Response to proposed amendments to the Constitution, by comrades from Brisbane and Adelaide.

Re: “Constitutional amendments for improving the operation and democracy of our national leadership bodies, proposed by comrades Angus McAllen, Ewan S, Sean Brocklehurst, Sian Cumberland, Laura Gilbie, Evan Verner, Brodie Carter, Liah Lazarou, Dom Hale, Leela Ford Lucinda Donovan”

I have some comments on the following 4 points and the proposed constitutional changes which flow from these points.

However I would like to first say that whatever party structure Socialist Alliance decides is determined by its political perspectives. Our perspective has been to build a more active and politically coherent party, with an orientation to youth. At the last Conference, while we did not adopt a set of organisational principles, the document “Thinking About Party Leadership and Functioning in the Socialist Alliance” was useful and I think should be revisited by comrades when considering the proposed constitutional amendments.

The constitution adopted in June 2014 provides for a national leadership of the Socialist Alliance consistent with, and best able to further its political perspectives. It is an organisational structure which is accountable, and more able to achieve unity in action as a national party, than the federated system proposed by the comrades' amendments.

“2) Make the National Executive a more democratic body by ensuring that it comprises party leaders from each branch where possible”

COMMENT: Are comrades implying that the current constitutional provisions for electing an NE are not “democratic”? No explanation of what is meant by “more democratic” or how the current system is “less democratic" is given. Comrades are not proposing changes to the method of election to National Conference, so is there is an assumption that National Conference functions democratically? The current provision is for the NE to be directly elected by the national conference. The NE so elected is accountable to the National Conference which consists of delegates from all branches elected proportionate to their financial membership. This structure (an NE elected by delegated national conference and accountable to it) is an organisational form more relevant to our perspectives of building a more politically coherent party of activists.

The comrades' proposal reduces the democratic functioning of the National Conference to limit its ability to electing office bearers and not the full national leadership. The current provision for electing the NE is for a leadership body to lead a national party united in action…..the sort of NE proposed by the comrades' amendments is one suited to a federation of parties. It would not enable SA to increase its political coherence.

3) Make the National Council a more democratic body by ensuring that branches are proportionally represented by their size, rather than the current ceiling of 2 delegates per branch;

COMMENT: There is no current ceiling of 2 delegates per Branch. Branches with 15 or fewer members have entitlement to 2 delegates and branches with more than 15 members are entitled to 3.  

5) Formalise in the constitution membership of the National Executive of Green Left Weekly editors;

COMMENT: Comrades in proposing this amendment have ignored what the status and role of the Green Left Weekly project is. Green Left is the paper we support but it is independent of the Socialist Alliance. A Green Left Weekly Liaison Committee exists to facilitate discussion between the leadership of Socialist Alliance and the editors of Green Left Weekly.

6) Include National Green Left Weekly Coordinator as an elected officeholder position in the constitution;

COMMENT: Responsibility for coordinating the distribution of Green Left Weekly by Socialist Alliance members is a political assignment and is a decision more appropriate for the National Executive. However this does not mean that the comrade assigned to this task may not be nominated and elected to the NE in his, or her, own right.