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.
Rodney Cavalier’s comments may have been less than sensitive and “over the top” , (as Rodney often is), but he did have more than half a point. His original point was to take issue with Amanda Fazio’s bizarre suggestion that the direct election of party officials such as President would “wipe out Country Labor”! The Right put a ridiculous pink leaflet out saying the same thing. Apparently 85% of party members are in Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong. Guess what, 85% of the POPULATION is there, too! It shows how lacking in legitimate arguments they are against direct election, that they have to resort to such a transparently stupid “straw man” as the city-country divide. Cavalier’s point about Terry Sheahan was correct. Good candidates will prevail in rank and file ballots wherever they are from.
Can you publish the list of who got elected to the Rules and Admin Committees please?
As long as Paul Hows has any part of the platform, our glass will will be less than half full.
One of the many low-lights of the conference was not just seeing Joe Tripodi on the floor (he didn’t speak but was a delegate), but also seeing him hold court in the foyer outside. He certainly was not ostracised – people were coming up and shaking his hand and slapping him on the back
I would firstly like to thank and praise the effort or OUR ALP for standing up for the party of the people that make it the ALP.
The effort and time was outstanding and more then tokenism as you all put your money where your mouth is and did something. Well done. Maybe I naively suggest the party heads took notice of this.
I was not fortunate enough to attend conference but from all reports it was a good one and as a rural member i was pleased to hear Country Labor was given a voice, though very disappointed in the reports back that Country Labor is dead. If we are to win back government the party will need to unseat more then a few Macquarie St farmers.
I hope at country conference we can succeed where the state conference failed and direct elect our country organiser and hope we can revisit as a party the push for direct elections of party officials duty mlc and senators.
though the gains appear to be modest we are on the map in reclaiming the party. i hope we can maintain the network and communications established so we can collectively act in the interest of our party and the members and continue to be activists for better government and stronger communities.
I look forward to meeting a lot of you over the coming weeks months and years and hope we can organise more forums and thinks tanks in both city and rural regional locations. we still have a lot to discuss.
take care have a great week and thankyou
Secretary Bellinger River Branch