Senator John Faulkner: Public Pessimism, Political Complacency: Restoring Trust, Reforming Labor

The inaugural address of The Light on the Hill Society
– sponsored by Revesby Workers Club

Senator John Faulkner: Public Pessimism, Political Complacency: Restoring Trust, Reforming Labor.

I have always believed that politics is worthwhile.

This is not, nowadays, a popular view.

Important issues are, we are told, ‘above politics’— because politics, by implication and expectation, are the province of the low road. Continue reading

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John Faulkner to speak on Reforming Labor.

John Faulkner will be speaking on reforming Labor.
Tuesday 7 October 2014
Revesby Workers’ Club Auditorium, 2b Brett Street, Revesby
RSVP: Daryl Melham: by 3/10/14.
Please pass this on to any supporters of the cause of Labor reform who may wish to attend.

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West Australia 2014 State Conference Report

A report from a humble member to the non-aligned Mt Lawley branch and a branch delegate to the recent WA state conference.

WA State Conference last month was a success, with the leader of the State Parliamentary Labor Party (SPLP) getting his way in terms of substantial reform. It was my impression that the factions capitulated because they were simply so embarrassed at the outcome of the recent re-run of the half senate election where only one voter in five supported Labor.

First, some background.

In WA, all rank and file elections are by direct postal vote – bypassing factional control of branches, etc. Obviously, elections will only occur if more than one candidate nominates.  And each individual member must pay by traceable means.  The position of state president is already directly elected by rank and file via postal vote. Over the years, both left and right candidates have won.

Several months ago the leader of the SPLP, Mark McGowan, indicated that he was in favour of reform. Thereafter the Administrative Committee set up a three person committee to look into the issue and report back. The resulting ‘Shaping Labor’ report, dated 13th June, makes for interesting reading.

A few days after the report was presented to the Administrative Committee, a copy was leaked to the chief political reporter for the West Australian and it became the lead story on page 1 of the paper. The reporter quoted comment from within the meeting, which suggested not only that the factions did not like the report but more importantly, that the leak came from within the Committee. Within 48 hours the State Party Secretary made the reports available to all members.

In the week that followed members were assured by senior party figures that there was no need for branches to put up any reform motions at State Conference, as the above referred to report was being seriously considered by McGowan and the factions and that if all went well, magical things would happen.

State Conference took place on the 5th and 6th July.

The following proposals got up by unanimous vote:

  • Federal electorate councils to be rebranded as ‘continuous campaign committees’ with a greater focus on actually campaigning. The councils are expected to raise at least $1 000 pa;
  • The leader of the SPLP to be elected with rank and file participation along the lines of the Rudd reforms at federal level;
  • In terms of pre-selections, there is to be direct election of MLAs with rank and file to have 50% of the vote and unions the other 50%;
  • In terms of MLCs, the rank and file have a 25% vote;
  • State Admin is to have certain overriding powers in terms of pre-selections;
  • No changes in terms of federal pre-selections, as the State Party is waiting to see what happens at the next Federal Conference;
  • There is no need for rank and file to be members of a union, however it is encouraged;
  • Rank and file no longer need to be members for 12 months in order to vote in party elections;
  • State President to have a casting vote at Administrative Committee;
  • There are to be secret ballots at state executive meetings for both rank and file delegates as well as the unions. There is to be no canvassing of votes and importantly, ballot papers are not to be taken from delegates by faction whips;
  • A move to replace the State Secretary, aligned with the Miscos’, with a non-aligned candidate, failed.
  • Finally, it was resolved that the ‘Shaping Labor’ report be the subject of ongoing consideration and discussion.

On the whole, quite a lot was achieved, which I found surprising in light of the recent Victorian state conference where Shorten’s reforms were rejected. Much of the incentive or impetus for change came, I suspect, from the acute embarrassment suffered by the State Party at the recent half senate election ‘re-run’.  The whole pre-selection debacle, involving a deal between the Misco’s and the Shoppies, reflected very badly on the Party and saw Louise Pratt of the AMWU dumped from the number 1 spot which was taken by Joe Bullock of the Shoppies. Only one in five of the punters bothered to vote for Labor and we only got one candidate up whereas the Libs got three spots.

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NSW ALP 2014 State Conference Report

The NSW ALP 2014 State Conference was a small step forward for reform, both in what was achieved, and in what was almost achieved.

The Conference delivered direct election of the State Parliamentary Leader and a formal requirement for parliamentarians to behave with integrity and honesty.  And it rejected one hundred and twenty four resolutions from eighty three party units calling for more direct democracy. This much has been widely reported. (See, for example, the SMH editorial of July 29)

What has not been reported is that independent rank and file candidates won a place on the Rules Committee in a contested ballot and came within about eight votes of securing a place on the Administrative Committee.

We understand that this is the first time since 1975 that anyone on the NSW Rules Committee was not a member of one of the two major factions.  We believe that this is the closest NSW has ever been to having an independent member of the Administrative Committee.


The first day of conference saw the Administrative and Rules Committee Reports debated.

The Left moved a range of amendments which sought to increase direct democracy within the Party.  Left speakers, including John Graham, John Faulkner, Luke Foley, Stephen Jones, Linda Burney and Anthony Albanese, spoke of the need for reform, to engage party members and to prevent any potential recurrence of the corruption that the current system had not only failed to prevent but had, arguably, actively enabled.

The Right used its numbers to defeat the motions. Its speakers, including Jamie Clements, Kaila Murnain, Sam Dastyari and Chris Minns, argued that the amendments would have disenfranchised union members and removed the equal weighting rural electorates currently have with city electorates.

Union leaders from both sides, including Tim Ayers and Bob Nanva, supported reform in principle, calling for an end to a “culture of hyperfactionalism” but not at the cost of ending the relationship with the union movement.

OurALP members Jim Bright and John Glyde moved an amendment  that, if successful, would have asked National Conference to consider enfranchising union members, by having them directly elect their own union delegates. The motion was defeated.

The other significant and under-reported debate was a Right motion to form a committee to draft a replacement for the Socialist Objective:

The Australian Labor Party is a democratic socialist party and has the objective of the democratic socialisation of industry, production, distribution and exchange, to the extent necessary to eliminate exploitation and other antisocial features in these fields.

The motion was bitterly opposed by the Left, but passed. A replacement objective, once drafted, is to be put to next year’s Conference for approval or otherwise.

John Robertson spoke well, mainly on the many contrasts between the Liberal Party and the Labor Party.  He also called for full public funding of elections and the banning of third party lobbyists.


The main floor of Conference on Sunday was mostly concerned with matters of policy.  Amongst others, a motion on refugees was defeated. A non-binding motion on equal rights to marry passed, as did motions on Coal Seam Gas and on the Israeli assault on Gaza.

Bill Shorten spoke well, calling for a “party of members, not factions”. It was a good speech, and it offered hope that he will produce further reforms.

Arguably, the most important thing that happened at Conference was not on the main floor, but in the basement, where delegates got to vote on, amongst other things, the membership of the Rules Committee and the Administrative Committee.

The only non-aligned candidates were OurALP members Jim Bright, Ross Smith and Ben Aveling.  In the Rules ballot, we won one position, on Left preferences. In the Admin ballot, both Left and Right preferenced against us and we still came within about eight votes of winning a position.

One position alone is not enough to change the balance of power, but it gives the rank and file a voice and a seat at the table.  Most importantly, it shows it can be done.  With a good campaign and with the support of enough branches and electoral councils, non-aligned members can take seats away from the factions.

OurALP thanks its supporters and its fellow campaigners for reform, including Local Labor and many other passionate pro-reform individuals, both in NSW and interstate.

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Jim Bright’s speech to Conference

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.

Jim Bright, Our ALP candidate for the Administrative Committee

Jim Bright, Our ALP candidate for the Administrative Committee


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.
Thank you.

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OurALP has won a place on Rules.

We won one place on the Rules Committee, for Ben Aveling.

On the figures we have, we came within 6 votes of getting a place on the Administrative Committee for Jim Bright.

Posted in NSW ALP State Conference | 4 Comments

Ballot papers

As I write, voting continues. We will tell you the final result when we have it.

On their ballot papers, the Right put us last for both Admin and for Rules. The Left put us last for Admin, but put us ahead of the Right on Rules.

Left ballot paper for President, General Secretary, Senior Vice President, State Organiser, Rules Committee, Senate.

Left ballot paper for President, General Secretary, Senior Vice President, State Organiser, Rules Committee, Senate.

Left ballot paper for Administrative Committee.

Left ballot paper for Administrative Committee.

Right ballot paper for all contested positions

Right ballot paper for all contested positions

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Admin Committee Candidate Bios – Unofficial

At time of writing, the only official candidate bio’s we are aware of are our own.

We’ve done a quick web search, to give you an very brief idea of who all of candidates are, who they’ve worked for, what their jobs are, at least according to the internet. No doubt, we’ve missed many of their accomplishments. We’ve tried for accuracy over completeness. Any omissions or errors are mine. Hopefully, something more official will be released tomorrow, in time for voting. This is strictly draft and should not be relied on without checking with the persons involved. Any corrections received will be made.

The order below is ballot paper order. For our how to vote, see here. Centre Unity and Socialist Left How To Votes will appear tomorrow.

Ross Smith Independent Sydney See bio:
Pam Ward Right ? Does not seem to have much of an obvious internet presence.
Jim Bright Independent Eden-Monaro See bio:
Prue Car Right Penrith Communications Manager, Penrith City Counciler, candidate for Londonderry, Ex Office of the Premier of NSW. See
Jess Malnersic Right Sydney Young Labor president – the one who chose to run a video rather than speak in debate on Saturday of the conference
Simmone Pengelly Left Newcastle Staffer for Sharon Claydon
Kate Washington Right Port Stephens Candidate for Port Stephens. Lawyer, current member of Admin.
Kirsten Andrews Right Sydney Former staffer for Iemma, Rudd, Head of Media and PR at a major university
Michael Forshaw Right Sutherland Shire Former senator, Former General Secretary of the AWU. See
Sue West Right Bathurst Former senator. See
Anthony D’Adam Left Sydney Current member of Admin. Public Service Association director of policy and strategy. On the record supporter of reform:
Ben Aveling Independent Sydney See bio:
Monika Wheeler Left Sydney Staffer for Tanya Plibersek. See
Johno Johnson Right Sydney Former president of Legislative Council (president 1978 to 1991, served 1976 to 2001) See
Karen McKeown Left Penrith Former staffer for Helen Westwood. Penrith City Councillor. See
Luke Whitington Left Sydney Advisor to Peter Primrose. See
Elizabeth Scully Right Ermington Chair of NSW Labor Women’s Forum, Former NSW Labor executive officer,
Damian Ogden Left Casula Executive Director of Campaign Action, “Australia’s national training institute for the progressive movement.”
Jenny McAllister Left Sydney ALP President. Candidate for Senate preselection. See
Davina Langton Right Sydney (or Canberra?) Registered Lobbyist. Former staffer for Whelan, Carr, Iemma, Fitzgibbon.
Paul Sekfy Left Mid North Coast Community Development Coordinator.

Again, this is strictly draft and should not be relied on without checking with the persons involved. Any corrections received will be made. In particular, this misses many of the accomplishments, and I strongly encourage you to consult whatever material the candidates and/or their factions make available.

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Vote for Reform

Vote for Reform

Administrative Committee


Ross Smith

Ross Smith, independent candidate for Rules and Admin

Pam Ward


Jim Bright

Jim Bright, independent candidate for Admin

Prue Car

Jess Malnersic

Simmone Pengelly

Kate Washington

Kirsten Andrews

Michael Forshaw

Sue West

Anthony D’Adam


Ben Aveling

Ben Aveling, independent candidate for Admin and Rules

Monika Wheeler

Johno Johnson

Karen McKeown

Luke Whitington

Elizabeth Scully

Damian Ogden

Jenny McAllister

Davina Langton

Paul Sekfy

Rules Committee

Hannah Quadrio

Tama Yassine

Janai Tabbemor


Ross Smith

Ross Smith, independent candidate for Rules and Admin

Dave McElrea

Anthony D’Adam

Rob Allen


Ben Aveling

Ben Aveling, independent candidate for Admin and Rules

Jan Burnswoods

George Houssos

Katie Ford

To vote for reform

If you are independent, vote for the above candidates first, then for all other candidates in any order.

If you are factionally aligned, please vote for your faction’s candidates first, then for the above candidates, then for the other faction’s candidates.


Also available in pdf: Vote_for_Reform

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Please vote for reform candidates at the State Conference Elections

all_ballots-labelledAs per the image on the right, there will be seven contested ballots at NSW State Conference this weekend: Administrative Committee, Rules Committee, State Organiser, Senior Vice President, President, Senate and General Secretary.

There are three independent, pro-reform candidates: Jim Bright, Ross Smith, and myself, Ben Aveling. All three of us independents will be contesting the Administrative Committee. Ross and I will also contest the Rules Committee. The other ballots are (as far as we can tell) being contested only by the two major factions.

If you are an independent delegate to conference, please vote for us, in the following order:

  1. Jim Bright
  2. Ross Smith
  3. Ben Aveling

(see the accompanying image)

If you are a factionally aligned delegate, we ask you to vote for your faction’s candidates first, then vote for us, then vote for the other faction’s candidates.

Candidate Statement: Jim Bright

Jim Bright, independent candidate for Admin

Jim Bright, independent candidate for the Administrative Committee

I’m seeking your support for my nomination for election to the Administrative Committee as an independent member. I am not, and have never been, a member of a faction.

At present I am the secretary of the Narooma Branch, secretary of the Eurobodalla LGC, treasurer of the Bega SEC, a delegate to the Eden-Monaro FEC and an FEC delegate to this State Conference. I have worked for periods totalling two years as an Electorate Officer for the former (and next!) Member for the Eden-Monaro, Mike Kelly.

Throughout my working life and subsequently, I have maintained a strong involvement with the union movement. I was a member of the Community and Public Sector Union for over 40 years, worked as a trade union industrial officer for some years and was the convenor of our district’s Your Rights at Work campaign committee in 2006/07. I remain an associate member of the CPSU.

For some years I have been an active advocate and campaigner in my area of this State for fair dinkum reform and democratisation of the NSW Branch. I am convinced that unless real control of the Party is returned to its members, the longer-term electoral prospects for the ALP are very poor. And, of course, the whole Australian community would inevitably be the real loser should this Party cease to be a viable political alternative to the conservatives in this country.

At previous state conferences, the weight of the unions’ block vote has effectively meant that no-one outside the group endorsed by the faction heavies has had a realistic chance of being elected to the Admin Committee. However, last year’s Federal intervention into the NSW Branch, and the resulting new structure and election arrangements for the Admin Committee, have now provided the rank & file membership with a window of opportunity to get some members of their choice elected.

The FEC and SEC delegates at this conference, who represent those thousands of rank & file members who (as we all know) overwhelmingly want a break from the traditional factional control of the Party, must not waste this opportunity to elect members to the Admin Committee who will not simply toe the factional line.

I respectfully request your support for me to be one of (hopefully) a number of independent voices on the Admin Committee in the future.

Candidate Statement: Ross Smith

Ross Smith, independent candidate for Rules and Admin

Ross Smith, independent candidate for the Rules and Administrative Committees

Member of Redfern Branch where I held various offices ranging from Branch President, Senior Vice President, and Treasurer until I transferred to the Alexandria Branch in 2014 due to Electoral Boundary changes.

Member of the former South Sydney Local Government Committee in 2005 and the current Sydney Local Government Committee from its formation in 2006 up to today. I have been its President from 2006, its formation year, up to today.

Member of the Heffron SEC from 2006 up to today. I am its current Senior Vice President.

I was one of the founding members of the ‘ginger’ group Labor for Affordable Housing which operated in the period leading up to the appointment of the first Federal Shadow Minister for Housing and the subsequent first federal Housing minister.

I was one of the founding members of the Power to the People group which lead the anti privatisation of electricity campaign in NSW.

I am not a member of any Faction and am strongly committed to the original concept of the Australian Labor Party. I have the belief that the Australian Labor Party belongs to its members  and that the structure is the servant of those members. I believe that the Australian Labor Party must revert to its original concept whilst there is still a residual grass roots membership in existence.

To this end I submitted an application for both the Rules and Administration Committees. I respectfully seek your support for our nominations.

Candidate Statement: Ben Aveling

Ben Aveling, independent candidate for the Administrative and Rules Committees

Ben Aveling, independent candidate for the Administrative and Rules Committees

I am a long time campaigner for Party Reform, convenor of the pro-reform group Our ALP, and also convenor of my local Resident Action Group. I am a rank and file member of the Party, a member of the AMWU and a workplace delegate, secretary of my local Branch and SEC, and not a member of either major faction.

I am running because I want the Party to take its direction from its rank and file. To achieve that, this Party needs to change its rules, its administration, its processes and its culture. Decisions must be genuinely debated and voted on by people with passion for the issues, at Conference and in Committee meetings, in Electoral Councils and Branches. It is not enough for decisions to just be agreed by a few people in backrooms and Chinese Restuarants.

I know there are people who genuinely want reform and believe that the best path to reform is to leave it to the existing factions. With regret, I must disagree. Genuine Reform cannot be purely top-down. Nor will it can happen purely because the grassroots want it to happen. Real Reform cannot be delivered as a business as usual item, because there will always be something more important.

Reform requires pro-reform members on Committees, and at Conference, and in the Executives of FECs and SECs and Branches and even in Affiliated Unions and factions. Reform needs rank and file members to stand for positions, and for members to support them. That is why I am a member of Our ALP, why I am running for Admin and for Rules, and why I ask for your understanding and support.

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