I am the President of Labor for Refugees Victoria and a Member of the National Co-ordinating Committee. I chaired the working group which developed our submission on Migrants and Refugees policy to the National Policy Forum. I am passionate about our commitment to offer protection to those who come seeking asylum.

I am a member of the ALP policy committee on Commonwealth Affairs & Federal Relations (CAFR) and a Bendigo FEA delegate to State Conference. Having been a member of the Woodend branch since 2013, I am currently President.

PaulineBrownAfter more than thirty years as a Careers Counsellor in the public sector, TAFE, secondary school and universities, I have been a volunteer in the VET Education Program at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) for the past six years. At times, I have filled the role of Education Manager on a locum basis. I am involved in the Woodend community as a member of the Macedon Ranges Rural Australians for Refugees (RAR) and Woodend Red Cross.

In addition to Refugees, my policy priorities include Indigenous Recognition and Closing the Gap, Environment and Climate Change, Inequality and Education. Along with many others, I am committed to empowering rank and file party members to participate in all aspects of the party including candidate selection, policy formation and establishing/amending party rules.

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Linda Condon –
I am active in the Albert Park Branch and want a more open and transparent ALP. I am an independent/non-aligned ALP member and support Open Labor.

Party reform

If elected I intend to continue to pursue the following reforms; direct party member participation with at least 50% weighting in pre-selecting Senate candidates; increasing the weighting for local party members in Victorian pre-selections from 50% to 70% and curtailing central intervention in pre-selections. I will also propose that the directly elected National President and Vice Presidents be granted voting rights on the National Executive and that the rulings of the National Disputes Tribunal be binding on the Party.

Policy position

LindaCondonI want solutions for climate change to be implemented which includes 50% renewable by 2030 and a 50% reduction in emissions by 2030; better and fairer ways to welcome refugees to our country (aligned with Labor for Refugees policies); the signing of a Treaty with the Nations First People; implementation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart; implementation of policies for affordable housing and more investment in social housing; action on static wages by promoting union membership; greater investment in TAFE; investment in infrastructure for electric vehicles and an increased ratio of qualified nurses in aged care.

My background

I am a director of Proactive Sustainability, convener of the Fishermans Bend Network and active on environmental and social issues. I founded the teaching and research centre at Swinburne University – the National Centre for Sustainability, established the TAFE International Green Skills Network, am a member of Labor for Refugees, a member of LEAN, an FEA elected delegate to the last two Victorian State conferences and volunteer for the University of the 3rd Age.

lindacondon2@gmail.com

Phone 0410 569 364.

 

Jamie Gardiner

As a member of the Independents/Non-aligned Group I am particularly keen on promoting democracy within the party, such as this first-ever rank & file ballot for National Conference delegates, ending branch-stacking and other rorts and so making our party truly fit to govern.

A State Conference Delegate for the Melbourne FEA, for many years I’ve been on the Victorian ALP’s Justice & Democracy Policy Committee, contributing to policy formation and recommendations adopted in the State Platform on many occasions, most recently in specific human rights commitments of the 2014 Platform.

I am Secretary of the LGBTI Affairs Policy Committee, and have been since its inception in 2008. We developed policy initiatives expanding and embedding the ALP’s commitment to equality for LGBTI communities in both State and National Platforms—more still to do! As a 2011 National Conference Delegate I helped further develop numerous policy initiatives, based on the work I and the JamieGardiner
committee had done in the 2010 State Platform, and these—including marriage equality—were adopted.The work we did for the 2014 Victorian Platform, further developing the 2010 work, formed part of the Andrews Government’s successful election policy.

I am on the LGBTI Taskforce—a Ministerial advisory body in the Department of Premier & Cabinet, Equality Branch—and the Human Rights Law Centre board, and a volunteer lawyer in HRLC’s Expungement Legal Service.

From 2000 to 2009 I was a Member of the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, playing a leading role in 2006’s successful Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities campaign, a major Bracks Government achievement

Dear ALP members,

Early in March, you and 13,000 other ALP members across the State, will receive a ballot paper in the mail and for the first time have the opportunity to vote directly for 43 of Victoria’s 86 delegates to this year’s ALP National Conference.

I write to seek your support for my candidature in that election. I have been to National Conference previously. As an independent/unaligned delegate I was not bound by a faction, I consulted widely with Party members on the key policy and reform issues prior to the conference, I successfully sought reforms which empowered Party members and I reported back after the Conference.

Between 200 and 300 primary votes will be required to be elected – a challenging total.

At the 2015 National Conference Party members gained the long sought right to a direct vote for half of Victoria’s delegates. This was because of the reform proposal that I and the four other independent/non-aligned delegates from across Australia placed before that Conference and used our balance of power to secure.

Previously when all of Victoria’s 86 National Conference delegates were elected by the delegates to our State Conference all but a very small handful of delegates were union officials, state or federal parliamentarians or political staffers. In 2015 all but 2 Victorian delegates were tied by one of the major factions.

The new rule requires each State to have at least as many delegates directly elected by financial members as there are Federal electorates and to include delegates from outside the metropolitan area.

In Victoria, under the new rules, the remaining 43 of the 86 National Conference delegates will be elected by the 300 Union appointed delegates to our State Conference.

Members of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party have the right to attend and have the same the National Conference participation rights as delegates, other than voting.

With all Party members voting directly it should be possible to achieve a broader, freer and more membership responsive set of Victorian National Conference delegates than in past years. But it is a challenging task for me and the other independent/non-aligned rank and file candidates competing against factional machines in a state-wide ballot. As well as myself (Eric Dearricott) independent-nonaligned candidates Linda Condon, Jamie Gardiner, Pauline Brown as well as Jamie Button, Kath Cozens and Joel Kennedy from Open Labor will be standing with the goal of giving rank and file Party members genuine representation at National Conference. I, and they, need your support.

If elected we intend to continue to pursue reforms not adopted by the 2015 Conference: direct party member participation with at least 50% weighting in pre-selecting Senate candidates; increasing the weighting for local party members in Victorian pre-selections from 50% to 70% and curtailing central intervention in pre-selections. I will also propose that the directly elected National President and Vice Presidents be granted voting rights on the National Executive and that the rulings of the National Disputes Tribunal be binding on the Party.

Although preparation of National Policy proposals, under the auspices of the National Policy Forum, is already well advanced, delegates on the floor can nevertheless make a significant difference by moving and supporting amendments. I will support progressive policies such as strengthening measures to combat climate change, wage justice, equity in education, improving housing affordability, the agenda of Labor for Refugees, a reduction in tertiary education student fees, a human rights charter and implementation of the Uluru statement.

Just prior to the 2015 National Conference we arranged an open meeting for members of local Branches to provide input on the key issues to be debated at that Conference – should we be successful in this ballot we would seek to do the same again.

I hope you will support me and our independent/non-aligned candidates.

Eric Dearricott (0419 357 192)
Secretary Victorian Labor Independents and Admin Committee member

Dear Friends,

Independent and unaligned delegates went to the 2015 ALP National Conference not only to input into the Party Policy Platform but with specific proposals on four major reform items promoted by Bill Shorten.

National rules reform is not easy. It is difficult to forge consensus within factions let alone across factions because differing circumstances in different States can mean a change that benefits a faction in one State may disadvantage the same faction in another.

Although our goals for reforms to increase the voice of the rank and file within the Party were closer to the Left’s, we could not breach the gap between our positions. We found it easier to reach accommodations with the Right who clearly had an onus to deliver outcomes for their Parliamentary Leader Bill Shorten.

We struck a compromise deal with the Right that delivered a direct vote for their National Conference delegate to every Party member across Australia. We also convinced the Right to reduce their Federal electorate party membership minimum from 300 to 150 for Party members in those electorates to qualify for an increase of 20% in the weighting of their House or Reps pre-selection vote – a reform that would also have been passed but for a stuff up which saw it debated but not voted on.

Unfortunately on the reform most dear to rank and file members, Senate pre-selections, neither the Right nor the Left were prepared to negotiate. Nor would either faction countenance a rule to curtail National Executive intervention in pre-selections.

We had a major victory in delivering to rank and file members voting for National Conference delegates, and although lack of success in the other areas is very disappointing, particularly delivering participation to Party members in pre-selecting Senate Candidates, the greatly increased influence of independent and unaligned delegates and rank and file pressure group at this National Conference is something we should savour and build on, both at National and State level.

Party members need to be aware that nothing in the new National rules prevent them from pursuing at State level those reforms that were not achieved as binding National Rules – I intend to start that quest now.

Hope you can find time to read the full report below.

Eric Dearricott (Convenor Independent and Unaligned Delegates 2015 Labor National Conference)

How Independent Delegates and Rank and File Pressure Groups Changed National Conference

I have been an independent delegate to the last four ALP National Conferences but the 2015 Conference was different.

Why? Because delegates representing rank and file members, not factions, for the first time in decades had the balance of power and had real input into outcomes. This time each of the factions came to us to discuss their proposals and amendments. Conference platform amendments were accepted or modified in the light of how the factions knew or thought, we, the unaligned, would vote on them. It resulted in more progressive outcomes and a more progressive platform, with, in my view, a couple of notable exceptions.

It was only through the hard work and initiative of independent and unaligned delegates that the significant reform that every member of the Party across Australia gained the right to vote directly for National Conference delegates was achieved.

Further contributing to the factions’ obligation to take heed of rank and file members was the increased influence of Party Policy groups: Labor for Refugees, Rainbow Labor and Emily’s List/Labor Women’s Network, all of whom had sufficient reach to have delegates who, although faction members, were prepared to defy their faction in support of a principle. LEAN whilst perhaps not yet at the position of the aforementioned groups ran a huge grassroots campaign in support of the 50% Renewable Energy Target which clearly helped embolden the Conference to adopt a strong and internationally credible climate change policy as one of Labor’s major election planks.

Four Independent and unaligned delegates exercised their vote freely on all issues before the Conference. Of the 397 delegates, 197 were aligned to the Right, 196 to the Left, with the four unaligned delegates: two Victorians, myself and Sandra Willis, ably supported by our proxy David Imber, and two from outside Victoria.

Clearly on any issue how the unaligned delegates voted had the potential to determine whether an amendment was won or lost – the Right needed two of our votes, and the Left three, to reach the required 199 votes for a proposal, in particular one requiring a statutory majority as rules changes do, to be carried.

As unaligned members, we believe in delegates voting on issues according to their own judgements, and although we caucused each morning and lunchtime to discuss the issues, we did not seek to bind each other on any issue or deal on policy issues – it was against our principles. On the other hand, the Right and the Left on almost every issue find ways to bind their members even on the rare occasions when they may wish to vote contrary to their group position.

It was the first time in many years that the Left had a chance to have victories on the floor of the Conference and they were keen to do so. It looked like it might happen on the morning of the first day with the Left’s “Buffet Rule” amendment which sought to remove opportunities for tax avoidance by wealthy individuals, but when we, the unaligned, were in support, the Right accepted Left amendments rather than test the numbers on the floor. It was a pattern that would recur in the course of the Conference – the Right couldn’t afford loss of face in the run up to the big votes on turning back the boats and conscience vs binding vote on marriage equality, issues on which we independents were likely to take positions which did not accord with theirs.

The debate on the motion that our policy prohibits turning back asylum seekers boats was passionate and speakers were articulate. On the Friday, it had appeared that enough Right delegates were prepared to defy their faction’s position and vote for the prohibition motion but come the debate on Saturday afternoon they had either acquiesced or had given their voting card to a proxy prepared to vote in the desired way. Some left unions delegations from some states and some Left delegates including Victorian Left politicians also voted with the Right to support the leader’s position on the issue. The two Victorian independent delegates voted to prohibit turn-backs.

The Independent/Unaligned Role in Party Reform at National Conference:

Independent and unaligned delegates went to the Conference with specific proposals on four major reform items that had been flagged by Bill Shorten: Direct member participation in election of national conference delegates, direct member participation in the pre-selection of Senate candidates, an increase by 20% in the proportion of the pre-selection vote of rank and file members in House of Reps pre-selections and curtailing intervention in pre-selections by the National Executive.

As delegates truly seeking to empower rank and file members independent and unaligned delegates usually hold like views and this Conference was no exception.

In most, but not all, circumstances Labor’s National Rules seek to form a framework within which State and Territories rules must fit, but they do not prescribe exactly what each jurisdiction must do. This causes difficulties for a unified position for the factions because in some States their groups will be advantaged by proposals and others disadvantaged – it made matters difficult for them and for us trying to work and negotiate with them. The boot was on the other foot – we had a unified position but each of the factions did not necessarily have one.

We tried not to leave anything to chance and I met with several of the lead negotiators from the Left and the Right in the weeks and days prior to the Conference and continued to do so during the Conference. Below is an outline of the negotiations and outcomes on the four issues where we sought to advance the rights and influence of rank and file Party members.

Local party member participation in the election of National Conference delegates: In April 2014 Bill Shorten had said

“Future Labor Conferences to be a mix of people from and by Labor members and those elected by State Conferences.”

The Right’s initial position was spelt out in the draft rule in the new constitution which read:

“A proportion of those delegates must be elected by local branch members and include delegates from outside metropolitan areas”

It was our view that this did not give sufficient assurance of a significant say for local Party members in determining their own National Conference delegates and we proposed that

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.”

The Left’s initial position was that

“50% of National Conference delegates must be directly elected by all financial members of a State Branch in a single ballot and 50% must be elected by those unions affiliated to the State Branch”

The Left and Right could not find a consensus on their positions nor could they agree with ours. We could not agree with the Left’s position to enshrine in the National rules that delegates nominated by union executives (not delegates elected by the union rank and file) would take 50% of National Conference positions when almost every Party elder including those of the Left like John Faulkner and Greg Combet were advocating a reduction in union power within the Party. We then proposed

A number of National Conference delegates at least equal to the number of Federal electorates in the State must be elected from and by all eligible local branch members and include delegates from outside the metropolitan areas.”

It was a proposal that should have had appeal to all sides. It delivered a guaranteed significant proportion of delegates (43% in Victoria) to be elected by all rank and file members. For the Left in NSW it delivered direct voting rights to all member rather than Branches electing delegates to a Federal electoral Council who then chose the Conference delegate. For the NSW Right it allowed the NSW to continue its current system in which the federal electorate with the smallest number of Party members gets one delegate and the one with the biggest number also gets just one. For States like Victoria, committed to proportionality (one vote one value), it would allow them to base their ballots on areas bigger than one federal electorate (but probably not the whole state because of the delegates from outside metropolitan areas requirement). Because of the “at least” requirement, States could increase the local Party member component to 50% or more. States who desired it could change their rules to allow unions to elect a proportion of National Conference delegates.

The Right accepted our proposal, had Party legal guru Tony Lang reorganise it, and lodged it themselves. The Left resisted until the last minute, then came on board, except that the Victorian and the WA Left had included a provision that in their States a rule designed to implement had to be carried by three quarters of State Conference delegates – an effective veto on its implementation in those States and a variation unacceptable to us.

Our proposal was moved by a member of the Right and seconded by unaligned NSW delegate Michael Pilbrow – it was opposed by the Left. With 197 Right votes and 4 Left votes making 201 voters in favour, under normal circumstances it should be 2 votes clear of the statutory majority of 199 votes, but it was already late in the day and delegates had to catch planes to other states. Were there enough remaining to carry the day?

President Mark Butler called the motion lost on the voices (the Left yelled ‘No’ louder). We called for a count. There were exactly 199 ‘ayes’, the required Statutory majority. Our proposal was passed and finally all party members will have a voice in determining their National Conference delegates.

Local member Participation in Senate Pre-selections

In April 2014 Bill said “Give local Labor members a meaningful say in the selection of Senate Candidates” but the Right had included no rule in the new constitution to implement this vision.

We wanted at least 50% weighting for rank and file members in pre-selecting their State’s Senators, but given that in the ACT rank and file members already had 100% weighting, we framed our proposal to protect the rights they already had. It was:

“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’s position was that Senate candidates be preselected by a ballot of all Party members in a State and a separate ballot of all Union (Executive appointed) delegates to State Conference with the weighting for each being equal. In my negotiations with the Right they indicated that they may propose a 25% weighting for local Party members. We urged them to increase this to one third (ie one of the three “winnable” senate positions) but when the final amendments were revealed the Right had no Senate pre-selection proposal.

In a conjoint debate the Left moved their proposal and then I moved and Sandra Willis seconded our motion. The Left proposal was put first and lost on the voices because both the Right and the unaligneds opposed it. Our motion was put, and although we yelled as loud as we could, four voices were not enough to carry it with both the Right and the Left opposing it.

Once their motion had lost it would have made logical sense for the Left to support our proposal – our four plus their 196 would have given a total of 200 votes, one more than the Statutory majority required for the change to be adopted. It would have delivered in each State the 50% (at least) rank and file participation the Left professed to support and kept open the ability for them to propose at State Conferences the 50% weighting for Union delegates they had sought to enshrine nationally.

Increasing the weighting of local members votes in House of Reps Pre-selections In his landmark 2014 address, Bill Shorten said

“… increase the weight given to the local members’ vote by 20% in every House of Representatives seat with more than 300 members” – In Victoria this would mean a 70:30 split in favour of local party members.”

The Right included this proposal in the new Draft Rules which read:

“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 300 members the state branch must increase the proportion of votes for those members by at least 20%”

Delegates from States where they already had 100% weighting for local Party members couldn’t understand the fuss, but for States like Victoria where the local member weighting was 50%, and WA where the local member weighting was a trifling 17.5%, increasing their vote by 20% was a very important matter for Rank and file members.

The Left, led by the Victorian Left were adamantly opposed to the increase – they were understandably concerned that it would and could be a reward for branch stackers and were intent of preserving the power of the unions.

The independent and unaligned delegates supported the increase of 20% but not the 300 lower limit for a Federal electorate to qualify for the increase.

In my negotiations with the Right I advocated that there be no lower limit to qualify for an increase of 20%, pointing out that currently only 14 Hose of reps seats in Victoria had more than 300 eligible party members and all but Melbourne were safe seats. They weren’t prepared to accept no lower limit but in the end we did a deal with the Right on a lower limit of 150, a deal which would give rank and file members in another 12 Victorian seats 70% weighting in House of Reps pre-selections.

We submitted that amendment in my and Sandra Willis’ names, but on the floor it was moved by a Right delegate and seconded by myself. It was opposed robustly by the Left. A count was required and based on the previous division the proposal should have been carried but it was deferred to allow some delegates to return from negotiations to the Conference floor. The affirmative Action and the Marriage equality amendment were then dealt with and it was 6.10 pm before their completion and after that Bill Shorten gave his Conference closing speech. We could have then pressed for a vote on the 20% increase but too many delegates had departed to catch their interstate flights – rank and file members especially those from Victoria and WA had been deprived of a significant advance in democracy in their States.

Reducing Federal Executive Intervention in Pre-selections In April 2014 the Federal Leader said

“From now on intervention by the National Executive shall be the exception not the rule.”

We lodged an amendment stating

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

Neither the Left nor the Right were prepared to support our amendment. Given the debating time restraints of the day and the low priority accorded it by the Agenda Committee we withdrew it.

Other Important Reform Issues

Affirmative Action:

In the run up to and during the Conference we had made clear our support for a move to 50% female representation both in Parliaments and other positions within the Party to the women framing the amendments to the National AA rules. The outcome was a just reward to the determination and application of those, spearheaded by the Victorian women, who worked so hard and so long to achieve it.

Marriage Equality

The Independents went to the Conference with the goal of supporting an outcome which would maximise the likelihood of the passage of legislation to implement marriage equality in the shortest time possible. We were of the view that the Party’s policy which supports equal marriage opportunity should be binding and not a conscience vote and supported an amendment removing the conscience vote when this parliament ends thus maximising the possibility of the Coalition having a conscience vote on the issue during this parliament.

On Saturday morning at the Conference Rainbow Labor also took this position and later it became the Left’s position.

With the support of the left, ourselves and several Right delegates on the balance of probabilities the sunset clause on the conscience vote at the end of this Parliament looked likely to get up in a close vote.

However a late compromise resulted in the Leader announcing that it had been agreed that the sunset clause on the conscience vote would be at the end next Parliament and that in government within the first 100 days he would introduce legislation to implement marriage equality. The compromise was carried unanimously.

Increasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander in Public Office Positions held by Labor

Unaligned ACT MLA and Conference delegate Chris Bourke gained the unanimous support of the Conference for a Resolution committing the Party to increasing the Representation of Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders in public positions Labor holds.

What Now?

At State Level: National Rules are a guiding framework within which States Rules must conform – nothing in the National rules prohibits many of the reforms that were not successful at the 2015 National Conference from being pursued at State Conferences. In Victoria for instance, we can still propose rules that give party members a weighting of at least 50% in selecting Senate candidates, and increase the weighting of rank and file members in pre-selections not only for the House of Reps but also for the Legislative Assembly. And we can seek to enshrine in our State rules that in the next round of Legislative Council candidate pre-selections, that party rank and file Party members for the first time in 16 years Party members are allowed their right to vote! In the meantime we must mount an even more strenuous campaign to ensure that in the forthcoming State Conference delegate elections a far greater number of delegates are elected who will vote in the interests of rank and file members not in the interests and as directed by a faction.

At National Level If there are just four independent and unaligned delegates at the next National Conference we are unlikely to have the balance of power. We need to substantially increase the number of delegates voting for reform empowering rank and file Party members. We need to increase our links and numbers across the country, assist each other, establish a Labor National Non-aligned Network, and enhance our relationships with like minded groups such as Open Labor and Local Labor as we did for this 2015 Conference in Victoria.

At the Next National Conference

We learnt lessons from the 2015 Conference to be passed on to our delegates at the next Conference. We need to know who are non-aligned delegates and know it early so that we can establish common Party reform causes and know our negotiating strength – a National Non-aligned Network would be of major assistance in this.

At this 2015 Conference, despite us holding the balance of power, we were given no real role in ordering the agenda and were not even given access to the amendments until after the debates had started. It was improper, unfair, undemocratic, an alarming lesson and something that we cannot allow to happen again.

Eric Dearricott

The following Rules amendments have been lodged today with a view to facilitating the implementation of Bill Shorten’s April 2014 reform proposals. They will be voted on tomorrow.

i) National Conference delegate election

Bill Shorten said:

“Future Labor Conferences to be a mix of people from and by Labor members and those elected by State Conferences.”

New rule 31b reads:

“A proportion of those delegates must be elected by local branch members and include delegates from outside metropolitan areas”

Preferred amendment to 31b:

“At least 50% of those 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.”

Alternative amendment:

“A number of those delegates at least equal to the number of Federal electorates in the State must be elected from and by all eligible local branch members and include delegates from outside the metropolitan areas.”

ii) Senate Pre-selections

Bill said:

“Give local Labor members a meaningful say in the selection of Senate Candidates”

Currently no rule has been placed in the new constitution to implement this vision.

Proposed new NPO :

“For Senate preselections, 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%.”

iii) Increasing the weighting of local members votes in House of Reps Pre-selections

Bill Shorten said:

“… increase the weight given to the local members’ vote by 20% in every House of Representatives seat with more than 300 members” – In Victoria this would mean a 70:30 split in favour of local party members.”

This is included in this form in the new Draft Rules –

Rule 39 (d) reads:

“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 300 members the state branch must increase the proportion of votes for those members by at least 20%”

Proposed amendment: In Rule 39 d) replace “300” with “100” in the phrase “with more than 300 members”

Alternative amendment: In Rule 39 d) replace “300” with “150” in the phrase “with more than 300 members”

iv) Federal Executive Intervention in Pre-selections

In April 2014 the Federal Leader said:

“From now on intervention by the National Executive shall be the exception not the rule.”

Proposed new NPO:

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

Eric Dearricott

25 July 2015

Dear Friends,

Please find below a summary report of the Saturday July 4 Independents’ Pre-National Conference Forum

Forum Report

The purpose of the Forum was to provide input to Conference delegates Sandra Willis and Eric Dearricott and proxy David Imber on what were seen as key Conference issues.

Policy Issues:

a) Refugee and Asylum Seeker Policy:

There was general agreement that:
i) There needs to be a regional approach to asylum seekers
ii) Processing of asylum seekers regardless of how they arrive should be onshore
iii) Labor policy should not endorse turning boats back
iv) Labor should oppose refoulement
v) Workers at detention centres should not be prohibited from speaking out about unacceptable practices and occurrences

b) Climate Change

It was believed that Labor’s policy must include specific and ambitious targets for greenhouse gas reduction and for renewable energy produced electricity.

c) Marriage Equality

Should Labor Parliamentarians be allowed a conscience vote on Marriage Equality (Same Sex Marriage)?

Labor’s current platform supports same sex marriage but allows parliamentarians a conscience vote on the issue.

Whilst there was strong support for the Party’s policy there was general agreement that delegates should adopt an approach which maximises the likelihood of passage of marriage equality laws at the earliest possible time.

d) Trade Agreements

There was strong concern that these will allow workers to be brought in for certain projects working under conditions inferior to Australian agreements which would not only impact on local employment but undermine the wages and conditions of local workers. Other serious concerns were expressed around the ability of companies to challenge Australian social legislation in the courts and intellectual property rights.

f) Party reform

Disappointment was expressed about the failure of the draft rules changes to implement several of Bill Shorten’s April 2014 proposals and the Independent delegates were encouraged to continue to seek to implementation of those modest aspirations.
Particular aspects discussed were:

i) Bill Shorten said

“Future Labor Conferences to be a mix of people from and by Labor members and those elected by State Conferences”

New rule 31b reads

“A proportion of those delegates must be elected by local branch members and include delegates from outside metropolitan areas”

Those present supported Bill Shorten’s April 2014 statement but were strongly of the view that thought that the rank and file component should be at least 50%.

Proposed amendment to 31b

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

ii) Bill Shorten proposed

“Give local Labor members a meaningful say in the selection of Senate Candidates”

As with National Conference delegates those present believed that at least 50% of the weighting in the selection of State Senate candidates should be held by the rank and file.

Proposed new NPO

“At least 50% of the weighting in preselecting State Senate candidates must be held by local Labor members”

iii) In April 2014 the Federal Leader said

“From now on intervention by the National Executive shall be the exception not the rule”.

This reform is not currently included in the proposed rules changes – given Victorian members have been stripped of their rights to vote in the past 3 pre-selections of candidates for the Legislative Council those present were emphatic that at rule that restricts intervention in pre-selections must be included in the National Rules by this National Conference.

iv) Bill Shorten said

“… increase the weight given to the local members’ vote by 20% in every House of Representatives seat with more than 300 members”

In Victoria this would mean a 70:30 split in favour of local party members.”

This is included in this form in the new Draft Rules – In reality for Victoria this rule will apply almost exclusively in stacked electorates because of the 300 member minimum we believe the 300 member minimum should be removed from the proposed draft rule.

v) Affirmative Action –

No changes have been included in the draft – this must change especially in relation to changing defining what are included as winnable seats prior to the commencement of pre-selections.

Regards,
Eric Dearricott
Secretary Victorian Labor Independents
0419 357 192