Draft constitution of the Socialist Alliance

Draft constitution of the Socialist Alliance

This draft has been produced by Dick Nichols based on an initial draft by Peter Boyle plus amendments received from Janet Burstall, Phil Sandford and Alison Thorne. It has yet to be discussed by the National Liaison Committee, which agreed at its June 22 telephone hook-up that it should be made available for preconference discussion. The National Liaison Committee will produce specific proposals about the National Executive and the national officeholders in a later preconference bulletin.

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  1. Name

    The name of the organisation shall be the Socialist Alliance, hereinafter referred to as “the Alliance”.

  2. Aims and objectives

    1. The Alliance is a coalition of socialist parties and socialist individuals supporting a common action platform for the purpose of contesting local, state and federal elections. On the basis of this platform the Alliance also seeks to build campaigns involving trades union and communities to fight for the resources and services that workers, unemployed, women, pensioners, Aborigines and migrants, really need.
    2. The Socialist Alliance shall stand candidates to give a voice to working class struggle, and meet the need for working-class political representation.
    3. The Alliance seeks to build a movement for change by developing policies, campaigns, industrial struggles and co-operation with all workers, environmental, anti-racist, and other social movements and to put forward an alternative to corporate control of society. A sustained mass campaign of total opposition to the ruling class offensive can bring together the forces to replace capitalism with a socialist society, based on co-operation, democracy and ecological sustainability.
    4. In parliament, Socialist Alliance representatives would use their position to support workers’ struggles and social movements, fight reactionary policies and promote the mass campaigns that can defeat the attacks on jobs and living standards.
    5. If elected Socialist Alliance candidates shall pledge any income above the average wage of a skilled worker to the Alliance to help fund its work.
  3. Membership

    1. Any individual who broadly agrees with the aims and objectives of the Alliance and agrees to participate in the non-sectarian, co-operative spirit of the Alliance is eligible to join. Membership fees for 2001 shall be $50 high waged, $20 waged, $10 unwaged, $5 high school student per year.
    2. The Socialist Alliance encourages full participation of all members as activists and leaders at local, state and national levels of the organisation and as candidates and branch officers. The Alliance actively encourages working class women, indigenous people, immigrants, queers, people with disabilities and young people to take on leadership roles within the Alliance.
    3. The Socialist Alliance is politically pluralistic and encourages all individuals and perspectives to participate fully in our struggle for a socialist society and in our way of working as an alliance. Members of other parties, organisations and groups who join the Socialist Alliance are expected to be able to keep their identity as members of these organisations whilst participating fully in the development of the Alliance.
    4. To further this end, membership assumes a commitment to a non-sectarian and co-operative way of working, looking to build unity, positively supporting and encouraging the notion of alliances and ensuring that any critical debates are conducted in a positive manner and without personal attacks.
    5. Once decisions have been taken by the elected bodies of the Alliance all members are expected to present that decision as the position of the Alliance, both in public and in dealings with other political organisations. At the same time individual Alliance members and affiliate organisations are free to indicate their agreement or disagreement with any Alliance decision.
  4. National Conference

    1. Policy shall be decided democratically by an annual National Conference or by Special Conference. These conferences shall be open to all members but decisions shall be made by delegates proportionally representing the membership of local Alliances. Conference decisions shall be by show of delegate cards and by simple majority.
    2. Delegate ratios shall be decided by the National Executive (or in the case of the inaugural National Conference, the National Liaison Committee) after consultation with local branches and district and state-wide bodies.
    3. National Conference shall elect a National Executive, and any national officeholders and national bodies.
    4. For 2001-2 the national officeholders shall be [details to be provided].
    5. For 2001-2 the National Executive shall be composed of [details to be provided].
    6. If one third of the paid-up membership requests it, a Special Conference of the Alliance will be called in addition to the National Conferences.
    7. The implementation of policy and new activities between Conferences, and the organisation of annual and any other Conferences, shall be carried out by officeholders and leadership bodies elected by the National Conference.
    8. The officeholders and leadership bodies shall be accountable to the National Conference and to any Special Conference called for the purpose of considering their actions.
  5. National Executive and National officeholders

    1. The officeholders and leadership bodies shall be responsible for the running of the organisation and for finance, membership, arrangements of meetings, communications with local groups and individuals, national bulletin production and distribution, liaison with other groups and organisations, and arrangements for seeking and enabling electoral registration and compliance with electoral laws; and any other matters delegated to them by the Alliance as a whole.
    2. The National Executive has the power to appoint other officers of the Alliance where required to fulfill its duties as outlined in this constitution.
    3. The National Executive has the duty to canvass the broadest possible consensus within the Alliance on all important matters.
    4. The National Executive shall meet, in face or by phone, at least every two months. It shall coordinate election campaigns nationally and shall allocate specific national tasks such as media liaison and the development of draft policy documents in specific areas.
    5. Individuals acting on behalf of the Socialist Alliance nationally, or the National Executive should report the substance of their work to the National Executive by email.
  6. Local branches

    1. The basic unit of the Socialist Alliance shall be the local branch. A branch shall have at least seven members. Members live in the area covered by the branch, which shall be organised on the basis of federal electorates./li>
    2. The quorum at Branch meetings shall be five, or 25 per cent, whichever is the greater. Branch decisions shall be by show of hands and by simple majority.
    3. Branches shall elect office bearers, including a Convenor, Treasurer and Returning Officer, annually. Office bearers can be voted out at any properly convened Branch meeting. A properly convened Branch meeting is one that is held at a regular time, or is one for which at least two weeks notice is given
    4. Branches shall be responsible for ensuring a political discussion at branch meetings, carrying out campaigns in their area in support of workers’ and social movement struggles, and for the running of election campaigns.
    5. Providing their material does not contradict the core Alliance platform, local Alliance groups shall be free to raise additional, specific demands within their material.
  7. State, district and city-wide organising committees

    1. States or city-wide regions may choose to have organising committees to coordinate campaigns across branches and to coordinate state electoral campaigns.
    2. State-wide or city-wide conferences shall elect their own executives and officebearers, as required, and shall have control of all campaigns at their corresponding level. Such committees shall usually be formed on the base of one delegate per branch, with affiliate organisations who are not represented by branch-elected delegates also eligible to nominate a representative.
  8. Caucuses

    1. Any individual member or affiliate organisation shall have the right to form a caucus for the purpose of influencing Alliance policy and activity. As far as possible caucus meetings shall be open and transparent. However, once Alliance policy and campaigning priorities are decided caucuses are expected to abide by them and not organise public campaigns in opposition to Alliance policy.
    2. Any oppressed group within the Alliance shall have the right to form a caucus. All oppressed group shall have a right to participate in a caucus if it is formed.
  9. Election campaigns and preselection

    1. Branches shall pre-select the candidate for their area/electorate. Nominations shall be called 21 days before a scheduled branch meeting. The Returning Officer shall supply candidates for pre-selection with a list of all eligible voters. Candidates shall be given equal time of at least five minutes each to speak to the Branch. The pre-selected candidate shall be the person with the most votes.
    2. Branches shall also be responsible for their own election campaign including raising finance to nominate candidates and production of material (above and beyond whatever common election material that can be provided centrally). They shall also be responsible for their campaigns, and for fulfilling any local legal requirements and providing necessary information to the National Executive for the purposes of complying with the members the Alliance who are part of a particular election legislation (records of membership,donations, etc.)
    3. Senate, state upper-house and city-wide candidates shall be preselected by state or city-wide conferences of the Alliance.
    4. In the event of disputes about candidates within or between branches or affiliate organisations the National Executive shall have the final say.
  10. Amendments

    Amendments to this Constitution shall be made by simple majority vote of the National Conference.

  11. By-laws

    Interim by-laws dealing with matters pertaining to the structure and functioning of the Alliance not set down in this Constitution may be adopted by the National Executive. Such by-laws shall be submitted to the following National Conference for ratification.