Amy Blitvich reports in from the WA State Labor Conference on behalf of Challenge:
It has been a busy few months here in WA. Coming off a great progressive National Conference, we went straight into a Prime Minister changing Canning By-Election meaning many activists here in the West haven’t had much time for anything. Somehow in August, we snuck in our WA State Conference where once again the WA Left set the agenda for the Party in the lead up to our 2017 State Election.
As a Left in WA, one of the aims of our conference was to prioritise the participation of rank and file branch and Union members in the debates on the floor. It is a point of pride in our state that our Union delegations and directly elected delegates to Conference come from the shop floor and the community, not just the ranks of our elected members.
So when someone gets up to talk about penalty rates, its someone who makes ends meet week to week because of penalty rates. When we talk about privatisation, the conversation is led by cleaners and education assistants and PCAs who have to live with the consequences. We have wharfies and boilermakers and construction workers explaining about how devastating provisions in the TPP will be. And it is our young women, people of colour and LGBT activists leading the way on issues that matter to them.
From a policy point of view, it was the Left that brought their A Game. Some of the highlights from the conference were:
- Supporting the West Australian ship building industry
- A commitment in our platform to champion the ACTUs Build a Better Future campaign
- Further strengthening of our anti-Privatisation positions on Government Services
- Better services and support for people with Disabilities
- Opposition to CHAFTA and the TPP
- A focus on housing affordability and investing in public housing stocks
- A moratorium on fracking to give certainty to communities affected
- Removing historical convictions relating to consensual homosexual acts and allowing family members to move for those who are deceased
- Condemnation of the Federal and State Government’s attacks on Public Servants
Two stand out moments of conference came from women talking about the effect that domestic violence had on them and their families. Following on from Joe McDonald’s speech at National Conference, these two speeches laid out in no uncertain terms that we still have a long way to go in Australian tackling violence against women.
In terms of rules, the Left once again did the hard yards to make sure important reforms were made to Party Structures.
Our proudest achievement was changes to Affirmative Action. After National Conference adopted a WA style AA system, we went a step further and enshrined an accelerated implementation timeline so that at least 45% of candidates will be women by 2017 and 50% by 2021.
We also implemented the 5% target for Indigenous representation – a target we already exceed in our State Parliament.
Alongside all this hard work, WA Labor made 6000 calls to voters in Canning – an amazing effort by delegates and volunteers across all groups.
As a Left, we are very proud of the work we have put into our platform and rules over the last few conferences. As we have seen in Victoria and Queensland, a strong progressive policy and Party structure can win elections. In WA, we can’t wait to add our names to that list.