The questionnaire (I’d like to see) for candidates for ALP National President

As mentioned in our previous post, the 5 candidates for National Labor President have answered a survey from Local Labor/Open Labor. The survey did not raise the issue of the relationship between the Party and the Affiliated Unions.
Geoff Hjorth has prepared a follow up questionnaire which we ask the candidates for National President to answer with as much detail as they would like to offer:

In October last year John Faulkner made a major speech about the future of the party.

The full text can be found here.

Below is an extract from the speech (my emphasis for reasons that will become clear).

“Australia is changing, and the Party and unions have to change with it. We need to rebuild Labor from the grassroots – not the top down.

We have to democratise our Party and reach out to union members and involve them directly in the Party’s decision making processes.

This should lead to a deeper relationship with organised labour as a fundamental part of our Labor community.

To achieve this, the Party should encourage members of affiliated unions to join the Party and participate directly in Party decisions and deliberations.

For the purpose of determining union affiliation numbers, unions should only be able to count members who have agreed to their membership being counted towards that affiliation in an opt-in system.

All union delegates to Party Conferences should be elected through a ballot of union members, conducted under the principle of proportional representation, and should not be appointed without election. Unions should be required to amend their own rules, to fulfil this objective.

Our current State Conference structures provide 50% representation to affiliated unions – which represent only a portion of the 17% of working people who belong to a union at all. This must change.

The component of conference delegates directly elected by party members, which I spoke of earlier, should increase over time, while the percentage of both the delegates elected by Electorate Councils, and those elected by unions, should reduce in tandem. I would hope to see a structure with 60% of Delegates elected by the membership, 20% by the Affiliated Unions and 20% elected by Electorate Councils, reached in stages over the next three National Conferences.

Even then, there would still be a positive disparity or “over representation” of union proportionality to unionisation of the workforce. There would also be an incentive for union members to have a direct relationship with the Party as well as participating through their union. Indeed, being active in both Party and union would provide additional opportunities to participate – activism would be rewarded.

*
*
*

The practice of factions, affiliates or interest groups binding parliamentarians in Caucus votes or ballots must be banned. Factional binding is inherently undemocratic. It allows a group with 51% of a subfaction, which then makes up 51% of a faction, which in turn has 51% of the Caucus numbers, to force the entire Caucus to their position. This Russian doll of nested factions is profoundly undemocratic and, as we have seen in NSW, wide open to manipulation.”

Below is a series of statements or propositions drawn directly from the Faulkner speech.
You are invited to agree or disagree and then, if you wish, add further comments.

1. For the purpose of determining union affiliation numbers, unions should only be able to count members who have agreed to their membership being counted towards that affiliation in an opt-in system.

Do you:

  • Agree
  • Disagree

2. All union delegates to Party Conferences should be elected through a ballot of union members, conducted under the principle of proportional representation, and should not be appointed without election. Unions should be required to amend their own rules, to fulfil this objective.

Do you:

  • Agree
  • Disagree

3. I would hope to see a structure with 60% of Delegates elected by the membership, 20% by the Affiliated Unions and 20% elected by Electorate Councils, reached in stages over the next three National Conferences.

Do you:

  • Agree
  • Disagree

4. The practice of factions, affiliates or interest groups binding parliamentarians in Caucus votes or ballots must be banned.

Do you:

  • Agree
  • Disagree
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4 Responses to The questionnaire (I’d like to see) for candidates for ALP National President

  1. Bighead1883 says:

    Hello Ben and I see your points and agree in that transparency is the key to going forward and your questions certainly help in this transparency
    A group of Labor left has been trying to understand as to why the right faction keeps driving a wedge into the Party
    Some union secretaries at the NSW State Conference even showed bare teeth hostility to Faulkners vision
    Here`s Bob Nanva talking as an example

    Then we had the opposite from Doug Cameron

    Many of us R&F feel we have a far greater problem with the SDA
    1- they`re an association in name and not a union
    2-they`re corporate lackey`s
    3-they have far too much say in the ALP
    4-they have too many former Executive as MP`s which is responsible to turning Labor to the right and becoming LNP Lite [which it is now under Shorten}
    5-the elevation of Joe Bullock in WA Senate ticket showed how/why
    when and where this is all wrong
    6-Joe de Bruyn is no Labor person,he is an IPA/LNP plant
    https://truthseekersmusings.wordpress.com/we-want-our-alp-back-its-time

    Labor has to withdraw from anything to do with the SDA and SDA members should run and join a PROPER union of workers

  2. Bighead1883 says:

    Wixxy also writes of many of NSW Labor ills # Wixxyleaks and it really seems that Clements and Hay are bringing the Party down as F&F see through the bullshit-the stacking-the phantom branches etc at all

  3. Jennifer Jary says:

    This is very interesting and much appreciated. I will be a delegate to state conference for the first time in 2015. When I contested the seat of Manly in the recent NSW state election, I was fighting against the feudal attitudes of the nice man who held the seat, the premier of NSW Mike Baird. In the ALP we also have those who are feudal in their attitudes. Members of unions are capable of participating for themselves. Delegates to conferences should be elected and not appointed. In our federal seat of Warringah, currently held by a not nice and very feudal MP the Prime Minister of Australia Tony Abbott, Labor members are voting right now for the first time for our delegate to National conference. I am all for real change, and on twitter as an individual named Jennifer Jary.

  4. JohnB says:

    Hello Ben,
    I wholeheartedly agree with all the propositions and statements of your post above;
    …… but further to the first item in your questionaire:
    1. For the purpose of determining union affiliation numbers, unions should only be able to count members who have agreed to their membership being counted towards that affiliation in an opt-in system.

    While in no way wishing to distract/detract from the primary objective of democratising the governance of the unions/ALP let’s not allow the ALP continue to ignore/forget/exclude individual members of unaffiliated unions – they too are unionists – their R&F suffer greater isolation from the Labor movement than their ‘affiliated’ counterparts.

    John Faulkner:
    “…We have to democratise our Party and reach out to union members and involve them directly in the Party’s decision making processes. This should lead to a deeper relationship with organised labour as a fundamental part of our Labor community.
    To achieve this, the Party should encourage members of affiliated unions to join the Party and participate directly in Party decisions and deliberations…”

    Hear! hear! – but why limit ALP participation to only members of affiliated unions? Members of ‘unaffiliated’ unions are not aliens, they work among us and should be encouraged to take an active part in the labor movement.

    Around 50% of unions are unaffiliated with the ALP through mostly unilateral choice of union executives – on simple calculation that equates to 900,000 unionists.
    Applying the voting pattern of the general population (33.4% ALP [primary vote] 2013) to this group of unionists, 300,000 ALP voting unionists are excluded from the right of representation at peak union/ALP ‘conference’ enjoyed by ‘affiliated’ unions, as imperfect that representation is.

    Union members in unions whose executives have chosen to distance themselves and work outside the political arm of the Labor movement, are denied any avenue to attain individual ALP affiliation status.
    While it can be argued they are free to take up ALP membership, they are relegated by the ALP to be lower class of unionist. Rather we should ask why they would bother to join the ALP?

    Due of a disaffiliation decision (mostly beyond membership control) by union executives, that group of 900,000 union members, unlike their ‘affiliated’ comrades are, by rule, excluded from conference delegate representation rights at Annual Conference.
    They are denied participation in union governance, unlike their ‘affiliated comrades.

    Since when has the ALP had so many members (<40,000?) that they can afford to arbitrarily bar 300,000 ALP voting unionists from participation in ALP governance?

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