By Adam Carlton
Labor’s national conference in Brisbane began today. The 2,000 or so delegates will be hearing about the key issues of the day. There won’t be any in depth discussion and analysis of positions put forward. The decisions have already been made and votes packaged by the factions. The event will mostly be about speeches.
On the other hand, there will be the informal exchanges and chats with campaigners for various causes, where networking of contacts will be made. These will serve to push causes after the conferences is over.
And the public gets to hear a bit more about the pressing matters of the day.
Thousands of unionists, environmentalists and others have already taken part in a protest outside the conference venue. This was jointly organised by GetUp and the unions, mainly the Construction Forestry Maritime Mining Energy Union (CFMMEU) and its maritime division, the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA).
Video from 7 News
The CFMMEU will raise its proposal for a super profits tax to pay for a big boost to social housing, and it comes with considerable support. A motion tabled on this will not get up in this stage-managed affair. But this isn’t the point. It will raise the issue in a very public way.
The AUKUS alliance and nuclear submarines are deeply unpopular within Labor’s ranks and will raise argument. This will be subsumed by the priority of not causing difficulty for the Albanese government, which has no intention of changing policy. Conference decisions are advisory, and the government doesn’t have to abide by them. Buit the fact that the opposition within the ranks is aired, eats away at the legitimacy of both policies.
There is concern from environmentalists that Labor in government is not doing nearly enough to reduce carbon emissions. They have planned to make a noise about it. So have campaigners for lifting the Jobseeker allowance, pensions, and other Centrelink payments out of poverty. Labor’s track records so far on this has been little better than the previous Morisson governments.
Overall, there will be no way of avoiding the worsening cost of living crisis faced by most Australians and the need to step Action on it. This is the Albanese government’s greatest vulnerability. Its future depends on how it manages to tackle this.
Another vulnerability I how it deals with the Jullian Assange issue. This is one where public opinion is solidly on the side of calling for the government to act decisively and call for his release of the Australian journalist, editor, and Australian citizen persecuted by the United Sates and Britain for telling the truth.