Labor's core mission of civilising capital and promoting equality of opportunity began in the late 19th century as a material vision, in which the spoils of hard work would be more equitably shared between labour and capital. This included not only fighting for decent working conditions and reducing income inequity but also collectively, as a society, providing opportunity and improving quality of life.
Today, like then, this most obviously includes providing access to good education and decent health care. Quality of life also relies on other 'common goods' such as a thriving cultural life, social housing, efficient public transport and so on. In the 2010s and beyond ensuring the environment is healthy - that the air is fit to breath, the climate able to protect us, our ecosystems continue to function – is a common good we must provide collectively. Labor's vision must be bigger than a crude material one, recognising our reliance on the natural world, both physically and spiritually.
This fits neatly in the prism of Labor's core values. Environmental decisions are rooted in social justice as it is inevitably the poor who pay most for environmental degradation. They impact economically as smart economies gear up to capitalise on the clean energy future. They have a patriotic face as the beauty of Australia's natural assets remain at the heart of our conception of ourselves and our pride in this place. And increasingly they are central to our survival. Human induced climate change threatens our future. Environmental systems collapse of many forms - including extinctions, water degradation, increasing toxicity - threatens life. The environmental imperative reaches beyond class, ethnicity and gender.
Labor importantly has an ethical tradition where things are fought for and defended just because they are right. Delivering protection for the environment is core business because it is the right thing to do.
Labor will not abandon building prosperity and social opportunity for Australians. It will remain committed to being a broad based party able to govern. It will remain committed to improving the life style and opportunities of the nation's most vulnerable. We are not a self satisfied, post-materialist party of the inner city.
Labor will never promise to close down every mine in Australia, but equally it must not allow un-checked destructive mining activity across the landscape. LEAN will be the voice for this path inside Labor. We will work to build alliances with civil society. We want to be proud of being part of a Labor party that strives to build a fair and comfortable Australia that defends and protects the environment.