The Lithgow branch of the ALP met on 12 April and considered 4 motions adopted by the “Our ALP” gathering in Sydney on 2 April.
With regard to those motions the Lithgow branch adopted unanimously the following resolutions:
Motion 1 – Endorse the 2010 Review
That Lithgow branch notes resolution 1 and undertakes to discuss it in detail at a later date when all branch members have had the opportunity to consider the 2010 review in full.
Motion 2 – Direct Election for Administrative Commmitee, General and Assistant Secretaries and the State President and Vice Presidents
That Lithgow branch rejects motion 2.
Whilst we believe there is some merit in considering rank and file election of the State President and Vice Presidents in a manner similar to the election of the National President and Vice Presidents we do not believe the same can be said for electing by rank and file ballot the General and Assistant General Secretaries nor for the members of the Administrative Committee.
We offer the following reasons in support of our position:
- The process proposed is not clearly worded. As written it allows for non ALP members in affiliated unions to have a vote in the election of ALP office bearers. The election of Party officers is a matter for ALP members alone.
- Given the markedly lower numbers of Party members in rural and regional areas the process proposed would disenfranchise those members.
- As the General Secretary and Assistant General Secretaries are paid officials and responsible for the day to day operations of the Party, it is more appropriate for those officials to be answerable to a representative body of Party members which can meet in one place. State Conference is the appropriate body for this purpose.
- Given the number of members of the Administrative Committee it is not practical to expect all Party members to be able to vote in an informed manner. Rather this responsibility should be left to the 900+ delegates to the NSW State Conference.
Motion 3 – Union delegations to State Conference to be chosen by direct election by union members
That Lithgow branch rejects motion 3.
It is not the place of the Party to direct affiliated unions on how to conduct their internal affairs. The method for selecting union delegates to State Conference is a matter for each affiliated union to determine for itself.
Further, motion 2 demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding on the part of the drafters as to how union delegations to State Conference function. Delegates from affiliated unions do not participate in Conference as individuals, rather they represent the collective position of their union.
Motion 4 – Anti branch stacking
That Lithgow branch rejects motion 4.
We believe that, in general, the current anti branch stacking provisions of the NSW ALP Rules are sufficient.
Given the current problems that NSW Labor has with respect to membership recruitment we believe the Party should be investigating ways to increase our membership base rather than restrict it.
Further we are concerned that motion 4, whilst well intentioned, would unduly affect retired people who are not necessarily able to provide evidence of concessional status. In addition the provision concerning concessional membership places an unfair burden on low income people and is an unacceptable invasion of an individual’s privacy.
If there is a question as to the concessional status of an individual member, that should be dealt with by Party officials on an individual basis with due regard for the principles of confidentiality and privacy.
13 April 2011
A response by Ben Aveling