On the same day the NSW Labor Conference voted to do away with our party’s socialist objective, the Tasmanian Labor Conference unanimously supported this motion:
Conference recognises the Australian Labor Party’s socialist objective as the great ideal from which our movement draws its common purpose.
Conference notes the practical incarnation of this objective has changed throughout the decades and that it will continue to evolve.
Conference understands our socialist objective to mean that Labor will use the tool of government to eliminate the anti-social features of capitalism through a practical legislative agenda. We recognise the deficiencies of the private sector and openly champion the great things we can achieve collectively through the public sector.
Our objective means we support the role of the state in managing the economic cycle to support full-employment, a more equal distribution of wealth, and fairness in the operation of our markets.
Conference believes our objective enshrines us a party of ‘labour’ and binds us in solidarity with our sister parties through our membership of the Socialist International.
In moving the motion I spoke about what our objective says about the enduring values of our Party.
Our objective reads:
“The Australian Labor Party is a democratic socialist party and has the objective of the democratic socialisation of industry, production, distribution and exchange, to the extent necessary to eliminate exploitation and other anti-social features in these fields.”
These are the defining words of the core objective of the Australian Labor Party as outlined by Chapter 1 of our National Platform.
Not exactly modern language, but it represents something powerful and important.
This is the great ideal from which our movement draws its common purpose.
Our party was established to pursue a radical objective; to transfer power and opportunity from the privileged to the masses, to enhance equity, and spread social cooperation.
The pursuit of this radical cause has always meant that we face stiff opposition from the entrenched forces of the status quo.
But that does not mean we should shirk from the challenge of pursuing the great cause of our movement.
We are socialists. And we should be proud of that fact.
Our socialist objective means that we are sensible enough to recognise that blindly pursuing ‘competition’ and ‘free-market’ solutions to our problems will not create the better society we all desire.
It means that we believe every citizen should have equal access to the very best comprehensive, free, publicly funded health and education services from cradle to grave.
Our objective means we recognise the deficiencies of the private sector and openly champion the great things that we can achieve collectively through the public sector.
We believe in a more equal distribution of the tax burden - away from wage-earners and towards capital and inherited wealth.
We support regulation of our financial system, true competition, and real fairness in the operation of our markets.
We recognise the fundamental role of the state in managing the economic cycle to support full-employment.
We know that when private economic demand falls the state must step in to boost aggregate demand, and when the good times come the state can step back and consolidate its fiscal position.
However, far too often our political representatives fall for the right-wing dogma of business-oriented advisers with devastating consequences for our longer-term budget, our economy, and employment.
The great objective of socialism is one that has changed throughout the decades, but it is one that we cannot afford to abandon.
It is at the core of who we are. It binds us in eternal solidarity with our brothers and sisters around the world in labour, social democratic, and democratic socialist parties.
It’s what keeps us from being just another party of the centre that stands for very little other than that we’re not as crazy and cruel as our counter-party of the right.
It’s what makes us a party of ‘labour’.
In the 21st century we must ensure we are regarded as the party of social progress and economic equity. We must be the party that fights the scourge of discrimination and advances the cause of the disadvantaged and the dispossessed.
We must never support the removal of ‘socialism’ from our objective.
To be a unionist is to be a socialist. The two are utterly inseparable.
Socialism is everything and anything we have ever stood for and it must continue to define our bold and urgent mission as a force for social and economic change.
We should be proud that Tasmanian Labor will stand resolute in our firm commitment to our socialist objective, even while in other places other elements of our party seek to dismantle it.
At next year’s National Conference Tasmanian delegates will carry the flame of comrade Ben Chifley’s ‘Light on the Hill’ and continue the march ever-forward to socialism.
Adam Clarke is President of Tasmanian Young Labor and a member of the National Policy Forum.