Australian Young Labor Needs To Change

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National Young Labor Left took action at this year’s Australian Young Labor (AYL) Conference to shine a light on the most dysfunctional unit of the ALP.

AYL is in desperate need of cultural and structural reform to make the organisation relevant to its members and a valuable part of the Labor Party.

There is absolutely no purpose to the vacuous and moribund ‘debates’ that occur at AYL conference. The policy platform does not go anywhere and it is not used to activate the movement or lobby for political change. 

AYL should be a publicly visible movement that engages Australian youth on a national level and encourages the participation of all of its members.

Instead a random selection of the favoured few meet once a year to brag about which sub-faction’s senior party leader is the greatest person ever to grace our good earth.

This seriously damages the party. It teaches young members the very worst aspects of political game playing – debased factional warfare with no policy-based purpose.

For many years now the Left has sought to change this culture in AYL. We want AYL to be open, transparent, democratic, and relevant. Through a process of consultation National Young Labor Left has developed an alternative agenda for the youth of our party.

We presented the AYL Executive with our concrete set of proposals for change, the core components being:

  • Ballots for all executive and office bearer positions to be open to all members nation-wide using the principle of 'One Member, One Vote'.
  • A complete revamp in the style, focus, structure, and discussions of AYL Conference, including serious policy forums with experts in the field, and engagement with the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party.  

The Left developed an alternative conference program to draw attention to the need for reform, and to make the conference weekend a relevant and useful experience for our members.

Our program was open to all and included workshops and seminars on homelessness, the role of government from cradle to grave, how to change minds on refugee policy, and the impact of cuts to our foreign aid budget.

To make the Labor Party a bigger, broader, more electorally engaged and competitive force, with policy ideas that will change the nation, we have to first change ourselves.

Becoming a mass-membership party with open and democratic structures will be a major focus of the 2015 National Conference. It is up to the Left to ensure reform of Australian Young Labor is part of these discussions.

Adam Clarke is the outgoing National Young Labor Left Co-Convenor and President of Tasmanian Young Labor


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  • commented 2014-04-22 17:13:33 +1000
    Shorten spoke today about making Labor relevant to young people. Reforming Young Labor would be a good place to start. Well said Adam, keep up the good work!