Labor's new National Policy Forum has kicked off and will see Labor members and supporters involved in preparing a new draft Platform for the 2015 National Conference. Jenny McAllister is the National President of Australian Labor and, with the Prime Minister, co-chairs the Forum.
After a week which saw Labor obtain bipartisan support for DisabilityCare, around 50 party members, trade unionists and MPs met last weekend to discuss Labor’s next big agenda.
The first meeting of the National Policy Forum drew plenty of debate, ranging across our philosophy, values, signature policies and, of course, the next generation of reform.
The Prime Minister opened the Forum by laying out her ideas about the modern Labor story, arguing that individuality and freedom are enhanced when government acts to ensure no one is left behind.
She encouraged us to think big as we worked on a new draft of the National Platform for debate at our 2015 Conference.
Over the course of the weekend, we heard from a range of speakers, drawn from universities, think tanks, unions and business.
David Hetherington from Per Capita asserted his view that we should put the “democracy” back into social democracy, emphasising our unique history in supporting and extending Australian democracy.
Nicholas Gruen from Lateral Economics put the intersection of the public and private on the agenda, identifying a new range of “public goods” (like those derived from big data) which could only be delivered through a combination of collective and private endeavour.
Barbara Pocock reported on the challenges and opportunities to create workplaces where men and women can balance their work, community and family responsibilities.
And Jim Chalmers from the Chifley Research Centre urged the Forum to stay “out of the weeds” and keep our eye on the big picture as we develop a platform that speaks to our philosophy as much as our policies.
Members of the Forum also presented their ideas to the group, with Nadine Flood, Verity Firth, and Louise Tarrant making presentations, and Forum members arriving with strong views about our long term vision for Australian society.
The National Policy Forum Forum will meet again in the final quarter of 2013 to continue the work of drafting the new Platform throughout 2014.