From the 2009 Rules Committee report, it is possible to better understand the relationship between head office and the rank and file branches, and the challenge ahead in introducing democratic processes into the party.
The Rule committee considers improvements to the rules governing the operation of the party as received from a number of different sources – rank and file branches, as well as the Administrative Committee and the Rules Committee themselves. For each suggestion they provide a recommendation – “Adopt” or “Reject”.
The 2009 report contains 79 motions for consideration across various sections/schedules A to I of the rules. 54 were submitted by rank and file branches across NSW, the remainder being submitted by the Rules Committee or from other units established by head office. Unsurprisingly the Rules Committee had a 100% “Adopt” recommendation rate with their self-generated motions. Perhaps more surprising is the Adopt rate for the 54 rank and file motions. Zero percent.
The Rules Committee appears to take “zero tolerance” attitude to the rank and file. Not one of the 54 suggestions were recommended for adoption, many without any reason provided. Even from a self-serving position, it is interesting that the committee did not consider passing just a token number from the rank and file, if only to maintain a “defensible” position. Sadly, the truth is no defense is required today when you completely ignore the rank and file. This is just business as usual. Instead they chose to clearly send the opposite message – “Rank and file participation in the organisation of the Labor party will not be tolerated. Do not waste your time or ours by trying.”
The legitimacy with which the current power brokers operate is becoming paper thin. The current lack of transparency and democracy can only continue whilst the 35,000 remaining members of the rank and file allow it. Do not allow it.