A report from the Rules Committee meeting of 14 Jan

As mentioned in my previous post, the first meeting of the new Rules Committee was last week, the agenda being to identify the remaining changes needed to produce a new version of the rule book, incorporating the changes made at last year’s State Conference.

The meeting was positive, constructive, and collegiate. It was agreed that proper minutes will be kept. Everyone present seemed to be committed to producing a better, clearer, more useful set of rules.

We sat down with the old rules, the new rules and a list of the differences between the two. Everyone shared the issues they’d found in the draft that had been circulated earlier, and the necessary repairs were discussed and agreed.  An updated draft will be circulated, and assuming no major issues emerge, it will be put to next month’s meeting of the Admin Committee to be endorsed as the agreed version of the rules.

There remain issues. Some rules are unclear. Others are contradictory. Except where this was because of a drafting error, there isn’t anything the Rules Committee can do in the short term. To resolve an ambiguity one way or the other, or somehow resolve a contradiction would be to change the rules, and only Conference can change the rules.

What the Committee can do, and has agreed to do, is to prepare a list of issues we have with the rules, and to see if we can agree on how to resolve those issues, a report to be presented to the next State Conference for endorsement.

(It’s not yet clear when the next State Conference will be. For reasons that were not explained, that decision cannot be made until April.  There is no obviously good choice.  On the one hand, to hold Conference at such short notice would mean compromises in its preparation, and possibly impact the preparation of Federal Conference as well. On the other hand, to not hold Conference means that delegates to Federal Conference, except for those directly elected by FECs, would have to be elected via some other mechanism. One possibility is that they will be selected by the Administration Committee. Another possibility, suggested to me by a Heffron SEC member, is that a postal or internet ballot of Conference Delegates could be held.)

Posted in Rules Committee | 1 Comment

The year ahead

Happy New Year. Trust you had a good Christmas. It’s about to get busy.

We should have a new leader of the State Parliamentary Party by this time tomorrow (5/1) . Luke Foley has spoken in favour of Party Reform in the past, so hopefully this will be another step in the right direction. Full credit to him for insisting on a rank and file preselection in Auburn.

The first meeting of the new Rules Committee will be on the 14/1. The agenda is the finalisation of the new rule book, incorporating the changes made at last year’s conference. A first draft has been prepared. The objective is to have it reviewed and updated in time to be approved by the regular Admin Committee meeting in February (6/2).

We have a State Election, of course, on the 28/3. Depending on how that goes, we may have to have another ballot for State Parliamentary Leader, but only if we don’t win and only if someone challenges. So long as we don’t lose too badly, you’d have to expect that there won’t be any challengers so soon after an uncontested change of leadership, meaning that the first opportunity rank and file members will have to vote for the State Parliamentary Leader is probably still some way off.

Because of the State Election, Branch AGMs are to be held some time in April and we encourage you to do all you can to ensure that the people elected are pro-reform.

SEC, FEC and LGC AGMs are to be held some time in May. Remember that this year, each of the 48 FECs in NSW are to elect one delegate to Federal Conference, either directly by the FEC, or by a ballot of all Party members with at least one year’s continuous financial membership (as per Rules G.5 and M.9). Again, we encourage you to do all you can to elect pro-reform candidates. If you do nothing else, please talk to your existing Delegates to Conference and find out how they voted on motions and amendments at last year’s State conference.

The rest of NSW’s delegates to National Conference ought be elected by the 2015 NSW State Conference. To my knowledge, no date for this has been announced. If any Delegates to National Conference are to be elected at State Conference, it will have to happen some time in June, after SEC and FEC AGMs, but prior to National Conference.

National Conference will be in Melbourne this year, from the 24/6 to the 26/6. Amongst other issues, there will be debate on the replacement of the Socialist Objective.

It’s going to be a busy six months.

Posted in National Conference, NSW ALP State Conference | 3 Comments

Unity Conference Minutes

Please find attached draft minutes of the 75th Anniversary Unity Conference, including resolutions on the following topics:

  1. that the Australian Labor Party should be a democracy based on membership control;
  2. that there will be a regular conference of local branches;
  3. there should be judicial oversight over the NSW Labor Party; and
  4. a series of rule and policy changes: reforms to public funding and fundraising, the banning of factional binding, and direct elections for party positions and for union delegates to conference.
Posted in Inward Correspondence | Tagged | 1 Comment

Agenda for Unity Conference 75th Anniversary Event

When:
Saturday 15 November

Where:
Newtown Neighbourhood Centre
1 Bedford St, Newtown NSW 2042

What: Continue reading

Posted in Inward Correspondence | Tagged | 2 Comments

Reform is on the agenda for Country Conference (but it’s not looking good)

Country Labor Conference is this weekend.

There are a number of pro-democracy motions on the agenda (see pages 38-40):

  • election of Country Labor representatives on the Admin Committee, Country Labor Committee and other Country Labor positions by Country Labor Conference;
  • direct election of Country Organiser;
  • restrictions on factions targeting Young Labor members under 18;
  • equal weight vote of all members when filling vacancies; and
  • disclosure of electoral funding.

All were rejected on the grounds that members ought to be satisfied with the reform that was achieved at the 2014 Annual Conference.

There are two motions in support of Jodi Mckay. Both motions were ‘noted’ (i.e. rejected) with the words “Country Conference would like to thank Jodi McKay for her commitment to the Labor Party”. There is to be no apology, no expression of regret, no admission that Labor was in any way responsible for what happened. There is no commitment to expel or otherwise discipline those responsible.

And there is a motion asking for help with providing posters for polling booths that Labor no longer has enough membership to staff. Response in full: “Note”.

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Urgent need for Labor Unity – Unity Conference – 75th Anniversary Event

From Sean Macken and David Hetherington:

We are writing to invite your Branch to join the Erskineville Branch of the ALP at a conference to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the landmark Unity Urgent Need for Labor UnityConference which was held in our suburb in 1939.
The Unity Conference was a major milestone in the evolution of NSW Labor at which the deep divisions of the Lang era were overcome and a set of rules agreed which still largely govern the Party today.
We are inviting each local Branch in NSW to accredit two delegates to this anniversary event, where a range of ideas for Labor’s future will be debated.  Come along and take part in a debate on party democracy and reform.
The Conference will take place in Newtown on Saturday 15 November and will be followed by a Labor history walk in the afternoon and a celebratory dinner in the evening.
There will be no charge to attend the event.  Please RSVP to erkolabor at gmail dot com
We hope you can join us for this exciting event.
Yours sincerely
Sean Macken, President
David Hetherington, Secretary

Posted in Inward Correspondence | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

How to make Faulkner’s vision happen.

John Faulkner’s Revesby Speech contains a number of statements that lend themselves to being turned into motions, either rules change or policy changes:

Policy changes:

  • all political parties’ eligibility for public funding to be contingent on that party’s rules and decisions being justiciable
  • the donations disclosure threshold to be reduced from its current level of $12,800 to $1,000 and indexation removed
  • donations from foreign and anonymous donors to be banned
  • donation splitting across branches, divisions or units of parties to be limited
  • disclosure of donations to be fast and regular
  • breaches of electoral law to be an offence attracting significant penalties

Rule changes:

  • the practice of factions, affiliates or interest groups binding parliamentarians in Caucus votes or ballots to be banned
  • upper house candidates to be preselected by a full, statewide ballot of all Party members
  • State and National Conference to include a component of directly elected delegates, moving from the current model to: 60% directly elected, 20% elected by Affiliated Unions and 20% by Electoral Councils, reached in stages over the next three National Conferences
  • Union delegates to Party Conferences to be elected through a ballot of those union members that opt-in, conducted under the principle of proportional representation
  • for the purpose of determining union affiliation numbers, unions should only be able to count members who have agreed to their membership being counted towards that affiliation in an opt-in system
  • a binding code of conduct to be imposed on all candidates, parliamentarians and officials, Nationwide, as per the rules in NSW
  • community preselections with weighted votes from Party members equalling declared supporters to be the rule, rather than the exception

If we want to see John Faulkner’s vision for a reformed Labor Party come into being, we need to pass these motions at our branches, as many branches as possible. But that’s not enough. We need to pass these motions at electoral councils and electoral assemblies.  We need the motions to be sent to State Conference and Federal Conference. But that’s still not enough. We need to send delegates to State and Federal Conferences who will vote for these motions. There have been a lot of good motions that went down at conference because delegates didn’t support motions that their own electoral councils and assemblies and branches had passed. Once we have delegates at conference who are prepared to support these motions, then we’ll see real reform.

 

Posted in Branch and EC Motions | 8 Comments