Crikey’s Labor Party insider Rev Cleophus James has come through with the goods with the complete report from the NSW Admin Committee’s December 7 meeting. This provides a good insight into the way they think, how the organisation is run centrally and the influence of the union movement. Bob Carr needs to really get moving with those promised deft retirements if Anne Purcell’s report is any indication of how they’re thinking in the much-diminished NSW branch.
2. FEDERAL ELECTION 2001 REPORT
This election was extremely difficult for the NSW Branch and the end result was obviously disappointing. Importantly the Party was able to avoid the loss of numerous held seats in NSW which was a real possibility at the outset of the campaign.
Beginning with the 1996 election loss the Party in NSW has constantly lagged behind the rest of the country in terms of ALP primary and two party preferred votes. It has been extremely difficult to get sustained momentum in key areas of the State. The Federal Parliamentary leadership found it very difficult to find traction in New South Wales.
Reasons for this can be attributed to the strength of the New South Wales economy which lessened the impact of the GST in many areas and the fact that this is John Howard’s home State.
While the causes of the election loss will be discussed and analysed by the Election Review Committee, the effect of the Tampa and the events of September 11, and the subsequent war on terrorism, cannot be underestimated.
There is no doubt that John Howard’s ploy of attracting One Nation voters by exploiting the Tampa issue worked.
The NSW and National results show that the swing to the Coalition on Primary figures was almost equal to the swing against One Nation. In NSW there was a 4.4% swing to the Coalition while One Nation’s vote dropped by 4.2%.
Two Party Preferred Vote
The Two Party Preferred vote in NSW was 47.9%, and while this is a disappointing result given the national average of 49%, it’s still well above Labor’s Two Party vote in Queensland (45.3%) and SA (45.9%).
Swing against the ALP
The swing against the ALP in NSW was 3.68%, but this was mainly as a result of large swings against the ALP in its safe seats.
Positively, in NSW Target seats the swing against the ALP was only approximately 1%, which demonstrates the effectiveness of our targeted seats campaign.
There were a number of outstanding Labor candidates particularly in marginal seats. All our candidates were a credit to our organisation. The hard work of these candidates helped ensure that swings in NSW targeted seats were well under the average swing to the Coalition for this State.
Promisingly for the Party, a number of unsuccessful candidates in marginal seats are local government Mayors and Councillors who will continue to maintain high profiles in the lead up to the next election.
While there is always pressure to preselect candidates extremely early in the election cycle, there is little point in doing so if the Party and branch resources are not sufficiently available to support these candidates.
The trend to have candidates in the field for extremely long periods of time can also lead to their burning out and be counter productive.
Branches and Volunteers
In this election Party members and volunteers remained the great strength of the NSW Branch.
Unlike the Liberal and National Parties NSW Labor was able to staff every booth in NSW with voluntary Party members. Anecdotally the Liberals had great difficulty in staffing their polling booths in Western and Southern Sydney, for example many polling booths in the seat of Prospect were unstaffed by the Liberals.
The Party’s campaign training is now the most professional and advanced in the country and this training must be expanded to as many Party members as possible to increase their skills and campaign knowledge.
Union Movement Contribution
The union movements’ role in the campaign was outstanding. Organised by the NSW Labor Council, unions provided vital assistance to grassroots campaigns. This assistance helped close marginal seat campaigns defeat their conservative opponents, especially in the last week of the campaign. The Labor Council and wider union movement should be thanked for their hard work and commitment.
One of the more promising aspects of the campaign was the success of the Campaign Insight Program. Starting in 2000 the Party put in place a campaign training program for young activists, the program included a residential weekend and in house campaign training one day a week. The courses aim was to prepare young activists for senior campaign roles.
During the election, Campaign Insight graduates were sent into marginal seats as campaign directors and did a remarkable job. There is no doubt that the program should be continued and offered in a different form to all Party members. Two day Campaign Insight seminars should be held regularly in country areas.
Federal Campaign Review
Clearly election campaigns have become more difficult to prosecute given the cynicism in the electorate. The great challenge for the Election Review is to analyse the reasons for the long term decline in the Party’s federal primary vote, especially in the outer fringe of Sydney and in strong Labor regions such as Newcastle and the Illawarra.
3. 2001 ELECTION REVIEW
As a consequence of our election defeat it is appropriate for the New South Wales Branch to conduct an extensive review of the federal election campaign in New South Wales.
The Officers have determined that the Committee be Chaired by former Premier, Neville Wran, and consist of the General Secretary or his proxy and the following members nominated by the Administrative Committee: Ursula Stevens, Morris Iemma, Faye Lo Po, Shane Easson, Janice Kershaw, John Robertson, Jan Primrose, Jeff Shaw, Luke Foley, Annie Owens and John Birch.
The Committee will be assisted by the Assistant General Secretaries.
It is envisaged the Wran Review Committee will take written submissions from rank and file members, Party units, candidates and campaign teams, sitting MP’s, affiliated and non-affiliated unions, and community groups.
The Committee will also conduct open Party forums (no media) throughout Sydney and regional New South Wales for interested Party members.
The goals of the Committee of Review are:
* to identify and analyse contributing factors for the federal election result in New South Wales;
* an evaluation of the organisational performance of the New South Wales Branch; * to consider if demographic changes have impacted on long term performance of the Party in New South Wales;
* find ways to improve the performance of the Party at the next State and Federal elections;
* to assess the impact of federal policies on the New South Wales election result.
The Committee will present an interim report to the April 2002 Administrative Committee with the final report to go to the May Annual Conference.
4. ADMINSTRATIVE COMMITTEE RESOLUTION REGARDING THE UNION MOVEMENT
The New South Wales Administrative Committee notes that after two election defeats it is appropriate for the Labor Party to engage in a period of self-examination.
However the New South Wales Administrative Committee is dissappointed that a number of federal MP’s have chosen to focus almost exclusively on the relationship between the ALP and the labour movement and conduct an ill informed debate through the media on this historical relationship.
The New South Wales Administrative Committee acknowledges the vital assistance the labour movement gave the Party throughout the election campaign both in financial and personal support.
The New South Wales Branch has always enjoyed a close and valuable relationship with the New South Wales labour movement.
This close working relationship has contributed strongly to our electoral success over the last 110 years and especially the success of the Carr Labor government.
The Administrative Committee acknowledges that it is appropriate that from time to time the historical relationship between the ALP and the labour movement will evolve over time and be subject to scrutiny.
The Administrative Committee believes such debate should take place within the Party and through appropriate Party forums and not be conducted through the media.
This resolution was carried unanimously by the Administrative Committee.
5. LEADER’S SYDNEY VISIT
Following his election as Leader, Simon Crean made a well publicised and successful visit to meet voters. The Party office co-ordinated the visit with the offices of Mark Latham, Faye Lo Po, Frank Mossfield and Senator Hutchins’ office.
6. MAY Annual Conference MAY 25th and 26th 2002
If the Annual Conference were held in October 2002 some 2 years would have elapsed since the last Annual Conference. The 2002 Annual Conference will therefore be moved forward and held on the weekend of the 25th and 26th of May 2002, due to the unavailability of Town Hall on the June long weekend. The Conference will run for two days only. The Conference will feature extended hours and no extensions of time for speakers.
Annual Conference Timetable a) Agenda Items for Policy Committees
Close of agenda items from Branches, SEC’s, FEC’s and Affiliated Unions:
5.00pm, Friday, 1st March 2002.
b) Policy Committee Reports
Last date for submission of Policy Committee Reports: 5.00pm, Friday, 5th April 2002.
c) Nominations for Life Membership
The last date for submission of nominations for Life Membership is: 5.00pm, Friday, 22nd February 2002.
7. COUNTRY CONFERENCE
The holding of the Annual Conference in May requires the moving of the Country Conference to September. Country Conference dates will be set by the Officers’ in consultation with the Country Labor Committee.
8. COMMITTEE VACANCY
A vacancy has occurred on the Indigenous People & Reconciliation Policy Committee due to the passing of Pat Dixon. The position will be filled in accordance with the provisions of proportional representation.
9. YOUNG LABOR CONFERENCES
Young Labor’s request to move forward the Young Labor Conferences was approved. Below are the proposed dates for the 2002 Young Labor Conferences:
Saturday, 11th May & Sunday, 12th May 2002
Close of Agenda Items: 5.00pm, Friday, 19th April 2002, at Level 9, 377 Sussex Street, Sydney, with the NSW Young Labor Agenda Committee Convenor, at the Australian Labor Party (NSW Branch).
Close of Credentials: 12.00noon, Friday, 19th April 2002, at Level 9, 377 Sussex Street, Sydney, with the General Secretary, Australian Labor Party (NSW Branch).
Close of Challenges: 12.00noon, Friday, 26th April 2002, at Level 9, 377 Sussex Street, Sydney, with the General Secretary, Australian Labor Party (NSW Branch).
Close of Nominations: 12.00noon, Friday, 26th April 2002, at Level 9, 377 Sussex Street, Sydney, with the General Secretary, Australian Labor Party (NSW Branch).
Young Labor Rural & Regional Conference
The Young Labor Rural & Regional Conference will be held on Sunday, 25th August 2002. The Mid-Year Conference will be cancelled.
10. POSTPONED AGM’s FEC/SEC/Local Government Committees
a) The Party Officers’ have agreed that outstanding AGM’s for all Party Units, that were postponed when the Party went on campaign footing, will not be conducted until April 2002. In the meantime, FEC’s, SEC’s and Local Government Committees can meet as per normal with their current delegates from year 2000. Any delegates requiring replacement can do so as a casual vacancy.
b) Wollongong SEC will also be reformed in April 2002.
11. CAMPAIGN INSIGHT
Following the success of the inaugural program, Campaign Insight will resume in February 2002. Communications Officer Joanna Woods will be assisted by trainers Verity Firth, Emma Murphy and Mandy Gibbens. Applications must be on the official form which can be obtained from the Party Office on (02) 9207 2000.
12. WOMEN’S FORUM MENTORING PROGRAM HUNTER TRIAL
The Women’s Mentoring Program is a pilot to be delivered with a combination of individual projects, case studies, guest speakers and panel discussions during one day seminars held monthly and run over a 6-month period in the Hunter Region. The program aims to achieve a number of objectives:
* To facilitate cultural change within the ALP at a ‘grass roots’ level by empowering and encouraging women to actively participate in the party units (Branch, FEC, SEC).
* To encourage female members to pursue executive positions or delegates positions within the Party structure.
* To increase female membership in the ALP by providing positive role models.
* To assist in encouraging an increase in the number of female members who put themselves forward for preselection.
* To assist in increasing the number of female elected representatives.
After an assessment of the pilot program, it is planned that the format could be adapted to be run in any region of NSW.
Women’s Forum has received ‘in principle’ support from the Administrative Committee for this proposal. The Women’s Forum will now submit a detailed course program, communication strategy and budget to demonstrate relevant course content, structure, professional support and resourcing.
13. TRUE BELIEVERS
As reported prior to the election, one of the recommendations of the Party’s convened Membership Committee was to run a supporters club during the Federal Campaign. The Party placed advertisements in the Sydney Morning Herald, the Daily Telegraph and on our Internet site, inviting people to join the True Believers Club.
Overall, the Club was a great success and we now plan to invite the members to a function at Parliament House hosted by the Premier on the 30th January 2002. We will also be inviting new members to this function.
14. ADMINISTRATIVE COMMITTEE MEETING DATES
Below are the proposed Administrative Committee meeting dates for 2002.
Friday, 1st February 2002
Friday, 1st March 2002
Friday, 5th April 2002
Friday, 3rd May 2002
Friday, 7th June 2002
Friday, 5th July 2002
Friday, 2nd August 2002
Friday, 6th September 2002
Friday, 4th October 2002
Friday, 1st November 2002
Friday, 6th December 2002
15. JOHNO JOHNSON TRIBUTE DINNER
A tribute dinner for Johno Johnson will be held on the 21st February 2002, at the AJC Function Centre. Invitations will be posted this month.
The ALP (NSW Branch) Office will close down on Friday, 21st December 2001 and re-open on Monday, 14th January 2002.
Disclosure: please don’t think we’re firing up on the Labor Party because Senator Nick Bolkus served a defamation writ on us last week as there is absolutely no connection. This document just happened to fall off the back of a truck. By the way, we’re still sorry for what was published about Senator Bolkus and stress that he has a completely clean drink driving record.