Lithgow Branch – Ben Aveling’s response

In response to the points raised by the Lithgow Branch on the 12th of April

Re: Motion 1.

The tight time-frame is driven by the cut-off date for submissions to conference: noon, 29th of April. That date was chosen by head office.  Several people have complained to them that it is too tight and will prevent proper consideration of motions, but to no avail. Branches either have to work with it, or accept that their motions and amendments may not be considered by conference this year. Head office have informally said that they may be flexible with late submissions, but there are no guarantees.

At least one branch has called an additional ‘special’ meeting to give members extra time to consider this motion, and others have rescheduled their regular meetings.

Re: Motion 2.

Members of affiliated unions are also part of the rank and file of the ALP, whether or not they are also party members, and they already have a say in the election of Party officers, via their conference delegates.  Of that, all that this proposal would change is to turn an indirect say into a direct say, and of the same magnitude.

That is: instead of union members voting for a secretary who chooses delegates who vote for party officers, union members would themselves vote for party officers.  There would be no change in the weighting of the total vote.  It would become less ‘winner takes all’. And it would allow union members to split their vote, for example they could vote for a certain person to be secretary without supporting that person’s choice of party officers.

If any branch feels that union members should have their say in the election of Party Officers removed, they are free to raise a motion to that effect, ideally by the 29th of April.

One of the principles advocated in the Faulkner Carr Bracks review is one vote, one value.  This motion would give all members the same amount of say in the selection of party officials, as opposed to the bias towards members of weaker electorates.  Given that there are electorates with 10’s of members and electorates with 100’s of members, whether one feels this is more fair or less fair may well depend on where one lives.

In response to your question as to who paid officials should be answerable to, as Michael Johnston has put it:

“I take the view that paid Party officials are answerable to the Rank and File – all of us!. That currently they are not is the cancer eating the heart out of our once great political party.  [It would be empowering if] Candidates offering themselves for office in the Party would tell us their qualifications, their competence, their commitment and the reasons why we should select them.”

The fact that party members do not know who sits on the Administrative Committee is no argument for denying members a vote on who sits on the Administrative Committee – it is an argument for informing party members about the people who sit on the Administrative Committee.  And it is not true that all delegates to conference are familiar with all candidates for the Administrative Committee. Almost without exception, they are familiar only with those in their own faction, if that.   Besides, factionally aligned delegates do not exercise their own judgement, they vote as instructed by their faction, regardless of their own opinion and regardless of the opinions of those they supposedly represent.

Under this proposal there would have to a distribution of candidate bios to the wider membership of the party.  No doubt, delegates will make their own recommendations to their branch members, who will then make the final decision.

Of course Motion 2 could have gone further, every motion could. That alone is no reason to oppose. Better to pass this motion and move additional extra motions as well, as other branches have done.

Re: Motion 3.

The selection of delegates to Conference by affiliated unions is not a purely internal affair of the union.  It is very much the concern of the party as a whole that the delegates from its individual member bodies are as representative as possible of their constituencies, not least because it gives those that are union members but not directly party members an awareness that it is still their ALP, something that they do not currently feel.

Re: Motion 4.

Our membership base will increase only when members perceive that they have a voice, and branch stacking destroys that voice.  It is not enough that most branches are not stacked.  A few heavily stacked branches are all that is required.

Given modern payment methods, the inconvencince caused to legitimate members in sending a cheque or paying by credit card to head office, as compared to paying by cheque or cash to a local branch secretary or MP, is minimal to non-existent, given that most branch secretraies do not accept credit cards, phone payments, or internet payments.

The vast majority of members who are entitled to concessional rates have evidence showing that they are entitiled to concessional rates.  For the minority that don’t, there is the option of a statutory declaration. The concessional rate should be reserved for those that need it. It should not be an opt-in for anyone that just wants it.

Regards, Ben Aveling

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One Response to Lithgow Branch – Ben Aveling’s response

  1. Nicholas Car says:

    I agree with Ben’s reply to Lithgow’s decisions regarding Motion 4. I think Lithgow has placed too much concern on issues relating to concession payments. My experience from other organisations is that decisions regarding concession payments are not hard to resolve and my feeling is that they are not a big part of the main thrust of this motion.

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