Left women played a leading role in getting stronger, better affirmative action rules at the recent ALP National Conference. These changes were the most significant since the introduction of the original affirmative action target in 1994, a result of key Left reform at the time.
A week before the National Conference, women activists in the Party were particularly pleased to hear our Leader Bill Shorten committed to a target of achieving 50% women in Labor caucuses across Australian parliaments by 2025. In addition to this commitment, activists were resolved to effect real rules and cultural change to help make this happen.
As a consequence, among other improvements, the 2015 national conference unanimously decided to:
- scrap the 40% target for men and increase the quota progressively from 40%, to 45%, to 50% for women by 2025,
- apply affirmative action in tranches, to set up a pipeline for female candidates, make sure we maintain gender balance if we win more seats than we expect, and take stronger action to ensure our held seats have gender balance, and
- set up a genuine and strong enforcement mechanism in two stages - reopening nominations if not enough women nominate, and re-conducting ballots if not enough women are selected.
Real commitments were also gained to help advance women’s involvement in the machinery of the party - having women proxy to other women, giving women’s representatives the right to attend national and state executives, and encouraging state and territory branches to apply affirmative action to party office and other positions.
Labor can be proud of the improvements that were made, unanimously. The next step is to make sure the changes are implemented in Queensland and across the country.
That’s why at this State Conference, Left women will once again be championing the same affirmative action rule changes to be embedded in our state rules, from public pre-selections, to Party Office positions, and for committee representation.
Terri Butler is the Federal Member for Griffith and a key negotiator for AA