The following speech was delivered by Jim Bright, South Coast Delegate and candidate for the Administrative Committee, in support of the OurALP proposal that the motion from the Alexandria Branch that “union delegates to Conference should be directly elected by trade union members” (item No. 31 of the Rules Committee Report) should not be rejected, as recommended by the Rules Committee, but should instead be referred to the National Conference.
I’m from the far south coast.
Like the overwhelming majority of my fellow members in that part of the State, I am not, and have never been, a member of a faction.
Like Bob Nanva, who spoke earlier, I’m here to enhance the voice of 350,000 union members.
I’ve been a life long and active supporter of the trade union movement.
I clocked up over 40 years as a member, worked for some years as a full-time trade union industrial officer and was the convenor of our local Your Rights at Work campaign committee in 2006 and 2007 – and I continue, in my retirement, to be an associate member of a union – the union that I first joined in 1965.
I am absolutely convinced of the need for workers to support and protect each other within the framework of an effective trade union movement.
It’s our responsibility to do everything we can to maintain such a framework.
An effective and viable Australian Labor Party is an essential element in the achievement of that objective.
Although this is not the first conference I’ve attended, it is the first time that I’ve sought to be here as an elected delegate.
Delegates – there’s a reason for that.
It’s because I want to stand up and be counted as a passionate supporter of FAIR DINKUM reform and to me that means the return of the Party to the control of its thousands of ordinary members at the earliest opportunity.
And that’s why I’m here at this conference as part of the rank & file reform group – OurALP.
Delegates – I would suggest that tomorrow you might think about taking a break this time from voting the usual ‘option-less’ ‘faction-determined’ ticket. Put some independent members on the Admin Committee and the Rules Committee.
To echo delegate Faulkner – don’t just rubber-stamp the factions’ tickets.
To go now to the business at hand.
At motion 31, the Alexandria Branch had put forward the fairly uncomplicated and seemingly quite reasonable proposition that maybe the people who come to our conference purporting to represent the views and aspirations of union members should actually be selected by those members.
That seems like a completely reasonable proposition to me.
However the Rules Committee has given the branch’s motion the big flick.
The Branch’s proposal falls foul of the rules of our national body.
Those rules say –
“it is the right of each union to determine the criteria and procedures for selection of its delegates”.
Delegates, not everybody here has to agree, but my view is that
our party, which is an important fundamental element of this country’s democratic system, is entitled to require at least a modicum of ‘due process’, transparency, accountability and democracy to be exhibited by the entities that form a major component of our Party.
That is my view.
But it’s not a decision we’re here to make today.
This is a decision that should be made by National Conference, which is why I have moved that this motion be referred by this State conference to the National Conference.