ALP Conference strengthens progressive agenda

The recent Queensland ALP Conference has consolidated Labor’s existing progressive agenda by adopting stronger positions in the areas of social equality, workers rights, the environment, education, health and community support. The annual Party Conference, held in Brisbane, was the first time in almost two years that delegates gathered together to revise and update the state policy platform.

During the conference, attendees heard that the state Labor government were establishing a $1.8 billion Queensland Jobs Fund Flexed that would ‘bring together a range of new and existing programs to make it easier for businesses to get started, to grow, to innovate – and create jobs’.

During the two day conference, delegates heard speeches from the Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, Federal Opposition Leader, Anthony Albanese (both pictured) and Civic Opposition Leader, Cr Jared Cassidy.

However, the focus of the event was updating the state policy platform. Some of the key changes to the document were:

ENDURING LABOR VALUES

The Conference adopted an important policy amendment to ensure women’s rights were at the core of Labor’s policies and actions in government. This includes committing to reducing economic inequality, closing the gender pay gap, reaching equal representation in public, private and community sector leadership, and improving women’s health and wellbeing.

These amendments are seen by many in the Party as part of a much larger fight for women’s rights to be safe, respected and equal – at work, at home and in the community.

INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS

Key policy changes included:
• enhancing the bargaining power of workers in the public sector by removing arbitrary Government policies that set down pre-determined wage positions;
• declaring our intention to work with Federal Labor to end the privatisation of social security by reinstating the previously abolished Commonwealth Employment Service; and,
• enhancing the safety of workers in the mining and quarrying industries by removing legislative barriers that stop Union officials from doing their job and keeping all workers safe on site.

LEARNING FOR LIFE

Key policy changes included:
• establishing an independent manufacturing skills organisation to drive the procurement and delivery of world class skills and training to support, develop and grow our manufacturing industry;
• improving the recognition of support staff in schools; and
• calling on both State and Federal governments to provide more support for vulnerable children at school.

HEALTHY LIVING

Key policy changes included:
• recognising the importance of public oral health services as a critical component of holistic patient care and wellbeing;
• providing more support for breast cancer patients, including the expansion of diagnostic services to improve early detection;
• requiring mandatory palliative care education for all Queensland Ambulance service paramedics;
• recognising the life-saving advancements made in HIV management, and ensuring Queensland continues to appropriately manage the medical and social impacts that can be felt by people living with HIV; and
• recognising problem gambling as a health issue.

CONNECTED COMMUNITIES

Delegates voted to address homelessness and housing support for at-risk groups and ensure that the government improves standards, increase stock, and improve investment in social housing – including a commitment that social housing includes renewable energy sources.

The Conference also supported important changes to local government, including ensuring greater transparency and integrity in local government elections, and better public access to Council proceedings.

REGIONAL AND REMOTE COMMUNITIES

Delegates supported a commitment to investigate a new cross border commissioner to better support our border communities, a firm commitment to better protect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural sites to avoid destruction like that seen at Juukan Gorge in WA, and supporting regional Queenslanders to access post-Secondary education by promoting TAFE and training.

Importantly, the Conference adopted commitments to ensure mining in Queensland meets world’s best practice in relation to planning, workplace health and safety, environmental management and rehabilitation. The platform also now includes a new commitment to support regional voices within our party and our parliamentary caucus.

OUR ENVIRONMENT OUR FUTURE

This year’s Conference supported a number of changes to ensure all Queenslanders have reliable access to clean, safe drinking water, including a commitment to investigate additional water storage and supply networks, and ensuring our urban water supply is resilient to increasing demand and the impacts of climate change including drought.

The Platform also includes important reforms to make sure we more effectively offset carbon emissions through environmental assessment processes, and boost community resilience and reduce flooding impacts by revegetating waterways and upper catchments.

A STRONG ECONOMY

Key policy changes included:
• preventing privatisation by stealth, by ensuring Queensland Rail workers continue to play an important role in repairing and maintaining Queensland’s train fleet;
• supporting an independent scientific body to review, examine and investigate resource industries at every stage of operation;
• supporting local jobs by ensuring local businesses and workers are in a strong position to benefit from Queensland’s infrastructure boom through the ‘Buy Queensland’ procurement policy; and
• ensuring public sector wage growth sets the standard across all industries and maintains pace with rising cost of living pressures as a minimum.

CARING AND SECURE COMMUNITIES

Key policy changes included:
• exploring the extension of support for kids who have been in care until they’re 26 to give them the best start in life;
• improving the proposed words on legislating the decriminalisation of sex work and supporting sex workers by working with police to ease discrimination and unfair practices;
• improving and strengthening the ALP’s commitment to voluntary assisted dying;
• strengthening responses to domestic and family violence through targeted responses to animal cruelty as a form of coercive control and violence;
• enhancing how welcome zones for refugees are initiated by government services to support refugees seeking asylum,
• improving police responses to domestic and family violence by establishing ‘family hubs’ for reporting domestic and family violence; and
• working towards drug law reform legislation by implementing the recommendations of the Queensland Productivity Commission Report.

CONFERENCE RESOLUTIONS

In addition to the Platform amendments, the Conference adopted several key resolutions covering a range of important issues. On the first day of the conference this included increasing protections for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural heritage, ensuring Queensland’s water security, and protecting Queensland jobs by preventing privatisation by stealth.

The second day of the Conference saw some very passionate debate from delegates on a number of issues, with the following adopted:

Voluntary Assisted Dying: acknowledging the hard work done to date to see Voluntary Assisted Dying legislation introduced to Parliament, and calling on all Labor MPs to vote in favour of the bill.

Supporting a Strong Public Service: calling on the Queensland government to stop the practice of independent contracting in the public sector and lift the staffing cap.

Low Carbon Economy Plan: calling on the State Labor Government to continue creating good, secure jobs, protecting the environment, and investing in publicly owned assets. The resolution acknowledges that a ‘low carbon’ future of our energy and resources industries requires us to work with those communities most affected.

Channel Country Protection: calling for the protection of this precious landscape from shale gas exploration, including by consulting with local communities and Traditional Owners, and calling on the government to legislate protections.

Palestine: congratulating the Federal ALP for reaffirming their commitment to recognising Palestine, and condemning Israel’s ongoing annexation and occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Aged Care: calling for action, by implementing safe staff to resident ratios and bringing down the residential aged care waiting list.

Racial Vilification: commending Attorney-General, Shannon Fentiman, for the work that she is doing to strengthen Queensland’s racial vilification laws.

Sex Work Decriminalisation: commending Attorney-General, Shannon Fentiman, on referring sex work decriminalisation to the Queensland Law Reform Commission, and recognising that there is still work to do.

The next Queensland ALP State Conference is expected to be held by August 2022.

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