The 2016 Queensland ALP State Conference, held on the Gold Coast, has wrapped up for another year, with rank and file members hailing many of the key policies adopted.
The Conference, attended by over 400 delegates and observers from across the state, is Queensland Labor’s main decision making body responsible for approving policies and rules.
Day one of the conference saw Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk (pictured), address delegates by outlining the key achievements of her government in the first half of its 3 year term and reflecting on the regressive measures introduced by the former LNP government that had been reversed. Significantly, the Premier announced that Labor would be introducing a human rights bill, which was well received by the Party faithful.
Conference delegates also paid respect for those tragically killed earlier during the week in Queensland – four people at Dreamworld on Tuesday and a young bus driver on Friday – by observing a moment of silence. A collection was organised for the bus driver, Manmeet Sharma, by the Rail, Tram & Bus Union.
Federal Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten (pictured) also addressed the Party on the first day, reminding attendees of the current failings of the Turnbull government and the important role Queensland will play in delivering a future Labor Government.
On the policy front, several key policy platform amendments were adopted by delegates, some of which included:
- a commitment to public ownership of existing services and support for public sector employees;
- establishing a parliamentary committee in to the re-emergence of pneumoconiosis (black-lung);
- a review of processes through which a child identifying as transgender is able to access appropriate hormone and support services by July 2019;
- integrated health checks in all Qld health and hospital services to promote early detection and effective ongoing management of people at high risk of developing chronic diseases;
- ensuring that education and support staff working in ATSI schools are appropriately qualified and have access to training which provides appropriate cultural understanding for the communities they work in;
- investigating the provision of breakfast and/or lunch in government schools to ensure they have access to nutritious food to help them learn;
- establishing a Business Advisory Council;
- introducing tougher laws to address child exploitation and abuse;
- establishing a treaty with indigenous Queenslanders;
- introducing industrial manslaughter laws;
- addressing gender pay equity and bridging the gap in womens’ retirement incomes;
- establishing a new platform on animal welfare;
- introducing an equality portfolio within the state government and a gender and sexuality commissioner for Queensland;
- maintaining and expanding public ownership of the renewable energy sector;
- committing Queensland to a target of zero net carbon emissions by 2050; &
- ensuring that renewable energy projects are a priority for future government infrastructure spending.
In addition, the Conference also adopted resolutions in support of the CUB boycott, the maintenance of multiculturalism and rejection of racism and bigotry, a fair maritime boundary with Timor Leste, decriminalisation of abortion in Queensland, equal pay for early year’s educators, support for a just and free Palestine, condemnation of cuts to Medicare and support for Federal Labor’s opposition to Mr Turnbull’s divisive marriage equality plebiscite.
Day two of the conference also saw an appearance from Deputy Leader of the Federal Opposition, Tanya Plibersek. Tanya spoke passionately about the urgent need to tackle rising inequality in Australia and why it was necessary to defeat a Coalition government that was clearly in crisis.
Conference delegates also gave the nod to several important reforms to the rules of the Party. Topping the list was agreement to adopt an affirmative action target for indigenous and LGBTIQ candidates. Other key rule changes and proposals adopted included:
- affirmative action for women for senior Party positions – such as the State Secretary and Assistant State Secretary;
- a review of how our branches and Party units operate; and
- two Labor Senators to be based in regional (north/central) Queensland.
During the Conference, delegates and observers were able to hear first hand from all State Government Ministers as to what Labor was doing to build a stronger, fairer Queensland. Many Ministers used the opportunity to highlight the record of the Palaszczuk Government over the past 18 months and outline priorities for the future which included additional infrastructure, expanding services across the state, implementing further social justice reforms and transitioning to a sustainable economy.
With the conclusion of this years conference, elections for new delegates will occur early in 2017. The next conference is scheduled to be held in Townsville.