Welcome to the Canberra Region Branch of the Australian Society for the Study of Labour History.

The ASSLH aims to encourage the study, teaching and research of labour history and to encourage the preservation of labour archives.

This website was designed by Webtrax with the assistance of the Bede Nairn Fund. It aims to present a selection of articles and publications that can easily be accessed by students, teachers and others wanting to know more about labour history and politics.

The ASSLH encourages open debate on questions relating to labour history and politics. The articles published on this website do not necessarily reflect the views of the ASSLH and its officers. New contributions welcome. Links to other websites do not necessarily imply an endorsement of the content of those websites.

For news about our activities over the past year, click to read our Branch Secretary’s report to the 2019 Annual General Meeting.  http://labourhistorycanberra.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Canberra-Branch-Annual-Report-2018-2019.pdf

Members are reminded that membership subscriptions are now due for the current financial year. Please click on the drop-down menu for About ASSLH Canberra – Membership for options on how to join or renew your membership.


Applications for the 2020 Eric Fry Research Grant are now open. See the above drop-down menu for details.


Coming events

Dear Members and Friends
It is with regret that the ASSLH Canberra region is suspending public meetings and events. We are considering offering some of the events as online events and will continue to work as a committee, albeit remotely, to deliver these events. Stay safe.

Chris Monnox on behalf of the branch committee.



Vale Victor Isaacs 1949-2019

The passing of Victor Isaacs in October 2019 came as a shock to his many friends and acquaintances. Victor was a valued and respected member of the Canberra Branch of the Australian Society for the Study of Labour History and served as our Branch President during the years 2006 to 2009.


His interests were many and varied. Apart from political history, Victor was an authority on railway history and the history of Australian newspapers. He founded the Australian Newspaper History Group in 1999 and lectured extensively on his researches, including for the University of the Third Age.

Throughout his long association with the Labour History Society, he was happy to share his knowledge with his comrades. He presented a number of papers at our events, including at the National Labour History Conference in 2011. A selection of his writings can be found on this website under the ‘Articles and Publications’ menu.

Apart from his gifts as a scholar and presenter, Victor will be fondly remembered for his personal qualities as well. He was a good natured soul with a lively sense of humour. Our sincere condolences to his wife Agnes, his friends and family. He will be sadly missed.



Recent articles

Here are some of our recent articles. To search the complete list, click on the Articles and Publications menu.

  • With friends like these October 20, 2019 - Tetchy relations between business and the Liberal Party are far from new by Norman Abjorensen A non-Labor government in Canberra might ordinarily expect solid support from business — even if only because it is self-interestedly preferable to the alternative, with its presumed tilt towards the unions. But it’s not quite as simple as that. History […]
  • A socialist’s republic August 5, 2019 - The republic referendum – 20 years on ‘A socialist’s republic’ by Humphrey McQueen November 2019 marks the 20th anniversary of the unsuccessful referendum on whether Australia should become a republic. Strange that such an important issue should have lain dormant for so long. To mark the occasion we present Humphrey McQueen’s article ‘A socialist’s republic’ […]
  • Clarrie O’Shea – The trade union leader who went to gaol May 10, 2019 - by John Merritt This month (May 2019) marks the 50th anniversary of the gaoling of Victorian Tramways Union leader Clarrie O’Shea (1905-1988).  O’ Shea was gaoled in 1969 by the notorious Sir John Kerr for refusing to hand over the union’s financial records. His imprisonment sparked a massive strike wave across the country and effectively […]
  • Why did Australia go to the great war? April 14, 2019 - We gratefully acknowledge permission from the Australian Centre for the Study of Armed Conflict and Society at UNSW to publish this excellent collection of seminar papers on Australia’s involvement in World War 1. Click here to access the papers.                         ______________________________________________________ ACSACS Occasional Paper Series No. 8 Why did Australia go to the great war? […]
  • Our Forgotten Prime Minister October 8, 2018 - Stephen Holt Australian Prime Ministers get to have a federal electorate named after them after they die. There are 22 deceased Australian Prime Ministers and after the latest redistribution there are, seemingly in line with this practice, 22 federal seats bearing the name of a deceased Prime Minister. There is an anomaly though and it […]