Yesterday started with the Country Labor report.
There was a lot of anger at Rodney Cavalier’s comments of the day before (“Amanda Fazio talked about us wiping out Country Labor. Well the electorate just did. Having the country electorates represented here is an act of charity.”). There was a sense that city people don’t understand the challenges faced in the country, for example, Michael McManus observed that: “some of our electorates have 80+ booths, some as small as 30 people”. There was also some recognition that Cavalier perhaps had half a point, given that our primary vote was under 10% in many seats.
There was a fair degree of discussion about whether Country Conference should be allowed to elect, for example, the Country Organiser. Matt Martin moved an amendment, which was accepted, that Country Conference should discuss the issue and make a recommendation to be voted on at the next State Conference.
That was followed by John Watkins and Anthony Chisholm presenting their report, which also sparked much comment.
Paul Howes seemed happy to lead the ‘change nothing’ case, basically arguing that the general public are only concerned with policies and leadership, not with the process that generates them. Other people argued that it’s not possible to separate the two, that our policies and leaders are a direct result of the way we do business.
Marcus Strom asked why the the Watkins/Chisholm report wasn’t released before the rules debate.
Johno Johnson proposed cutting membership fees to $20, and noted that this would be a considerable saving to many sitting MPs.
As with the country report, there were lots of good comments and interesting comments, but it wasn’t really a debate because there wasn’t much back and forth – just lots of comments.
The afternoon saw the presentation of life-memberships, more reports and and a range of topics spoken to.
Perhaps the most notable topic was same-sex marriage. After a great deal of backroom discussion on the topic, no conclusion was reached. Instead of an agreement on the issue, or a vote, there was agreement only to refer the issue to Federal Conference, and let them make a decision.
The returning officer didn’t get to speak until very late in the day. The Left contested but did not win the positions of president, general secretary; state organiser, and organiser, communications and training. Chris Quilkey and Maurice May were successful in their bid for places as National Conference Delegates. Neither Chris Quilkey nor Neil Reilly nor I were successful in our bid for places on Admin/Rules, though I understand that Admin was close enough to ‘give them a scare’ – it took about four hours of counting before the final results were clear.
You can see the twitter hashtag #nswalp11 for more details.
Overall, a lot of people are a bit glass-half-empty about the reforms – good but would have been nice to have been better.
Personally, I’m more glass-half-full. Lots of loopholes remain, but some have been closed and others tightened.
Where the rank and file are vigilant, these reforms will help in preventing the sort of abuses that have too often been the norm. In electorates where the rank and file are not prepared to act, nothing is going to change.