Should the ACCC Break up the NSW Right?

There’s a bit of a debate now in the Labor Party over whether factions have any ideological ties, or are merely competing executive placement agencies. Frequently, factions have broken into fractions – sub-units which are even less likely to be ideologically driven than factions.

But if you start by assuming the ALP will always have factions, there’s still the question – how many factions is best? Here, economics may have some insights. Monopoly markets usually produce lower quality goods at higher prices than duopolies or perfect markets. This would suggest that states with a lot of ALP factions (or none at all – so everyone competes on their own terms) will produce better Labor politicians than states with one dominant faction.

Does this hold in practice? Not perfectly, but the best example of a state dominated by one faction is NSW, where the talent pool seems to be shallower than in most other states.

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3 Responses to Should the ACCC Break up the NSW Right?

  1. Sinclair Davidson says:

    Has the NSW right always been a shallow pool? My perception is it produced some capable individuals. I also would have thought that low barriers to entry and exit between factions would contribute to better politicians – but I’m not sure that is what actually happens.

  2. Sacha Blumen says:

    Andrew, Qld might be interesting in this regard: during the Goss era there were three factions of about equal size and also a fair number of non-factionalised members. I don’t really know about the quality of the politicians, though. I’m not sure what the Qld ALP is like now, but it’s large caucus size might offer opportunities for study.

  3. Andrew Leigh says:

    One way to study this empirically would be to look at the number of ALP frontbenchers from each state/territory. I’m not sure I want to make it my hobbyhorse, but perhaps someone else will take it up….

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