The questions John Faulkner might have asked the candidates for ALP National President

Voting for ALP National President closes this Thursday. All five candidates answered a joint Open Labor and Local Labor questionnaire on party reform -- you'll find their answers in this blog and on our Facebook page. Here Open Labor signatory Geoff Hjorth from the Newport ALP branch proposes four extra questions to the survey, based on former Senator John Faulkner's Revesby Workers Club speech last year on party reform. 

Voting for ALP National President closes this Thursday. All five candidates answered a joint Open Labor and Local Labor questionnaire on party reform -- you'll find their answers in this blog and on our Facebook page. Here Open Labor signatory Geoff Hjorth from the Newport ALP branch proposes four extra questions to the survey, based on former Senator John Faulkner's Revesby Workers Club speech last year on party reform.  


If you wish to respond to this questionnaire or to Geoff directly, email us at info@openlabor.net.au or make a comment on this blog. We will incorporate your comments into our work on party reform in the lead up to National Conference. 
 
In October last year John Faulkner made a major speech to the Revesby Workers Club about the future of the party.

The full text can be found here: http://www.senatorjohnfaulkner.com.au/file.php?file=/news/IGROPHPZVT/index.html     

Below is an extract from the speech (my emphasis for reasons that will become clear)

"Australia is changing, and the Party and unions have to change with it. We need to rebuild Labor from the grassroots – not the top down.

We have to democratise our Party and reach out to union members and involve them directly in the Party’s decision making processes.

This should lead to a deeper relationship with organised labour as a fundamental part of our Labor community.

To achieve this, the Party should encourage members of affiliated unions to join the Party and participate directly in Party decisions and deliberations.

For the purpose of determining union affiliation numbers, unions should only be able to count members who have agreed to their membership being counted towards that affiliation in an opt-in system.

All union delegates to Party Conferences should be elected through a ballot of union members, conducted under the principle of proportional representation, and should not be appointed without election. Unions should be required to amend their own rules, to fulfil this objective.

Our current State Conference structures provide 50 per cent representation to affiliated unions – which represent only a portion of the 17 per cent of working people who belong to a union at all. This must change.

The component of conference delegates directly elected by party members, which I spoke of earlier, should increase over time, while the percentage of both the delegates elected by Electorate Councils, and those elected by unions, should reduce in tandem. I would hope to see a structure with 6 per cent of Delegates elected by the membership, 20 per cent by the Affiliated Unions and 20 per cent elected by Electorate Councils, reached in stages over the next three National Conferences.

Even then, there would still be a positive disparity or “over representation” of union proportionality to unionisation of the workforce. There would also be an incentive for union members to have a direct relationship with the Party as well as participating through their union. Indeed, being active in both Party and union would provide additional opportunities to participate – activism would be rewarded.

The practice of factions, affiliates or interest groups binding parliamentarians in Caucus votes or ballots must be banned. Faulkner wrote that factional binding is inherently undemocratic. It allows a group with 51 per cent of a subfaction, which then makes up 51 per cent of a faction, which in turn has 51 per cent of the Caucus numbers, to force the entire Caucus to their position. This Russian doll of nested factions is profoundly undemocratic and, as we have seen in NSW, wide open to manipulation."

Below is a series of statements or propositions drawn directly from the Faulkner speech.

You are invited to agree or disagree and then, if you wish, add further comments.

1.     For the purpose of determining union affiliation numbers, unions should only be able to count members who have agreed to their membership being counted towards that affiliation in an opt-in system.

2.     All union delegates to Party Conferences should be elected through a ballot of union members, conducted under the principle of proportional representation, and should not be appointed without election. Unions should be required to amend their own rules, to fulfil this objective.

3.     I would hope to see a structure with 60 per cent of Delegates elected by the membership, 20 per cent by the Affiliated Unions and 20 per cent elected by Electorate Councils, reached in stages over the next three National Conferences.

4.     The practice of factions, affiliates or interest groups binding parliamentarians in Caucus votes or ballots must be banned.