In Our Time

thoughts on politics and current affairs, sometimes cricket

ACT Labor Implements New Reforms

ACT Labor

ACT Labor

At the annual ACT Labor Conference held yesterday, delegates voted to implement recommendations from the recently held Participation Review (see posts here and here and you can read the report here).

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.

Red Reads | 3 May

1891 barcaldine strikers library

The world commemorated May Day this week and it’s stories on the worker’s movement that are the theme for the best lefty stories from the past 7 days. If you have come across any good articles, post them in the comments section!

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Red Reads | 26 April

Red reads

There’s a lot of good stuff being written at the moment that is interesting and of importance for people on the Left, but there aren’t many places where you can get a bit of a digest of what’s worth a read. I have decided to start posting a weekly summary of the best articles I have read in the past 7 days. If you have come across any good articles, post them in the comments section!

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Give Power to the People, It’s the Only Way

On Tuesday Opposition Leader Bill Shorten outlined his vision for reforming the Australia Labor Party. In a speech delivered to ALP members and supporters at the Wheeler Centre, Mr Shorten outlined a series of proposals aimed at opening up the ALP and encouraging membership growth.

Mr Shorten said his reform proposals were aimed at achieving two broad goals; growing the Labor Party and giving members more say.

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ANZAC Day

There’s not much to say about ANZAC Day without getting caught up in the nationalism and parochialism that seems to define contemporary mainstream commemoration of this event. Suffice to say that WWI was a savage brutal war that saw millions of lives lost for little good.

We should use ANZAC Day to memorialise those who died in battle, to recognise the folly of war and to advocate for the proper care of those who have fought and for families of those who have lost loved ones to war.

Donations can be made to Legacy here.

ACT Labor Participation Review – Update

Just a quick update to note the results of the member’s plebiscite that was recently held to consider five of the recommendations of the ACT Labor Participation Review. 478 members voted in the plebiscite and all recommendations received the majority of voters’ support. These recommendations will now be drafted into rule changes where necessary by the Administrative Committee and they will be debated and hopefully passed at the Annual Conference on 28 June. The recommendations voted on were:

  1. Should ACT Labor include Party involvement in the election of the ACT Parliamentary Leader?
  2. Should the ACT Labor President, Senior Vice President and Junior Vice President be elected by a ballot of members?
  3. In addition to sub-branch meetings, should eligibility for Conference and preselections also include: a. Policy Committee Meetings b. Major events
  4. Should the meeting attendance requirements for Conference and preselection eligibility be reduced for members who have committed to the ALP over many years?
  5. Should ACT Labor introduce ‘Associate members’?

I am really pleased that the membership supported these recommendations. If these are passed at Conference they will further enfranchise the current membership – adding to the strong democratic culture that exists in the ACT Branch of the ALP – and it will send a strong signal to the ACT community that the local ALP is one that is worthy of support. I will give another update after the Conference in June.

Building the Left

I have been thinking for some time now about the challenges facing those of us who are trying to make the Australian Labor Party a realistic, left wing alternative to the conservatism that has dominated Australia for the best part of 30 years. After spending some time engaging in renewal of the ALP itself, I have come to the view that it is the movement as well as the ALP that needs to renew if we are to be successful again.

Since the end of the Cold War, the left has struggled to maintain a consistent set of ideas and policy program. The big social democratic parties have declined and moved rightwards and the movement itself has shrunk and fragmented.

If you look at the conservative side of politics you can see the opposite has been true. Conservatives have a confident set of ideas and policies. They are growing their movement and their parties can now bank on a larger share of the electorate than their left wing rivals.

For the left to be able to challenge the conservatives, we will need to renew not just our party but our philosophy and our movement.

Reform needs to occur in three areas:

  1. The ALP needs to reform to make it easier to join, be more democratic and be active in society.
  2. We need to build our intellectual power by re-learning and teaching social democracy.
  3. The trade union movement needs to reform to make the movement more unified and effective.

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ACT Labor Participation Review

I have been part of a six member committee who conducted a review into ACT Labor. Our report was released last week. You can read it by visiting ACT Labor.

ACT Labor members have the opportunity to vote on some of the most significant recommendations including on:

  • Member involvement in electing the ACT Parliamentary Leader
  • Directly electing the President and Vice Presidents
  • Making it easier to be enfranchised to vote in ballots, and
  • Making it easier for Labor supporters to get involved in the ALP

I’m advocating a ‘yes’ vote for all of the recommendations and I really hope they are supported by my fellow members.

Reconnecting With Our Roots – an old post

This is something I wrote way back in 2011 when I was Secretary of the Chifley Research Centre. Whilst this piece was advertising the then forthcoming Progressive Australia Conference, I think it is still relevant for me and this blog as it goes to the heart of what I have been arguing for for some time; the need for reform in the ALP and the labour movement. You can access videos, blogs and speeches from the Progressive Australia conferences at the Chifley Reserach Centre.

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