We are working to change the Labor Party rules to introduce dual membership of the Constituency Labor Party (CLP) for students. In September almost 2.5 million young people started a new university year. Students moving away from home to study will have the option to vote in both constituencies. Unfortunately, choices are much more limited for the many fantastic Labor activists moving away for the academic year.
As it stands, young members who move away to study can change their address to their CLP at semester time. However, this means that they are missing out on news and events from their CLP at home, despite not being committed to it year round. Some of the most dedicated activists can change their membership for the four months of the year spent at home, but even if they do, the privilege of ever becoming a delegate or officer is nullified and the process may take a while.
Many of our members who take action during their studies may miss out on activism at home. Similarly, many who joined prior to the move may not be aware that changing their CLP is an option, which means that they will never connect with their local party and community while they are away. This represents a kind of disenfranchisement or separation from the party.
Membership in a CLP goes way beyond voting on motions: this is a way to really connect with the community around you, understand local issues, and find opportunities to get active in the region outside of the party. That is the essence of labor activism. The ability to join a new CLP without losing contact with your home CLP for eight months a year would benefit not only the member but also the constituencies concerned.
An ongoing struggle by CLPs across the country is to attract, empower and retain young members who become political but then leave the area, a kind of “youth drain”. Some CLPs will get help from a local Young Labor group to support young activists, but most will not.
This is certainly not the sexiest campaign within the party, but it is a project that could finally solve the decade-long question of how sustained participation of young members across the country has strengthened and the feeling of separation for so many young members who are pending stuck, can be stopped.
Our campaign was related to a number of candidates in the Labor National Executive Committee (NEC) election. Now, after the elections, we will work with the elected to make our reform workable and “oven-ready”. Through these chats we will develop our idea further so that all members benefit from it, not just those who are dual. We have drafted a model proposal detailing how this rule change will work, with a little help from our friends at the NEC to iron out the details.
Dual Membership Members paying the Student Plan can choose one CLP as the primary and the other as the secondary. Membership rights would be restricted at the secondary address in order to ensure party democracy. You could not vote twice in NEC elections, vote twice in one-member, one-vote votes, or be elected as delegate to conferences for both constituencies.
The face of Young Labor is changing, and our higher education members are joining a changed arena after some upheaval in the student wing in recent years. We want to make sure that our young members feel included all year round and can participate fully.
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