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NSW ALP state conference – preview of coming attractions

Policy statements that reflect to all levels of government

Industrial relations, TAFE and education, privatisation, equality and amalgamation pledges

The last weekend in July saw the annual New South Wales ALP state conference held at its spiritual home in the Sydney Town Hall.

Around a thousand delegates and observers from around the state gathered to discuss and decide the policy direction for the state and federal Parliamentary Labor Parties for the next twelve months and into the future.

NSW state leader Luke Foley’s address was strong on industrial relations (IR) reform.

Foley’s IR commitments were underpinned by policy ideas such as: criminalising the deliberate failure to pay wages and other entitlements; overhauling franchise legislation to prevent the exploitation of casual workers; appointing workplace auditors to protect young workers; establishing a licencing scheme to regulate labour hire companies; and legislating to protect penalty rates in state awards and workplace agreements.

High energy prices and state asset stripping

The NSW Labor leader said a Foley Labor government would wind back privatisation in the state. He attacked the government’s record on high energy prices and excessive profits for the sector and promised to re-regulate electricity companies.

Local government also featured heavily in Foley’s address with a commitment to plebiscites on demerging councils forced to merge under the government, an outright ban on developers and the introduction of a cap on donations and spending.

Local government referendum, wards proposed

In the Queanbeyan Palerang Regional Council (QPRC) election on 9 September (full disclosure, I am a Country Labor candidate), the Country Labor ticket will campaign on a policy of introducing a plebiscite to ascertain the opinion of residents regarding a demerger. It will also offer the alternative of introducing wards in the next round of council elections should a demerger not be the preferred option.

Education, childcare and before and after hours care facilities were also targeted in the Foley address in line with the opposition’s policy to address what it identifies as a crisis in the availability of schools across the state. Schools will be exempt from section 94 local infrastructure charges and will not have to compete as developers.

Make vocational training a public duty again

TAFEs (proposing 70 % of public education funding committed to TAFE), regulation of the adult and vocational learning sector, keeping public hospitals in public hands and the wicked problem of housing affordability all featured in Luke Foley’s address. He finished with a quote from his predecessor in his state electorate of Auburn—Jack Lang—who told a young Paul Keating:

“People will tell you that you have plenty of time but the truth is you haven’t got a second to waste.”

Federal party progressive policies

The Federal Parliamentary Labor Party (FPLP) leader’s address has received significant coverage in other media. Space and deadline restrictions for the District Bulletin mean that a full report of the FPLP leader’s address will be for another time.

Suffice to say that Federal Labor has not made itself a small target in the lead up to the next election with a suite of progressive policies that would make Jeremy Corbin and Bernie Sanders proud. They include recognition of our First People in the founding document of our nation, progressive reform targeted at money paid out as income from discretionary trusts, a push for an Australian republic and tackling growing inequality.

NSW Capital Watch with John Preston

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