Redditors: calm at least half of your farm. This is merely a discussion topic. There is currently no intention or agitation towards merging or affiliating with any other organisations whatsoever.
We are holding a strategy meeting on Wednesday January 13 8:30pm AEDST in IRC. This is one of the topics we will be discussing. I put this together to be a discussion starter.
Last year the Alliance for Progress was formed. It is an alliance of progressive small Parties to enable work on different projects and to help negotiate preference deals. Through this process we are in regular contact with other Parties’ who often have agendas close to our own.
A couple of NC members have discussed trying to absorb smaller Parties in the Alliance. This has been one of the more controversial discussions the NC has had so far this term. We have also been approached informally by the Progressive Party to discuss the possibility of merging, particularly should voting ‘reforms’ make it even harder for small Parties to get into Parliament.
We have never discussed merging or absorbing smaller Parties and if the discussions in the NC are anything to go by, it is a controversial topic, hence this topic being put to members in our strategy meeting. There is a lot of difference between absorbing smaller Parties and merging, so it is probably best to treat the topics separately.
The biggest benefit for our organisation is having more activists involved, which will mean more work can be done. We will also have less competition from similar Parties which will boost our primary votes.
Based on discussions I have had with various members, I will outline what I personally think below:
Absorbing smaller Parties
Essentially I think this should be a process of discussion about whether their agendas and organising principles would fit in with our own. If it all seems to measure up, they join the Party and propose policies they want us to support at the next Congress. This should be in conjunction with the PDC so the policies fit with our policy style. It also ensures the policies are well thought through and backed up by evidence.
Merging with similar Parties
When this was raised by the Progressive Party I said ‘if we can keep our platform and Constitution we would think about it’. Others are more concerned about keeping the name. For me, the content of what we have built is even better than the name (I like the name). Organisationally, the red-lines for me are:
Our core policies around civil liberties, copyright and patents and Internet freedoms must be an integral part of any merged Party.
We must have direct democracy when it comes to policy and organisational decisions. All members must have access to propose policies, discuss issues and vote. Delegated voting, such as practiced by the ALP creates layers between members and decisions which makes it easier for dodgy deals to be done against the wishes of the membership.
The Party must practice transparency. Members need to be able to see decisions being made and how each decision was reached. This ensures confidence that the organisation is acting in the best interests of the membership and divisions between members and leadership don’t develop.
Policy must be developed transparently with open participation. Policies should be based on principles and informed by evidence. Too many Parties build policies on ideology with little or no reference to what works to solve problems. We have worked hard to ensure our policies are grounded in reality and consequently, we clearly have the best policy set of any Party in Australia.
The positions I have outlined above are my own thinking, I don’t expect people to agree. I just thought it would be useful to put some sort of framework in place so people had something to criticise.