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.