New Zealand Example
At its founding in late 1996, the people who came together from all over Australia to form the PLP were inspired by the NZ example.
They had seen that in NZ an electorally successful Alliance of minor parties committed to ending economic rationalism (called Rogernomics in NZ) had become an effective Third Force in NZ politics and the major parties had to reckon with it. It included not only the breakaway New Labour party led by Jim Anderton, but the Greens, Mana Motuheke ( a Maori party), the Liberal Party (small "l" in its leanings), Social Credit and the Democrats. They had been campaigning separately for years but together they were able to form an effective critical mass.
They were not a negative scapegoating force e.g. indulging in racism - they were positive.
By concensus at its founding the PLP was formed to test whether Australia could emulate its example. The late Bob Leach had edited a book in 1995, "The Alliance Alternative in Australia, Beyond Labor and Liberal" which set out the possibilities for allliance politics. Bob Leach was the PLP's first National Secretary.
In late 1998 the NZ Alliance gave a further fillip to Australian admirers. When the NZ Labour Party led by Helen Clark won the 1998 general election it found it could not govern without Alliance. So a parallel government was formed with Alliance having Cabinet positions (e.g. with JimAnderton as Deputy PM) without being committed to cabinet solidarity on policies it did not support.
Their key position has enabled Alliance with the NZ Labour Party to begin to roll back economic rationalism e.g. in industrial relations and in the restoration of the People's Bank ( what Australia's Commonwealth Bank was first set up to be).
The 10 Point Areas for Co-operation and the Alliance Principles as listed were adapted from those successfully employed in NZ.
The 10 - Point Statement on Areas for Co-operation and
Statement on Alliance Principles
These are the PLP’s major criteria for working with other parties and groups.
Working towards reversing Economic Rationalism and its adverse effects on Australia's economy, politics, society, culture and environment. Yet stressing our obligations as world citizens striving to realize the ideals for which the United Nations was founded.
10 Areas for Co-operation:
- Honesty and accountability. We will consult and stick to our priorities.
- We will work for proportional representation as the basis of voting in all federal, state and local government elections.
- The protection and restoration of the environment as the basis of all life.
- The right of Australians to meaningful work and an adequate living income.
- Protection of the right of trade unions to advance and defend living standards.
- The right to free health care, free public education and access to quality housing.
- Restoration to the public sector of privatised public utilities. Services like electricity, telecommunications, water, post and public transport must be run as a service to the community not purely for profit.
- Mabo and Wik based Native Title Rights to land, sea and the resources therein for Australian Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders. Opposition to discrimination on grounds of race, gender, sexual preference, age, religion, ethnic origin
- Control of our own destiny. No further sales of strategic assets to overseas interests. No involvement in foreign military pacts. Fair trade rather than free trade. Opposition to MAI.
- Australia to be nuclear free with no uranium mining; Tax equity, making the rich pay their share. No GST.
Statement on Alliance Principles
1. "The PLP enters an Alliance with other parties on the basis of the principles of the party as set out in the Preamble to our Constitution, specifically in its third paragraph: "This party will actively seek to develop a broad Electoral Alliance of progressive groups and parties that will act to replace the economic rationalist policies of both major parties in Australian politics".
2. The 1 0- Point Statement on Areas of Co-operation should be regarded as a summary of needed current policies to implement point 1.
3. Alliances should be seen, not just as electoral agreements with other parties, but as facilitators of joint grass roots campaigns on an ongoing basis.
4. The ongoing development of mutual trust between the parties (including their rank and file members) should be regarded as a priority.
5. The building of trust at one level should be developed before trying to take the Alliance to another level. In other words, there should be a stage by stage development of an Alliance.
6. So the easiest stage should be started first -ie the loose confederal stage of simply agreeing to work together on joint campaigns and electoral preferences. Entry to, and exit from, such an Alliance should not be made difficult.
Note: The creation of any umbrella party would need to be referred to the National decision making bodies of the PLP.