Young Labor Can't Hide From Reform

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AS LABOR GRAPPLES WITH THE NEED FOR URGENT REFORM, ONE SECTION OF THE PARTY REMAINS MIRED IN THE SELF- INDULGENT PAST.

Young Labor is now the most dysfunctional unit of the ALP. Dominated by junior cheerleaders for various sub-factions, the under-26 wing of the Party has failed to drive policy or to connect with the best minds of Australia’s youth.

If the future leaders of Australian politics look elsewhere for inspiration, who can blame them.

In recent years Young Labor has had little to say or contribute as the wider Party faces challenges that go to the heart of our movement.

That is why National Young Labor Left took action at this year’s Australian Young Labor (AYL) Conference to shine a light on the moribund youth group.

Young Labor desperately needs cultural and structural reform. Vacuous ‘debates’ at AYL conference serve no purpose. The policy platform is directionless and fails to activate the movement or press for change.

AYL should be a dynamic, inspirational public movement that engages Australian youth. Instead the favoured few meet annually to brag about which sub-faction’s senior Party leader is the greatest. This damages the party by training young members in debased factional warfare with no policy focus.

The Left has long sought to change this culture. We want Young Labor to be open, democratic and relevant. National Young Labor Left presented the Young Labor Executive with concrete proposals for change, including:

  • One Member, One Vote: ballots for all executive and office bearer positions to be open to all members nationwide.
  • A complete revamp in the style, focus and structure of Young Labor Conference; we need serious policy forums with experts in the field, and engagement with the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party.

The Left organised an alternative conference program to draw attention to the need for reform – and to make the conference weekend a useful experience for our members. Our program, open to all, included 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.

The Labor Party needs to be a bigger, broader, more electorally engaged and competitive force, with policy ideas to change the nation. That will be a major focus of the 2015 National Conference. The Left is determined to ensure that reform of Young Labor is part of that discussion. 


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