Victorian ALP Independents Forums Draft Party Reform Resolutions

Contributed by Eric Dearricott

Draft Party Reform Resolutions which could be put to National Conference arising from Victorian ALP Independents Forums discussing Review 2010

Amnesty for Lapsed Party Members

Recommendation 8: That the Party grant an amnesty to former members who have left the Party over the past five years, but who are willing to rejoin. That the amnesty include the restoration of full membership rights: but that this amnesty not be extended to any former member who has brought discredit on the Party or its representatives.

July Working Party Comments: Agree but to help ensure legitimacy those deciding to rejoin should be required to pay their membership fees by traceable means.

Nov 27 Forum Comments: The overwhelming majority of those at the November 27 Forum supported this proposals but there were concerns about opening the gate for lapsed stacks to resume membership and ensuring relatively fair treatment for those who pay even a few minutes late in the year of the amnesty and are deemed ineligible to vote.

Draft Conference Resolution:

In Part C in NPO 6, add new paragraph d)

d)The Party will grant an amnesty to former members who have left the Party over the past five years, but who are willing to rejoin. That the amnesty include the restoration of full membership rights: but that this amnesty not be extended to any former member who has brought discredit on the Party or its representatives.

Full membership rights will be restored to those who rejoin upon their payment of their membership fee by traceable means.

Each State and Territory Branch must amend its rules to give effect to this paragraph.’

Direct Election of Party Delegates to National Conference

Review Recommendation 11: That the structure of the ALP National Conference be changed to enable the increased participation of rank and file members through the direct election of a component of the National Conference.

Review Recommendation 12: That any rank and file ballot for Conference delegates occur at the same time, as the ballots for the National President and Vice-Presidents. and that it also occur by postal ballot.

July Working Party Comments: Agree but proportion needs to be defined. We would prefer all National Conference delegates to be elected by the rank and file but a minimum of at least 50% should be directly elected.

Nov 27 Forum Comments:The principle of the greatest possible proportion of delegates being elected directly from and by regular Party members and being representative of them was unanimously supported. Figures of 100%, 85% and at least 50% direct election were discussed as were the pros and cons of a Statewide ballot as proposed in the Official Resolutions versus FEA level or a bigger voting divisions such as State upper house seats which would allow for reps to be closer to electors and for a diversity of delegates not only one from one or other of the major factions. It was recognised that different States already have different systems and that allow some flexibility and diversity within the new national rule may be desirable.

Draft Resolutions:

In National Rule 6 replace paragraphs e and f with:

e) All State and Territory delegates must be elected by a system of proportional representation with affirmative action in accordance with rule 10 in the 12 months before each triennial National Conference in accordance with the rules of that State or Territory Branch.

  1. At least 50% of such delegates must be directly elected from and by Party Members.

The direct election component of each State’s and Territory’s Nation Conference delegates shall occur at the same time as the ballots for the National Presidents and Vice Presidents and shall also occur by postal Ballot’

  1. The remaining delegates from each State and Territory must be elected in a single ballot by State or Territory Conferences.

f) Proxy Delegates – Each of the State or Territory’s National Conference delegates shall be entitled to nominate one proposed proxy to the State or Territory’s Administrative Committee which shall elect the State’s National Conference proxies by a system of proportional representation in accordance with this rule and rule 10.’

Direct Election and Voting Rights for Presidents and VPs

Recommendation 13: That the National Constitution be amended so that the National President, elected by the membership of the Party, serve a full three year term. That a separate ballot of the membership be held to elect a Senior Vice President and Junior Vice President also to serve a full three year term. That all three members elected be granted full voting rights on the National Executive.

July Working Party Comments on 13 & 14: Agree except that we believe there should be a single ballot for the 3 positions (so that affirmative action is applicable) and that but the first elected candidate is President for the entire period between elections.

Nov 27 Forum Comments: The Forum strongly agreed with the July working party comments.

A ballot for 3 positions was is more likely to result in diversity in the presidential office holders.

The Review seems to have overlooked giving the presidential officers a vote in the National Conference itself.

Draft Resolutions:

In Part B, in Rule 9 replace (b) with”

b) (i) The candidate first elected holds office as National President.

(ii) The candidate second elected holds office as National Senior Vice President

(iii) The candidate third elected holds office as National Junior Vice President

(iv) The term of office of each position begins at the commencement of National Conference and ends at the commencement of the next triennial National Conference.’

In Part B in Rule 7 in Paragraph (a) replace subparagraph (i) with

(i) The National Presidents and Vice Presidents who are directly elected by Party members in accordance with rule 9a), have the full rights of a delegate, including that of voting.’

In Part B in Rule 6

In Paragraph a) replace “400” with ‘403’

In Paragraph j replace (i) with:

The National President and Vice Presidents shall have full rights of a delegate at National Conference including voting’

Recommendation 14: That the National Principles of Organisation of the Party be amended to provide for the direct election of the Party President and Vice Presidents it state and territory level based on the model proposed in this Review for the national level.

Draft Resolution:

In Part C replace NPO 4 with

d) Each State and Territory Branch must amend its rules so that its President and Vice Presidents are elected from and by members in the State or Territory on the same basis as the National Presidents and Vice Presidents under Rule 9. The rights and responsibilities of the President and Vice Presidents must also be based on the National rules.

Rules implementing this principle must be submitted to the National Executive for approval by November 1 2012.’

50-50 at State Conferences

Recommendation 16: That the National Principles of Organisation ensure that the state and territory conferences be solely based on the principle of 50 per cent representation for members and 50 per cent representation for affiliates. That the practice of including additional delegates from administrative committees, policy committees, Young Labor, and the parliamentary parties in the members’ component cease. That any affiliation of non-industrial party affiliates in the future (e.g. LEAN or Rainbow Labor) not be included in the affiliates component, which should be quarantined to trade union representation only.

Draft Resolution:

That the National Principles of Organisation Section 5 (Composition of State Conferences) be replaced with:

In all States the Party Conference shall comprise an equal number of delegates directly elected by Party members in that State and delegates of affiliated Unions plus number of delegates who are not delegates of affiliates or delegates directly elected by grassroots Party members which must not be more than 2% of the total number of delegates.

(This principle will not apply to Territory Branches until the proportion of union affiliates is equivalent to that in the States)

Rules implementing this principle must be submitted to the National Executive for approval by November 1 2012.’

Recommendation 17: That ‘batt’ or dual voting – a system which offends the principle of one vote one value – not be permitted under Party Rules in any circumstances.

Recommendation 29: That the Party’s National Principles of Organisation be amended to allow the affiliation of like-minded organisations, in addition to industrial unions. Furthermore, that campaign groups such as the Labor Environment Action Network and Rainbow Labor be grated ex-officio delegate rights at state and territory conferences and policy committees, once they are able to demonstrate and verify membership of a sufficient size.

July Working Party Comments on 16, 17 & 29: We agree that the practice in some States of including a range of other categories as part of the members 50% should cease. We acknowledge the critical role unions played in establishing the Labor Party and continues to play in ensuring its financial viability. However it is clear given the decreasing portion of the community and workers and that even less are in affiliated (now significantly less than 20% of whom even less are Labor voters) that it is democratically and politically imperative that over time the proportion of delegates from affiliated unions at ALP Conferences must decrease.

Some of that increase could and should be taken up by members of other affiliates referred to in recommendation 29 provided batt or dual voting is avoided.

In reference to batt voting the Party needs to address the contradiction whereby members of affiliated unions can be both union and electorate delegate to Conferences and effectively (even though no direct voting is involved) elect both Union and electorate delegates to Conferences.

Nov 27 Forum Comments: The Official recommendation to the Conference proposes a 5% component beyond membership and union delegates – such a large add on (30 delegates in Victoria’s case could easily change the balance of the Conference it should be much smaller and encompass only the parliamentary leadership, the 3 presidential officers and Federal Parliamentary representatives.

Policy Development

Recommendation 20: That the National Policy Committee be reformed to create a series of national party policy committees that reflect the Caucus committees of the FPLP.

Comments: Agree.

Recommendation 23: That NSW Labor’s successful model of a Central Policy Branch be extended to other state and territory capitals and to major regional centres such as Newcastle, Woolongong, Launceston, Townsville, Fremantle, and Bendigo or Ballarat. That a National Policy Branch be established online, which would assist state based Central Policy Branches by providing national lectures, presentations and seminars online for Party members.

Comments: Support the concept of high level progressive discussion within the Party.

National Appeals Tribunal

Recommendation 24: That the decisions of the National Appeals Tribunal (NAT) be binding determinations on the Party. That the membership of the NAT be expanded and that matters be heard by more than one member.

July Working Party Comments: Strongly support the removal of the ability of the National Executive to overrule the National Appeals Tribunal. Tend to support more than one on the Tribunal but genuine impartiality of National Appeals Panel members is the most important element. Can’t be an even number so should be 3 as decision should be a majority not a unanimous one which would allow the exercise of a veto.

Nov 27 Forum Comments: There was some concern about the logistics of the official proposal requiring 3 of 5 Tribunal members who desirably should be from a range of States to assemble for hearings – it was thought that maybe National hearings should be initially by a single panel member and the possibility for those disputing a decision by a one person Panel appeal and be heard by a bigger panel. It was also strongly felt that appeals panel members should have expertise beyond Party experience.

Draft Resolution:

In Part B amend Rule 18 as follows:

In paragraph (a) subparagraph (i), replace “at its first meeting” with “within three months”

In paragraph (a) subparagraph (ii) replace “three” with “six”

In paragraph d) delete “on behalf of the National Executive” and “; and making recommendations to the National Executive in relation to those appeals” and replace “hearing’ with hearing and deciding”

In paragraph (f) subparagraph (iii) delete “the National Executive and” and replace “recommendations” with “decision”.

Replace paragraph (g) with:

(g) Decisions of the Tribunal are final and binding on all members, affiliated unions and constituent units except that either the complainant(s) or the respondent(s) may choose to appeal to a panel of three National Appeals Panel members chosen by lot by the National Secretary and its decision shall be final and binding.

In paragraph (h) delete “and any direction of the National Executive”

In paragraph (i) delete “The powers of the National Executive under this rule are in addition to, and not in derogation from, those contained in rule 7c)

In Part B amend Rule 7 replace paragraph (d) with

d) Subject only to National Conference, the National Executive may exercise all powers of the Party, other than those assigned to the National Appeals Tribunal under these rules, without limitation, including in relation to State branches and other sections of the Party.”

Intervention in Pre-selections

Recommendation 25: That intervention in Party pre-selections by the National Executive and State Administrative committees only occur as a last resort rather than a first resort, and then only in exceptional circumstances.

Nov 27 Forum comments: Strongly supported a rule needs to spell out the proportion of Admin or Nat Exec required for intervention, the reasons must be made public and spell out what is and what isn’t exceptional circumstances.

Draft Resolution:

In Part C, in NPO 15, add new paragraph (e)

(e) The National Executive and State Administrative Committees may only intervene in pre-selections as a last resort, rather than a first resort, and then only in exceptional circumstances. Such interventions may only occur where there is an affirmative vote of at least 75% of the National Executive or State Administrative Committee to do so and where interventions take place the National Executive or State Administrative Committee must provide an open written explanation to Party members. States and Territories will amend their rules to provide for a shortened pre-selection process which includes local members in the case of unexpected elections.”’

Primaries for Pre-Selections

Recommendation 26: That the Party nationally implement a tiered system of Party primaries for the selection of candidates. That this commence in open and non-held lower house seats and be considered for held seats in the future. That a system with three weighted components be established comprising a 60 per cent component drawn from local Party members, 20 per cent from embers participating from affiliated trade unions, and 20 per cent from registered Labor supporters in the community. That safeguards to prevent any corruption of this system be put in place such as:

the principle of one vote, one value be enshrined to ensure that double or triple-voting not occur

  • there be minimum participation requirements in the union and community components of a primary to ensure that low participation did not distort results
  • that all participants be enrolled to vote for a minimum of three months and have a verifiable address within the electorate.

July Working Party Comments: Disagree. Prefer a full local plebiscite accompanied by aggressive action to eliminate branch stacking.

Nov 27 Forum Comments: Position of Forum was as above. No position was taken on giving members within an electorate to opt into a trial of alternative pre-selection methods as is now being suggested

Labor Connect

Recommendation 30: That Labor Connect be expanded as a membership organising and campaigning tool.

July Working Party Comments: Members need a source of genuine information which discusses objectively the options and the reasoning that lead to a policy decision. Labor Connect in the main comes over as propaganda that many cannot be bothered reading. Nov 27 Forum Comments: It was suggested that Labor Connect should be utilised for member participation in policy formation.

Draft Resolution:

InPart C, in NPO 13, add new paragraph (n)

(n) Labor Connect should be expanded as a membership organising and campaigning tool and as a means for members to contribute to and participate in Party policy development

Secret Ballot Implementation

Nov 27 Forum Comments: Those present were supportive of lodging a National Conference resolution establish secret ballots for internal Party elections as a requirement at all levels.

Draft Resolution:

National Exec’s proposed NPO change that all Parliamentary Leaders be given the prerogative to select their Ministry or Shadow Ministry

Nov 27 Forum Comments: The majority believed that this was undesirable as it was seen as likely to create a ministry unprepared to take on the leader because they may lose their position. Some saw it as more likely to result in a better quality ministry.

National Conference policy isssues:

Nov 27 Forum Comments:

Marriage Equality: All present supported the rights of same sex couple to marry and opposed a conscience vote for parliamentarians on the matter.

Asylum Seekers: There was very strong support for onshore processing

Sale of Uranium to India: All opposed the sale of Uranium to any non-signatory to the non-proliferation treaty.

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