parties like the Democratic Labor Party; more recent parties such as the Australian Democrats, Greens, Fred Nile's Christian Democrats and One Nation; and
  • key Independents like Frank Purdue, Douglas Darby, John Hatton, Ted Mack, Clover Moore and Richard Torbay.

The book identifies the variety of political and policy ideas advanced by these minor parties and Independents. It traces their electoral activities, examining their campaigns, the way that their electoral chances have been affected by changes to electoral laws and their influence on election outcomes. It looks at their parliamentary influence, particularly in periods such as 1991 to 1995 when Independents held the balance of power in the Legislative Assembly.

Finally, it discusses the organisational politics of minor parties and Independent supporter groups. For all their variety, these minor parties and Independents have been united in their opposition to major party machine politics.

Sesquicentenary 1856-2006 Responsible Government in New South Wales   A NSW Sesquicentenary of Responsible Government publication.


    Foreword Rodney Cavalier
    Minor Parties and Independents in New South Wales
    The Contest over Political Ideas: 1910 to the 1950s
    The Renaissance of the Independent Idea
    The Broadening of Minor Party Ideas from the 1950s
    The Electoral Contest
    The Parliamentary Contest
    Organisations and Support Groups
    Conclusion: Against the Machines

    Appendix: Electoral Results for Minor Parties and Independents 1910-2005
    Interview List
    Select Bibliography


    ... thoroughly researched, efficiently organised, elegantly written and densely documented.
    … An Appendix gives comprehensive electoral data, especially for the minor parties. Smith has been remarkably objective in describing the minor parties and Independents and analysing their various roles. He avoids treating them as heroic resisters of ‘big party chauvinism’ and avoids minor party ‘romanticism’ ...

    AQ – Australian Quarterly, January-February 2007

    Although politics in New South Wales has been dominated by the two-party system since 1910, minor parties and independents have always played a role in the Parliament and political life of the state. This study traces their electoral activities and parliamentary influence...There is useful appendix, which includes electoral results for minor parties and independents 1910-2005.

    Australian Historical Studies, 39, March 2008


    Ted Mack's Launch Speech

    This speech was given by Ted Mack at the launch of Against the Machines.


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    Published 17 November 2006
    Publisher The Federation Press
    ISBN 9781862876231
    Australian RRP $49.95
    International Price $45.00
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    Government / Political Studies
    Australian History / Studies

    NSW Sesquicentenary of Responsible Government

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