Rationale for the Towards a Socialist Australia document

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Below is a report by Susan Price given to the January 13, 2012 national executive on the draft Towards a Socialist Australia document. It is reprinted here for comrades' information.

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For several years, we have been intending to publish a book about Socialism, but this has proven to be beyond the capacity of comrades who volunteered to take on this project (such as Dick Nichols), but were already overburdened with important work on behalf of the Socialist Alliance.

The idea to put together a document which starts to encapsulate the answers to the questions “Why Socialism?” and “What Does the Socialist Alliance Stand For?” in a popular style came about late last year.

Initially Ash Pemberton was approached to put forward a draft. This early draft got comrades on the National Executive thinking about what might form the content of this document, and this led to a Drafting Committee being formed (including myself, Jess Moore, Amelia Taylor and Dave Holmes). Dave volunteered to have a go at a redraft the document, and this was edited and amended by the Drafting Committee and then submitted to Alliance Voices as the first draft.

Subsequently, several comrades from around the country put forward proposals for amending the document via Alliance Voices, including Dave Kerin, Chris Slee, Barry Healy, Linda Seaborn, and Emma Murphy (on behalf of the ATSI Working Group).

It was decided to reconvene the Drafting Committee, and to enlarge it to include Renfrey Clarke from Adelaide to attempt to incorporate as much of the suggested amendments as possible, and to further re-shape and edit the document.

Renfrey contributed some major rewording of the first sections on the economic and climate crises and I reordered the document, and incorporated where possible, the proposed amendments and suggestions put forward by the comrades already mentioned above.

Jess took on the important task of de-jargonising the document and losing the more flowery language for plain English as much as possible.

While it was not possible to include every suggestion made, in many cases the content was substantially changed in line with the amendments from comrades.

The process has been a productive and collaborative one, and I'd like to take the opportunity to formally thank Ash, Dave, Renfrey, Jess and Amelia and all the comrades who have put forward suggestions to improve the document. This process has been the result of positive collaboration within the Alliance and reflects our current practice with policy development and discussion on our campaigning e-lists.

Assuming that the draft is approved at the conference, the next step will be to commence a process of continuing discussion about the document within the Alliance, as well as public consultation with our allies, collaborators and individual supporters, with a view to formally adopting it as a document of the Alliance at our 2013 National Conference. How branches choose to go about this consultation will be up to them, and dependent upon the particular circumstances in each city and state, but branches should start a discussion about this soon after the conference.

While it will be an adopted draft, the intention is to publish the document soon after the conference as a pamphlet, as it will be a useful publication for current and new members, those interested in joining and for wider distribution.

We can add a preamble/introduction about the process we intend to engage in, encouraging input from like-minded activists and groups, and which also might serve as encouragement for like-minded groups to affiliate to the Alliance, and for new members to join.