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Monday, May 30, 2011

Left puts gay marriage on agenda

Pushing for reform ... the Labor Left faction.
Pushing for reform ... the Labor Left faction.
By Phillip Coorey -

THE Labor Party's Left faction resolved yesterday to push for significant reforms in the party's rules and procedures at the ALP national conference scheduled for December.
The meeting of the national Left in Canberra yesterday also reaffirmed that the push for gay marriage would be on the agenda at the conference, with the aim of changing party policy from one of opposition to that of a conscience vote.
With a significant element of the Right also supportive, the policy change is likely to be effected. Sources said the meeting yesterday also discussed the government's increasingly harsh asylum seeker policy, including the proposed Malaysia plan.
While the Left has concerns about the policy and how it fits with international obligations concerning refugees, assurances that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees will be involved have stopped it from speaking out.
One of the most contentious debates to be had at the national conference is that on the recommended changes to rules and procedures contained in the post-election review conducted by the party elders John Faulkner, Steve Bracks and Bob Carr. They aim to reinvigorate the party's membership by empowering the rank and file. The Right faction, which dominates, has dismissed the whole exercise as one of self-indulgence but the Left will be pushing hard for the changes.
The Prime Minster, Julia Gillard, has warned she does not want internal squabbles in what is already an onerous policy year for the government.

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