NOTE: At the Seventh National Conference of The Socialist Alliance the order of presentation and initial discussion on the topics to be decided differed from the order of final discussion and voting, which took place on the last day of conference . These draft minutes record the process of amendment and voting on topics in the order in which they were initially presented and discussed, i.e, in the order in which they first appeared in the conference agenda.

SUNDAY, JANUARY 3, MORNING SESSIONS

Welcome
Pat Eatock Sydney branch, National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander working group, welcomed delegates to conference

Adoption of Conference procedure

1. Standing Orders

Moved Lisa Macdonald, Conference Organising Committee Seconded Ruth Ratcliffe, Adelaide
a) Conference committee. That there be a conference presiding committee of seven, to be composed of Margarita Windisch, Bea Bleile, Dick Nichols (National Coordinators), Pip Hinman (National Anti-war spokesperson), Jess Moore (Resistance delegate to National Executive), Lisa Macdonald (Conference Organising Committee) and Aaron Roden (Conference Organising Committee);
b) Chairing. That chairpeople be proposed by the conference committee at the beginning of each session;
c) Voting. Voting on reports, resolutions and amendment to be by show of delegate cards. Voting on resolutions and amendments to take place as soon as debate on the resolutions and amendments in question has ended;
d) Majority required. Decisions to be by simple majority;
e) Procedure for selecting speakers. Delegates to have voice and vote. Non-delegate members to have voice but not vote. The speaking order to be formed of delegates and non-delegates, but session chairs shall ensure that all delegates who wish to speak get the opportunity to do so. The chair to take speakers in groups of four and aim to ensure balanced representation by gender, delegation and affiliates. Any delegate or non-delegate who has not spoken in the debate to have precedence over any delegate or non-delegate who has already spoken;
f) Conduct of debate. After one speaker has spoken in favour of a resolution or amendment the next speaker to be a speaker against. A further speaker in favour of the motion will then be accepted and may be followed by a further speaker against. If there is no such speaker, debate to lapse and the vote taken. Movers of resolutions or amendments not to have right of reply. A vote will be taken after two speakers in favour and two against;
g) Dealing with amendments. That following the reports moving the major resolution in each session, discussion move immediately to deal with any amendments proposed;
h) Speaking limit. The speaking limit be four minutes for movers of resolutions and three minutes for all subsequent speakers to a resolution or amendment. Speakers to be advised when they have spoken for three or two minutes respectively. Speakers may ask for and conference grant extensions of speaking time, but speakers are urged not to apply for extensions of time if at all possible;
j) Procedural motions and dissent in ruling of the chair. In the case of procedural motions and dissent in the chair’s rulings only one speaker to be allowed for and against. Procedural motions do not require a seconder;
k) Motion to gag debate. The motion to gag debate to be put without debate;
l) Treatment and presentation of resolutions and amendments. Movers of amendments to be entitled to amalgamate and modify amendments at any time until the vote on the matter under debate is taken. All resolutions and amendments to be submitted to the conference presiding committee so as to be able to be projected on screen for delegates. Movers of amendments are urged to provide these as early as possible during the conference proceedings. The presiding committee to have the power to propose amendment amalgamations.
m) Tellers of votes. The tellers of votes to be the two people at the front of each entire row of delegate tables;
n) Media coverage. Conference to be open to the media but any speaker who does not wish to be recorded by the media to so indicate and coverage to be suspended for the duration of the presentation of the speaker in question;
o) Videoing conference. Art Resistance to be allowed to video conference, but under the same conditions as proposed for the media;
p) Suspension of standing orders. During conference these standing orders may be suspended or amended by majority vote.
CARRIED
1a. Foreshadowed amendment
Moved
Lisa Macdonald, Conference Organising Committee Seconded Ruth Ratcliffe, Adelaide

  1. That in voting sessions on the last day of conference there be one speaker for and one speaker against all resolutions and amendments.
  2. That the tellers of votes be two people appointed by the session chair.
CARRIED

2. Adoption of the Minutes of the Sixth National Conference

Moved Lisa Macdonald, Conference Organising Committee Seconded Chris Williams, Illawarra Branch
That the draft minutes of the Sixth National Conference, as published in Alliance Voices Volume 9 Number 1, be endorsed as an accurate record of that conference.
CARRIED

The Socialist Alliance’s perspectives for struggle in 2010

Presenters Jess Moore Resistance representative on National Executive
Dick Nichols National Co-convener
Chair Greg Rowell Sydney West

3. 2010 perspectives resolution

Moved Dick Nichols, National Executive Seconded Various
NOTE: This resolution was referred to conference by the December 10 National Executive for further discussion and amendment.
Preamble
A. Two years of Rudd Labor

  1. After two years of the federal Labor government led by PM Kevin Rudd, support for Labor in opinion polls remains very high. In its first year of office, the Rudd government took certain steps to ameliorate the worst policies introduced by the Coalition government led by John Howard including the ratification of the Kyoto climate change agreement, the abolition of Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs – individual employment contracts) and delivering an official apology to the Aboriginal Stolen Generations.
  2. Nevertheless, the Rudd government has left many of the underpinning policies of the Howard era in
  3. tact. Most of the anti-worker/anti-union provisions of Howard’s Work Choices were incorporated into Labor’s Fair Work Act. The Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) continues to persecute building workers like Arc Tribe. It has continued and deepened the racist Northern Territory intervention into Aboriginal communities as well as Australia’s participation in the Afghanistan war. The ALP government continues to lock-up refugees and deny same-sex couples the right to marry.
  4. While rhetorically attacking neoliberalism, and blaming it for causing the Global Financial Crisis, Rudd has continued to implement a socially conservative, anti-worker agenda that has primarily benefited the wealthy at the expense of the most disadvantaged.
  5. This Rudd agenda has prompted opposition, including from sections of the trade union movement, the environment and climate movements and other social movements. This opposition has been reflected in a growth of support for the Greens at an electoral level. While this organised discontent remains relatively small, the Socialist Alliance is committed to working with others to build this incipient challenge, both electorally and at a grass-roots level.
  6. Labor is in crisis in many states. In NSW and Queensland, Labor is deeply unpopular owing to its failure to provide a reasonable standard of services for working people and its program of mass privatisation of state assets. Labor faces electoral tests in South Australia, Tasmania and federally in 2010, which may open opportunities for the left.
B. Global warming, the Rudd government strategy and politics
  1. The threat of runaway climate change caused by rising carbon emissions emanating from human industrial and agricultural activity is the greatest threat to the continued existence of human civilisation of our era. Increasingly alarming scientific predictions only further dramatise the urgent need for governments internationally to take immediate action to move to a low-carbon economy.
  2. The response of the Rudd government to the threat of climate change has been to attempt to introduce a carbon trading scheme (the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, or Emissions Trading Scheme), which would incorporate billions of dollars in subsidies for big polluters (such as the coal, electricity and aluminium industries) while imposing a massive tax on working Australians. It is also unlikely that such a scheme would make any significant cuts to Australia’s carbon emissions or make a positive contribution to the global carbon economy (e.g. stopping Australia’s coal exports).
  3. In presenting the CPRS as its only response to the climate change threat, the Rudd government has given an opportunity to right-wing forces to paint action on climate change as being an attack on the living standards of working people.
  4. The Socialist Alliance applauds the Greens for their opposition to the Rudd government’s carbon trading scheme. It condemns the Liberal/National Coalition, for its opposition to taking any concerted action on reducing Australia’s carbon emissions. The Socialist Alliance rejects the unsafe, insecure nuclear power option being advanced by the Coalition. The Socialist Alliance also calls for an immediate end to uranium mining.
  5. The Socialist Alliance supports the campaign launched at the 2009 Climate Summit for the transformation of the economy to 100% renewable energy by 2020, as the only serious means to prevent run-away climate change. The Socialist Alliance also demands that the governments of Australia and other rich nations prepare to receive the millions of climate refugees from the Third World who will be displaced by climate change.
  6. The Socialist Alliance calls for a just transition to a carbon-neutral economy, including the phasing out of Australia’s coal industry. Workers employed in carbon intensive industries should be retrained on full pay and redeployed to socially and environmentally useful work, without loss of pay or conditions.
  7. The Socialist Alliance recognises the growing discontent of a number of farmers with the slavish pro-coal mining policies of both Labor and the Coalition and welcomes greater dialogue with these communities, as witnessed in the Just Transitions tour conducted through affected communities in NSW in November 2009.
  8. The Socialist Alliance joins with eminent NASA climate scientist James Hansen in condemning the framework of international discussions held at UN Climate Change Conference held in Copenhagen in December, and condemns the role played by the Australian government in failing to contribute to a genuine solution to climate change.
C. The Rudd government’s response to the global economic crisis
  1. The impact on the Australian economy of the Global Financial Crisis that began in the United States and spread across all parts of the world economy has not been as catastrophic as feared or predicted. The $52 billion ploughed into the economy by the two “stimulus packages” sufficiently increased economic activity to prevent the Australian economy contracting in the year since the crisis began.
  2. While the economy has largely been sheltered from the crisis, many working people have paid a price. Unemployment has increased from a low of 4% in February 2008 to 5.8% in October 2009. In that time, an extra 229,000 people joined the unemployment lines, which grew to 670,100 in October.
  3. Australian workers are increasingly either underemployed or overworked. Official labour underutilisation in October (the sum of unemployment and underemployment – those who have a job, but want more hours) was 13.6%, while Australians work 2.14 billion hours of unpaid overtime each year, according to the Australia Institute.
  4. Real wages are stagnating and declining. Wages increased by only 0.7% in the September quarter of 2009, less than prices, which rose by 1%, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
  5. Continuing strong mining exports to China, along with the Rudd government’s stimulus packages and the quick lowering of interest rates by the Reserve Bank of Australia, have sheltered the Australian economy from a major downturn to date. Nevertheless, the US economy remains in severe recession and growth in China is reliant on massive government spending. The threat of a new global downturn is very real.
  6. The international financial system is returning to its pre-crisis reliance on speculative financial investment, which risks the conditions for a further crisis reemerging at a global level. Any “recovery” promises to be shallow and accompanied by government austerity, including in Australia where the Rudd government has promised to cap any new spending at 2% until its budget deficit is paid off.
  7. Rising unemployment, rising interest rates, rising inflation and stagnating wages threaten working people in Australia with paying for the “recovery”. The Socialist Alliance is committed to building resistance to attempts by government and employers to make working people pay for a crisis they did not create.
D. The unions and Labor governments
  1. Tensions between the union movement and Labor governments have grown since the election of the Rudd government on the back of the anti-Work Choices “Your Rights at Work” campaign in November 2007. Federal Labor’s refusal to “rip-up” Work Choices, replacing it with the Fair Work Act (“Work Choices lite”), which preserves many of the anti-union aspects of the Howard legislation, its insistence on preserving the ABCC in some form and its plan to water down occupational health and safety laws (so-called “national harmonisation”) are straining the relationship between Labor and some union leaderships.
  2. At a state level, the NSW and Queensland government’s attempts to privatise public assets has also met with some resistance from the union movement. The campaign in Queensland, which has been led by the Electrical Trades Union, has been more broad-based than that in NSW, where it led to a compromise supported by much of the union movement. The decline in the organising strength of unions is being exploited by Labor machines.
  3. While hours lost to industrial action continue to decline, important struggles have been had. Over 2009 the National Tertiary Education Union has waged an important fight against federal government attempts to further casualise and privatise the higher education sector. The Victorian branch of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union has successfully fought employer attempts to use Labor’s mandatory “flexibility” arrangements to introduce individual contracts through the back door.
  4. Socialist Alliance members continue to play an important role in helping to build resistance in a range of unions. A significant challenge to the class-collaborationist union leaderships will not be built without a new rise of rank-and-file action for workers’ rights in unions, and of a new generation of union activists. The Socialist Alliance is committed to contributing to that process.
  5. The Socialist Alliance condemns the uncritical support given to the Rudd government’s carbon trading scheme by the Australian Council of Trade Unions. The Socialist Alliance recognises the crucial importance of building the climate change movement within unions, both at a policy level, but also at a grass-roots activist level. Such a movement must emphasise the need for a just transition to a carbon neutral economy, with workers in carbon intensive industries (such as the coal industry) retrained on full pay and redeployed to socially useful work, without loss of wages or conditions.
E. Other social resistance and politics
  1. Social resistance against the neoliberal, warmongering, racist and socially conservative agenda of the Rudd Labor government continues in a range of areas. The Socialist Alliance commits its support to these campaigns and pledges to continue to build these campaigns by all possible means.
  2. Despite delivering an apology to the Aboriginal Stolen Generations, the Rudd government has continued, and intensified, the racist Northern Territory Emergency Intervention into Aboriginal communities begun by the Howard government. The Socialist Alliance condemns the intervention, and calls for the end to welfare quarantining, and for full funding of social services to all Indigenous communities, without strings attached. The Socialist Alliance supports the walk-off by the Ampilatwatja community.
  3. While having dismantled the Howard government’s temporary protection visa system for refugees arriving in Australia by boat, and dismantling detention centres at Nauru and Manus Island, the Rudd government has maintained the mandatory detention of refugees, and the excision of coastal islands from Australia’s immigration zone. It has also advanced an “Indonesian solution” of detaining refugees in Indonesian detention centres. The Socialist Alliance calls for the end of mandatory detention, the end of the excision of parts of Australian territory for the purposes of the Migration Act and the closure of the Christmas Island prison and all detention centres. Let the refugees land! Let the refugees stay! No “Indonesia solution”!
  4. Labor has continued Howard’s war in Afghanistan, sending an additional 450 troops in April 2009. The Socialist Alliance recognises that the US-led occupation is opposed by a majority of Afghans, and majorities around the world. We also note that the occupation is not improving the lives of Afghans. The Socialist Alliance calls for the immediate and complete withdrawal of Australian troops from Afghanistan and that war reparations be paid.
  5. The Rudd government has continued to support the right-wing Likud government in Israel despite its flouting of UN resolutions to leave occupied Palestinian land, stop building settlements and lift the siege of Gaza. The Socialist Alliance will continue to work with the Palestinian community and their supporters in Australia to pressure the Rudd government to stop giving legitimacy to the Israeli apartheid regime.
  6. The Rudd Labor has continued to support Howard-era “anti-terror” laws, which have restricted civil liberties and have been used to intimidate Islamic communities, among others, in Australia. The Socialist Alliance calls for the repeal of all “anti-terror laws”. Hands off our civil liberties!
  7. The Rudd government has maintained the ban on same-sex marriage, introduced by the Howard government in 2004. It has previously suppressed legislation in the ACT which allowed for the legal recognition of same-sex civil unions. The Socialist Alliance calls for the repeal of the ban on same sex marriage. Marriage should be legal between any consenting adults.
F. The Greens
  1. The Greens’ opposition to the Rudd government’s carbon trading scheme, their opposition to privatisation and consistent support of the rights of refugees (among other issues) have won them increased support. Greens Senators and state parliamentarians are seen as the political voice of the social movements.
  2. The Socialist Alliance welcomes the role played by Greens parliamentarians in opposing the Rudd government’s conservative agenda. The Socialist Alliance commits itself to the closest possible collaboration with Greens’ members in the social movements and electorally, where possible.
  3. There are many different political positions within the Greens, including those that look to market-based solutions to social and environmental challenges. The Socialist Alliance recognises that there are strategic political tensions within the Greens and seeks to support and strengthen the left within the Greens.
Resolution
1. Building The Socialist Alliance

    1. The Socialist Alliance continues to urge its members to become active in a wide range of social movements. Socialist Alliance members play an important role in building the movements, ensuring their democratic functioning and arguing for strategies that mobilise the largest numbers of people in campaigns for progressive reforms.
    2. The Socialist Alliance, as a campaigning organisation, continues to play an important role in giving voice to dissent against government attacks. By organising stalls, writing for and distributing Green Left Weekly and through informational forums organised by branches, the Socialist Alliance can help galvanise opposition. An important case in point is the Rudd government’s recent attack on the rights of refugees and asylum seekers.
    3. The Socialist Alliance welcomes the collaboration that it has built with other left–wing and socialist organisations and communities. It seeks to build on its collaboration with a range of migrant communities, including the Latin American, Tamil and Sudanese communities.
    4. The Socialist Alliance welcomes the election of Comrade Sam Wainwright as councillor for the Hilton Ward of Fremantle City Council, as its first elected councillor, and the first socialist elected to Fremantle Council. The Socialist Alliance recognises that this success rested on collaboration with a range of activists from the local community, including the Greens and the left of the ALP. The Socialist Alliance seeks to build similar left unity in other election campaigns, wherever possible.
    5. The Socialist Alliance seeks to build a strong national network of branches currently in all states and the ACT. We recognise the uneven state of branch functioning around the country and seek to strengthen our organisation and political effectiveness.
  1. 2. Political opportunities for and responsibilities of the Socialist Alliance
  2. The Socialist Alliance recognises that right-wing Labor governments in power do not serve the interests of working people, but reinforce the class domination of capital. The increasing gap between the expectations of working people and the real action delivered by Labor governments continues to open political space to Labor’s left.
  3. The Socialist Alliance recognises that the largest part of the electoral space to the left of Labor is being filled by the Greens. The Socialist Alliance seeks the greatest possible political collaboration with the Greens, but also understands that it has an important responsibility to present a socialist alternative at elections. The fact that there are two socialists who have been elected to local councils over recent years shows that there is some electoral space which socialists can fill.
  4. The Socialist Alliance will continue to build and strengthen grass roots movements for change. The Socialist Alliance will also continue to support class-struggle unionism and to seek the greatest possible collaboration with unionists committed to consistent class struggle, regardless of their political affiliation.
  5. The Socialist Alliance continues to offer support for the independent newspaper Green Left Weekly. The Socialist Alliance will continue to encourage its members to write for the paper, help distribute it, and help fundraise for it.
  6. The Socialist Alliance encourages states and branches to organise and hold socialist ideas forums when practicable, to facilitate a wide-ranging discussion of socialist ideas. The Socialist Alliance commits its resources to building the Climate Change/Social Change conference to be organised in Melbourne on November 2010.
  7. The Socialist Alliance recognises and supports the role of Resistance in recruiting, educating and mobilising young people around socialist politics.
  8. The Socialist Alliance seeks to make maximum political use of local, state and federal elections.
3. Building a more united left red-green movement
  1. The Socialist Alliance continues its commitment to greater unity of socialists and other left-wing activists, at a national and international level. The Socialist Alliance supports the Caracas Commitment, adopted by delegates to the International Encounter of Left Parties, held in Caracas, Venezuela over November 19-21, 2009. The Socialist Alliance agrees to participate in the preparatory meetings for the founding of the Fifth Socialist International in 2010.
  2. The Socialist Alliance is committed to building the maximum unity possible among socialist and other left-wing groups and individuals in Australia. Left unity is a necessary step to building the largest socialist alternative possible and crucial to convincing the mass of working people to break with Labor.
  3. The Socialist Alliance looks to build the strongest “red/green” unity between socialist and climate/environmental organisations and activists as possible. The Socialist Alliance seeks the greatest possible collaboration with environmental and climate activists at a grass-roots level, but also at a political level, including the greatest possible collaboration with the Greens. The Socialist Alliance looks toward building a “red/green” alliance at all levels.
  4. The Socialist Alliance seeks the greatest possible unity with all forces to the left of Labor. We are open to discuss how unity can be advanced, without precondition. The Socialist Alliance would welcome the decision of other left groups to affiliate to the Socialist Alliance, based on agreement with its democratically-decided platform.
4. Strengthening The Socialist Alliance
  1. The 7th National Conference of the Socialist Alliance looks forward to the political challenges of the coming year as an opportunity to build support for socialism in Australia. The Socialist Alliance recommits itself to a greater projection of socialist politics, to a better organisation of our resources, and a larger role in Australia politics.
  2. While some branches have declined since our last national conference, others have grown. Recognising the political space to the left of Labor, the 7th national conference of The Socialist Alliance commits itself to “Campaign 1000”, whereby we aim to build the national Socialist Alliance membership to 1000 or more by the end of 2010.

AMENDMENTS MOVED

3a
Moved Rachel Evans, Sydney West Seconded Conor Montgomery, Sydney West
1. In the Preamble:
Replace 1.1
After two years of the federal Labor government led by PM Kevin Rudd
with
After two years of Rudd Labor government
2. In 1.2, change the final sentence to read:
The ALP government continues to lock up refugees and deny same-sex couples and gender-varied couples the right to marry.
ACCEPTED BY MOVER
3b
Moved Kamala Emanuel, Perth Seconded Alex Bainbridge, Perth
1. In B paragraph 1:
Replace
to move to a low carbon economy
with
to move to a zero-emissions economy and reduce greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere
2. In B paragraph 5:
Replace
as the only serious means
with
as one essential component of the effort needed
3. In B paragraph 6:
Replace carbon neutral
with
zero emissions
4. In D paragraph 5:
Replace
carbon neutral
with
zero emissions
ACCEPTED BY MOVER
3c
Moved Pip Hinman, Sydney Central Seconded Various
Amend 1.c. to read:
It seeks to build its collaboration with a range of migrant communities including the Latin American, Tamil, Sudanese and other Arabic-speaking communities
ACCEPTED BY MOVER
3d.
Moved Dick Nichols, Sydney Central Seconded Paul Oboohov, Canberra
Add new 2c to resolution and renumber accordingly:
The Socialist Alliance will also continue to relate to rising disaffection within the ALP, among its ranks and even some sections of the unions affiliated to Labor (such as the Queensland branch of the Electrical Trades Union). The Socialist Alliance looks to collaborate with all ALP members who resist the neo-liberal trajectory of Labor in government (for example, over the privatisation of public assets and services).
ACCEPTED BY MOVER
3e.
Moved Susan Austin, Hobart Seconded Linda Seaborn, Hobart
In Preamble A.5:
Add
Victoria
to
Labor faces electoral contests in South Australia, Tasmania and federally in 2010, which may open opportunities for the left.
Preamble B.2:
Change
or make a positive contribution to the global carbon economy
to
or make a positive contribution to reducing global carbon emissions
ACCEPTED BY MOVER
3f.
Moved Susan Austin, Hobart Seconded Tim Dobson, Hobart
In the Resolution, Section Building The Socialist Alliance:
Add to 1 e as follows:
The national convenors will organise regular (e.g. fortnightly or monthly) phone or face-to-face contact with branch convenors to support then in their roles.
REJECTED BY MOVER
WITHDRAWN

RESOLUTION AS AMENDED CARRIED (ADOPTED TEXT FOLLOWS)
Preamble
    1. A. Two years of Rudd Labor
1. After two years Rudd Labor government support for Labor in opinion polls remains very high. In its first year of office, the Rudd government took certain steps to ameliorate the worst policies introduced by the Coalition government led by John Howard including the ratification of the Koyoto climate change agreement, the abolition of Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs – individual employment contracts) and delivering an official apology to the Aboriginal Stolen Generations.
2. Nevertheless, the Rudd government has left many of the underpinning policies of the Howard era intact. Most of the anti-worker/anti-union provisions of Howard’s Work Choices were incorporated into Labor’s Fair Work Act. The Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) continues to persecute building workers like Arc Tribe. It has continued and deepened the racist Northern Territory intervention into Aboriginal communities as well as Australia’s participation in the Afghanistan war. The ALP government continues to lock-up refugees and deny same-sex couples and gender varied couples the right to marry.
3. While rhetorically attacking neoliberalism, and blaming it for causing the Global Financial Crisis, Rudd has continued to implement a socially conservative, anti-worker agenda that has primarily benefited the wealthy at the expense of the most disadvantaged.
4. This Rudd agenda has prompted opposition, including from sections of the trade union movement, the environment and climate movements and other social movements. This opposition has been reflected in a growth of support for the Greens at an electoral level. While this organised discontent remains relatively small, the Socialist Alliance is committed to working with others to build this incipient challenge, both electorally and at a grass-roots level.
5. Labor is in crisis in many states. In NSW and Queensland, Labor is deeply unpopular owing to its failure to provide a reasonable standard of services for working people and its program of mass privatisation of state assets. Labor faces electoral tests in South Australia, Tasmania and federally in 2010, which may open opportunities for the left.
B. Global warming, the Rudd government strategy and politics
1. The threat of runaway climate change caused by rising carbon emissions emanating from human industrial and agricultural activity is the greatest threat to the continued existence of human civilisation of our era. Increasingly alarming scientific predictions only further dramatise the urgent need for governments internationally to take immediate action to move to a zero-emissions economy and reduce greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere.
2. The response of the Rudd government to the threat of climate change has been to attempt to introduce a carbon trading scheme (the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, or Emissions Trading Scheme), which would incorporate billions of dollars in subsidies for big polluters (such as the coal, electricity and aluminium industries), while imposing a massive tax on working Australians. It is also unlikely that such a scheme would make any significant cuts to Australia’s carbon emissions or make a positive contribution to the global carbon economy (e.g. stopping Australia’s coal exports).
3. In presenting the CPRS as its only response to the climate change threat, the Rudd government has given an opportunity to right-wing forces to paint action on climate change as being an attack on the living standards of working people.
4. The Socialist Alliance applauds the Greens for their opposition to the Rudd government’s carbon trading scheme. It condemns the Liberal/National Coalition, for its opposition to taking any concerted action on reducing Australia’s carbon emissions. The Socialist Alliance rejects the unsafe, insecure nuclear power option being advanced by the Coalition. The Socialist Alliance also calls for an immediate end to uranium mining.
5. The Socialist Alliance supports the campaign launched at the 2009 Climate Summit for the transformation of the economy to 100% renewable energy by 2020, as as one essential component of the effort needed to prevent run-away climate change. The Socialist Alliance also demands that the governments of Australia and other rich nations prepare to receive the millions of climate refugees from the Third World who will be displaced by climate change.
6. The Socialist Alliance calls for a just transition to a zero emissions economy, including the phasing out of Australia’s coal industry. Workers employed in carbon intensive industries should be retrained on full pay and redeployed to socially and environmentally useful work, without loss of pay or conditions.
7. The Socialist Alliance recognises the growing discontent of a number of farmers with the slavish pro-coal mining policies of both Labor and the Coalition and welcomes greater dialogue with these communities, as witnessed in the Just Transitions tour conducted through effected communities in NSW in November 2009.
8. The Socialist Alliance joins with eminent NASA climate scientist James Hansen in condemning the framework of international discussions held at UN Climate Change Conference held in Copenhagen in December, and condemns the role played by the Australian government in failing to contribute to a genuine solution to climate change.
C. The Rudd government’s response to the global economic crisis

  1. The impact on the Australian economy of the Global Financial Crisis that began in the United States and spread across all parts of the world economy has not been as catastrophic as feared or predicted. The $52 billion ploughed into the economy by the two “stimulus packages” sufficiently increased economic activity to prevent the Australian economy contracting in the year since the crisis began.
  2. While the economy has largely been sheltered from the crisis, many working people have paid a price. Unemployment has increased from a low of 4% in February 2008 to 5.8% in October 2009. In that time, an extra 229,000 people joined the unemployment lines, which grew to 670,100 in October.
  3. Australian workers are increasingly either underemployed or overworked. Official labour underutilisation in October (the sum of unemployment and underemployment – those who have a job, but want more hours) was 13.6%, while Australians work 2.14 billion hours of unpaid overtime each year, according to the Australia Institute.
  4. Real wages are stagnating and declining. Wages increased by only 0.7% in the September quarter of 2009, less than prices, which rose by 1%, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
  5. Continuing strong mining exports to China, along with the Rudd government’s stimulus packages and the quick lowering of interest rates by the Reserve Bank of Australia, have sheltered the Australian economy from a major downturn to date. Nevertheless, the US economy remains in severe recession and growth in China is reliant on massive government spending. The threat of a new global downturn is very real.
  6. The international financial system is returning to its pre-crisis reliance on speculative financial investment, which risks the conditions for a further crisis reemerging at a global level. Any “recovery” promises to be shallow and accompanied by government austerity, including in Australia where the Rudd government has promised to cap any new spending at 2% until its budget deficit is paid off.
  7. Rising unemployment, rising interest rates, rising inflation and stagnating wages threaten working people in Australia with paying for the “recovery”. The Socialist Alliance is committed to building resistance to attempts by government and employers to make working people pay for a crisis they did not create.
C. The unions and Labor governments
  1. Tensions between the union movement and Labor governments have grown since the election of the Rudd government on the back of the anti-Work Choices “Your Rights at Work” campaign in November 2007. Federal Labor’s refusal to “rip-up” Work Choices, replacing it with the Fair Work Act (“Work Choices lite”), which preserves many of the anti-union aspects of the Howard legislation, its insistence on preserving the ABCC in some form and its plan to water down occupational health and safety laws (so-called “national harmonisation”) are straining the relationship between Labor and some union leaderships.
  2. At a state level, the NSW and Queensland governments’ attempts to privatise public assets has also met with some resistance from the union movement. The campaign in Queensland, which has been led by the Electrical Trades Union, has been more broad-based than that in NSW, where it led to a compromise supported by much of the union movement. The decline in the organising strength of unions is being exploited by Labor machines.
  3. While hours lost to industrial action continue to decline, important struggles have been had. Over 2009 the National tertiary Education Union has waged an important fight against federal government attempts to further casualise and privatise the higher education sector. The Victorian branch of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union has successfully fought employer attempts to use Labor’s mandatory “flexibility” arrangements o introduce individual contracts through the back door.
  4. Socialist Alliance members continue to play an important role in helping to build resistance in a range of unions. A significant challenge to the class-collaborationist union leaderships will not be built without a new rise of rank-and-file action for workers’ rights in unions, and of a new generation of union activists. The Socialist Alliance is committed to contributing to that process.
  5. The Socialist Alliance condemns the uncritical support given to the Rudd government’s carbon trading scheme by the Australian Council of Trade Unions. The Socialist Alliance recognises the crucial importance of building the climate change movement within unions, both at a policy level, but also at a grass-roots activist level. Such a movement must emphasise the need for a just transition to a zero emissions economy, with workers in carbon intensive industries (such as the coal industry) retrained on full pay and redeployed to socially useful work, without loss of wages or conditions.

D. Other social resistance and politics

  1. Social resistance against the neoliberal, warmongering, racist and socially conservative agenda of the Rudd Labor government continues in a range of areas. The Socialist Alliance commits its support to these campaigns and pledges to continue to build these campaigns by all possible means.
  2. Despite delivering an apology to the Aboriginal Stolen Generations, the Rudd government has continued, and intensified, the racist Northern Territory Emergency Intervention into Aboriginal communities begun by the Howard government. The Socialist Alliance condemns the intervention, and calls for the end to welfare quarantining, and for full funding of social services to all Indigenous communities, without strings attached. The Socialist Alliance supports the walk-off by the Ampilatwatja community.
  3. While having dismantled the Howard government’s temporary protection visa system for refugees arriving in Australia by boat, and dismantling detention centres at Nauru and Manus Island, the Rudd government has maintained the mandatory detention of refugees, and the excision of coastal islands from Australia’s immigration zone. It has also advanced an “Indonesian solution” of detaining refugees in Indonesian detention centres. The Socialist Alliance calls for the end of mandatory detention, the end of the excision of parts of Australian territory for the purposes of the Migration Act and the closure of the Christmas Island prison and all detention centres. Let the refugees land! Let the refugees stay! No “Indonesia solution”!
  4. Labor has continued Howard’s war in Afghanistan, sending an additional 450 troops in April 2009. The Socialist Alliance recognises that the US-led occupation is opposed by a majority of Afghans, and majorities around the world. We also note that the occupation is not improving the lives of Afghans. The Socialist Alliance calls for the immediate and complete withdrawal of Australian troops from Afghanistan and that war reparations be paid.
  5. The Rudd government has continued to support the right-wing Likud government in Israel despite its flouting of UN resolutions to leave occupied Palestinian land, stop building settlements and lift the siege of Gaza. The Socialist Alliance will continue to work with the Palestinian community and their supporters in Australia to pressure the Rudd government to stop giving legitimacy to the Israeli apartheid regime.
  6. Rudd Labor has continued to support Howard-era “anti-terror” laws, which have restricted civil liberties and have been used to intimidate Islamic communities, among others, in Australia. The Socialist Alliance calls for the repeal of all “anti-terror laws”. Hands off our civil liberties!
  7. The Rudd government has maintained the ban on same-sex marriage, introduced by the Howard government in 2004. It has previously suppressed legislation in the ACT which allowed for the legal recognition of same-sex civil unions. The Socialist Alliance calls for the repeal of the ban on same sex marriage. Marriage should be legal between any consenting adults.
F. The Greens
  1. The Greens’ opposition to the Rudd government’s carbon trading scheme, their opposition to privatisation and consistent support of the rights of refugees (among other issues) have won them increased support. Greens Senators and state parliamentarians are seen as the political voice of the social movements.
  2. The Socialist Alliance welcomes the role played by Greens parliamentarians in opposing the Rudd government’s conservative agenda. The Socialist Alliance commits itself to the closest possible collaboration with Greens’ members in the social movements and electorally, where possible.
  3. There are many different political positions within the Greens, including those that look to market-based solutions to social and environmental challenges. The Socialist Alliance recognises that there are strategic political tensions within the Greens and seeks to support and strengthen the left within the Greens.
Resolution
1. Building the Socialist Alliance

  1. The Socialist Alliance continues to urge its members to become active in a wide range of social movements. The Socialist Alliance members play an important role in building the movements, ensuring their democratic functioning and arguing for strategies that mobilise the largest numbers of people in campaigns for progressive reforms.
  2. The Socialist Alliance, as a campaigning organisation, continues to play an important role in giving voice to dissent against government attacks. By organising stalls, writing for and distributing Green Left Weekly and through informational forums organised by branches, The Socialist Alliance can help galvanise opposition. An important case in point is the Rudd government’s recent attack on the rights of refugees and asylum seekers.
  3. The Socialist Alliance welcomes the collaboration that it has built with other left–wing and socialist organisations and communities. It seeks to build on its collaboration with a range of migrant communities, including the Latin American, Tamil and Sudanese and other Arabic-speaking communities.
  4. The Socialist Alliance welcomes the election of Comrade Sam Wainwright as councillor for the Hilton Ward of Fremantle City Council, as its first elected councillor, and the first socialist elected to Fremantle Council. The Socialist Alliance recognises that this success rested on collaboration with a range of activists from the local community, including the Greens and the left of the ALP. The Socialist Alliance seeks to build similar left unity in other election campaigns, wherever possible.
  5. The Socialist Alliance seeks to build a strong national network of branches currently in all states and the ACT. We recognise the uneven state of branch functioning around the country and seek to strengthen our organisation and political effectiveness.
2. Political opportunities for and responsibilities of the Socialist Alliance
    1. The Socialist Alliance recognises that right-wing Labor governments in power do not serve the interests of working people, but reinforce the class domination of capital. The increasing gap between the expectations of working people and the real action delivered by Labor governments continues to open political space to Labor’s left.
    2. The Socialist Alliance recognises that the largest part of the electoral space to the left of Labor is being filled by the Greens. The Socialist Alliance seeks the greatest possible political collaboration with the Greens, but also understands that it has an important responsibility to present a socialist alternative at elections. The fact that there are two socialists who have been elected to local councils over recent years, shows that there is some electoral space which socialists can fill.
    3. The Socialist Alliance will also continue to relate to rising disaffection within the ALP, among its ranks and even some sections of the unions affiliated to Labour (such as the Queensland branch of the Electrical Trades Union). The Socialist Alliance looks to collaborate with all ALP members who resist the neo-liberal trajectory of Labor in government (for example, over the privatisation of public assets and services).
    4. The Socialist Alliance will continue to build and strengthen grass roots movements for change. The Socialist Alliance will also continue to support class-struggle unionism and to seek the greatest possible collaboration with unionists committed to consistent class struggle, regardless of their political affiliation.
    5. The Socialist Alliance continues to offer support for the independent newspaper Green Left Weekly. The Socialist Alliance will continue to encourage its members to write for the paper, help distribute it, and help fundraise for it.
    6. The Socialist Alliance encourages states and branches to organise and hold socialist ideas forums when practicable, to facilitate a wide-ranging discussion of socialist ideas. The Socialist Alliance commits its resources to building the Climate Change/Social Change conference to be organised in Melbourne on November 2010.
    7. The Socialist Alliance recognises and supports the role of Resistance in recruiting, educating and mobilising young people around socialist politics.
    8. The Socialist Alliance seeks to make maximum political use of local, state and federal elections.
3. Building a more united left red-green movement
    1. The Socialist Alliance continues its commitment to greater unity of socialists and other left-wing activists, at a national and international level. The Socialist Alliance supports the Caracas Commitment, adopted by delegates to the International Encounter of Left Parties, held in Caracas, Venezuela over November 19-21, 2009. The Socialist Alliance agrees to participate in the preparatory meetings for the founding of the Fifth Socialist International in 2010.
    2. The Socialist Alliance is committed to building the maximum unity possible among socialist and other left-wing groups and individuals in Australia. Left unity is a necessary step to building the largest socialist alternative possible and crucial to convincing the mass of working people to break with Labor.
    3. The Socialist Alliance looks to build the strongest “red/green” unity between socialist and climate/environmental organisations and activists as possible. The Socialist Alliance seeks the greatest possible collaboration with environmental and climate activists at a grass-roots level, but also at a political level, including the greatest possible collaboration with the Greens. The Socialist Alliance looks toward building a “red/green” alliance at all levels.
    4. The Socialist Alliance seeks the greatest possible unity with all forces to the left of Labor. We are open to discuss how unity can be advanced, without precondition. The Socialist Alliance would welcome the decision of other left groups to affiliate to the Socialist Alliance, based on agreement with its democratically-decided platform.
4. Strengthening the Socialist Alliance
    1. The 7th National Conference of the Socialist Alliance looks forward to the political challenges of the coming year as an opportunity to build support for socialism in Australia. The Socialist Alliance recommits itself to a greater projection of socialist politics, to a better organisation of our resources, and a larger role in Australia politics.
    2. While some branches have declined since our last national conference, others have grown. Recognising the political space to the left of Labor, the 7th national conference of The Socialist Alliance commits itself to “Campaign 1000”, whereby we aim to build the national Socialist Alliance membership to 1000 or more by the end of 2010.


4. Policy on superannuation

Moved David Bell, NSW at large Seconded Various
Preamble
For 20 years we have had employer-contributed compulsory superannuation (ECS), currently at the rate of 9% of gross income. This was “sold” as part of the social wage and as an expansion of the provision of enhanced retirement benefits for Australian workers beyond those then limited to public sector and management in the private sector. It is another example of the ALP-ACTU Accord betrayal of Australian workers.
Workers, in negotiating their terms of employment, sacrificed wage increases in exchange for employer-contributed superannuation incrementally increasing to the 9% that exists today.
It should be noted that the Australian Office of Taxation, as the administrator of the ECS, has failed miserably to enforce this provision on employers and many workers, particularly casual workers, as an ever-increasing percentage of the workforce, are being robbed of their super entitlement.
Given the name “Superannuation Guarantee” it is anything but a “guarantee” other than a guarantee that as a worker you will “lose your money”.
The promise of the ACTU in negotiating this employment “benefit” has failed to meet expectations.
Initially, when introduced, with Union-Employer Industry Superannuation Funds being established all looked rosy. Especially for the ACTU executive members and senior union officials who found seats for themselves as well-remunerated trustees of these funds. A former right-wing assistant secretary of the ACTU Gary Weaven is still the CEO of the “Industry Super Funds Association”. You’ve seen their ads on TV accurately extolling the superiority of their funds over those provided by the non-union finance industry version.
As is well appreciated, the regulatory system imposed on the finance sector in Australia would be laughable if it wasn’t such a cruel fraud.
The super funds of Australian workers have been purloined by the finance industry as a lucrative source of commissions and charges, suffering poor investment strategies and likely negligent or criminal behaviour on the part of those charged with administering their funds.
Paul Keating as Treasurer had teased us all with the prospect of the national cumulative pool of super funds being licensed by legislative exemption to be used at a lower than market interest rate to be used for national infrastructure investment. This has never happened.
The election of the laissez-faire Howard government didn’t help but witness the behaviour of Rudd’s finance minister Lindsay Tanner recently offering our national “Future Fund” to the “market” on its terms free from government “interference” or oversight. Score: People nil – Oligarchs 1.
As we all know, anecdotally, it has become evident that our super is more likely to register a loss rather than a gain year by year. Capitalism will squander it for its benefit.
Workers sacrificed cash-in-hand for what for many has become the chimera of an income in retirement. The superannuation guarantee is no guarantee at all. The greedy, profligate “Super Industry” is even lobbying hard to get the percentage increased to 12%!
Since government mandates the payment and collection of 9% of workers wages in super funds, government should guarantee that the indexed value of those contributions are maintained. If private banks can be given government protection, then Australian workers should expect nothing less.
This requirement may even motivate government to regulate this industry stringently. At the moment it’s a thieves’ picnic.
As the mid-wife of this fraud the ACTU has a responsibility to act to protect Australian workers from being exploited by finance capital.
Trillions of dollars are at stake here. Workers’ funds are being squandered by a privileged minority.
Proposal

  1. A national retirement “pension” should replace workplace and voluntary superannuation. All would enjoy this entitlement, commensurate with their individual needs and social responsibilities.
  2. As an interim measure the current super scheme needs to be tightly regulated to minimise the incompetence and profiteering we are witnessing.
  3. Within 12 months only union-industry super schemes will be licensed to operate with workers constituting 75% of the trustees of each Fund.
  4. National legislation will provide a government guarantee of the value of all worker contributions and protecting the real value of their wages that have been committed by law to superannuation.
  5. National legislation will provide preferential access to a pool of the combined super funds as capital for workers housing, public education, public health, and other social, environmental and economic investment of benefit to the working class.
6. The trade union movement and fraternal political groups be encouraged to take up this issue as a matter of urgency.

AMENDMENTS MOVED

4a
Moved Dave Kerin, Victoria at large Seconded David Bell, NSW at large
Amend proposal 5 to read:
National legislation will provide preferential access to a pool of the combined super funds as social capital for workers’ housing (the Socialist Alliance will legislate in government for the elimination of Australia’s housing debt, investing superannuation socially to achieve this), public education, public health, and other social, environmental and economic investing of benefit to the working class. Further, we will establish, and ask all governments within the Federation to support, a Public Social Partnership (PSP) to build the new, needed, green housing stock.
ACCEPTED BY MOVER

4b
Moved Ron Guy, Melbourne Seconded Wayne Klempel, Melbourne North
Add point 7:
All superannuation funds adhere to the UN Ethical Sustainable Guarantee and be proactive in Principals of Responsible Investment in filtering companies not meeting the UN PRI. This includes all investment funds offering the individual shareholders company AGM voting or proxy rights in the shares owned.
ACCEPTED BY MOVER
4c
Moved Chris Slee, Melbourne North Seconded Various
Change proposal 1 to:
An adequate national retirement pension should replace workplace and voluntary superannuation. All would enjoy this entitlement, commensurate with their individual needs and social responsibilities.
ACCEPTED BY MOVER
4d
Moved Chris Slee, Melbourne North Seconded Various
In the preamble
Replace existing paragraph 11:
As we all know, anecdotally, it has become evident that our super is more likely to register a loss rather than a gain year by year. Capitalism will squander it for its benefit.
with:
It has become evident that the value of our super fluctuates wildly from year to year, depending on the state of the capitalist economy. In times of crisis, super funds suffer huge losses, and hence are not a reliable source of income for retired workers. The capitalists gamble with our money, and we suffer both from the poor decisions of particular capitalists and from the irrationality of the system as a whole.
ACCEPTED BY MOVER

RESOLUTION AS AMENDED CARRIED (ADOPTED TEXT FOLLOWS)

Preamble
For 20 years we have had employer-contributed compulsory superannuation (ECS), currently at the rate of 9% of gross income. This was “sold” as part of the social wage and as an expansion of the provision of enhanced retirement benefits for Australian workers beyond those then limited to public sector and management in the private sector. It is another example of the ALP-ACTU Accord betrayal of Australian workers.
Workers, in negotiating their terms of employment, sacrificed wage increases in exchange for employer-contributed superannuation incrementally increasing to the 9% that exists today.
It should be noted that the Australian Office of Taxation, as the administrator of the ECS, has failed miserably to enforce this provision on employers and many workers, particularly casual workers, as are an ever-increasing percentage of the workforce, are being robbed of their super entitlement.
Given the name “Superannuation Guarantee” it is anything but a “guarantee” other than a guarantee that as a worker you will “lose your money”.
The promise of the ACTU in negotiating this employment “benefit” has failed to meet expectations.
Initially, when introduced, with Union-Employer Industry Superannuation Funds being established all looked rosy. Especially for the ACTU executive members and senior union officials who found seats for themselves as well-remunerated trustees of these funds. A former right wing assistant secretary of the ACTU Gary Weaven is still the CEO of the “Industry Super Funds Association”. You’ve seen their ads on TV accurately extolling the superiority of their funds over those provided by the non-union finance industry version.
As is well appreciated, the regulatory system imposed on the finance sector in Australia would be laughable if it wasn’t such a cruel fraud.
The super funds of Australian workers have been purloined by the finance industry as a lucrative source of commissions and charges, suffering poor investment strategies and likely negligent or criminal behaviour on the part of those charged with administering their funds.
Paul Keating as Treasurer had teased us all with the prospect of the national cumulative pool of super funds being licensed by legislative exemption to be used at a lower than market interest rate to be used for national infrastructure investment. This has never happened.
The election of the laissez-faire Howard government didn’t help but witness the behaviour of Rudd’s finance minister Lindsay Tanner recently offering our national “Future Fund” to the “market” on its terms free from government “interference” or oversight. Score: People nil – Oligarchs 1.
It has become evident that the value of our super fluctuates wildly from year to year, depending on the state of the capitalist economy. In times of crisis, super funds suffer huge losses, and hence are not a reliable source of income for retired workers. The capitalists gamble with our money, and we suffer both from the poor decisions of particular capitalists and from the irrationality of the system as a whole.
Workers sacrificed cash-in-hand for what for many has become the chimera of an income in retirement. The superannuation guarantee is no guarantee at all. The greedy, profligate “Super Industry” is even lobbying hard to get the percentage increased to 12%!
Since government mandates the payment and collection of 9% of workers wages in super funds, government should guarantee that the indexed value of those contributions are maintained. If private banks can be given government protection, then Australian workers should expect nothing less.
This requirement may even motivate government to regulate this industry stringently. At the moment it’s a thieves picnic.
As the mid-wife of this fraud the ACTU has a responsibility to act to protect Australian workers from being exploited by finance capital.
Trillions of dollars are at stake here. Workers’ funds are being squandered by a privileged minority.
Proposal
1. An adequate national retirement “pension” should replace workplace and voluntary superannuation. All would enjoy this entitlement, commensurate with their individual needs and social responsibilities.
2. As an interim measure the current super scheme needs to be tightly regulated to minimise the incompetence and profiteering we are witnessing.
3. Within 12 months only union-industry super schemes will be licensed to operate with workers constituting 75% of the trustees of each Fund.
4. National legislation will provide a government guarantee of the value of all worker contributions and protecting the real value of their wages that have been committed by law to superannuation.
5. National legislation will provide preferential access to a pool of the combined super funds as social capital for workers’ housing (the Socialist Alliance will legislate in government for the elimination of Australia’s housing debt, investing superannuation socially to achieve this), public education, public health, and other social, environmental and economic investing of benefit to the working class. Further, we will establish, and ask all governments within the Federation to support, a Public Social Partnership (PSP) to build the new, needed, green housing stock.

6. The trade union movement and fraternal political groups be encouraged to take up this issue as a matter of urgency.
7. All superannuation funds adhere to the UN Ethical Sustainable Guarantee and be proactive in Principals of Responsible Investment in filtering companies not meeting the UN PRI. This includes all investment funds offering the individual shareholders company AGM voting or proxy rights in the shares owned.

5. Housing policy

Moved Linda Seaborn, Hobart Seconded Margaret Gleeson, Brisbane
Context

  1. Not all Australians have access to decent, affordable and secure housing. Aside from homelessness, people battle to keep a roof over their head and are forced to live in locations inconvenient to work, education and social participation.
  2. This social crisis is a result of inadequate incomes combined with increased housing costs, and a lack of affordable housing. Over the past 40 years, house prices have risen at a far greater rate than household incomes, creating barriers to home ownership and putting greater pressure on rental accommodation.
  3. “The average house price in the capital cities is now equivalent to over seven years of average earnings; up from three in the 1950s to the early 1980s. Only a third of transacted dwellings would have been accessible to the median young household in 2006–07, compared to a long-run average of almost a half. Around two-thirds of households in the lowest 40 per cent of the income distribution with a mortgage or renting were spending over 30 per cent of their income on housing, the established benchmark for ‘housing stress’. As house prices have increased, so too have rents and there are many more renting households in stress than home buying households. As many as 100 000 Australians are currently homeless.” (Commonwealth of Australia: 2008/1)
  4. The availability of public and private rental properties has declined. The public housing sector has shrunk under the neo-liberal agenda of ALP and Liberal governments. Capital funding for public housing under the Commonwealth State Housing Agreement has been in absolute decline for decades and has barely been enough to replace old stock, let alone meet growing need. The government’s policy shifted from providing low-income earners with a genuine alternative to private rental and home ownership, towards welfare housing instead.
  5. In response, state housing authorities have tightened eligibility criteria for public housing to people with high needs like mental health problems or homelessness, and eliminated security of tenure. But, even with the far-tighter eligibility criteria, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare estimated in January that more than 200,000 people remained on public housing waiting lists.
  6. Private owners buy and sell houses for speculative purposes, encouraged by generous tax benefits. (The capital gain on the sale of a principal residence is exempt from capital gains tax, unlike all other capital gains.) This speculation inflates house prices and makes housing unaffordable for lower income people, trapping us in a lifetime of renting.
  7. “The combined total of capital gains tax arrangements, land tax exemption and negative gearing arrangements is estimated to be in the order of $50 billion per year. That reflects against the $1.5 billion in the Commonwealth–State Housing Agreement and the $1 billion spread over four to five years proposed for the new National Rental Affordability Scheme and the Housing Affordability Fund. These tax concessions also mean that the overall support to wealthy homeowners is greater than that to low income renters. The Industry Commission (1993, p. 21) cite estimates that in 1990-91 subsidies to homeowners in the top quintile of income earners averaged $3180 while those to private renters in the bottom quintile were less than half as much, at $1440.” (Commonwealth of Australia: 2008/1)
  8. These tax concessions are popular with homeowners and home buyers, who make up 70% of Australian households. “By pushing up the price of homes it makes it that much harder to attain the state of being a home owner, but makes the benefits of home ownership even greater if you manage to make it. The jackpot’s bigger, but harder to win. And a system that is biased in favour of owner-occupiers is a system that is biased against renters. That’s unfair to people who spend all their lives as renters, as well as making it harder for would-be home owners to make the leap.” (Gittens: 2007)
  9. Close to 600,000 private renters are in housing stress, but ineligible for public housing. It is estimated that there are 400,000 units of affordable housing Australia-wide. The National Housing Supply Council said in 2006 there was a shortfall of 250,000 affordable rental properties for low to moderate income earners on $643 to $771 a week. For those on less than $256 a week, there was a shortfall of 110,000 rental properties. The council recognised a shortfall of 202,000 for those earning between $257 and $385 a week.
  10. Low cost housing is not produced due to market failure. Not enough low-cost housing is built as it is not profitable enough, compared to investment housing. Private landlords succeed in renting expensive housing to tenants as the cheaper, affordable houses do not exist. The federal government housing inquiry found that, “There is often inadequate housing for those looking to downsize and for those with limited means seeking less expensive private rental housing or social housing”. (Commonwealth of Australia: 2008/1)
  11. The Commonwealth-State Housing Agreements that have provided funding for public and community housing in the past has been largely replaced by market subsidy models like the National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS). While this is a big increase in funding, it is one-off and encourages the role of for-profit players in the provision of low cost housing, who have an interest in profit about their interest in the social goals of affordable housing.
  12. The National Rental Affordability Scheme provides 10-year subsidies for new properties rented at 20% below market rent. The aim is to increase the number of affordable dwellings by up to 50,000 by mid-2012. The flaw in this scheme is that it is a market-based solution to a crisis that has been brought on by a failure of the market. The solution needs to be longer term than 10 years, and in public control not vulnerable to market forces of for-profit providers.
  13. Housing supply must be well located and well serviced with supporting jobs, public transport and social and community infrastructure. “The way to improve housing affordability is not to build cheap houses on the outskirts of cities away from employment, services and public transport links. This simply shifts costs from housing to the cost—in dollars and time—of transport. Rather, the aim must be to build affordable housing in areas where infrastructure can provide for and attract new residents. In considering longer-term changes in the housing stock, thought must also be given to it being environmentally sustainable for it to be truly ‘affordable’ in a broader sense.” (Commonwealth of Australia: 2008/1)
  14. Affordable housing needs to take advantage of energy efficiency to reduce living costs for residents.
  15. The construction industry argue that there is a shortage of skilled labour and that this contributes to the shortage of affordable housing. Rather than investing in skills development in Australia, one of the solutions they propose is a “more flexible and streamlined utilisation of temporary overseas workers on section 457 skilled worker visas.” (Commonwealth of Australia: 2008/1)
References
Commonwealth of Australia (2008/1) A good house is hard to find: Housing affordability in Australia
Commonwealth of Australia (2008/2) The Road Home
Gittens, R (2007) "Renters can’t Home in on Jackpot", Sydney Morning Herald, 19 September, 2007


Policy
Housing is a basic human right that should not be reduced to a commodity only available at the whim of the market. We aim for housing that is affordable, secure, good quality, appropriately located, for all.
In the long-term:

  1. Establish a publicly-owned and controlled not-for-profit housing finance corporation to:
    • Finance maintenance of current public housing stock, including retrofitting for energy efficiency with insulation and solar hot water;
    • Provide low-interest home loans for those in need;
    • Establish a large-scale building program to make good quality, creatively designed, energy efficient, appropriately located, affordable, long term social housing with a low carbon footprint, to suit a wide variety of domestic arrangements, including the needs of people living communally, in extended families and in Aboriginal communities, available for all who choose it; and
    • Invest in social infrastructure to support housing—local health services, education, employment and other services and access to quality public transport.
  2. Fund the corporation from developer contributions via local and state government planning laws.
  3. Work with construction unions to implement the construction and maintenance program and include an investment in apprenticeships and training to meet the labour needs.
  4. All overseas workers to work under the same award conditions as Australian workers.
  5. Prioritise Aboriginal housing needs.
  6. Eliminate capital gains tax exemptions and negative gearing, which inflate the market and keep lower income people out of home ownership.
  7. Community control of public housing through democratically-elected housing boards comprised of tenants and housing workers.
In the interim:
  1. Address spiralling rental price increases by implementing rent control laws similar to those in place in Los Angeles and New York, which limit the amount that rent can be increased and all rents to be capped at a maximum of 20% of income.
  2. Mandate high standards for private accommodation and require landlords to fix problems and maintain private housing stock in good condition. Nationalise and renovate all substandard landlord holdings.
  3. Expand funding to, and support the development of, resident controlled housing co-operatives.
  4. Extend rent assistance to low income home buyers for mortgage assistance.
  5. Extend rent assistance to those receiving Austudy payments.
  6. Increase funding to the Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP) to a level sufficient to provide crisis accommodation for all who need it, as well as to maintain support services to assist homeless persons into independent accommodation and preventive programs for those at risk of homelessness. Ensure a continuum of support from crisis accommodation through to long-term stable accommodation.
  7. Provide high quality, community-based, supported accommodation for people with disabilities or other special needs. Fully fund refuges and other secure emergency accommodation for women and children escaping domestic violence.
  8. Provide outreach workers to seek out serice providers who may qualify for SAAP funding and to guide them through the funding process, in order to ease the onerous bureaucratic requirements that these service providers have to endure in order to get and retain funding.
  9. Provide additional funding to community organisations to enable them to provide education, training and housing assistance packages to young homeless people.
  10. Provide additional funding for programs which provide support services for the aged homeless including additional funding to ensure greater access to aged care accommodation.
  11. State and local governments planning frameworks must force private developers to allocate 30% of housing for low-rent tenants in every development.
  12. Strengthen legislation covering the rights of both public and private tenants, including the right to long-term leases.

AMENDMENTS MOVED

5a
Moved Rohan Gaiswinkler, Hobart Seconded Linda Seaborn, Hobart
In the Preamble:
Insert new point 6:
Eligibility criteria for public and community housing has a dramatic effect on the degree of social disadvantage and stigmatisation associated with social (public and community) housing. Narrowing eligibility criteria to only people with the highest socio-economic need has the effect of entrenching socio-economic disadvantage. Such policies exacerbate social disharmony and community dysfunction in public housing areas and undermining community development.
ACCEPTED BY MOVER
5b
Moved Margaret Gleeson, Brisbane Seconded Various
1. Amend point 2 of policy to read:
Fund the corporation from developer contributions via local and state government planning laws, taxation, superannuation funds.
2. Amend point 11 of policy to read:
State and local governments planning frameworks to legislate for developer allocations of 30% of housing for low rent tenants in major new developments.
ACCEPTED BY MOVER
5c
Moved Dick Nichols, Sydney Central Seconded Sue Bull, Geelong
Addendum (after final point 12):
Conference resolves to adopt the above policy provisionally and as a draft for further elaboration. Conference resolves to publish the draft in Alliance Voices, to invite Socialist Alliance members to comment and to participate in a housing working group to rework the draft in the light of feedback.
The working group to propose an updated draft with a view to final adoption by the National Executive before the coming federal election.
ACCEPTED BY MOVER

RESOLUTION AS AMENDED CARRIED (ADOPTED TEXT FOLLOWS)

Context
  1. Not all Australians have access to decent, affordable and secure housing. Aside from homelessness, people battle to keep a roof over their head and are forced to live in locations inconvenient to work, education and social participation.
  2. This social crisis is a result of inadequate incomes combined with increased housing costs, and a lack of affordable housing. Over the past 40 years, house prices have risen at a far greater rate than household incomes, creating barriers to home ownership and putting greater pressure on rental accommodation.
  3. “The average house price in the capital cities is now equivalent to over seven years of average earnings; up from three in the 1950s to the early 1980s. Only a third of transacted dwellings would have been accessible to the median young household in 2006–07, compared to a long-run average of almost a half. Around two-thirds of households in the lowest 40 per cent of the income distribution with a mortgage or renting were spending over 30 per cent of their income on housing, the established benchmark for ‘housing stress’. As house prices have increased, so too have rents and there are many more renting households in stress than home buying households. As many as 100 000 Australians are currently homeless.” (Commonwealth of Australia: 2008/1)
  4. The availability of public and private rental properties has declined. The public housing sector has shrunk under the neo-liberal agenda of ALP and Liberal governments. Capital funding for public housing under the Commonwealth State Housing Agreement has been in absolute decline for decades and has barely been enough to replace old stock, let alone meet growing need. The government’s policy shifted from providing low-income earners with a genuine alternative to private rental and home ownership, towards welfare housing instead.
  5. In response, state housing authorities have tightened eligibility criteria for public housing to people with high needs like mental health problems or homelessness, and eliminated security of tenure. But, even with the far-tighter eligibility criteria, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare estimated in January that more than 200,000 people remained on public housing waiting lists.
  6. Private owners buy and sell houses for speculative purposes, encouraged by generous tax benefits. (The capital gain on the sale of a principal residence is exempt from capital gains tax, unlike all other capital gains.) This speculation inflates house prices and makes housing unaffordable for lower income people, trapping us in a lifetime of renting.
  7. Eligibility criteria for public and community housing has a dramatic effect on the degree of social disadvantage and stigmatisation associated with social (public and community) housing. Narrowing eligibility criteria to only people with the highest socio-economic need has the effect of entrenching socio-economic disadvantage. Such policies exacerbate social disharmony and community dysfunction in public housing areas and undermining community development.
  8. The combined total of capital gains tax arrangements, land tax exemption and negative gearing arrangements is estimated to be in the order of $50 billion per year. That reflects against the $1.5 billion in the Commonwealth–State Housing Agreement and the $1 billion spread over four to five years proposed for the new National Rental Affordability Scheme and the Housing Affordability Fund. These tax concessions also mean that the overall support to wealthy homeowners is greater than that to low income renters. The Industry Commission (1993, p. 21) cite estimates that in 1990-91 subsidies to homeowners in the top quintile of income earners averaged $3180 while those to private renters in the bottom quintile were less than half as much, at $1440.” (Commonwealth of Australia: 2008/1)
  9. These tax concessions are popular with homeowners and home buyers, who make up 70% of Australian households. “By pushing up the price of homes it makes it that much harder to attain the state of being a home owner, but makes the benefits of home ownership even greater if you manage to make it. The jackpot’s bigger, but harder to win. And a system that is biased in favour of owner-occupiers is a system that is biased against renters. That’s unfair to people who spend all their lives as renters, as well as making it harder for would-be home owners to make the leap.” (Gittens: 2007)
  10. Close to 600,000 private renters are in housing stress, but ineligible for public housing. It is estimated that there are 400,000 units of affordable housing Australia-wide. The National Housing Supply Council said in 2006 there was a shortfall of 250,000 affordable rental properties for low to moderate income earners on $643 to $771 a week. For those on less than $256 a week, there was a shortfall of 110,000 rental properties. The council recognised a shortfall of 202,000 for those earning between $257 and $385 a week.
  11. Low cost housing is not produced due to market failure. Not enough low-cost housing is built as it is not profitable enough, compared to investment housing. Private landlords succeed in renting expensive housing to tenants as the cheaper, affordable houses do not exist. The federal government housing inquiry found that, “There is often inadequate housing for those looking to downsize and for those with limited means seeking less expensive private rental housing or social housing”. (Commonwealth of Australia: 2008/1)
  12. The Commonwealth-State Housing Agreements that have provided funding for public and community housing in the past has been largely replaced by market subsidy models like the National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS). While this is a big increase in funding, it is one-off and encourages the role of for-profit players in the provision of low cost housing, who have an interest in profit about their interest in the social goals of affordable housing.
  13. The National Rental Affordability Scheme provides 10-year subsidies for new properties rented at 20% below market rent. The aim is to increase the number of affordable dwellings by up to 50,000 by mid 2012. The flaw in this scheme is that it is a market-based solution to a crisis that has been brought on by a failure of the market. The solution needs to be longer term than 10 years, and in public control not vulnerable to market forces of for-profit providers.
  14. Housing supply must be well located and well serviced with supporting jobs, public transport and social and community infrastructure. “The way to improve housing affordability is not to build cheap houses on the outskirts of cities away from employment, services and public transport links. This simply shifts costs from housing to the cost—in dollars and time—of transport. Rather, the aim must be to build affordable housing in areas where infrastructure can provide for and attract new residents. In considering longer-term changes in the housing stock, thought must also be given to it being environmentally sustainable for it to be truly ‘affordable’ in a broader sense.” (Commonwealth of Australia: 2008/1)
  15. Affordable housing needs to take advantage of energy efficiency to reduce living costs for residents.
  16. The construction industry argue that they a shortage of skilled labour and that this contributes to the shortage of affordable housing. Rather than investing in skills development in Australia, one of the solutions they propose is a “more flexible and streamlined utilisation of temporary overseas workers on section 457 skilled worker visas.” (Commonwealth of Australia: 2008/1)
Policy
Housing is a basic human right that should not be reduced to a commodity only available at the whim of the market. We aim for housing that is affordable, secure, good quality, appropriately located, for all.
In the long-term:

  1. Establish a publicly-owned and controlled not-for-profit housing finance corporation to:
  • Finance maintenance of current public housing stock, including retrofitting for energy efficiency with insulation and solar hot water;
  • Provide low-interest home loans for those in need;
  • Establish a large-scale building program to make good quality, creatively designed, energy efficient, appropriately located, affordable, long term social housing with a low carbon footprint, to suit a wide variety of domestic arrangements, including the needs of people living communally, in extended families and in Aboriginal communities, available for all who choose it; and
  • Invest in social infrastructure to support housing - local health services, education, employment and other services and access to quality public transport.
  1. Fund the corporation from developer contributions via local and state government planning laws, taxation, superannuation funds.
  2. Work with construction unions to implement the construction and maintenance program and include an investment in apprenticeships and training to meet the labour needs.
  3. All overseas workers to work under the same award conditions as Australian workers.
  4. Prioritise Aboriginal housing needs.
  5. Eliminate capital gains tax exemptions and negative gearing, which inflate the market and keep lower income people out of home ownership.
  6. Community control of public housing through democratically-elected housing boards comprised of tenants and housing workers.
In the interim:
  1. Address spiralling rental price increases by implementing rent control laws similar to those in place in Los Angeles and New York, which limit the amount that rent can be increased and all rents to be capped at a maximum of 20% of income.
  2. Mandate high standards for private accommodation and require landlords to fix problems and maintain private housing stock in good condition. Nationalise and renovate all substandard landlord holdings.
  3. Expand funding to, and support the development of, resident controlled housing co-operatives.
  4. Extend rent assistance to low income home buyers for mortgage assistance.
  5. Extend rent assistance to those receiving Austudy payments.
  6. Increase funding to the Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP) to a level sufficient to provide crisis accommodation for all who need it, as well as to maintain support services to assist homeless persons into independent accommodation and preventive programs for those at risk of homelessness. Ensure a continuum of support from crisis accommodation through to long-term stable accommodation.
  7. Provide high quality, community-based, supported accommodation for people with disabilities or other special needs. Fully fund refuges and other secure emergency accommodation for women and children escaping domestic violence.
  8. Provide outreach workers to seek out service providers who may qualify for SAAP to guide them through the funding process, in order to ease the onerous bureaucratic requirements that these service providers have to endure in order to get and retain funding.
  9. Provide additional funding to community organisations to enable them to provide education, training and housing assistance packages to young homeless people.
  10. Provide additional funding for programs which provide support services for the aged homeless including additional funding to ensure greater access to aged care accommodation.
  11. State and local governments planning frameworks to legislate for developer allocations of 30% of housing for low rent tenants in major new developments
  12. State and local governments planning frameworks must force private developers to allocate 30% of housing for low-rent tenants in every development.
  13. Strengthen legislation covering the rights of both public and private tenants, including the right to long-term leases.
Conference resolves to adopt the above policy provisionally and as a draft for further elaboration. Conference resolves to publish the draft in Alliance Voices, to invite Socialist Alliance members to comment and to participate in a housing working group to rework the draft in the light of feedback.
The working group to propose an updated draft with a view to final adoption by the National Executive before the coming federal election.

6. Bill of Rights

Moved Chair Seconded Various
NOTE: Resolution from Garry Hill (New England), who was unable to attend conference
a) Australians should have a bill of rights and among these rights should be the right to fresh, unpolluted air and unpolluted fresh water. Such rights override the right of industry to make profits.
b) While the means of production should be collectivised and therefore excluded from private ownership, all individuals and families have the right to own products, have their own transportation and their own place of residence.
c) Trade unions have the right to organise, strike, negotiate, collect union dues and fees, send inspectors and organisers into workplaces and campaign for wages, political issues and conditions. They may also donate to organisations. They have the right to make union membership compulsory.
d) Australian citizens and people residing in Australia have the right not to be deported to those nations which have the death penalty or are in a state of war. This right overrides any current extradition treaty.

AMENDMENTS MOVED

6a
Moved Tim Dobson, Hobart. Seconded Susan Austin, Hobart
To replace resolution number 6 with:
That The Socialist Alliance, through Alliance Voices, wiki discussion and discussion in branches, develops a bill of rights to elaborate on the democratic rights that should be enshrined in the constitution. This will include the right to food, health, housing, education, employment, welfare and other rights. The Bill or Act will outlaw discrimination against oppressed groups whether they be migrant groups, Aboriginals, LGBTI, disabled or other groups. We would distribute this widely and call for public debate and input.
CARRIED

6b

Moved Haskell Musry, Sydney East Seconded Steve O’Brien, Newcastle
Replace last sentence in point c with:
Unions have the right to campaign for and achieve a closed shop.
LAPSED ON ADOPTION OF 6a

6c

Moved Garry Walters, NSW at large
In the first line:
Change are to ours
Insert after first paragraph:
The right to fresh unpolluted water includes that all pubic water supplies be totally free of any compulsory or mandated artificial addition of fluorides, which are highly toxic industrial wastes and are not, as claimed by bipartisan capitalist governments that undemocratically impose this, at all productive of better public dental health.
LAPSED ON ADOPTION OF 6a
RESOLUTION AS AMENDED CARRIED (ADOPTED TEXT FOLLOWS)
That the Socialist Alliance, through Alliance Voices, wiki discussion and discussion in branches, develops a bill of rights to elaborate on the democratic rights that should be enshrined in the constitution. This will include the right to food, health, housing, education, employment, welfare and other rights. The Bill or Act will outlaw discrimination against oppressed groups whether they be migrant groups, Aboriginals, LGBTI, disabled or other groups. We would distribute this widely and call for public debate and input.

7. Food policy

Moved Chair Seconded Various
NOTE: Resolution from Garry Hill (New England), who was unable to attend conference
In a world where over a billion people are starving, the deliberate destruction of food crops is criminal. Food should be distributed to satisfy human and animal needs, not by the need to make profits.
AMENDMENT MOVED
Moved Jess Moore, Presiding Committee Seconded Various
To refer the resolution to the incoming National Executive, for inclusion in appropriate policy.
CARRIED

8. Built-in obsolescence

Moved Chair Seconded Matt Garner, Illawarra
NOTE: Resolution from Garry Hill (New England), who was unable to attend conference
In a world where resources are being rapidly devoured, inbuilt obsolescence is a crime and a useless waste not only of resources, but of time, energy and human life. Why should people waste their lives slaving away at dreary jobs to produce these goods for wages, which go on replacing obsolescent goods? If goods are made to last as long as possible, there can be massive gains in saving resources and reducing pollution. Redirected human employment, effort and saved time could be used in the massive battles to save the environment, produce more renewable fuel and food and improve health treatment and prevention.
AMENDMENTS MOVED
8a
Moved Sue Bolton, Melbourne Seconded Matt Garner, Illawarra
Make the existing motion a preamble, followed by the text:
Companies should be compelled to design products so that they can be repaired, recycled, re-used and disassembled for recycling. Manufacturers should be compelled to take back their used products (cars, TVs, computers, etc) and re-use the components.
Products should be designed in such a way as to minimize inefficiencies and waste both in their production and manufacture, and during and after their service life.
CARRIED
Moved Presiding Committee Seconded Various
That the motion as amended be referred to the National Environment Committee for incorporation in climate charter.
CARRIED

RESOLUTION AS AMENDED CARRIED (ADOPTED TEXT FOLLOWS)

In a world where resources are being rapidly devoured, inbuilt obsolescence is a crime and a useless waste not only of resources, but of time, energy and human life. Why should people waste their lives slaving away at dreary jobs to produce these goods for wages, which go on replacing obsolescent goods? If goods are made to last as long as possible, there can be massive gains in saving resources and reducing pollution. Redirected human employment, effort and saved time could be used in the massive battles to save the environment, produce more renewable fuel and food and improve health treatment and prevention.
Companies should be compelled to design products so that they can be repaired, recycled, re-used and disassembled for recycling. Manufacturers should be compelled to take back their used products (cars, TVs, computers, etc) and re-use the components.
Products should be designed in such a way as to minimize inefficiencies and waste both in their production and manufacture, and during and after their service life.
Referred to the National Environment Committee for incorporation in climate charter.

9. On Green Left Weekly copy and campaigning

Moved Pip Hinman, Sydney Central Seconded Jim McIlroy, Sydney Central
NOTE Resolution adopted at the December 10 National Executive meeting.
Preamble
Green Left Weekly, now in its 19th year, has always been an attempt to unite and strengthen the dispersed, uneven radical politics in Australia.
Green Left Weekly began its life as a regroupment project of the ecological and socialist currents in Australia when an organisational regroupment was not possible. In that sense, Green Left Weekly was conceived as a paper for the broader progressive movements: it was and is not a typical “party newspaper”.
Green Left Weekly remains an independent progressive newspaper committed to reporting on the unfolding political, social and ecological developments across the globe. As such, socialists can accumulate support and respect from having regular input into its pages.
Resolution
That the Socialist Alliance continues to support the Green Left Weekly project by:

  • Writing regular articles covering the Socialist Alliance’s policy positions and campaigns, and its weekly Our Common Cause column, as well as engaging in debates with others involved in the green and left movements;
  • Supporting the regular weekly distribution of the paper, including helping organise a national and local distribution committees which are open to all supporters of Green Left Weekly;
  • Promoting Green Left Weekly hard copy and e-subscriptions and solidarity subscriptions to Socialist Alliance members and others in the progressive movements; and
  • Encouraging other progressive organisations to make use of Green Left Weekly through supplements such as the Arabic-language supplement The Flame and the Latin America Social Forum Spanish supplement.
AMENDMENT MOVED
9a
Moved Pip Hinman, Sydney Central Seconded Various
Insert at the beginning of the first dot point under:
That the Socialist Alliance continues to support the Green Left Weekly project by:

  • Co-ordinating local copy committees as well as
ACCEPTED BY MOVER

RESOLUTION AS AMENDED CARRIED (ADOPTED TEXT FOLLOWS)

Preamble
Green Left Weekly, now in its 19th year, has always been an attempt to unite and strengthen the dispersed, uneven radical politics in Australia.
Green Left Weekly began its life as a regroupment project of the ecological and socialist currents in Australia when an organisational regroupment was not possible. In that sense, Green Left Weekly was conceived as a paper for the broader progressive movements: it was and is not a typical “party newspaper”.
Green Left Weekly remains an independent progressive newspaper committed to reporting on the unfolding political, social and ecological developments across the globe. As such, socialists can accumulate support and respect from having regular input into its pages.
Resolution
That the Socialist Alliance continues to support the Green Left Weekly project by:

  • Co-ordinating local copy committees as well as writing regular articles covering The Socialist Alliance’s policy positions and campaigns, and its weekly Our Common Cause column, as well as engaging in debates with others involved in the green and left movements;
  • Supporting the regular weekly distribution of the paper, including helping organise a national and local distribution committees which are open to all supporters of Green Left Weekly;
  • Promoting Green Left Weekly hard copy and e-subscriptions and solidarity subscriptions to The Socialist Alliance members and others in the progressive movements; and
  • Encouraging other progressive organisations to make use of Green Left Weekly through supplements such as the Arabic-language supplement The Flame and the Latin America Social Forum Spanish supplement.


10. On financial arrangements

Moved Chris Williams, Illawarra Seconded John Tognolini, Blue Mountains
NOTE Resolution adopted by the December 10 National Executive meeting

  1. That the Socialist Alliance will assume the national management and co-ordination of the financial arrangements that have operated in the past to facilitate the operations and activities of the Democratic Socialist Perspective (DSP);
  2. That we encourage conference attendees and others to make a generous donation to the Green Left Weekly Fighting Fund to assist with the running costs of producing and distributing Green Left Weekly;
  3. That the 2010 Green Left Weekly Fighting Fund target be $300,000;
  4. That, in line with an ongoing serious and professional approach to finances, the Socialist Alliance launch a drive in early 2010 for regular financial contributions from members and supporters to the upkeep and running costs of local Resistance/Activist Centres;
  5. That, after the 7th National Conference, the Socialist Alliance National Executive appoint a National Finances Committee for the ongoing co-ordination of all aspects of Socialist Alliance finances;
  6. That this committee be under the direction of and accountable to the Socialist Alliance National Executive;
  7. That the Socialist Alliance transition finances committee cease to exist with the formation of the National Finances Committee.
  8. That we encourage members and supporters to take out a solidarity subscription to Green Left Weekly.
CARRIED

11. On socialist ideas and education

Moved Dave Holmes, Melbourne North Seconded Chris Johnson, Geelong
NOTE Resolution adopted by the December 3 National Executive meeting

    1. The Socialist Alliance recognises that access to the educational assets and publishing resources of the DSP would be of benefit to all Socialist Alliance members as part of a wider exposure to all socialist perspectives. The Socialist Alliance may make use of the accumulated educational experience and assets of the DSP.
    2. The Socialist Alliance establishes a educational committee with the task of facilitating access by all Socialist Alliance members to education and published resources that inform them of a range of socialist ideas The range of socialist ideas discussed may be broader than Socialist Alliance policy which is set out in its adopted resolutions.
    3. The Socialist Alliance political education committee should investigate the merits of proposing to the National Executive that it recommends that all branches form socialist ideas committees
    4. The Socialist Alliance aims to encourage various forms of political, social and environmental education, so that members are able to take advantage of training and learning programs that may increase their understanding and raise consciousness.
    5. The Socialist Alliance recognises that political, social and environmental educational resources will include discussions, forums, publications and multimedia techniques.
    6. The Socialist Alliance recognises that large national conferences such as “Climate Change: Social Change” and “World at a Crossroads” are valuable events for education and promotion of socialist ideas. The Socialist Alliance will seek to organise or be involved in such events when practicable. In addition, the Socialist Alliance encourages states and branches to organise and hold socialist ideas forums when practicable, to facilitate a wide-ranging discussion of socialist ideas.
    7. The Socialist Alliance seeks to make available the Links website (www.links.org.au) as an information resource for all branches.
    8. The Socialist Alliance may make recommendations to Resistance Books in line with its educational and political needs, and may make use of Resistance Books titles in its education programs.
    9. The Socialist Alliance recognises the Marxist schools being organised in January 2010 as part of the broad range of educational activities that it offers its members.
    10. To use the drafting of the proposed book on socialism to frame a discussion on socialist ideas in Socialist Alliance branches
CARRIED