George Simon is Secretary of the NSW Left
The 2017 Annual Conference has ended, and the Left has again shown we are the powerhouse of policy and ideas in the NSW Labor Party. The NSW Left led a number of significant reforms and victories in the debates of the 2017 Annual Conference.
First up was the Administrative Committee and Rules debates.
In the Admin Committee debate the Left led the way on reforms to get our party Campaign Ready, including improving transparency around the way funding is raised and spent, strong Federal anti-corruption measures, and better campaign readiness in party office for upcoming elections.
Sadly the Right voted against our proposal to focus on small-dollar donations from a wide range of Labor supporters to fund Labor's campaigns - meaning Labor will continue to rely on large, corporate, big-dollar donors who are pushing an agenda that is often anti-worker and anti-progressive, and ask them to fund our campaigns instead.
In the Rules debate it was clear once again that we still need to change the culture of the Party, with the Right voting down a Left motion that would have seen the State President directly elected through a vote of all members of the party - a clear step towards expanding and enhancing our internal democracy. The result was the same for the direct election of the President of Young Labor, a disappointing but unsurprising outcome.
These are democratic reforms the Left will not give up on, and we will fight until we win.
Left delegates from unions and beyond have been championing the We Won't Wait campaign for 10 days of domestic violence leave - and Conference passed the motion unanimously. We should all be enormously proud of the work of our comrades on this crucial workplace reform. We also won commitment for Labor to take real action on closing the gender pay gap and a range of reforms to pursue equality for women in the workplace.
The Left has been at the forefront of supporting and celebrating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, and we had a terrific win at Conference: the next Labor Government will work with Indigenous communities and unions to create a new public holiday to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage.
In the Health debate pushed back late into the afternoon on Saturday, the Left led the way on implementing safe access zones around abortion clinics in NSW to stop the harassment of women, and committing Labor to properly fund not-for-profit women's health centres for women and children in local communities.
Left delegates then argued passionately and powerfully on the only motion of the day that was forced into a hand count - to ban gay conversion therapy in NSW. This abhorrent industry of suffering has slipped under the radar for too long - yet the Right called our motion to ban the practice "posturing" and forced an amendment to investigate various options instead of an outright ban.
Shame, comrades. Shame.
On foreign affairs, on an issue the Left has pursued and fought for over many years, we won the debate and committed to recognising the state of Palestine.
In a lengthy Education and Skills debate, the Left scored a hard-fought win for commitment to ensure the recently-axed Safe Schools anti-bullying program will be replaced with a framework that acknowledges the importance of support for bullied LGBTIQ students who are at increased risk of suicide and experiencing mental health issues.
The Right shamefully voted down the Left's sensible amendment that scripture classes in NSW schools be held outside of classroom teaching time to ensure this time is focused on syllabus content for all students.
In the Economics chapter the Left succeeded in inserting the objective of combating inequality into the Platform of the party and won unanimous support for the Left's motion hailing the death of neoliberalism and pressing for the redistribution of economic power.
Our Country Labor team pushed the fight for democracy in Country Labor and highlighted party office's failure to properly resource country members and regional campaigns that we need to help us win those parts of the state Labor will need to win government in 2019.
We maintained 8 out of 18 members on the Admin Committee and 3 out of the 9 on the Rules Committee.
We are proud to announce the election of Tim Gartrell to Junior Vice-President, and thank our candidates for President, Emma Maiden, and Senior Vice-President, Michelle Miran, for representing the NSW Left proudly in the ballot, and congratulate our candidates elected to the Administrative and Rules committees.
Finally, we must give thanks to so many comrades: our committed Left delegates on the Conference floor, our inspiring speakers (who wiped the floor with the Right) and tireless whips, the leadership shown by our Executive members, our unwavering volunteers and credentialling team especially from the Young Left, our social media and communications gurus, and of course the policy and negotiating team who dealt with the last-minute manoeuvres and antics from the Right with class and determination. You did us all proud!
Over the weekend, we saw significant battles and solid wins for the Left. There is always more to do and we will keep fighting and leading the policy debate for a Labor Party - let's refresh and return even more energised to keep our party focused on equality, social justice, and democracy.