Our History

The Australian Fabians was established in 1947 and is Australia’s oldest, continuous political think tank. The Australian Fabians Inc. is a Not-for-profit, membership organisation, incorporated in Victoria, Australia.

For over 65 years the Australian Fabians have promoted debate and research into political ideas and public policy reform. Fabian publications have played an important part in determining both state and national political agendas.

Gough Whitlam adopted the Fabian approach from the day he entered parliament, and the seminal 1972 Whitlam policy speech – the most comprehensive program ever submitted to the Australian people – was a drawing together of twenty years of systematic Fabian planning and research.

Arthur Calwell before him was proud to call himself a Fabian, and the tradition has been carried on through subsequent Labor leaders including Bill Hayden, Bob Hawke, Paul Keating, Julia Gillard, Bill Shorten, John Cain, Don Dunstan, John Bannon, Neville Wran and Bob Carr.

Origins of Australian Fabians

The Australian Fabians owes its origin to the Fabian Society in Britain. Generations of Fabians have placed the Society’s stamp on every facet of British (and Australian) society. Key members of the British Fabian Society included Frank Podmore, Beatrice Webb, Sidney Webb, Graham Wallas, George Bernard Shaw. 

There are Fabian societies around the world including New Zealand

For more information:

  • Australia’s First Fabians: Middle-Class Radicals, Labour Activists and the Early Labour Movement by Race Mathews (1993. Cambridge University Press) 
  • David Bennett: A Memoir by Race Mathews (1985, Australian Fabian Society Pamphlet No. 44.) 

About the Society in Britain:

  • This Little Band of Prophets by Ann Fremantle (1960. George Allen & Unwin);
  • The Story of Fabian Socialism by Margaret Cole (1961. Heinemann);
  • Fabian Socialism and English Politics 1884-1918 by Alan McBriar (1962. Cambridge University Press);
  • The First Fabians by Norman & Jeanne Mackenzie. (1977. Weidenfeld & Nicolson).
  • Fabianism and Culture: A Study in British Socialism and the Arts by Ian Britain (1982. Cambridge University Press).
  • Educate, Agitate, Organise: 100 Years of Fabian Socialism by Patricia Pugh (1984. Methuen).

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