Left takes the lead on Australian Young Labor Reform

One area in desperate need of reform that does not receive enough attention is Young Labor. I have previously written about the need to reform Young Labor. It operates in a way that is detrimental to our movement and shapes a toxic, machine driven culture within the Labor Party. It has been treated as a sandbox for far too long and been ignored when party reform is discussed.

Positively, the National Young Labor Left is showing signs that it wants to take a national Young Labor reform agenda seriously and have recently published a discussion paper on how to reform Australian Young Labor.

Proposals include direct election of all positions through a One Member One Vote (OMOV) postal ballot, consistent eligibility across the country, autonomous elections of Women’s Officer and other positions, reforming the structure of Australian Young Labor conference and making Young Labor a more independent entity.

There are some healthy Young Labor branches. It is no surprise that healthier branches such as Tasmania have used OMOV for a considerable time. Others that have recently adopted it such as Queensland have seen higher turnout, attempts to engage non-aligned members and a more proportional outcome.

Victoria has also attempted to reform Young Labor, the move to reform it only failing because there was no absolutely majority at the last Victorian Conference due to SDA opposition.

NSW Young Labor unfortunately appears to be the major hold out. It is absurd that members are able to directly elect the ALP National President (and soon the party leader) but not the NSW Young Labor President or the rest of the NSW Young Labor Executive. They continue to be elected through a Conference modelled on ALP Conferences based on equal branch delegates and affiliated unions, something no other Young Labor branch does. It is effectively a rigged system (established after the NSW Right takeover in the early 90s) that removes possibility of the Right losing power.

It is a good sign that Victoria and Queensland, states where the Left does not have a majority, have accepted the need for Young Labor reform. New South Wales and the national body will not be able to hold out from the tide of OMOV forever. The sooner that OMOV and reform is accepted, the better for Young Labor and the ALP more broadly.



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