A smaller Administrative Committee? Yes. But not yet.

There was one amendment to the Rules Report. I don’t have the exact wording. Basically, it was agreed that there would be a couple of people tasked with deciding the size of Admin, and that National Exec would be used to change the size of Admin, effective next Conference.

The bit about effective next Conference is good. Any reduction in the size of Admin doesn’t affect the balance of power between the factions – the difference between ’30 right vs 15 left’ and ’20 right vs 10 left’ isn’t all that much of a difference. But within the 30, and within the 15, there will be sub factions and sub-sub factions that only have 1 member. If they lose that one member, they’re out in the cold. The difference between 0 and 1 is a lot larger than the difference between 1 and 2. Having the reduction in size happen at next conference gives would be admin members time to reach out to the smaller sub-factions, time to try to form larger alliances. It may still get messy, but by using democratic channels, by raising the quota needed to get elected, it gives people a chance to build new connections – which is of course the whole motivation for the change. It’s a lot less messy than some negotiated/imposed reduction would be.

That it is being executed via National doesn’t fill me with joy. I’d much rather see us get our own house in order without the need for external intervention – but sometimes, it’s a bit art of the possible. Delaying the decision doesn’t necessarily make the decision easier. There’s perceived to be a chance that the Schott review may put constraints on the size of Admin, but unless that happens, then the decision won’t be any easier after conference than it was before this conference – just more urgent.

Posted in NSW ALP State Conference | 4 Comments

How the ALP’s new rules will affect you.

The Rules Report will be discussed some time late on Saturday morning.

The more involved you are in the Party, the more the new rules will impact you.

If you are not a party member, the main change you will see is more female MPs.  The new AA rules (Rules Report item 132, on page 70) will increase the percentage of Labor MPs who are female to 50% by 2025.

If you are a branch member, then at least 40% of your branch’s delegates to LGC, SEC and FEC must be women. This percentage will increase to 50% over time. If your branch already meets these targets, you may not notice much change – but a lot of branches are going to have to recruit additional women. Branches that don’t appoint enough women as delegates risk losing delegates to Electoral Councils.

If you are a branch secretary, then as well as the above, there other new rules to be aware of (such as Item 81, on page 46, Item ). Capitation fees have been abolished, which is one less thing to worry about. However, your branch returns must be in by 1st of April, or your delegates won’t be allowed to vote at the Electoral Council AGM. The president must sign the minutes at each meeting. And if you have a bank account with a ‘non approved financial institution’, you will need to move that bank account (Item 123, page 67). (At this stage, the only approved institution is, I believe, the CBA.)

If you are an Electoral Council secretary, then there are a number of new things to be aware of. You’ll really need to read the new rules.

In particular, Electoral Council secretaries need to be aware that:

  • The ‘minimum percentage’ is currently 40%, will rise to  45% in 2022 and to 50% in 2025. 40% and 45% round off – i.e to the nearest whole number. 50% rounds up. For eg, 45% of 3 rounds down to 1, but 50% of 3 rounds up to 2.
  • Electoral Councils must appoint at least the ‘minimum percentage’ of female delegates to annual Conference, and at least the minimum percentage of the following: President, Vice-Presidents, Secretary, Assistant Secretary, Treasurer and Fundraiser and, in a Federal Electorate Council, Political Education Officer (Item 132, page 70). If they do not do this then their delegates won’t be seated at Conference (Item 80, Page 45).
  • Electoral Council AGMs must be held between April 15 and 31 May. (Item 79, on page 45). There are some other changes around giving notice too, which you’ll need to familiarise yourself with, if you are responsible for this.
  • FECs are to appoint one delegate to Federal Conference – in years where there is expected to be a Federal Conference (Item 82, page 47).

If you are highly factionally involved, there will be even more changes. You’ll really need to read all the rule changes to see which ones apply to you.

For the factionally involved, probably the biggest is a reduction in the size of the Administrative Committee. There seems to be consensus that the current Committee is too big, but no consensus about what the right size is, or even around what process should be used to decide the correct size.

The ideal size was not discussed at the Rules Committee – it was just agreed that it should be smaller, but not how much smaller. There was discussion around when it should happen. There was no conclusion, but it seems likely to be some time after this conference but well before the next one.

My personal preference would be for this current Conference to change the rules, with the change to be effective at next Conference, not least because doing it between Conferences will probably require yet another Federal intervention, whereas making the change at Conference allows the new Committee to be chosen by Conference, with all the advantages that a democratic decision has. I can foresee this leading to internal conflicts over who is and is not on the Committee. Hopefully, such conflict, if it happens, won’t impact the wider party, but I would have preferred a model where any such conflict was directed into a democratic competition at Conference.

The other concern I have is that we haven’t put in place any mechanism to help make sure we hit our Affirmative Action targets for MPs. And if the quotas are not hit, then preselections have to be held over, which would be very difficult for all concerned.

What I would have liked to have seen would have been a ‘best of both genders’ model where, when a preselection round happens, you start at the top of each gender and whichever man and whichever woman got the most votes, they are both preselected, and then you work your way down until you meet the minimum target. Alternately, you could have a model where the Affirmative Action Bonus is calculated after votes are cast, and before results are announced. Either way, you avoid the risk that the mandatory targets are missed.

At this stage, there are no proposed amendments to the Rules Report. If there are, I’ll update you when I can.

Posted in NSW ALP State Conference | 3 Comments

Rules and Policy

If not amended, then these will become the NSW ALP’s Rules and the NSW ALP’s Policies:

For your convenience, I’ve converted both to .xls: 2016 Rules Report xls, 2016 Policy Committee Reports xls. Please note, the conversion process is not perfect – if in doubt, refer back to the original pdfs.

If you see something in either report you don’t like, then talk to your Conference Delegates.

Posted in NSW ALP State Conference | 1 Comment

Labor Members’ Forum – How Can The ALP Better Govern Itself?

Perhaps the main theme of the Rules Report that will be put to this year’s conference is governance.

Appropriately, Open Labor are holding a forum on governance this Wednesday night:

Labor Members’ Forum – How Can The ALP Better Govern Itself?

Keynote Speaker: The Hon Dr Ken Coghill, Associate Professor of Governance, Monash University, Speaker of the Victorian Legislative Assembly, 1988-1992 Continue reading

Posted in Inward Correspondence | 2 Comments

How to change Labor Party Policy by next Sunday


You will need:


NSW ALP Annual Conference is next week.

Amongst other things, the ALP Policy Platform will be decided.  The Platform is binding until next Conference.

Before the new Platform is adopted, there will be the opportunity to move amendments to each section. Continue reading

Posted in NSW ALP State Conference | 1 Comment

How to change policy in the NSW ALP (part 1)

The first step in changing party policy is to submit a motion to conference. Practically any party unit can do that, including Branches, and Electoral Councils.

Once you have passed the motion at a branch or SEC or FEC, the secretary has to submit it. If you’re quick, there’s still a few hours left to get it onto the agenda for the 2016 conference:


Has to be done by 12:00 noon today (Friday 6th November).

The motion will then go to the appropriate Committee. If they agree with it, they will recommend that Conference support it.

If Conference agrees with the Committee, which they usually do, then it’s Party Policy.

It can be that easy, depending on the motion.

It often isn’t.

If the Committee doesn’t support your motion, then to get it passed, you’re going to need to get the Committee’s decision overturned by Conference. And that’s no easier than it sounds.

(To be continued. See also, How Stuff Works…)

Posted in Party structure | 4 Comments

The Left voted for boat turnbacks and against rank and file reform.

At the 2015 Labor National Conference the Left voted for refugee boat turnbacks, and against party reform.

Let me repeat that.

The Left voted for refugee boat turnbacks, and against party reform.

On April 27, 2014, Bill Shorten called for reform:

“we need to change our Senate pre-selection process. … we need a method that provides a local voice … [a] way of giving local party members a meaningful say in the selection of Senate candidates.

“Our goal should be for future Labor Conferences to be a mix of people directly elected from and by Labor members, and those elected by state conferences”

“I have instructed our National Secretary to work with his State and Territory counterparts to increase the weight given to the local members’ vote by 20 per cent in every House of Representatives seat with more than 300 party members”

“from now on, intervention by the national executive should be the exception, not the rule.”

With Shorten’s words in mind, the Victorian Independents and the unaligned delegates put the following four reform motions on the Agenda:

“At least 50% of National Conference delegates must be elected from and by local branch members and include delegates from outside metropolitan areas. The other delegates will be elected by State Conference.”

There was a Local Labor motion with more or less the same text.  The Left voted against the motion and nearly sent it down. One vote less and it would have gone down.

“For Senate pre-selections, if as of July 24, 2015, members who live in the State have less than 50% of the total votes, then the state branch must increase the proportion of votes for those members to at least 50%.”

The Left and Right both voted against this.

“For House of Representative preselections, if as of July 24, 2015, members who live in the electorate have less than 70% of the total votes, then for electorates with more than 150 members, the state branch must increase the proportion of votes for those members by at least 20%”

The Right had agreed to support this, but the Left opposed it, and spoke against it at length. It was eventually deferred. By the time people returned to it, it was too late for it to be voted on – too many people had already left for it to get up.

”National Executive intervention in pre-selections will be restricted to genuinely urgent and/or exceptional circumstances.”

The Left and Right both opposed this.

This isn’t to say that every member of the Left opposed every pro-rank and file reform. A very few people did vote against their faction’s instructions. There were people who argued for reform when the Left caucus met. But the numbers in the Left Caucus were against them, and as loyal members of the faction, they were required to vote against reform and with very exceptions, that’s what they did.

What next?

Individual states will have to decide how to allocate National Conference delegates to rank and file members. What NSW already does is elect one delegate per Federal Electorate. Other states might prefer ‘1 vote, 1 value’, with some mechanism to ensure a percentage of “delegates from outside metropolitan areas”.

It’s possible that 70:30 will be passed by National Executive.

If not, it can be passed by State Conferences, as can any of these motions, so long as the numbers are there.

In the lead up to this Conference, when NSW was electing its conference delegates, some people were saying that “it doesn’t matter if you vote for an independent or a faction member so long as they are pro-reform.” As it turns out, it can matter a great deal. If you vote for someone who is pro-reform but is a member of a faction that is anti-reform, you have wasted your vote. And as was demonstrated last weekend, one vote can make the all difference in the world.

Posted in Inward Correspondence | 7 Comments