Agenda for Unity Conference 75th Anniversary Event

Saturday 15 November

Newtown Neighbourhood Centre
1 Bedford St, Newtown NSW 2042


10:00 Welcome to Country: Auntie Millie
10:15 Introduction: Why we’re here and what we hope to achieve
Sean Macken & David Hetherington
10:30 The importance of renewal: Geoff Gallop
11:00 Panel – The role of the grassroots
Loga Chadrakumar (Open Labor)
Jamie Clements (Secretary, NSW Labor)
Chris Haviland (NSW Local Labor)
Lucille McKenna (Mayor of Ashfield)
12:00 Lunch Break
12:30 Transparency & democracy in Labor: Special Guest Speaker TBC
13:00 Branch delegates debate
14:45 Summary and resolutions: Sean Macken & David Hetherington
15:00 Close of conference
15:30 Labor history walk (led by Sean Macken)
17:00 Break
19:00 Dinner at Swanson Hotel
20:30 Close

HashTag #UnityConference

For those that are interested, a summary of the 1938 Labor Unity Conference is available in Trove.

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2 Responses to Agenda for Unity Conference 75th Anniversary Event

  1. bighead1883 says:

    We`re getting so many mixed messages out here Ben.
    The F&F in Lakemba have been ridden over roughshod
    Jamie Clements claims ther`s no need for reform
    ALP reform stymied by branch stacking allegations,7082
    ALP secretary rejects John Faulkner’s calls for party reform: NSW Labor Party secretary Jamie Clements has rej…

  2. JohnB says:

    I will not be able to attend the Conference tomorrow, however in placing this note here I wish to convey my suggestions to participants for consideration.

    As a supporter with progressive attitudes within the ALP I am writing to you in the hope that my suggestions may serve to re-invigorate the ALP out of its present slide into an ‘LNP lite’ torpor.

    Union execs occupying comfortable well renumerated positions are in my opinion too reluctant to make long needed and necessary changes to democratise the ALP and reverse the decades long downward trend of union Rank & File (R&F) membership numbers.
    As indicated by the defeat of John Faulkner’s reform proposals at the recent National Conference, many union leaders holding sway in Caucus are obviously unwilling to support progressive change.
    My suggested action is practical and simple – if those at the top won’t move, perhaps some push from the masses at the workface could change things.

    As a first most important move I suggest all members of ALP affiliated unions be immediate granted honorary ALP membership (subject to ALP eligibility criteria, on an opt out basis) for the next 2-3 years; after which period, ALP membership/fee collection via union dues payment.
    This will immediately significantly increase ALP R&F numbers, perhaps 50,000 new members or more, from the current 1.8 million union membership pool.
    Internal democratic reform may then be driven by R&F – from the bottom upwards.

    At the same time, the ALP should create some meaningful participatory role to include R&F members in ALP organisational activities at both a practical and ‘on-line’ level;
    e.g. inclusive active involvement in pre-selection/leadership ballots, democratic input to ALP policy formation/priorities, surveys/plebiscites on membership/social/industrial issues etc.
    Inclusion of these new members in ALP email-outs etc should increase political awareness, and hopefully generate some interest in local branch participation.

    As a bonus, “crowd-funding” via donations for ALP causes/campaigns would likely increase, as more R&F membership in regular employment should result in an expanded more ‘cashed up’ donor base.
    An active ‘membership activity/privileges/discounts/social newsletter/website should also be created & maintained; similar to those offered by some banks, NRMA, Senior’s Card ( ) etc. to provide some attractiveness/social benefit to participation.

    The Objectives:
    The objective should of course be to attain and retain as many new members as possible.
    My thoughts as to suggesting a 2-3 yr fee free introductory period are;
    1) administratively clean and takes immediate effect – no costs complications,
    2) no ‘extra cost’ barrier/inhibition for union members not to accept trial/take up of initial membership offer,
    3) allow time to work out new ALP member fee collection structure and likely downward adjustment of each union body’s ALP affiliation fees ( begs the question – are union affiliation fees de-facto ALP membership fees?),
    4) allows time to bed down ALP activity/participation channels and protocols,
    5) allows time to create secure on-line identification & voting facilities/procedures/rules and amendment of Caucus voting blocs etc,
    6) allow time for processing applicants eligibility (not a member of another political party etc),
    7) allows time to organize induction/inclusion into local branch structures.
    As you can see from the above, the implementation issues are nearly all administrative/transition related, and thus should be handled as most expediently or conveniently possible.

    Recently available widespread internet technologies should be extensively implemented wherever possible. – live tele-conferencing to bring together remote parties is not beyond today’s technologies of ‘Skype’ etc.
    Advantages? Many in my view.
    More democratic ALP,
    Immediate broader/larger ALP membership base,
    Greater/enhanced membership participation,
    Direct indication/reflection of memberships views/needs/priorities,
    A readily accessed research and donation resource independent of union executive structure,
    Strengthens and makes more flexible ALP’s political arm to advance industrial issues legislatively,
    May help arrest decline in union membership, as is yet another reason to join a union,
    Addresses current antidemocratic/anachronistic voting strength of complacent conservative union execs.
    Directly re-connects the ‘Political ALP’ with the workplace R&F membership base of the ‘Industrial ALP’,
    Provides an additional avenue of informing/educating members – advancing opportunity for progressive ALP rule and structural changes.
    As you would be aware, union membership is at an all time low – from 48% 30 yrs ago to 17% now, but union leaders still have the same voting power they did 40 years ago.

    But the most grievous oversight/failure of ACTU and Union execs is that they have failed to encourage or include rank & file members into the ALP political movement.
    The ACTU and affiliated unions have delivered practically NO membership numbers to the ALP organisation – a clear tactical failure by union and ALP executive management, particularly important and relevant now when the fight to retain worker conditions (due union demonization/corruption, business insistence on part time/casual employment ) and must concentrate on increasing emphasis on action in the political arena. I see it as a missed opportunity to build a reformed and revitalised ALP by including/drawing on the existing 1.8 million union base membership.

    Without going on with more waffle, may I refer you to comments (constructive criticisms) I have written on Independent Australia (IA) ( under user name JohnB) suggesting progressive action and direction for ALP/ACTU/Unions .. via link here:,7013?cachebreak=1#comment-1644321271

    I also suggest that a special social category of ‘affiliated membership’ be created especially for casual public ALP supporters and voters – automatically awarded upon any ALP campaign donation or practical beneficial ‘on the ground’ ALP support activity; this casual membership category ought be at ‘break even’ cost or free, and give access to social/information forums, mail-outs etc.
    Around 40% to 50% of the general population are ALP voters – an essential asset to the ALP.
    A welcoming encouraging inclusive restricted membership facility should be provided by ALP to interested ALP voters casually involved for whatever reason. This will hopefully provide electors a lead in to later full ALP participatory/voting membership.

    My sincere wishes are that John Faulkner’s proposed reforms, and perhaps some my suggestions above can be successfully implemented – to reform, revitalise and further democratise the ALP.
    I believe the Labor party and the Union movement are unnecessarily bleeding progressive members and support for want of reforms allowing and encouraging greater rank and file participatio.

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