The new reforms include
- making it easier for members to qualify for voting in preselections,
- new ways for supporters to get involved in the ALP through the creation of new membership categories,
- the election of the party Presidents directly by members instead of Conference, and
- supporting the development of a model that allows members to vote for the ACT Labor Leader.
Prior to the Conference, members could only qualify for voting in preselections and for Conference positions by having 12 accrued 12 months membership and attending three sub-branch meetings in 12 months or six in 24. Now, policy committee meetings and other events can count towards eligibility and there will be a sliding scale for meeting attendance based on how long you have been a member.
These changes recognise that members participate in the ALP in different ways and that should not be an impediment from being enfranchised to vote. It also rewards members for their commitment to the ALP over a long period of time by scaling down the number of meetings they have to attend the longer they are in the ALP (scaling down to 2 then 1 meetings over a 5 and 10 year period).
ACT Labor will now offer two new ways for supporters to get involved in the ALP – an Associate Membership and a Labor Supporters Network.
Associate Membership allows people who might not be able to commit to full membership but who want to get involved in sub-branches and policy debates to join the ALP. Associate Members can join sub-branches but they cannot vote in ballots or be able to go to Conference as delegates.
The Labor Supporters’ Network (LSN) is a less formal way for ALP supporters to get involved. With a loose structure and easy joining process, the LSN provides ACT Labor with a useful way of reaching out to our supporters and to grow the Labor movement. This is an exciting reform, whose development over the next couple of years will, I think, give ACT Labor a new lease on life.
Lining up with the national wing of the ALP, ACT Labor will now elect its Presidents by a ballot of members instead of at the annual Conference. The first of these ballots is expected to occur in November this year and elected Presidents will serve a two year term. Members will only have to have been a member of the ALP for six months to qualify for a vote for the Presidents.
Finally, the Conference passed a motion that puts ACT Labor on the path to developing a model for member involvement in the election of the ACT Parliamentary Leader. Whilst no clear model has been mooted locally, it does look like the starting point will be the model used to determine the Leader of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party.
Through the Participation Review, ACT Labor has shown the rest of the Australian Labor Party how to bring all parts of the party together to achieve reform. As I argued at Conference, what we have done is move the ALP from the nineteenth century to the twentieth century. Much needs to be done to complete the renewal process of the ALP but I am confident that the ACT Branch will get there first.