Jacqueline King, QLD Left Branch Convenor, reports for Challenge from the QLD Labor State Conference
From just seven, then nine members of Parliament, to forty-three in less than one full term, Queensland ALP members celebrated an almost unlikely victory at this year’s State Conference, our first real get together since the January poll.
With major commitments early in the piece by our Leader and now Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to no asset sales and no surprises, Queenslanders voted resoundingly for a middle of the road Government. And a steady, middle of the road Government is what they will get, with sensible and progressive policies.
Party members also voted overwhelmingly for this new era, with activists and community people helping to win two by-elections during our time in Opposition, and our membership rapidly increasing to almost 10,000.
Against this backdrop, 2015 was the second year the Left held the numbers for the Queensland State Conference. But it was the first year we enjoyed a decisive victory with the confidence and surety of being in Government and being in control.
With the Left holding half of the newly elected state caucus and Cabinet, and 50.25% of State Conference delegates, we ensured that our candidates Evan Moorhead and Dick Williams were elected as the Queensland Secretary and President.
On the policy front there were also major wins, including:
- Commitments to protect public sector jobs and services within Queensland Health and the TAFE system
- A commitment to end the sentencing of 17 year olds to adult prisons from 2019
- Commitments to 50:50 renewable energy targets
- Suicide prevention and mental health reforms
- Strengthening the rights and removing discrimination against transgender people
- Restoring funding to the Qld Aids Council
- Providing greater recognition of New Zealand citizens who are Australian residents, and
- Reaffirming Labor’s commitment to ending sandmining on North Stradbroke Island in 2019 with a $20 million economic redevelopment and jobs plan for Toondah Harbour
The Left have been longstanding champions of rules reform on the side of empowering and enfranchising branch members, successfully winning the direct election of the State Leader and Senate candidates’ rule changes in 2014. This year, the Left had further changes we wanted to see.
50% Representation for State Conference Branch Delegates:
The first major change we championed was the removal of the previous gerrymandering of our branch member delegations to Conference, which had included up to 18 non-elected ex-officio voting delegates.
The removal of the voting rights of these 18 ex-officio delegates, but not from policy or administrative matters, means there will now be an additional 18 elected branch positions to the Conference, and branch members will be truly equally represented by 212 delegates alongside the existing 212 union delegates.
Significantly, nine of these new delegates must be people aged under 26 and elected from the rank and file, and the remainder will also see additional women delegates.
Further reforms will see Rainbow Labor and the Indigenous Reference Group given voting rights and representation at the State Conference, and all elected executive members of these party organisations, as well as Labor Womens’ and Young Labor will also have speaking rights at each State Conference.
Following on from this year’s National Conference highlight for 50% Affirmative Action rule changes, the Qld Conference unanimously adopted the 50% AA rules within the state rules.
A further resolution was passed to ensure the Rules Committee will provide a report to the next Conference along with the indigenous reference group, on how the Queensland branch will implement the 5% indigenous quota for public office pre-selections from 2016.
National Conference Delegates:
Also in line with the recent ALP National Conference decision for branches to introduce a direct election model for national conference delegates, the Queensland branch adopted rule changes to ensure proportional representation ballots for National Conference delegates across four (4) zones in Queensland.
These ballots will be underpinned by the principle of one vote: one value elections, and will also ensure proper regional representation.
Branch and union delegates to national conference will be elected on the basis of 50% each, with the union delegation to National Conference determined by affiliated unions in accordance with their representation.
All in all a pretty significant Conference for Queensland.