Senator John Faulkner Statement: ALP Reform Agenda

Last Thursday I asked the NSW Branch of the ALP to circulate a letter [attached] proposing changes to the Party’s Rules in NSW. 

This letter is forthright about the challenges facing the NSW Labor Party and the reforms needed to meet them.

These proposals advance my long-standing commitment to internal democracy and Party integrity.

In 2010 I was a member of the National Review into the ALP, which made a number of recommendations for Party reform. 

In December 2012, I promised to pursue outstanding integrity reforms by moving to formally change the Party’s rules at the next possible opportunity.

I considered then, and consider now, essential next steps to be: 

  • The inclusion of strong integrity measures for elected representatives, Party officials, and members in our rules; and
  • Preselection by ballot of the full Party membership in NSW for Senate and NSW Legislative Council candidates.

Labor must clearly demonstrate to all those within and without the Party that we have learnt from the past and that we are fully committed to preventing corrupt behaviour ever again taking hold. To do so we must not only enshrine in our Rules our commitment to ethical behaviour, but also change the processes that enabled individuals with neither Labor values, nor Labor party members’ support, to gain preselection through nothing more than factional anointment.

Current upper house preselection processes in NSW enfranchise only factional leaders. 

The NSW ALP Annual Conference in July this year is the first opportunity at either a state or national level to pursue these changes to our rules. 

My position on the need for reforms to increase transparency, accountability and democracy within the ALP remains unchanged. As I have repeatedly said, (see links below) Labor’s commitment to democracy and to integrity must be demonstrated within our Party as well as through our policies. 

John Faulkner

Labor Senator for NSW

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  • commented 2014-04-17 10:14:59 +1000
    It would be ideal for democracy if all union members who wished to have a say joined the Party and then we could have one vote per person. I would also like to be called a grassroots member and never be referred to as rank and file.
  • commented 2014-04-16 18:20:21 +1000
    I completely support John Faulkner’s proposal and suggest we should go a bit further by completely democratising the party so that decisions and candidates emerge from the grass roots and are not imposed from above by having party apparatchiks parachuted into safe seats from above. Haven’t we learned anything from the Craig Thomson debacle. Going on the WA Senate Preselection process it is clear we have not.

    However we should not turn this into a union bashing exercise. We should value the contribution of unions as partners in Labor, but we need to change. Unions have the legitimate role of protecting and advancing the working conditions of their members and have the right grounded in our history to influence Labor.

    However we need to recognise that only a small proportion of members of affiliated trade unions take an active role in the Labor Party. Many are only concerned with just getting by in life and do not care about politics. Some even vote Liberal. If all affiliated union members voted Labor we would still be in government.

    Why should these uninvolved affiliated union members have a disproportionate influence in the election of the Senate, the various upper houses or be able to push conservative policies through having a 50% of delegates to Labor conferences? This situation leaves the way open for corruption and patronage to thrive.

    I propose we abolish the right of affiliated unions to send delegates to various Labor conferences and instead suggest that any one who joins or renews their union membership, is given the chance to “opt in” to their local branch or to the Central Policy or On-Line Branch. They should be given the local branch contact details and invited to participate. I suggest they be asked to show their bona fides by being asked to pay a token fee (no more than $20).
    Those interested enough would participate just like any other branch member.
    If affiliated union leaders wished to nominate for positions or preselection they should request their members to attend branch meetings and support them. Similarly if any issue arises that concerns them they can encourage their members to raise the issue at the local branch meeting and if it attracts enough support it will filter up to Labor Conferences through SECs, FECs and Municipal Committees.

    This proposition would have the effect of democratising the Party by having initiatives originate from branches. It would mean those union members who want to participate will have influence and those who don’t will not. It will also help meet the target of 100,000 branch members and revitalise the party at the local level.
  • commented 2014-04-10 17:02:36 +1000
    What steps are being taken to ensure that each branch in NSW receives your letter in time to consider consider passing a motion for inclusion on the Conference agenda (motions must be received by 12 noon on 2 May to be considered)? My branch missed out as our monthly meeting was held this past Monday. I dearly wish that every other branch receives your letter in time to seriously consider its contents. I ask this with great respect.