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National ALP Conference: What the Executive Must Do

December 5, 2011

The ALP National Executive must now think of itself as having the sort of responsibilities that weigh on a board of company directors, as if it has statutory duties. Its members are not there to look after factional interests but to guarantee the battered and bruised party has a future.

Speaking at the conference with John Faulkner and Steve Bracks on the review of the party’s performance at the last election, I said the national executive now has a responsibility to deliver action on the following:
• increase membership, adopting the PM’s target of 8000 new members;
• give the party a lively online presence, which will include being able to join the party online, to attend team branch meetings online, to question party leaders and spokespeople online, and to debate other party members online;
• plant resources and personnel in Western Australia, where the Labor base vote is chronically low even by the standards of parlous polls in other States;
• set up systematic training for people who hold public office and speak for the party. I said the Labor Party was now the only serious organisation in the country (to be truthful, I don’t know about the Liberal Party) that has no systematic training, mentoring, coaching or sponsorship for high-potential individuals and, as a result, we deploy people in front-rank positions woefully ill-prepared.
• the party must fund some template community activist campaigns sponsored by local Labor Party branches which want to offer their members something more than attending branch meetings and working in polling booths.

These are parts of the Faulkner, Bracks, Carr review that do not need rules change. They require work and resources. They may well be more important than increasing rank-and-file representation at the National Conference or experimenting with primaries, that is, the structural reforms.

To the national executive, don’t let this drift.

Get on with it.

  1. December 5, 2011 12:16 pm

    Before establishing this “lievely online presence” the National Executive needs to resolve two outstanding organisational issues that greatly hinder any kind of coherent, concerted national effort.

    1. Separate state-based memberships. Each state currently maintains its own membership roll. This is ridiculous in a modern era (for example, there is no single national membership list and the National Secretary cannot simply email every ALP member). The ALP National Executive must urgently require a unitary membership of the ALP.

    2. The ALP must abolish or merge state-based websites into a single national presence. Of course, have pages for State Labor parties, State Governments and State Oppositions, but get rid of the multiplying, fragmented websites that exist currently.

  2. Helen Ball permalink
    December 5, 2011 1:14 pm

    On line branch meetings would be wonderful, for the locked-in, disenfranchised, older members or the younger members who are disabled and can’t get up the stairs to meeting rooms, or who have to work evenings. As a member with mobility problems, being able to attend via the web would be a boon…Please take heed of the Bracks, Carr, Faulkener treatise.

  3. Mathew Badcock permalink
    December 5, 2011 1:17 pm

    Thank you Bob.

    It is important that this review is not ignored, as the Hawke/Wran review was ignored. For if this it is, there are no elder statesmen left in the party who could stand a chance of putting another one forward in 10 years.

    I disagree that the structual stuff is less important, we need a cleanout, and for the party to be given back to its members. I fear that when I hear language from MP’s/delegates suggesting that members dont actually want more control, they just want further participation options, and I see the weak as water structual changes voted for at conference, that this battle may be lost. I hope it isn’t and people like yourself are prepared to publicly say so when the cop out options are put forward.

    All that said, as a party member, I do appreciate your sentiments that those elected on the weekend (with a wink and a nudge and no ballot) need to pull their fingers out and get moving.

    Please stay on their back…

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