My response to the ALP’s National Survey, or How to save the Labor Party before it’s too late…

The ALP recently sent a survey around to members to find out what they want to change about the Party. You can take the survey here, whether you’re a member or not.

The last couple of questions ask what policies should be changed and what the Party can do to attract more members. I responded with the comments below.

Q.58Are there any policies you would like to see changed or altered?

The Labor Party needs to make an all-out assault on inequality of outcomes in assets, incomes, and access to education, health, culture and leisure.

Australia is becoming more and more unequal, and unless Labor stands for equality of outcomes it stands for nothing. There should be tax increases (both asset and income taxes) on large companies and wealthy individuals, such as the millionaires tax just passed in France, and the money used to fund the recommendations of the Gonski report and the Productivity Commission enquiry into the NDIS as a matter of priority.
Labor should increase the old age pension and the Newstart Allowance immediately by 25%, as well as restoring transfer payments to single parents cut in the last Budget. The Labor Federal Government should make the case to Fair Work Australia for an immediate increase in the minimum wage by 25%, with no loss of conditions in terms of penalty rates or meal breaks.
The Federal Government should work with the States to fund free, universal preschool access to all children over three, as early intervention is the key to ending inequality.
The Federal Government should also stop the racist Northern Territory intervention and replace it with a program that gives sovereignty and a stable source of revenue for indigenous-run programs, included in a binding Treaty with indigenous people that makes full restitution for the value of the land that was taken by force and without compensation by colonisation.

Australia should cease the mining and export of uranium.
Australia should repeal the Marriage Act so that the state has nothing to do with defining or registering what individuals relationships are with other people, which would allow for same-sex marriage conducted outside the control of the state.
Labor should fund one year’s paid parental leave, with access to a further two years unpaid leave, which can be shared between parents.
The Federal Government should mandate that all companies with over 25 employees reserve 75% of the jobs for full-time and permanent part-time workers. Labor in Government should take action to stamp out the rampant abuse of cash-in-hand employment, avoidance of tax, superannuation and workers compensation, and sham contracting arrangements. Labor should mandate a nationwide workers compensation and occupational health and safety scheme modelled on the Carr Government’s Acts enacted by NSW Attorney General Jeff Shaw.
Labor should immediately cease the exploitation of foreign workers through temporary visa schemes, and mandate compulsory union membership for foreign workers in Australia working for employers with more than 100 employees to ensure they are not exploited and that they contribute to the maintenance of working conditions and wage standards fought for and won by Australian union members.
The Fair Work Act should be changed so that union organising is not impaired by anti-union companies, allowing for union officials to meet workers on site without previous notification wherever it is convenient as long as no work is unduly interrupted.
Finally, the Federal Labor Government should set a minimum 80% renewable energy target by 2040, and act immediately to save Australia’s marine and land biodiversity.
74. Finally, is there anything that you think Labor can do to get more people interested in joining the Party or playing a more active role in the Party?

Firstly, the ALP should be a campaigning organisation, where people come together regularly to talk to members of the community about our policy aims and our electoral aims. By being a cause rather than a bureaucracy we will attract more people who can make a difference in convincing the general public of the worthiness of our aims, and get direct feedback from the public about what they think we’re doing right or doing wrong. We will be visible in the community and connected to it. There is no magic solution in using online organising or social media, they are simply helpful tools to make it easier to go out into the physical spaces of our communities and bring people together to take action for the cause of Labor. The party’s rules entrench bureaucracy and inactive membership. Why is someone who attends a meeting in a drafty hall given more rights over preselection of MPs than someone who knocks on 100 doors to talk about Labor’s plans for education? Party rules should reward activity, not just attendance. If someone spends from 6am to 8pm on a polling booth for the Labor Party they should receive credit for it, and be given a greater say in the Party’s policies. We have the ability to track such activity easily now with online systems such as nationbuilder.com and we can reward members for their time and effort.

Secondly, members of the ALP must be given a say over who represents them in the Party and in the Parliament. The leader of the Parliamentary ALP should be elected by the membership of the Party, as should the General Secretary and the Party Officers and the Administrative Committee. Anyone who has been a financial member for 12 months should have a vote in who represents Labor in those positions. Half the delegates to State and Federal Conferences should be directly elected by members with 12 months membership on the basis of their State or Federal Electorate. We have the technology to run those ballots easily and cheaply. Not doing so is an insult to the people who deliver Government for Labor – the people who knock on the doors, donate the money and staff the booths on election day.

Finally, the elected members of the Party must speak and act with conviction for the cause not for personal gain for themselves. It may be time to revisit term limits for our MPs and Councillors. Too many see the labour movement as a path to self-enrichment and not a way to make a difference. The people who abuse the trust of the Labor movement by rorting their positions for personal benefit must be dealt with severely, expelled and disavowed. There is no place for corruption in the Labor movement.
75. Any other final comments?

Labor can be the natural party of Government Federally if it gets its values, structures and cultures right.

It needs to be a campaigning organisation, a ’cause for power’, to make Australian society equal, democratic and fair, where those who do the work make the decisions over what happens in their lives, to their resources and to their nation.

As an organisation it needs to reward activity and participation, not just bureaucracy and attendance at meetings. It needs to be an open, democratic and competitive Party, the place for a contest of ideas, with regular ballots which spur debate and the draw out those with skills in advancing a cause. The members must have a say over who leads both the Party organisationally and in the Parliament. Anything less than a vote for the members is a sad joke that will see the Party spiral into insignificance.

It must guard its reputation jealously by expelling promptly anyone with the taint of corruption. And it must ensure that its MPs and elected representatives follow the Rules, Values and Policies of the Party.

If it does these things it will be able to campaign effectively, win elections, make permanent changes to the quality of life for Australians and set an example to the world that a society can be equal, democratic and fair. Failure to grasp the nettle by half-hearted changes that preserve the power of interest groups and factions within the Party will see it shrink and fail, as the world changes around it and our political opponents set the policy agenda while attacking our ability to organise. Boldness, leadership and resolve is what is needed. It’s time we did what is necessary and what is right.

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About lukewhito

Politics, history, cricket, rugby league, bodysurfing. Kids and family. Love it all.
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