John Faulkner: ALP Reform Agenda

Reposted from

Statement by John Faulkner: ALP Reform Agenda

08 April 2014
Last Thursday I asked the NSW Branch of the ALP to circulate a letter [attached] proposing changes to the Party’s Rules in NSW.
This letter is forthright about the challenges facing the NSW Labor Party and the reforms needed to meet them.
These proposals advance my long-standing commitment to internal democracy and Party integrity.
In 2010 I was a member of the National Review into the ALP, which made a number of recommendations for Party reform.
In December 2012, I promised to pursue outstanding integrity reforms by moving to formally change the Party’s rules at the next possible opportunity.
I considered then, and consider now, essential next steps to be:

  • The inclusion of strong integrity measures for elected representatives, Party officials, and members in our rules; and
  • Preselection by ballot of the full Party membership in NSW for Senate and NSW Legislative Council candidates.

Labor must clearly demonstrate to all those within and without the Party that we have learnt from the past and that we are fully committed to preventing corrupt behaviour ever again taking hold. To do so we must not only enshrine in our Rules our commitment to ethical behaviour, but also change the processes that enabled individuals with neither Labor values, nor Labor party members’ support, to gain preselection through nothing more than factional anointment.
Current upper house preselection processes in NSW enfranchise only factional leaders.
The NSW ALP Annual Conference in July this year is the first opportunity at either a state or national level to pursue these changes to our rules.
My position on the need for reforms to increase transparency, accountability and democracy within the ALP remains unchanged. As I have repeatedly said, (see links below) Labor’s commitment to democracy and to integrity must be demonstrated within our Party as well as through our policies.

John Faulkner
Labor Senator for NSW

Reimagining Labor: Party Reform. Progressive Australia Conference 2013, Sydney, 3 November 2013
Political Integrity: The Parliament, the Public Service, and the Parties. Integrity In Government Conference, University of Melbourne Law School, 4 December 2012
Party Reform – 46th ALP National Conference 2011, Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre, Darling Harbour, 3 December 2011
The Wran Lecture, NSW Parliament House, Sydney, 9 June 2011
Henry Parkes Oration – Apathy and Anger: Our Modern Australian Democracy. Opening Address, Henry Parkes Memorial School of Arts, 22 October 2005

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Bill Shorten: plans for a modern and progressive Australian Labor Party




During the Federal Labor leadership contest in October last year, the candidates Bill Shorten and Anthony Albanese responded to an extensive Local Labor survey on their commitment to reforming and renewing the Australian Labor Party.

With a platform of “Party. Policy. People”, Bill Shorten ultimately won that contest and now as the Federal Opposition Leader, and leader of the Australian Labor Party will give an important keynote address on his vision and plans for a modern and progressive Australian Labor Party Continue reading

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The ALP in New South Wales; who controls it and how?

By Jim Bright, Narooma Branch Secretary

Purpose of this paper

In this paper I will endeavour to explain

(a) how the current constitution of the NSW Branch of the ALP gives control of the Annual Conference (i.e. the Branch’s supreme governing body) to the affiliated unions,

(b) how the officials of those unions currently ‘manage’ those constitutional arrangements in a way that maximises the officials’ individual power and influence within the Party, and

(c) how the power and influence of those union officials underpins the current factional control of the Party. Continue reading

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Several things…

There are several things we’d like to draw to your attention:

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Why direct elections?

If the Party is to survive as a membership based party, it must take its direction from the membership, it must exist to fight for the interests of its members. The argument that ‘we know what’s good for you’ has been disproven. It was disproven by the election of MacDonald, it was disproven when Rozendahl was placed at #1 on the Senate ticket, ahead of John Faulkner, it was disproven in the NSW lower house by the elections of the likes of Obeid and Reba Meagher, to pick just two, and it was disproven in Victoria when candidates in Gipsland who had received 90% support from the rank and file were overridden by factional choices, even though it broke the party’s own rules to do so.

The usual argument in favour of allowing the factions to choose candidates is that it allows the party to recruit ‘star candidates’. Apart from the party’s inability to pick stars from duds – see previous paragraph – the fact is that if someone is such a political star they will win a rank and file preselection. A demonstrated fear of a rank and file preselection ought to be enough to disqualify any would be candiate for high office.

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Motions to go to Conference

Branches, electoral councils and affiliated unions have until 4th of April to submit motions to NSW Annual Conference.

Here are some motions your branch, electoral council or union might like to consider:

Rule C.1 (“…the Rules [do not] bring about any legal relationship, rights, duties or outcome of any kind…”) should be abolished and replaced with a rule that makes it expressly clear that any action or decision within the NSW ALP can be challenged in a court of law.

The Party to empower its members to vote directly for National Conference Delegates, National Executive Members, State Conference Delegates and State Administrative Committee Members.

The Party to empower its members to vote directly for the Senate and for the NSW Legislative Council.

Union delegates to conference to be directly elected by trade union members.

Union delegates to conference to be required to have been active branch members for at least 12 months.

Rule N.40 to be abolished and replaced with a rule that guarantees timely preselection for rank and file ballots.

That there should be no preselection waiting periods for members who have paid for their own membership through traceable means.

The first four motions above are taken from John Faulkner speeches. The next three have come from other branches

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The Left has failed the Membership in Victoria.

In Victoria, the rules dictate that candidates are chosen 50-50 by local members and the ‘Public Office Selection Committee’:

18.5 The selection of candidates for Public Offices shall be made by the following:
For the House of Representatives, the Legislative Assembly, the Legislative Council and Municipal Electorates, members of the Public Office Selection Committee sitting and voting after a plebiscite of local voters residing in the electoral area concerned …

Instead, Victorian Left faction leader Kim Carr, seconded by the Right’s Don Farrell, successfully called for the selection to be made by the National Executive, cutting out the rank and file.

Further reading:

PS. Six hours before the Victorian Admin Committee referred the ballot to National Executive, Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews was asked if he could guarantee ALP members would get a ballot. Allegedly, he replied that he was “not aware of any alternative arrangements“.

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