CHOPPED: Labor Unity executive sacked by members

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VEXNEWS has obtained the following email that was sent to all members of the Victorian Labor Unity faction today. It reads as follows:

Dear LU Member,

By now you may have been approached to sign a petition that states:

“We the undersigned have no confidence in the current Labor Unity Executive structure.  The current structure was an attempt to capture the diversity of views in Labor Unity. However, it has delivered the opposite result with consensus decision-making now non-existent.  It is fundamentally undemocratic and does not represent the interest of
the broad group. Further, we believe the spirit of the previous structure should be revived to give weight to the views of unions, MPs and rank and file members. We are concerned at the recent destabilisation of the Party and the impact of this on our electoral prospects. We support the negotiated arrangements that will provide stability to the Party.”

At the time of writing 65% of LU members have signed in support of the petition.

That means that 65% of LU members have declared that the LU Executive as currently constituted no longer represents Labor Unity.

As a result of the failure by some to recognise the importance of traditional Labor Unity values such as relying on consensus as the foundation for decision making and acting in the best interests of the Party, there is only one course of action that can be taken.

We need to engage in a discussion within our group about both the rules that govern Labor Unity and the principles under which we operate.
We again assure you that we will engage with you on how to restore the group’s values and a means by which we operate, including the structures that will assure our future success.
In respect to the new deal, 70% of the Labor Party are supporting it, including the Socialist Left, Ferguson Left and UCA along with those in Labor Unity who have initiated this deal.

We wish to thank you for your support.  If you have not had the opportunity to sign the petition and wish to, you can do so in a reply email, by letter or we could arrange for someone to call and collect your signature.

Yours in unity,

Russell Atwood – On Behalf of the Australian Services Union
Noah Carroll – Labor Unity Secretary
Stephen Conroy – ALP National Executive Member
Wayne Mader – On Behalf of the Transport Workers Union
Richard Marles – Federal Member of Parliament
Cesar Melhem – On Behalf of the Australian Workers Union
Fiona Richardson – LU State Parliamentary Convenor
Bill Shorten – Labor Unity Convenor

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22 Comments

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22 responses to “CHOPPED: Labor Unity executive sacked by members

  1. Anonymous

    So, how many people (in numbers) have signed the petition?

  2. Astounded of Melbourne

    i’ll sign. will you accept liberal blue ink?

  3. Anonymous

    The petition says nothing about dissolving the LU Executive.

  4. Anonymous

    Which Executive is being sacked? The one created just yesterday with Senatar Feeney as Tsar?

  5. Anonymous

    that must be why Noah et al were so keen to have everyone renew their LU memberships by 31 December last year. They even changed the renewal date specially! I’m therefore assuming that their 65% is probably about 40 people that actually turned up to the meeting three days before Christmas and paid their 20 bucks.

  6. Tsar Feeney

    I hear many hundreds of members signed it. Boo hoo.

  7. That don't impress me much

    Can I sign too?

  8. Anonymous

    An Open Letter to Labor Unity Leadership.
    From Garth Head
    18 January 2009

    It’s always good to receive a reminder from the lofty leadership of Labor Unity as to why we were founded. And yes, winning government and retaining it was a key aim of Labor Unity. But there was more to it than that.

    No disrespect to the authors, but a small number of us were actually there in the first years of Labor Unity and have personal knowledge and experience of Labor Unity history, warts and all, down to the present day. We’ve lived through over 35 years of Labor Unity, shared the ups and downs and those of us still alive and active continue the fight for the Labor cause for which we have always stood.

    What we stand for.
    In its first twenty years or so Labor Unity’s often stated aims were to build a modern and successful political party capable of successfully organising and campaigning in our community, developing modern and effective policies consistent with the Party’s stated aims and winning and maintaining political power to implement our policies.

    It is worth noting that the traditional aims of the Australian Labor Party to which Labor Unity members subscribed were: to build a democratic society; promote active citizenship and community building; ensure that social, cultural and economic organisation in our society would benefit all members of the community, not just the elite; and, enable individuals to maximise their social involvement, skills and talents for their own benefit and the benefit of their community.

    To some in modern Labor, and unfortunately amongst some in Labor Unity, these are foreign concepts.

    Too often the Labor Party and Labor Unity are treated as mere play things or tools by otherwise talented and capable members who have attained positions of power in the Party or its affiliated unions. The Party and Labor Unity are simply used to dole out patronage positions and other jobs, to build a coterie of sycophants who know little of Labor’s great aims, care even less, and mindlessly follow the dictates of those who appointed them, solely for the personal power needs of a few. No grand social or economic designs; just to satisfy a need for personal power.

    Surely we must be better than that.

    Leadership.
    This is not a rant against good strong Leaders in the Party or Labor Unity; in fact quite the opposite.

    A good strong Leader welcomes and promotes dialogue and discourse; they seek out and promote talent and new ways of achieving our aims. They involve and build participation and draw out the very best ideas and talents from within their ranks. They are not afraid to operate in the light rather than hide in the dark corners of the backroom and they are accountable for their actions.

    Good Leadership is less about giving orders and more about respect and influence arising from real personal leadership power: knowledge, expertise, practical common sense, loyalty and the ability to communicate and inspire. It is not about promoting sycophants, manipulating lives, buying people off or blackmail.

    This description of good Leaders might be somewhat idealistic. Yet Leaders can make mistakes and have flaws but by aspiring and working at living these characteristics can build the mantle of respect and influence to be an effective Leader.

    Most Labor Unity Leaders of the past intrinsically understood good Leadership; it was a practical issue for them based on a real understanding of the requirements for an enduring successful political organisation.

    At a minimum they knew that to keep a volunteer political group like Labor Unity viable there had to be a consenting broad based membership who operated at various levels of activity throughout the Party. And you had to live an organisational structure that kept members both informed and consulted.

    Labor Unity (and the ALP) can only operate by the consent of its membership (mostly unpaid volunteers) and the consensus that is built through its forums such as the Broad Group. Our past Leaders knew it took time and could be frustrating, but they knew it is the only way you can build and maintain, particularly in the medium and long term, a viable political apparatus to deliver on our central aims for the Party.

    Travesties.
    Sadly, the events of last year, outlined in the email letter of 16 January 2009 sent to all Labor Unity members showed that the newly re-affiliated NUW and a small number of existing members simply didn’t understand, or perhaps care, about Labor Unity’s principles, procedures and its genuine rank and file.

    The travesty of trying to appoint a candidate in Kororoit without a Rules mandated process of opening nominations and even an abridged pre-selection process was one of my great disappointments in Labor Unity. It is the closest I’ve ever come to breaking caucus at the Administrative Committee. And this is not about who won or lost the eventual National Executive imposed pre-selection but rather that Labor Unity should have abided by at least the spirit of the Rules that bind us together as a political entity.

    The public media destabalisation of Stephen Newnham as State Secretary and the attempts to replace him just before Christmas by appointing Mark Madden (who is a nice guy but knows nothing about the ALP or how to run an ALP election campaign) all without a Labor Unity or Party selection process beggared belief.

    I know there was criticism of Stephen. I’ve had a few criticisms myself that I’ve taken up directly with him and through our Administrative Committee caucus (the way it should be done). Backstabbing and publicly lynching a State Secretary is not worthy of an organisation like ours which professes a role of leadership in the ALP.

    Stephen Newnham was selected by Labor Unity in May 2005 for the job. It was a legitimate competitive process. I know because I was the other candidate for the job. If Labor Unity wanted to replace him, at the very least the matter should have been debated and determined by Labor Unity and ALP processes and then a separate nomination and selection process instituted. This was not a matter for a back room plot to simply replace him at an unscheduled silly season meeting of the Administrative Committee hatched by a section of the then faction without any Labor Unity due process or Broad Group ratification.

    And who could forget the stupid demand made by the protagonists to cancel the well publicised annual December/Christmas Broad Group meeting on the very day the meeting was to be held just to avoid debate and scrutiny over their then publicly announced intention of axing the State Secretary. Of course the meeting went ahead but was boycotted by the protagonists.

    Unintentionally, I think that David Feeney’s actions in arking up the matter of replacing Stephen Newnham by hawking Tom Cargill to Unions and MPs in the months leading to Christmas as the replacement (ironically Cargill was subsequently vetoed by the SDA) seems to have contributed to creating yet another opportunity for a surrogacy battle over the control of Labor Unity by the protagonist NUW/SDA leadership and friends.

    [For those of you who are ‘Trekies’ (fans of the various Star Trek TV & movie series) you will understand when I say that we have got to stop acting like rabid ‘Klingons’ or ‘The Borg’ and try more to adopt a ‘Federation’ style of operation.]

    Talented members of Labor Unity, David, Tom and others, made a serious mistake during this episode and one I’m sure they regret with hindsight. They ended up being used and discarded. But they were far from alone.

    We have all got lessons to learn from these and other recent events in the Party.

    Neither Labor Unity nor the ALP is a tool or plaything for any person or group; Labor Unity is an important driver for building a better, broad based ALP capable of community and campaign organisation, policy development to meet our fundamental aims and winning and maintaining power to implement our policies. And to be that driving force Labor Unity must have an active involved membership and governance structure based on consensus and consent.

    The new environment of alliances gives us the opportunity to rebuild and grow on these principles; lets not stuff it up again.

    Unity of Labor is the Hope of the World.

    Garth L Head
    18 January 2009

  9. Lieutenant Dan

    Garth, Garth, Garth. The Forrest Gump of the Victorian Branch. Everything that’s happened in the Labor Party in the last 30 years, good old Garth’s been directly involved in it somehow.

  10. Lt Calley

    Ain’t that a fact Lt Dav …just hope he doesn’t blab where we hid the bodies.

  11. anon

    You would not want Garth to fart on your last pound of flour.

  12. Terry Towlling

    Star Treck blah blah blah bullshit. We should be demanding a copy of this deal. it seems the media and the sl members have seen it.

    Just what concessions did Shorten and Conroy give to the SL over preselections, head office and positions. LU members have a right to know what they are signing up to when they sign the petition.

    Is the petition really worth wrecking unity when we don’t have the details and the concessions?

    I am very concerned that the petitioners have signed up to thrill kills and persecution of the minorities in the party. Expelling opponents and going after them might seem a good idea to those at the top, but it does have strong stench of USSR in the 1920s.

  13. Anonymous

    thanks Garth your a inspiration

  14. Anonymous

    Garth, those of us who have been involved in Labor Unity also recall that one of the founding principles was that schnitzel is a sometimes food.

    Many went over to the dark-side (for those of us Star Wars fans out there) for that very reason, for their intolerance of schnitzel munching wino-style in brown paper bags.

  15. In the Dark

    Terry (January 21 11.18) makes a good point. Like most FEA Labor Unity members, I have never been shown the details of the “stability”agreement nor the text opf the petition. Sending/emailing copies of these to all LU members and calling a Broad Group meeting to answer questions would be a step in the right direction.

  16. =)

    don’t worry guys you are going to get a Broad Group meeting only this time it will be with the majority in power as for the other 30% sorry guys you are now a minority

  17. Jim Davidson

    will the SL be joining us at this next Broad Group meeting? Will Kim Carr be presiding?

  18. Andrew, friend of Robin

    14 November 2008

    Robin,

    Well I tried mate. The proposal you guys put forward for the preselections and Head Office seemed good to me but none of the bosses were persuaded. They just don’t trust your NUW mates (you know, once bitten, twice shy). And the SDA so close to the abortion debate is a bridge to far for many of us.

    Most frequent comments were about ransoming Shorten for a clutch of state seats and giving us Ferguson’s seat (soon?). But the idea of working with George to put a gun at Shorten’s head was like a horror movie script mixed with ground hog day memories.

    We were intrigued by your plan to kill Hong for Youhorn’s son-in-law. Kim said he admired your stealth. Reminded him of his early actions in the SL. High praise. But another reason not to trust you.

    Talk soon.

    Andrew.

  19. Jim Davidson

    Well I did not get my invitation to tonights meeting. Seems Im on the outer. Given what has been said about heavies. I might bring a couple of XXL buddies of my own. As a member of Labor Unity I have a right to attend and have my say without being thrown out just because i disagree with Bill… It is bad enough this group is censoring the Internet, now they want to censor the debate of LU members. When will their heavy-handed tactics stop. Thank goodness we have Vex news to keep us informed and the invitation to tonights meeting at the AWU.

  20. Melbcity

    I signed the petition and yes whilst it did not spell out a loss of confidence in the current executive it was very much designed to send a message to those seeking disunity to pull their head in and to act in a more representative manner or suffer the consequences of their divisive power games. Stephen Newnham, ALP Victorian State secretary, has the overwhelming support of LU membership. He has proven himself time and time again in achieving a the results that count

  21. Petition Signer

    Ok Melbcity, maybe it didn’t spell out a loss of confidence in the current exec, it did say however

    “We the undersigned have no confidence in the current Labor Unity Executive structure. The current structure was an attempt to capture the diversity of views in Labor Unity. However, it has delivered the opposite result with consensus decision-making now non-existent. It is fundamentally undemocratic and does not represent the interest of the broad group.”

    In short, the structure was ok when the people in the structure had the wish to make it work for all of us. They showed they didn’t, they showed how they could and would manipulate it for their own interests and bugger the rest of us.

    To wit, there is no confidence in the current exec. If there was, the petition would not have been necessary and would not have got the support it did.

  22. Anon

    Who’se great idea was it to the let the bastards in NUW back in again anyway? NUW really stands for Nihilist Undermining Wankers and the sooner we all realise it, the better.

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