In her first address to ACT Labor conference, National President Jenny McAllister has urged delegates to keep up the momentum for party reform, describing the increased involvement of the membership as “crucial to our survival.”
President McAllister’s speech provided an update to ACT delegates on the progress of the reform agenda following last year’s ALP National Conference.
“One of the most personally satisfying decisions at the conference from my perspective was the creation of a serious forum for policy debate – the National Policy Forum,” Ms McAllister said.
“This forum is potentially a game changer in the culture of our organisation.
“We need forums where we can turn ideas over a little more carefully. We need forums where original thinkers are valued. And we need better ways of aligning the views of our affiliates members and MPs,” she said.
Ms McAllister reminded delegates of the crucial role played by Prime Minister Julia Gillard in setting a target for the recruitment of new members to renew the party.
“Sometimes we forget how far we’ve come,” Ms McAllister said.
“Two years ago the basic idea that we should grow was not generally accepted.
“Since the conference, almost every meeting of the National Executive has involved a discussion about reform and member recruitment and retention.
“The simple act of deciding to grow – and hold ourselves accountable for growth – has already produced some change in focus,” she said.
Good time to branch out?
Widespread public suspicion of traditional institutions, a fragmented media and a general lack of engagement could actually represent an opportunity for Labor, suggested Ms McAllister.
“A group of real people embedded in a local community has the potential to be a powerful antidote to cynicism and isolation.
“It also has the potential to be a powerful channel for ideas and perspectives that to date have not been welcome in the broadcast media,” she said.
More to do
“We won some important reforms at the last conference. Its important that we see them implemented, and we implement them well,” Ms McAllister said.
“It’s also important we keep asserting a positive vision for the party that has members and affiliates’ members at the centre,” she said.