Labour Party Conference 2000
Tuesday 21st November, 2000.
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CONTENTS: Editorial: Toeing the centre line Redesigned Young Labour Website launched Young Labour Sector Day meeting New President and Council set for the future Website of the Week
Editorial: Toeing the centre line
Labour's Annual Conference was held over the weekend 17-19 November, and marks the end of the "yay, we won" phase of this Government's time in office. The mood of the conference was incredibly upbeat, and I am told that attendance at some 750 people was higher than it has been for a decade. It'd be no coincidence that the conference was the party’s first in Government for a decade, too. Delegates were cheerful, content and optimistic.
Striking was the centrist tone of the main speeches (Helen Clark, Michael Cullen) and the second-row speakers (Young Labour President Michael Wallmannsberger, CTU President Ross Wilson). Despite the passage of some challengingly left wing remits (including a confusing but definitely "cut costs" series of tertiary education remits) the Conference was amenable when Michael Cullen told it that its resolutions in that (and other) areas would have to be statements of future directions, rather than policy outcomes next year.
It was in fact the classic look of a Party preparing for a long haul in Government. Closing the Gaps was, as the last issue of Future Lefts forecast, recast as a mainstream social democratic project. The Prime Minister and Minister of Finance both spoke on globalisation and the challenges it presents the party, and the importance of the left controlling the process to ensure our supporters do not get left behind. They also stressed, rightly, that it is an ongoing process that cannot be ignored, or turned back from our shores.
Conference made very clear decisions in a number of areas where I at any rate expected floor votes to be much closer, and the New Zealand Council election results on Saturday in particular resolved most of the debates that captivated me on the Friday evening.
Notable too was the presence at the Conference of a good Young Labour crowd. There were at least forty Young Labour activists present for most of the Conference, and the Friday evening presentation by Michael Wallmannsberger has received a sustained and immensely positive response from right throughout the party. We were a very visible group with our T-shirts, the presentation and a strong lobbying effort throughout the conference.
Even the "Conference Social" was ok, which was amazing - the Wellington Central LEC hired the Film Archives (a funky little venue in Wakefield St) and put on a damn good bash attended by hundreds of delegates. No drafty school halls, wooden benches, grumpy school teachers, people knitting or chateau cardboard in sight!
After a fairly bruising year, there’s a lot to be positive about. The party starts the long run to the next election campaign with a united Conference and Council, a comfortable position in the polls, a Government following Party policy and (even more rarely for past governments) it’s own promises, and a bumbling and indecisive Parliamentary opposition that has scored no hits at all this year.
Hard to imagine anything better, really!
Till next time,
Redesigned Young Labour website launched
Young Labour President Michael Wallmannsberger used his presentation to the Labour Party’s Annual Conference to launch the newly designed Young Labour website on Friday night last week (17 November), prompting comments that it is the best youth political website in New Zealand.
The site, which features a Government theme and the Young Labour logo at the top, is the second design that Young Labour has used since starting a site in the lead up to the General Election last year.
"The site design we had implemented last September was always supposed to be a first design, and we intended to replace it as soon as we could," commented Vice President Jordan Carter. "This year has been pretty busy, though, and this delayed any changes until the current design was started in August."
The site features information about Young Labour, our policy and organisational history, how to join, a media release archive and an archive of Future Lefts, our weekly email newsletter.
Over the next six weeks more content will be added, and we will keep readers up to date with progress through Future Lefts.
You can visit the website at http://www.younglabour.org.nz
Young Labour Sector Day meeting
Young Labour met in the flash Air New Zealand 1 room at the Wellington Town Hall for approximately eight hours on the Friday preceding Conference, with an ambitious agenda and an expectation that the programme would face some considerable interruptions.
The morning started with Executive reports, and then moved on to discussing a report about membership and diversity in the organisation, a report on the VP's presence at the IUSY Asia Pacific Committee meeting in September and the ongoing relationship with IUSY, and then went into lunch five minutes late.
In the afternoon, we had a session with Steve Chadwick (the MP who defeated Max Bradford in his formerly safe Rotorua seat) on youth health, and the hilight by far of the afternoon was a debate between Clayton Cosgrove (MP for Waimakariri) and Tim Barnett (MP for Chch Central) on the merits or otherwise of the controversial under-25 sticker scheme. After a vigorous and well-put debate from both sides, and a generous number of questions, the audience reaction left no doubt - Tim Barnett carried the day.
Young Labour also convened an SGM in the afternoon, to ratify continued membership of IUSY (http://www.iusy.org), and to add a Rainbow Rep to the Executive. Future Lefts salutes Tony Milne from Christchurch, who was elected to the position. The meeting also discussed regional development of the organisation. The SGM also endorsed Alastair Cameron for the youth rep position on New Zealand Council (which he won the following day) and endorsed a queer issues policy for the Young Labour policy agenda. We wound up the afternoon late by looking through the remit book to find the most important issues to lobby on, and endorsing other NZ Council candidates, including Mike Williams and Pat Webster who later won the party's two senior positions.
Throughout the morning and afternoon there were unscheduled candidates coming through seeking NZ Council endorsements. Mike Williams and Richard Northey both spoke, as did Pat Webster (who won Senior VP), Lesley Soper (who won Women’s VP) and probably others who I have forgotten. Retiring President and General Secretary Bob Harvey and Rob Allen came to speak to the meeting in the morning and got a good reception, with Bob giving a fine speech on the vital importance of youth in the party, and the challenge of coming to grips with an ever more technologically literate and diverse nation.
The turnout was encouraging and provided a good basis for optimism in the future of the organisation.
New President and Council set for the future
The Labour Party conference elected some new faces and some old ones to its ruling New Zealand Council in the first elections since November 1998.
Mike Williams was elected President by a comfortable majority; Pat Webster won the Senior Vice Presidency after the preferential ballot went to the third round; Lesley Soper was re-elected as Women's Vice President after losing the fight for the Senior Vice Presidency; Alastair Cameron beat Demelza George-Franzmayr and James Caygill for the Youth Rep position; and Affiliates and Maori Senior VP’s were re-elected unopposed.
The changes bring to the fore a group of activists who have focused on the Party’s organisational challenges. There seemed at Conference to be a general consensus that a win in 2002 is within Labour’s reach, but that there is no room for complacency.
Young Labour has strong links with the incoming Council, particularly Mike Williams, Mike Smith and Pat Webster, and a very competent youth rep in Alastair Cameron. We can expect (unlike some other youth wings) to be taken very seriously in the preparations leading up to the next election.
Website of the Week: http://www.younglabour.org.nz
Strangely enough, we would like you to visit Young Labour's newly redesigned website, and give us any feedback on the new design. It has been designed to be an ongoing resource for the organisation as we develop web-based campaigns, and seek to keep members better informed about the activities of the national Executive.
Any feedback is well and truly welcome.
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Te Wairua Hou - The New Spirit - http://www.younglabour.org.nz