On Socialist Alliance membership dues and finances

Urgent appeal. Socialist Alliance needs to submit an updated list of over 1500 members to the Australian Electoral Commission to maintain our electoral registration and appear on the ballot at the next federal election. We're asking all existing members and those interested in joining to confirm your willingness to support our electoral enrolment by filling in this form.

Proposal

That the Socialist Alliance adopt a revised scale of membership fees and introduce voluntary member solidarity payments

Rationale

Socialist Alliance must be put on a more sustainable financial basis. If the party wishes to produce, publish and distribute quality policy material, to pay for basic office space to operate effectively, to actively organise on a permanent basis rather than just during election periods, and to move towards being able to function on a financially stable footing without needing to ask for donations from external bodies, it must take action to augment its sources of funding.

If the party does not take action, all branches — and especially those in regional areas — will continue to be limited in their range of actions by having to divert their energies away from direct actions towards fundraising events.

Regional members should contribute towards the costs of local campaigning, but at present there is no effective mechanism providing for accountable and equitable fund transfers between State branches and regional branches/sub-branches.

One way to address this problem is to vary the scale of annual membership fees to Socialist Alliance and introduce voluntary member solidarity payments.

The current membership fee structure is flawed and inadequate for providing a sufficient pool of funds for regional branches for sustained organising.

This proposal to adjust the membership fees and introduce voluntary solidarity payments is linked to the issue of developing efficient operations within Socialist Alliance. In our experience, the work of handling new and continuing memberships is best handled at a State level.

A system of member solidarity support payments would require some extra time and effort by State treasurers to manage the system. It is our view that the party should take a position that State treasurers be rewarded for the essential work required to keep the party on a stable financial basis.

The Socialist Alliance’s largest affiliate organisation, the Democratic Socialist Perspective, has a membership support system and subsidised workers. The DSP obviously recognised these assisted its ability to organise and to function. At the same time, the DSP contributes towards the financial costs of the Socialist Alliance and represents a sizeable proportion of the dynamic membership.

The Socialist Alliance cannot continue to depend on the financial and human resources of one affiliate organisation if the aim of building a broad left party with the goal of parliamentary representation is to be realised. The links between money, resources and political activity must be transparent and they must be acknowledged.

While this proposal recognises that DSP comrades are already paying membership support payments, we emphasise that Socialist Alliance member solidarity support payments would be voluntary, and the level of support payment chosen by members themselves. It takes money to print a flyer, hire a room, operate computer systems, arrange public events and contact people by telephone. Our members should be aware of these facts of commercial and political life. Without sufficient funds, any political organisation is hamstrung in its efforts to get its points across to the public and the media, and to communicate properly with its members. On the left, we have to work particularly hard to be able to present our policies without friendly media and the ability to advertise widely and regularly.

Revised membership fees and support payments are just one part of what should be a comprehensive plan to ensure that the Socialist Alliance can function effectively, democratically and efficiently.

It is a small but important step to modernising the party.

Proposed revised membership fees structure
  Current Proposed
School student $6 Scale deleted
Concessional $12 $18
Ordinary $24 $36
Solidarity $60 $90

The proposed scale would revise the current fee levels to reflect significant increases, due to inflation, in the cost of promoting party policies and activities, the desirability for Socialist Alliance to financially contribute towards the provision of office space provided by affiliate organisations, and to meet essential operating expenses such as telephone and printing and stationery.

The scale for high-waged has been replaced by a “solidarity” category.

In this model, it is clearly up to the individual member to decide their own financial status and select their level of membership.

The scale for school students is discontinued for the reasons that Socialist Alliance cannot realistically provide the expected benefits of membership at the existing rate, that late secondary school students normally have sufficient funds to enable them to pay the concessional rate, and to cease having two separate rates for secondary and tertiary students.

Proposed voluntary member solidarity support payments

There are three levels of general support, the level to be chosen by members themselves based on their ability to pay.

  per month per annum
Level 1 $6.50 $78
Level 2 $13 $156
Level 3 $19.50 $234

* by authorised bank debit

Proposed additional benefits of membership
  1. Sara Moss’s proposal
    1. Additional membership benefits to be provided to all members
      • A discounted subscription to Green Left Weekly to be offered. [By arrangement with Green Left Weekly]
      • A membership card, a booklet on socialism and one free copy of Green Left Weekly should be provided free to all members on joining.
      • Issues of Alliance Voices to be issued electronically [or mailed if no internet connection] in February, April, June, August and October, provided that members continue to be financial.
      • Discount of 20% on one item of Socialist Alliance merchandise purchased.
    2. Additional benefits to be provided for solidarity support to Socialist Alliance
      • Supply of Merchandise, after thee months of support at all levels:
      • A free t-shirt of their choice plus four free issues of Green Left Weekly
  2. David White’s Proposal
    1. Additional benefits of membership to be provided to all members
      • A discounted subscription to Green Left Weekly to be offered. [By arrangement with Green Left Weekly]
      • A member’s badge of good quality should be provided free to all members after three months of financial membership.
      • Issues of Alliance Voices to be issued electronically [or mailed if no internet connection] in February, April, June, August and October, provided that members continue to be financial.
    2. Additional benefits to be provided for solidarity support to Socialist Alliance
      • Supply of Merchandise, after 3 months support:
      1. Level 1. One free Socialist Alliance t-shirt, one Socialist Alliance drink holder.
      2. Level 2. One free Socialist Alliance t-shirt, two Socialist Alliance drink holders, one Socialist Alliance cap.
      3. Level 3. One free Socialist Alliance T-shirt, three Socialist Alliance drink holders, one Socialist Alliance cap
randomness