Progressive forces inside the Victorian ALP will debate a bevy of urgency motions at the party’s annual state conference tomorrow, with prime minister Julia Gillard condemned for her Malaysian Solution for boat people and stance on gay marriage.
The party’s closely-guarded 28 motion-strong urgency book, obtained by Crikey, unveils a raft of gripes spread across the party’s factional divide. While right-wing shop assistants’ leader Michael Donovan takes aim at Easter Sunday trading and “half and half” Melbourne Cup holidays in the bush, comrades from the Socialist Left have moved to keep the asylum seeker and same-sex issues afloat through numerous salvos that take personal aim at the PM.
The asylum seeker motion, by well-meaning rabble rouser Robin Rothfield, says Gillard’s brainwave to ship boat people from Australia to the back of the queue in Malaysia “is in violation of the ALP National Platform 2009 and is therefore inconsistent with her pledge to the Party which she made as a Parliamentary candidate”.
Another, more measured, refugee pitch calls on the “federal Labor Government to ensure the agreement with Malaysia with regard to the processing of asylum seekers, and prospective agreements with other regional partners are consistent with Labor’s National Platform, and Australia’s international obligations”.
It further “calls on all parliamentarians and party members to promote informed and genuine discourse on our responsibilities to people fleeing war and terror”, and slams Tony Abbott for pursuing “racist fear campaigns”.
The beleaguered Gillard will take to the stage at 10.45am at Monash’s Robert Blackwood Hall tomorrow (read the full timetable here), an outer suburban venue apparently chosen due to the parlous state of the Victorian branch’s finances in the wake of Nick Reece’s reign as state secretary. The PM’s address is looming as a key test of legitimacy amongst the party faithful, pockets of which have begun to doubt her substance as the one-year anniversary of Kevin Rudd’s knifing looms.
On gay marriage, shaping as a key flashpoint in the lead-up to the party’s national pow wow later in the year, respected SL activist Sarah Cole calls on the national edifice “to amend the national platform to support the legal right of couples of marriageable age in Australia to be married if they so choose, and for that marriage to be recognised and registered by law in Australia, regardless of the sexual orientation, or gender, of the parties to the marriage”.
But a senior federal party source contacted by Crikey was sceptical as to whether the motion would make an impact, suggesting general community acceptance was a fait accompli, regardless of what the Victorian Branch resolved: “Ten minutes after we pass legislation to allow gay marriage, no one is going to give a shit. In fact, there’s a substantial percentage of the population out there that will think, yeah f-ck ’em, they should have in-laws too!”
Motions will also be heard condemning Ted Baillieu for ignoring Victoria’s ambitious 20% emissions reduction target by 2020, which chafes with federal Labor’s commitment of just 5%, alongside other partisan takes on the future of the Synchrotron and wind farms. Another backs the future of the Grand Prix at Albert Park, however it appears to be riddled with errors on the global number of TV viewers and the race’s financial performance.
The party will also debate a series of rules revisions designed to guard against branch stacking in the wake of a spate of controversial preselections conducted on the whim of war lords acting against the interests of party democracy.