STATEMENT BY THE ALP DEMOCRACY PROJECT FOR 2016-17 STATE CONFERENCE
The ALP Democracy Project is a campaign by the Independents group, Open Labor, Local Labor and other supporters of democratic ALP reform to elect to the Victorian State Conference delegates who will work for all members of the Party and for internal democracy.
Our Party must be more responsive, open and transparent with its members.
State Office’s failure to support and engage members and branches is reflected in an all time low in 2015 of just 200 members joining the Party via local branches. And half of the 2000 who joined Central Branch in 2014 have decided not to renew their membership.
The failure of the Administrative Committee to ensure an independent and thorough investigation of the online payment of membership renewals using anonymous prepaid cards lays bare the deficiencies of factional members of key Party bodies such as the Administrative, Public Office Selection, Agenda and Rules Revision Committees. These members, from both major factions, vote as they are bound by their factional caucus not according to their own conscience and considered view.
ALP Democracy Project Candidates commit to voting at Conference in accordance with their own personal beliefs and judgements.
They also commit to supporting likeminded candidates in voting for members of key committees elected by Conference delegates, including the Administrative Committee, Public Office Selection Committee, Rules Revision Committee and Agenda Committee.
The ALP Democracy Project candidates for Conference delegate positions commit to seek to:
1. Strengthen member participation in candidate pre-selection by:
Proposing rules changes that will ensure that for the first time in sixteen years local members will be able to vote in the pre-selection of their State Labor Legislative Council candidates.
Ensuring that the voice of local members in the pre-selection of their Federal and State lower house candidates is increased by changing the weighting of their pre-selection votes from 50% local and 50% Public Office Selection Committee (POSC) to 70% local and 30% POSC.
Introducing local member participation in the pre-selection of Senate Candidates via a postal vote of all members across the State with equal weighting with the POSC.
2. Restore party integrity and member voice by:
Tackling the ongoing problem of branch stacking by requiring all membership application and renewal fees to be paid by traceable means and ensuring proper enforcement of this requirement by State Office via independent oversight by Party members
Enforcing genuine secret ballots where no one sees and checks another member’s ballot or fills it in for them in elections at all levels of the Party.
Extending direct participation by Party members in elections for key party positions, such as State President and Vice Presidents, the Administrative Committee.
3. Ensure that the affirmative action national rules changes from the 2015 National Conference are incorporated into the Victorian Rules.
4. In consultation with representatives of unions seek to transform the way unions and individual union members participate in the Party so that it is the union members who determine outcomes not solely the Union Executive or Secretary.
5. Ensure that direct participation of members in the election of this State’s National Conference delegates, a reform negotiated by ALP Democracy Project delegates at the 2015 National Conference, is incorporated in the Victorian Rules
6. Restructure and re-orient State Office so that Party members, branches and committees are given real support and genuine involvement in the Party’s activities, policies and decision-making.
Open Labor has candidates running in Melbourne, Batman, Goldstein and Gellibrand.
Veteran party reformer Eric Dearricott's victory in the Supreme Court on Friday is a big win for democracy in the Victorian Labor Party -- but the battle goes on.
Open Labor, the network dedicated to ALP renewal, today calls on the Victorian Labor Party to abandon its unwarranted, heavy-handed legal threats towards veteran party reformer Eric Dearricott, who has acted against branch-stacking and the illegal payment of membership fees.
Open Labor calls on the ALP to run an open pre-selection for the federal electorate of Wills so that local members and head office can combine to find the best candidate for this vital Labor seat.
An open pre-selection to replace retiring MP Kelvin Thomson would strengthen party democracy, renew the party’s ties to the electorate, and showcasesome of the many talented Labor people who would make fine MPs.
‘Wills is one of Labor’s safest seats – its people deserve to be represented by one of Labor’s strongest candidates,’ said Open Labor spokesperson Tom Bentley.
‘Already some high quality names have been put forward -- let’s give the people of Wills and Australia a chance to assess them.
‘The worst result would be a deal behind closed doors that delivered the seat to a factional choice based on pre-existing pacts or arrangements instead of on the quality and appeal of the candidate.'
Open Labor proposes an open pre-selection after a public process lasting at least a few weeks. That process should includeclear information about the ultimate selection process at public party forums and on websites as well as public debates in the electorate attended by the candidates and open to all.
Open Labor is a group of people including party members and non-members working for a more open, democratic ALP. Open Labor is ready to partner with people and community groups in Wills to achieve the best outcome for the party through transparent processes.
At its next meeting, Bill Kelty, Luba Grigorovitch and Tim Lyons will speak on how to renew the relationship between unions and the ALP: 6.30pm Tuesday November 24, Celtic Club 320 Queen Street Melbourne. All welcome.
Find us at www.openlabor.net.au and on Facebook.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call Katherine Cozens on 0412 968 288.
The Victorian ALP will investigate allegations of branch stacking and irregularities surrounding the payment of up to 500 memberships with untraceable gift cards. As a result, the election of delegates to State Conference has been postponed to February while the investigation takes place. However, nominations still close today.
The Administrative Committee's decision to conduct the investigation follows evidence provided by Eric Dearricott of the Independents and another member of the Membership Committee that 80 or 90 people have used pre-paid gift cards to renew their party memberships online this year, even though the party forbids use of such cards for this purpose.
“Following inspection of the records of online payments of membership renewals and applications it seems clear that pre-paid debit cards (gift cards) have been used to pay for the renewals and applications of hundreds of members over recent years," Eric Dearricott said in a letter to State Officers last week.
“The surge in the use of one particular gift card type with significant numbers of online payments -- like 20, 30 and 40 made from the same computers often in the small hours of the morning -- gives rise to a belief that branch stacking has occurred”.
The Left, the National Union of Workers and the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees' Assocation all backed the proposal for an investigation. However, the Right opposed the selection of an independent investigator and the Left backed the Right position, says Dearricott, who is a member of the Administrative Committee. As a result one member nominated by the Right and one by the Left will carry out the investigation.
While Open Labor is disappointed that the investigation will not be independent, we applaud any move towards transparency and stronger democratic processes. Whatever the outcome of the investigation, we will continue to push for openness and integrity as our candidates stand again in February.
The Victorian state conference in April next year is another opportunity to introduce genuine democratic reform of the ALP. But we won't win the debate from the visitors' gallery – we need Open Labor delegates on the floor who can work with other pro-democratic forces in the party to achieve change.
State Conference matters. It not only discusses and determines the direction of party policy, it elects members of the all-important Administration Committee, which runs the state party, and the Public Office Selection Committee, which preselects candidates for parliament. Let's work together to have an Open Labor delegation at conference for the first time. Remember that even if you can’t nominate as a delegate and you are a member, you can still be a big part of the process by voting at the conference for our delegates.
If you have been a financial member of the ALP since July 31st 2014-- including (for the first time) a central branch member -- you are eligible to stand in your electorate as a delegate to state conference. We urge you to do so as an Open Labor candidate. Nominations close on October 31 and voting is on the last two Sundays in November.
To express an interest in standing or for more information, please contact Kath Cozens at email@example.com.
Open Labor's change.org petition for party reform at National Conference has now been signed by nearly 1200 supporters. The momentum is clearly building, as seen here and here in the mainstream media.
Alongside our push for party reform, we're looking forward to a weekend of new thinking and policy ideas.
Please sign our petition on reforming and opening up the ALP and get your friends to sign it too. A thousand people have signed, including a long list of former senior figures in the party -- see below. We 're chasing signatures right up to ALP National Conference on 24 July. We think it's a statement that Labor leaders and delegates need to read. Please give it your strong support.
The pressure for reform of the Labor Party is growing. Open Labor and Local Labor sent a questionnaire to all five candidates for ALP National President seeking their views on the subject. Their very interesting and encouraging responses are here: http://files.openlabor.net.au/alp_national_president_party_reform_survey_response_summary.pdf