Name and spelling
In standard Australian English, the word "labour" is spelled with a ⟨u⟩. However, the political party uses the spelling "Labor", without a ⟨u⟩. There was originally no standardised spelling of the party's name, with "Labor" and "Labour" both in common usage. According to Ross McMullin, who wrote an official history of the Labor Party, the title page of the proceedings of Federal Conference used the spelling "Labor" in 1902, "Labour" in 1905 and 1908, and then "Labor" from 1912 onwards. In 1908, James Catts put forward a motion at Federal Conference that "the name of the party be the Australian Labour Party", which was carried by 22 votes to two. A separate motion recommending state branches to adopt the name was defeated. There was no uniformity of party names until 1918, when Federal Conference resolved that state branches should adopt the name "Australian Labor Party" – now spelled without a ⟨u⟩. Each state branch had previously used a different name, due to their different origins.[a]
Despite the ALP officially adopting the spelling without a ⟨u⟩, it took decades for the official spelling to achieve widespread acceptance. In 1954, Labor MP Ted Johnson complained in the Parliament of Western Australia that both Hansard and the daily newspapers were still using the spelling "Labour". As late as the 1980s, historian Finlay Crisp used the spelling "Labour" in academic works about the party.[b] McMullin has observed that "the way the spelling of 'Labor Party' was consolidated had more to do with the chap who ended up being in charge of printing the federal conference report than any other reason". Some sources have attributed the official decision to use "Labor" to King O'Malley, who was born in the United States and was reputedly an advocate of spelling reform; the spelling without a ⟨u⟩ is the standard form in American English. It has been suggested that the adoption of the spelling without a ⟨u⟩ "signified one of the ALP's earliest attempts at modernisation", and served the purpose of differentiating the party from the Australian labour movement as a whole and distinguishing it from other British Empire labour parties. The decision to include the word "Australian" in the party's name – rather than just "Labour Party" as in the United Kingdom – has been attributed to "the greater importance of nationalism for the founders of the colonial parties".