NSW Young Labor Vice-President Casey Thompson reports from Australian Young Labor Conference in Canberra:
Young Labor members from around Australia came together in Canberra in early September for the annual Australian Young Labor (AYL) Conference.
Young Labor Left with Tanya Plibersek MP
The notorious AYL Conference is known for being the place the Young Right makes the greatest mockery of our movement. In the past, motions have been put on which state’s beer sizes reign supreme. Many of the motions brought this year were very similar, however, National Secretariat, realising the embarrassment this could cause the party a week out from a crucial by-election, instructed the Young Right to remove their attempt at humour from the conference. The Left welcomed this intervention.
The National Young Left returned to conference this year, after walking off floor in 2014 and holding an alternative policy-driven conference, in the hope of discussing serious policy and building Young Labor ahead of the 2016 federal election. The policy booklet this year was more serious but sadly the same cannot be said for all sections of the conference.
Whilst chapters like the women’s debate were taken seriously and the Left’s proposal of 50% Affirmative Action was agreed to, many first time Left speakers were drowned out by the noise of the delegates sitting on the Right. Many LGBTIQ Left speakers had it implied they were homophobic when arguing for a binding vote on marriage equality as this was a different viewpoint to the LGBTIQ speakers from the Young Right.
The National Young Left’s calls for democratisation of our youth wing were shouted down and laughed at – the proposal that the AYL president should be directly elected in the same way as the national parliamentary leader and the national party president was considered farcical by the Young Right.
Why give up so much power? Because if you’re in the Labor Party for the people the Labor Party serves, the working families of Australia, struggling students, women, LGBTIQ peoples, culturally and linguistically diverse people, then you see how opening up our organisation helps them. Not only does it empower them to participate in our organisation but it encourages everyone that believes in equality to join.
Currently AYL is undemocratic and exclusive, very few get to say they’re privy to the backroom deals of the ruling clique. If we give people a say in our party, if we give people a say in the leadership of our party, they can more clearly see the benefit of joining and being a part of our movement. Why join a party that doesn’t want to listen to what you have to say?
Young Labor Left will be keeping up the fight to grow and reform Australian Young Labor to make sure that our national youth wing is the vibrant and successful organisation we need to challenge the Liberals at the next election