Labor for Refugees asks Party President Candidates: Should our Parliamentarians be bound by our Constitution?

Source: Labor for Refugees

Labor for Refugees put the following questions to all six candidates for Party President.

  1. How important is it for members of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party to comply with the ALP National Platform in accordance with the pledge they made as parliamentary candidates?
  2. Referring to Rule 7 (c), (d) and (e) of the ALP National Constitution, and as a member of the National Executive, would you, in a situation where members of the FPLP were planning to vote in parliament in a manner contrary to the National Platform, vote and urge fellow members of the National Executive to vote to direct the said members of the FPLP to vote in parliament in a manner consistent with the ALP National Platform?
  3. Assuming your answer to question 2 is “yes” what disciplinary measures would you urge be taken against members of the FPLP who fail to observe the direction of the National Executive?

So far, three have answered, as follows:

John Lennan:

Q1

It is very important for members of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party to comply with the National Platform.

Federal Labor MPs should comply with the National Platform in relation to asylum seekers.

However we should recognise that there could be exceptional circumstances where it might be foolish or inappropriate to comply with a National Platform provision that may have been written up to 3 or more years previously.

Q2

My answer to this question is “yes” except in very rare circumstances as indicated in my previous answer.

Q3

There is no easy answer to the question. It depends on the circumstances as well as the seriousness of any breach. However there should be a scale of possible disciplinary measures available ranging from reprimand to disendorsement.

The Party should also put an end to the practice of Party executives and admin committees choosing candidates. It should require pre-selection by democratic vote of genuine rank and file members living in the electorate. This would make Labor MPs more accountable to local Party members and more likely to comply with the National Platform.

Jane Garrett:

I believe strongly in the policy-making structure set out in the National Constitution, and in the primacy of the Platform that is determined by National Conference. I also note however the role the Constitution grants to Federal Parliamentary Labor to implement the Platform.

Were I to be elected as National President, and so to the National Executive, I would act in accordance with the Constitution and the facts before the Executive in any question concerning the implementation of the Platform.

Jenny McAllister:

The National Conference is the supreme governing body of the ALP – reflecting and embodying the relationship between our members, our affiliates and our parliamentary representatives. Its decisions when integrated in the Platform are binding on all members.

As a member of the National Executive, I take very seriously my responsibility to the Party, and would seek to uphold the Constitution in any decision brought before that body.

I might take this opportunity to observe that the National President currently is not afforded voting rights on the National Executive. I believe that, as a directly elected representative tasked with representing the views of the membership, the National President is entitled to a vote, as recommended in the Faullkner-Bracks-Carr Review. I’m hopeful that this reform will be seriously considered at out National Conference in December.

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