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ALP Presidential Candidate's views on LEAN's concerns

LEAN asked the five candidates standing for ALP President two simple questions on their attitudes to member activism and the environment. We were happy to report that all candidates are committed to environment as a key plank of Labor's future policy offering and that all believe groups like LEAN are essential to the ongoing life of the party.

We asked all five candidates the following questions:

Q1. How will you support the opening up of the party to give a greater say to grassroots ALP members and enable groups like LEAN and its membership to influence and be involved in policy development in Government and party processes?

Q2. What will you do as President to ensure that the ALP is the leading party in Australia on environmental policy and that the environment becomes a central pillar of the ALPs vision for Australia?

Here are their answers: 

Mark Butler

Mark ButlerQ1. How will you support the opening up of the party to give a greater say to grassroots ALP members and enable groups like LEAN and its membership to influence and be involved in policy development in Government and party processes?

I believe the direct election of members to the National Policy Forum has had a real impact. Climate change and environment policy are two of the most often discussed topics among Party members and, as Shadow Minister with responsibility for these areas, I've been really pleased to engage with members on the development of these policy areas. 

I work with LEAN regularly to engage branch members in the discussion about climate change and the environment and renewable energy. I will continue this work as we nut out solutions to the most important policy challenges of our time and I will also advocate the LEAN model of Party engagement be adopted for other policy areas.

Q2. What will you do as President to ensure that the ALP is the leading party in Australia on environmental policy and that the environment becomes a central pillar of the ALPs vision for Australia?

My main motivation for nominating for National President is to see through reforms that increase the influence of members over important decisions, particularly policy decisions. I've been fighting for these changes for many years. 

Labor has a proud history of environmental reform and I'm very proud to be among an illustrious group of former Labor Environment Ministers. Environment policy is currently a central pillar of Labor's policy platform and I will continue to work with Party members to realise Labor's ambitious plans for a bold agenda on climate change, environment and renewable energy. 

Tim Hammond

(Tim Hammond chose to return the answers to both questions as one.)

Tim HammondThanks for the chance to set out my views to LEAN. I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the incredibly important work you do within the party.

The first step to being a leading party in Australia on environmental issues is to acknowledge it as a core value of the party. The ALP should adopt Sustainable Environment as an enduring value. I think this is an important debate for our party.  For instance, in my home state, WA Labor’s platform expands on the values set out in chapter one of the National Platform. WA Labor’s enduring values includes the value of Sustainable Environment.

I am a big believer in values. I don’t think we talk about our values enough. Chapter one of our party platform goes a long way to explaining what the Labor party is about and what kind of Government we would be and what our commitment is to the people of Australia. It sets out why I am proud to be Labor. But if you ask members; Members of Parliament, various convenors, union secretaries, branch secretaries and president, State Presidents, etc – not all of them can explain the detail that is outlined in chapter one. It’s a result of us not working hard enough to make sure that everything we do should be a practical application of our values.

All progressive organisations are moving into this space – even teaching / education in all schools across Australia is driven by a discussion about common values. We need a clear and consistent framework. A set of principles that unites us, not divides us. We need to be passionate about making our values mean something to people – to improve lives, families and communities.

Giving grassroots members the platform to influence and lead policy development is vital. Instruments like the National Policy Forum are a good start. Each State/Territory has a different method of electing their rank-and-file representatives. Each State/Territory is responsible for notifying their members about that process. I believe LEAN should work to get their members elected onto the Forum.

We also need to do a few practical things. Just like we do in campaigning – the ALP needs to set out a clear training program to be available for all members in policy development.  

As President, I will bring together the right people, with skills and experience in policy development and training delivery to produce a program that can be rolled out across the country and sustained over time.

The training program should cover 3 phases in influencing policy in the ALP.

Phase One: Informational – understanding the party structure

Our members need to understand the party structure and rules. Each State/Territory’s policy forums and policy committees fit differently into their structures. Information sessions should provide guidance on how motions are dealt with, where and when debate can occur, where the power structures lie and what instruments are available to members to influence decision makers.

Phase Two: Issue based and policy development

There’s a role that the party needs to play in skilling up members in policy development. Ideas are and should always be welcome, but thinking more deeply about the budget and community implications of those ideas is a vital component of policy development. There are many existing policy development courses to draw from.

Phase Three: Advocacy and organisational development

Non-Government organisations provide a lot of training to their members about how to lobby MPs and Ministers. Community organising has delivered Labor victories in Queensland and Victoria Advocacy training is a natural extension of the community organising campaign model adopted by the Victoria and Queensland Labor Parties. Advocacy training provides more complex skills in clearly articulating community challenges, outlining benefits of policy proposals and seeking commitment / building on existing commitment.

Henry Pinskier

Henry PinskierQ1. How will you support the opening up of the party to give a greater say to grassroots ALP members and enable groups like LEAN and its membership to influence and be involved in policy development in Government and party processes?

The Labor Party is made up of many different groups that have specific interests as well as general interests in which members can participate. As a membership Party the primacy of the member - the grassroots rank and file member - is vital and democracy within the Party needs to capture that. Hence my strong view that a members vote needs to be more than 50 % and hence my view that the way to move that forward is for union members to exercise the votes of the Union bloc - a big reform.

The direct election of National Conference delegates by the members is a second big reform.

That members have a vote in all preselections lower and upper with minimal central executive intervention opportunity is the 3rd significant reform.

Groups like LEAN advocating for policy development, new policies, improved process within the ALP  clearly allow Party members across the electorates within and across the states - particular via online means - to broaden debate on issues to the betterment of the Party and to the betterment of national debate and policies for the Australian community and wider. of engage in These activities feed into the formal State and National  policy conference process whether via direct submission, branch resolution etc.

Having direct elections to National Conference as with State conference delegates adds to and increases the opportunities for advocates of certain policy processes to get those enacted as Party policy if they achieve the strength on the floor through being directly elected.

Q2. What will you do as President to ensure that the ALP is the leading party in Australia on environmental policy and that the environment becomes a central pillar of the ALPs vision for Australia?

The Parliamentary Leader together with the Leaders team is the mouthpiece for the Australian Labor Party to the public in terms of all policy on the back of the agreed National Platform coming from National Conference. On that point we need to be very clear. And the Party President should never seek to be an alternative source of view in the public domain.

The National ALP President serves to assist, promote and encourage all organs and groups within the Party to pursue the Party's objectives via the Parliamentary team and to ensure that the ALP organisationally is functioning at its optimum.

In relation to the environment the ALP membership is entitled to expect and see that the ALP National President is strongly committed to strong environmental policies that seek to enhance and preserve and repair environmental damage caused by human activity, properly take into account the effects on the environment in relation to all policy development be that carbon pollution reduction, be that species preservation, be that energy efficiency, development activities and social policy formulation for health, housing and work with and assist those that seek to promote strong environmental policies within the Party.

As Party President through different forums reaching out to younger generations is vital and selling the Party's Labor message on the environment but also listening to and understanding and taking feedback on new ways, new approaches that can add to positive environmental outcomes that can be fed into the ongoing policy development process.

The Party's environmental vision must be clear and principled and deliverable in the short term and medium term so that the Australian public can be brought along.

Louise Pratt

Louise PrattQ1. How will you support the opening up of the party to give a greater say to grassroots ALP members and enable groups like LEAN and its membership to influence and be involved in policy development in Government and party processes?

There is a great deal of important expertise in our party and strongly held views based on important principles. There is a need to give party members not only influence over our platform – but also a role in working hand in hand with parliamentarians, caucus committees and Minster/shadow Ministers in developing and critiquing policy.

If elected president I will develop in liaison with LEAN and other party members a motion to be moved at national executive or conference that commits caucus committees in conjunction with the relevant Minister/Shadow Minister to working with Party members. This initiative could include:

-        Holding three times a year a teleconference that invites party members to have a direct dialogue with Ministers and caucus committees

-        Enabling policy dialogue and discussion with Ministers in closed online discussion forums

-        An invitation to party members to submit policy ideas

-        Inviting groups and committees of party members to work with caucus committees and Ministers

-        Internet poll of party members on key policy questions to collect their views

-        Asking caucus and cabinet/shadow cabinet to develop and report on a party engagement program.

Q2. What will you do as President to ensure that the ALP is the leading party in Australia on environmental policy and that the environment becomes a central pillar of the ALPs vision for Australia?

-       As president I will support strong environmental policy that recognises ecologically sustainable development principles and be a voice that can support the views of party members when raising issues with Ministers and MPs

-       In addition I will be a voice for lean on the national executive and seek to lead or party to do the following things:

-       Support LEAN activists to deepen their connections with Australia’s environmental networks.

-       Work with our party organisation to introduce a nationwide membership system that enables people to register their membership to LEAN.

-       Work with the party organisation to ensure there is the capacity for LEAN to be able to rapidly inform members of events, rallys and policy forums.  

-       Work with the party to ensure that party members have the information they need to promote Labor’s enormous environmental legacy. 

 

Jane Garrett

Jane GarrettQ1. How will you support the opening up of the party to give a greater say to grassroots ALP members and enable groups like LEAN and its membership to influence and be involved in policy development in Government and party processes?

I nominated for National President because I want to be a voice for membersat all levels of the party.  LEAN is a key part of labor with a strong voice which highlights the issues that are so significant to our nation.

I want to ensure that the advocacy of Lean is a model to show the way for other members to participate in the national debates where we must lead.

I spoke at the opening of the LEAN 2014 National Conference in Melbourne, where I saw first hand the passion and energy of these committed Labor members. I am proud that Lean has been very active in my electorate of Brunswick. At street stalls I have been grateful for the support offered to me by LEAN members who have consistently communicated with the community about pressing and important environmental issues. Leaders in the Labor party must support and champion groups like LEAN, I believe my track record speaks for itself and if elected National President I will continue to support LEAN in everyway possible.     

The passion and the drive behind LEAN is something the party can be proud to share and develop as we shape policies that will change our future as a nation.

If I am elected national president, I will work to ensure that the Lean voice carries the weight it deserves.

Q2. What will you do as President to ensure that the ALP is the leading party in Australia on environmental policy and that the environment becomes a central pillar of the ALPs vision for Australia?

Labor has a proud history of environmental protection, to name just a few initiatives which have changed our country, Labor saved the Franklin river from being dammed, Labor protected the Daintree, Kakadu and the Tasmanian World Heritage Area.

The pricing of carbon and renewable energy are vital for Australia. This country is one of the best positioned countries in the world to take advantage of renewable energy generation, and this will ensure a reduction in our carbon emissions and continue to create jobs in the construction of these projects.

There are many challenges ahead and this is why we plan to deliver further environmental protections for future generations. We have a responsibility to tackle these issues because we can deliver where other party’s cannot. It is not enough to talk about the environment or pronounce grand plans with no concept of implementation. It is only Labor that will make it happen.

If elected National President I will be a strong voice for the creation and implementation of environmental policy and ensuring that as a party we are brave enough to have the conversations we need to have.

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