Not Dead: The State ALP
The Party is nowhere as dead as some of its most mournful members insist on telling us.
I met a sizeable turnout of ALP members and delegates who want to work on environmental policy at a meeting of the Labor Environment Action Network. I told them that the first carbon trading scheme in the entire world – yes the first, not one of the first – was the NSW Greenhouse Gas Reduction Scheme introduced in January 2003. It could have provided a fallback option for Prime Minister Rudd in December 2009 when the Senate blocked his legislation to establish the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. GGAS applies to the output of the electricity sector and it has stopped the emission of over 90 million tonnes of greenhouse gases since it commenced trading.
I told the gathering that Luke Foley, the Shadow Minister for Environment and Climate Change in NSW was the State Opposition’s most active shadow minister.
He addressed the meeting along with Tim Ayres, Assistant Secretary of the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union and Justin McKee of the Blue Mountains Conservation Society.
I also spoke to a meeting on rebuilding the ALP as a mass political party. I outlined the reforms recommended by the Bracks/Faulkner/Carr review. I expressed my reservations about a primary system but spoke about its value as an experiment. I said that the direct election of party officials was fine in principle but the party needed to avoid any challenge to the authority and status of the parliamentary leader. There is a danger that a party president elected by the rank and file would make too many public comments and distract attention from the work of parliamentary party.
The parliamentary leadership is the key to revival.
At these two meetings and in the foyer I met loads of young people who are committed to reviving the ALP; large numbers of stalwarts who keep going back year after year, never losing their enthusiasm; serious representatives of the trade union movement who also take a long-term view of the party and its future.
There’s a long way to go, but maybe its time for people to start talking about what’s right with the party rather than what’s wrong.