This pamphlet is a brief overview of the ideas and history of our party and the rights and obligations of membership. By reading a copy of this pamphlet you are either, a new Socialist Party (SP) member, or someone who is perhaps interested in joining SP.
This pamphlet has just been reprinted and is also available from the Socialist Party National Office for $1.
Most people join the SP after seeing us in action in one or another campaign. Only later do they begin to get an introduction to Marxist ideas, and the history and tradition of our party and International. Therefore if you feel you have a lot to learn you are certainly not alone and this pamphlet is aimed directly at you. However this pamphlet is neither a substitute for a thorough study of socialist ideas or a full explanation of our programme.
The Socialist Party is socialist
We oppose the system we live under – capitalism. Capitalism is not eternal but a historic stage of humanity that followed feudalism and proceeds socialism. Capitalism was established on the blood of the displaced peasants, exploitation of the working class and the attempted annihilation of indigenous peoples that couldn’t or wouldn’t be incorporated into capitalist relations. However, initially it played a historically progressive role, breaking down the stagnation of feudal relations and, though revolutionising the means of production, took society forward in leaps and bounds in terms of science, technology and technique. Today in its final stage of imperialism, capitalism no longer takes society forward. The working class is only paid a proportion of the wealth it creates, so it cannot buy back all the goods and services it creates.
Regular crises of over-production and recession ensue. The advanced capitalist countries consciously keep the under-developed world in economic chains – through the terms of trade scam, hypocrisy on free trade, structural adjustment programmes, the IMF and World Bank etc. Capitalism today means millions of people dying of preventable diseases while obesity mushrooms in many rich countries. In Australia the working poor are driven to stress and demoralisation by long hours, casual work, low pay and an under funded public health and education system.
The SP supports the fight for reforms under capitalism, but opposes reformism- the idea that the system can be changed to permanently benefit the working class. Most of our work is fighting around day-to-day issues like wages and conditions, freedom for refugees, against education cuts and the like. In the struggle for these reforms, workers and young people learn valuable lessons about the class nature of society: the role of the state, the media, the ALP etc. Most revolutionaries started their political path in a campaign for a very concrete reform or against a cut to services.
Therefore the SP programme not only has a maximum demand for socialism, but a detailed list of policies on everyday issues. We link the day-to-day demands to the need to change society through transitional demands. They are demands that go beyond the day-to-day or minimum demands, and necessitate a big struggle to achieve, a struggle that would begin to challenge the entire capitalist system. Examples of transitional demands are a 35 hour working week, nationalisation of the top 150 companies, and free education for all from childcare to university.
The SP sees the working class as the main agent for social change. Because of its concentration in workplaces, white and blue-collar workers develop a collective consciousness and develop collective organisations like trade unions and workers parties. The working class has the social weight to stop capitalism in its tracks. The marrying of socialist ideas with workers power is our goal.
The SP also mobilises other classes and sections of society oppressed by capitalism, for example students, small businesses, and the unemployed. The students and young people in general play a key role in every revolution. They are the lightening rod often to the heavy battalions of the working class. Today in Australia the mainly young and often middle class youth that dominate the anti-globalisation and pro-refugee movements are the most politically advanced layer of society. The SP orientates this key layer of society to the bulk of workers yet to be politicised. In that sense we aim to get our ideas to the ‘mainstream’ of society, while active and part of the advanced layers of youth and the most militant sections of trade unionists.
The SP opposes individualism and supports democratically-decided collective struggle. For example we oppose individual terrorism, which is the act of a secret few allegedly on behalf of the majority. Socialism must come through the mobilisation of the mass of the working class and their allies, the students, poor farmers and small businesses. Terrorism gives the government an excuse to repress the left and unions and it creates sympathy for the enemy.
Socialism would be organised through elected democratic assemblies in every area and every workplace. Such assemblies would elect representatives at a regional and national level to co-ordinate production and all decision-making. In Australia we have representative democracy where we vote every three years for the representative usually one or another major party to look after us. The SP stands for participatory democracy. All MPs and union officials must be on the average wage of the workers they represent.
The SP opposed the Stalinism of the old Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. We come from a tradition influenced by Marx, Engels, Lenin and also Trotsky who led the fight-back against the betrayal of the Russian Revolution and international socialism by Joseph Stalin. We are untainted by the crimes of Stalinism, and in fact our forerunners were its first victims, including Trotsky himself and his family. For example, SP members participated in the Tiananmen Square uprising in June 1989 supporting the students and embryonic independent trade unions against the Butchers of Beijing.
The SP aims at winning the majority support of the working class. Therefore we go wherever the workers go, wherever the youth go, to fight for our ideas. That is, into right wing trade unions, using the capitalist media, and standing in elections. In this way we try and get a bigger audience for socialist ideas. This is despite the fact that most important decisions are made by big business and not in parliament under modern capitalism.
Flowing from the previous point, we support the establishment of a new mass socialist party in Australia, backed by unions and community groups. The ALP is no longer a workers party in any way. We need a political party to unite the workers and their allies and all the trends of opinion in the labour and trade union movement. If the left unions broke with Labor and established such a party we would affiliate to it and build it, at the same time as fighting within it and outside it for socialist ideas and militant action. Such a new party would electrify the workers movement and be a massive step forward even if it initially had a reformist programme.
The SP works in a United Front way. That is we will work together on campaign ideas with anyone or any organisation that shares a common goal. However we maintain our right to constructively raise our views in the campaign and continue to build our organisation. The opposite approach to United Front work is a Popular Front method where an organisation waters down its ideas to attract more moderate groups. This dangerous method can paralyse a socialist party.
The SP is internationalist. A socialist future cannot be based inside the boundaries of any one country however big. We stand for a socialist federation of Australia, New Zealand, PNG and the South Pacific as part of world socialist federation. We believe a victory for workers and oppressed peoples internationally is a victory for us and vice versa.
SP is a Party – Why a Party?
Under feudalism the soon-to-be revolutionary bourgeois class was not the bottom of the pile but had access to money and social status. They had strong class consciousness and were relatively united form the start of their revolutions against feudalism. Under capitalism, the would-be revolutionary working class is a far bigger class and is far more carried in consciousness – ranging form the militant union delegate to the backward worker with all sorts of prejudices.
Having nothing they own except their labour power to sell, workers are subjected to the distortions of the mass media, the capitalist education system and so on. History tells us time and time again that workers need a strong socialist and Marxist party to effect social change. The role of the party is to be a memory of the working class learning the lessons of the past, uniting the best and most conscious layers of workers and youth, training them, coordinating their efforts, standing strong against the lies and repression of the system, and linking up with similar parties internationally.
It is an iron law of working class history that without a strong Marxist party even the most massive revolutionary movements have been ground into dust. A US Marxist James Cannon put it: “For the proletarian revolutionist the party is the concentrated expression of their life purpose, and he/she is bound to it for life and death. He preaches and practices party patriotism, because he knows that his socialist ideal cannot be realized without responsibility toward the party. On the other hand the petty-bourgeois intellectual, who wants to teach and guide the labour movement without participating in it, feels only loose ties to the party and is always full of ‘grievances’ against it. The moment his/her toes are stepped on, or he is rebuffed, he forgets all about the interest of the movement and remembers only that his feelings have been hurt; the revolution may be important, but that wounded vanity of a petty-bourgeois intellectual is more important. He is all for discipline when he is laying down the law to others, but as soon as he finds himself in a minority, he begins to deliver ultimatums and threats of split to the party majority.”
The SP is the Australian section of the Committee for a Workers’ International, which unites similar socialist parties in every continent of the world. Each section elects delegates to the CWI World Congress every four years, the highest body of the SP and CWI. Here delegates discuss the international situation and elect an International Executive Committee (IEC) of about 30 members that meets at least once a year, usually in Belgium. Australia currently has two representatives on this body. The IEC in turn elects an International Secretariat (IS) that consists of about ten fulltime members, based in our International Office in London that service the sections, produces material on key events, and leads the CWI on a daily basis. They are under the control of the IEC and are subject to the right of immediate recall.
In Australia, the SP’s highest body is the annual National Conference. Here all members can attend and (if financial, that is not less than three months behind in subs) vote on political resolutions and organisational resolutions and the election of a National Committee (NC). The NC in turn elects a National Secretariat (NS) that is a smaller body of about 5 members who meet weekly via a telephone hook-up (because of the difficulty of distance).
Branches meet weekly and discuss political developments and the building of the branch in their area. They elect a Branch Committee (BC) to coordinate the party work on a daily basis. Again, BC members are subject to the right of immediate recall. The BC comrades are the most committed and respected members of the branch, but usually include at least one newer member with talent to train up. The branch meeting can overturn a decision of the BC, but the BC can act between meetings. The National Committee has the right to appoint full time staff for the party either on specific tasks like paper production or as regional or national organisers.
The SP like all CWI sections and Marxist parties in the past and healthy trade unions operates on the organising principal of Democratic Centralism. That is, the right of all members to discuss programme, policies, strategies and tactics inside the party, while agreeing to a united approach outside around the majority decision. In the same way, a union expects all members to observe a strike if members vote that way- even those minority of members who voted against strike action.
Members have the right to access email lists internal bulletins; speak at branch meetings, National Conference etc. to put their point of view. No member can be disciplined or expelled for having an opposing point of view on tactics or strategy or even political line (with the obvious exception of blatantly fascist, racist, or homophobic views). The best decisions often come after a frank and healthy debate. However the SP is not a debating club or debating circle. At some stage decisions must be made through a democratic vote. All members must respect the majority position of the party within the broader movement otherwise chaos and party disintegration can ensue. Once a majority decision is made, comrades in a minority position can still argue their point of view within the party and seek to gain majority support for their position.
All financial members have the right to vote and nominate themselves or others for positions within the party. Members have the right to be heard respectfully and put a point of view without prejudice. All members have the right to be protected from verbal abuse, slander etc. All members have the right to full involvement in the party. This is a party not a club or circle and professional behaviour between members is expected.
Members with complaints about fellow members are able to approach the BC if personal discussion gets nowhere. If that fails, the member (or the BC) can take the issue to the branch meeting itself or the NC. In the case of serious allegations a Control Commission, of at least three respected members elected in advance at the National Conference can be activated to investigate the issues and report back to the entire membership. Serious allegations must be made in writing and the accused has the right of natural justice that is to see the allegation in good time, have full opportunity to defend themselves etc. Disciplinary measures which are normally available in the event the accused is found guilty are, in increasing order of severity: censure, suspension, and expulsion. Expelled members have the right to appeal to the National Conference, the IEC and the World Congress.
A brief history of the Socialist Party
The Socialist Party began in Australia when comrades recruited to the CWI whilst living in Britain returned to Australia in the early 1980′s. The CWI in Australia was then called Militant and began organising mainly within the New South Wales trade union movement and Young Labor, the youth wing of Australia’s Labor Party (ALP). At one time we controlled three Young Labor Branches. Since then the party has grown to have branches in New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia.
Over the years the Socialist Party has supported and led a number of struggles in support of the rights and conditions of the working class. We were the strongest influence during the student movement against the NSW Greiner government, calling demonstrations and rallies attracting tens of thousands of school students that strongly influenced the teachers strike against the Liberal government. Again in Victoria after the Kennett led Liberal Government attacked the education system SP was at the forefront of the anti-Kennett movement.
The Socialist Party in fact played a leading role in defiance of the Kennett government during the dispute at Richmond Secondary College. During 1992, after the Victorian government decided to close Richmond Secondary College, the school community led by members of the SP (then called Militant) occupied the site 24 hours a day for 360 days! The campaign ran a rebel school, took the education department to court, established picket lines, and launched a giant political campaign. In late 2000, protesters who had been severely beaten by police on picket lines won an out of court settlement in excess of $300,000. An initiative instigated by the SP.
The SP was also the first socialist party anywhere in the developed world to take up the issue of heroin and the detrimental effect it is having on the working class especially its youth. The SP initiated the building of the Community Campaign for Heroin Reform – a campaign to force the Government to acknowledge the drug crisis as a health & social issue rather than an issue of crime. SP campaigned for the opening of safe injecting rooms to reduce the number of overdoses as well as the creation of jobs and other rehabilitation and education programmes.
During the late 1990′s the SP led the anti-racism struggle against the right-wing party, One Nation. SP called school student strikes with enormous success in Victoria and participating on rallies and demonstrations throughout Australia. The protests played a significant role in halting the racist party’s growth in popularity, especially in the cities. SP was also active during the demonstrations against a fascist run book shop in the Melbourne suburb of Fawkner.
As was the case internationally, in the early 1990s many workers and youth came to the conclusion that the social democratic ALP no longer served their interests. The SP made a positive open turn, leaving the ALP and moved towards working as an independent party. Our work was directed towards the new and politically inactive layers in society. However, we have continued to work amongst the rank and file of the trade unions. The success of this work can be gauged by the fact we now have a number of comrades working as shop stewards and as officials in trade unions.
As a result of the many years of campaigning on the ground, the SP decided, in 1997, to stand a candidate in the Federal Election. Our candidate received over a thousand votes. Following on this successful campaign SP stood a candidate in the Victorian State Election in 1999 and built on the foundations of the Richmond School and Heroin Reform campaigns. The SP candidate received one the highest results for a socialist candidate since the 1950s.
In September 2000 SP mobilised youth and trade unionists to protest against a WEF regional meeting held in Melbourne. SP called a school student strike for the day and organised the successful First Aid Tent. Hundreds of protesters were treated by trade union first aid officers after the brutal and unnecessary attacks by police. Our influence in the CFMEU (Construction, Forestry, Mining & Energy Union) led to this and other unions breaking from the Victorian Trades Hall leadership and marching onto the picket lines in support of the protest.
In 2002 we campaigned heavily against the Howard government’s racist and anti worker immigration policies. Over the Easter holiday we organised a significant contingent to attend a demonstration at the Woomera detention centre in the Australian desert. This was a major embarrassment to the Federal Government as dozens of refugees escaped during the protests and a great deal of pressure was put on Howard to close the camp.
In 2003 SP initiated a campaign for casual workers rights called UNITE. This campaign was successful in raising the issues facing mostly women and youth in casual employment. It also led to some minor improvements to the conditions of some workers. The UNITE campaign was turned into a rebel union for fast food and retail workers in 2006 and many SP members now hold leadership positions in this union. UNITE continues to go from strength to strength.
In 2004 SP was successful in getting the only socialist elected to any level of government. After years of campaigning in the area SP candidate Stephen Jolly was elected as a councillor in the City of Yarra. As a fighting socialist councillor Stephen has been able to win many victories for the community, not by weight of numbers on the council but by providing the community with a voice on the council and mobilising people to effect change.
The SP will continue to build and mobilise around campaigns to strengthen the struggle against capitalism. SP aims to stand candidates in future elections, build rank & file groups within trade unions and fight for the rights of working class people. The development of campaigns and the struggle against exploitation of youth and women will be forefront in the future work of the Socialist Party.
How the Socialist Party runs its meetings
SP conducts its meetings in an inclusive, democratic and organised manner. The following is an outline of the way the SP runs its meetings.
It is important to remember why meetings are held. The Socialist Party’s meetings are generally split into two parts, the political and the organisational discussions, the two parts are importantly linked but kept separate for clarity. The political discussions help us analyse events both past and present and to outline our perspectives for the future. The organisational part of the meeting flows from these perspectives and in general the organisational discussions aim to serve three main purposes.
1. To organise the activities of the party
2. To allow for the party to make decisions
3. To inform comrades about what’s happening inside the organisation
The best way to ensure that these aims are met is to have organised and democratic meetings. Establishing standing orders alone will not ensure this occurs, considerations must be given to a number of other factors including the chair person, the minute taker, the agenda and the time.
The chairperson plays a vital and pivotal role in any meeting the have the ability to make or break the meeting. The role of the chairperson is to -
1. Facilitate discussion (draw the discussion together, question the meeting and remind the meeting of important points that have been made)
2. Organise the discussion (not allow the meeting to skip from one topic to another, follow the agenda in its order, keep speakers time in check, keep the meeting time in check and not allow things to drag on)
3. Maintain democracy within the meeting (keep a call list, discipline offensive behaviour, conduct voting on motions)
The minute taker
Minute taking is an important aspect of any meeting; it records decisions and summaries of major debates. Minute taking is not about recording every word that is spoken in the meeting, this would be impossible to do. In general minutes should always contain.
1. The date and time of the meeting
2. Apologies from people unable to attend
3. The people in attendance
Then working through the agenda briefly summarise discussions that did not contain formal motions.
Where formal motions are presented to the meeting the minute taker should write down the motion, the mover and the seconder and whether the motion was carried or defeated. It is also important that the minutes are available to the members and when possible members should receive a copy (especially if they are unable to attend). The minutes of each meeting should be kept together as a record of the organisational decision making
The agenda is the plan for the meeting. It outlines what is to be discussed and when it will be discussed in the meeting. Usually an agenda will include most of the following components.
1. The date and time (starting and finishing) of the meeting
2. A call for apologies from people unable to attend the meeting
3. The items for discussion for the current meeting including the political lead off
4. Business arising from the previous meeting
5. Reports from any sub committees of the party
6. General business
When setting the agenda it is preferable if members have a copy before the meeting. If the agenda has not been set prior to the meeting it is the role of the chair person to call for items to be placed on the agenda at the start of the meeting and to organise the items in order of relevance or importance and the to confirm the agenda with the meeting.
Time is one of the most important elements of a meeting. Time and timing are the jurisdiction of the chairperson. Members attending the meeting need to be certain that where possible discussions do not become repetitious and time consuming. However members of the meeting also need to take responsibility for timing their own contributions and allowing time for others to speak on the topic.
The chair person must establish reasonable speaking times for members who wish to make contributions during discussions (3 minutes is usually a good time limit) and to strictly enforce this. In addition the chair person must ensure that the meeting flows and is finished within the prescribed time. This means setting times for agenda items and reminding the meeting how much time is left, how long an item has been under discussion and so on.
These are the rules and procedures which allow the meeting to be conducted in a democratic manner. The ones outlined below are the most commonly used in SP meetings.
A motion is the formalisation of a meetings decision. It may outline action the meeting wishes to endorse or undertake, or it may be a statement or sentiment the meeting wishes to make on an issue.
Motions are debated and voted upon by the meeting. They must be moved and seconded by a member of the meeting before they can be accepted for debate. (The mover and the seconder must be different people)
Once a motion has been moved and seconded the chairperson should call for any opposition to the motion if there is none usually the mover will speak to the motion and give reasons why the motion should be carried by the meeting. After this the chair person will call for votes for and against.
If however there is opposition to the motion the chairperson may decide to go into committee for a designated time agreed by the meeting. During committee the chairperson will take speakers from the meeting who wish to comment on the motion. This time allows members to form an opinion on the issue and gather information before a formal debate is held. After committee time has ended the chair person will;
1. Ask the mover to speak to their motion
2. Ask the seconder if they wish to speak to the motion (they may formally reserve their right to speak? this means they will speak later in the meeting)
3. Call for a speaker against the motion
4. Call for a speaker in favour of the motion
5. Continue to call for speakers for and against the motion until either there are no further speakers or until a set number of speakers for and against have spoken (this should be set when the formal debate begins)
6. The mover will have the right of reply (sum up)
7. The chair person will then call for votes for and against the motion and any abstentions (people who don’t wish to vote)
8. Depending on the number the motion will be declared carried or defeated.
9. Amendments may be made to motions but can only be adopted if either the mover accepts the amendment or it is voted on along the same lines as outlined above.
When motions are proposed or moved in meetings the mover should write down their motion and hand it to the chairperson and minute taker as soon as is possible. Often however motions will be the result of discussions within a meeting, in regards to particular business on the agenda.
When motions are being discussed it is important that the chair person keeps a call list of speakers for and against the motion so that the debate flows in a democratic and efficient manner. From time to time the chair should let the meeting know how many people and who is on the list.
It is also important that the chairperson keeps control of the meeting and makes sure that all speakers speak through the chair. This means that no one is to speak unless they have been given permission by the chair. Anyone who interjects over another speaker should be disciplined by the chairperson.
Additionally the chairperson has the responsibility to make sure that speakers speak to the motion and that their contributions are directly related to the debate. If during the voting for a motion members feel that the vote is close and the chair person has mistakenly counted they may ask for division. This means that the vote must be called again and the votes must be manually counted by more than one person other than the chair
Point of order
A point of order may be called at any time during a debate and does not require a person to go on the call list. It is directed to the chairperson who will put the question to the meeting. It is usually called over procedure when a member of the meeting wishes to draw the chairperson’s attention to clarifying or rectifying the procedure of the meeting. It may be used to conclude a debate or needs summing up or delaying. It may also be used to draw the chairperson attention to inappropriate behaviour by another member in the meeting.
Point of clarification
Similarly a point of clarification may also be asked at any time during a discussion or debate of a motion. Points of clarification are usually simple questions of the speaker or may be used when the speaker misinterprets the contribution of a previous speaker. Again the chair must facilitate the point without allowing it to become a discussion between two members of the meeting.
Dissent from the chair
This is rarely used in SP meetings but is useful to know for other meeting forums (for example debating in trade unions). Dissent from the chair is called when a member of the meeting does not agree with a ruling or interpretation of the chairperson. If this occurs the chairperson must step down from the chair and be replaced by another member in the meeting. The member who called dissent will outline why they have done so, the chair will outline their response and the meeting will vote for or against the call for dissent. If dissent is passed the chairperson must accept the new interpretation.
It is important to remember that this is a fairly drastic rule to use and is not often implemented as the chairperson should be able to remain neutral to any debate that is being undertaken.
It is important that SP meetings follow agreed procedures to ensure that everyone has the right to speak and be heard. This will help us to further develop the healthy culture of debate and discussion within the party. The SP realises that we have massive tasks ahead of us and therefore our meetings not just talk shops. They are designed for us to discuss the tasks at hand, inform our members, organise our work and make decisions that will allow us to take the class struggle forward.
Socialist Party Constitution
CLAUSE 1 – AIMS AND PRINCIPLES
PART 1 – The Socialist Party stands on the basis of the genuine ideas of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky. We recognise that the struggle for socialism is an international struggle and we therefore promote international solidarity between working class people to achieve a world socialist federation. Only the achievement of socialism internationally can utilise the world’s resources to end want and insecurity and allow every individual to develop their potential to the full.
PART 2 – The Socialist Party is a revolutionary socialist organisation which bases itself on the working class and fights for the establishment of a socialist society in Australia, based on the public ownership of the major sectors of the economy under democratic workers control and management.
PART 3 – The Socialist Party bases itself on struggle, solidarity and socialism and aims to promote these ideas within the broader labour movement and in working class community organisations.
CLAUSE 2 – INTERNATIONAL AFFILIATION
PART 1 – The Socialist Party is affiliated to the Committee for a Workers’ International and works with other sections towards the building of a new revolutionary socialist international. It is therefore also binding to the CWI Statutes.
CLAUSE 3 – MEMBERSHIP
PART 1 – Any person who accepts the aims, principles, and Constitution of the Socialist Party, and agrees to participate in its work under the direction of its official bodies, is eligible for membership. The most important activity for any comrade to participate in is the Branch meeting, and all members are expected to attend Branch meetings as often as possible. Comrades are expected to make regular financial contributions and be active in party work.
PART 2 – Applications for membership must be made to a Branch and ratified by the Branch Committee. If there is no Branch in a particular area, a new member will be a national member rather than a Branch member. The National Secretariat shall ratify national memberships.
PART 3 – All members are expected to promote the ideas of the Socialist Party and seek to recruit new members. Members will be expected to identify with and sell copies of The Socialist as well as other Socialist Party publications. Members must also seek to raise money for the fighting fund to help build the party. All members must belong to the appropriate trade union or student organisation and will pledge to involve themselves in other working class organisations when necessary.
PART 4 – All members are expected to be both active in party work and make regular financial contributions to the treasury. To maintain financial membership Branch members are expected to make weekly financial contributions at a Branch level. National members are expected to make weekly financial contributions at a national level. The actual sum of these contributions will be agreed on between the individual member and either the Branch or National Treasurer. The National Conference will set a minimum weekly payment and this will include membership fees to the Committee for a Workers’ International.
PART 5 – Members that are three months in arrears with their contributions will be considered unfinancial members, and will therefore not have the right to neither vote nor be elected to any committee, nor be elected as a delegate to any conference. Those that are twelve months in arrears will have their membership lapsed. The National Committee will also review the membership and financial status of the membership list at least every twelve months.
CLAUSE 4 – PRINCIPLES OF ORGANISATIONAL STRUCTURE
PART 1 – The Socialist Party is organised as one national section of the Committee for a Workers’ International, covering the whole of Australia.
PART 2 – National bodies take precedence over regional bodies. The highest body of the Socialist Party is the National Conference.
CLAUSE 5 – NATIONAL CONFERENCE
PART 1 – A National Conference of the membership shall be held at least once a year.
PART 2 – The National Conference will until otherwise be agreed by conference, comprise of all members, and be convened by the National Committee.
PART 3 – Draft resolutions and political reports should be submitted to the membership at least two weeks prior to the National Conference. Emergency resolutions may be submitted before and at the conference, but will be voted on subject to conference agreement.
PART 4 – At the beginning of each National Conference, a presidium of at least three members will be elected to run the conference. This presidium shall present its proposed order of conference at the beginning of National Conference, for ratification or amendment.
PART 5 – No binding mandate can be imposed on any delegate to conference. Decisions on all questions including amendments to the Constitution shall be made by a simple majority vote. Any proposed changes to the Constitution should be circulated at least one month prior to conference.
CLAUSE 6 – SPECIAL CONFERENCES
PART 1 – Special Conferences with the same authority as the National Conference may be called at any time by the National Committee.
PART 2 – The National Committee must convene a special Conference at the request of one third of the membership within three months of the request being received.
CLAUSE 7 – NATIONAL COMMITTEE
PART 1 – The National Committee shall be elected at the National Conference. The National Committee will have the authority of the National Conference between conferences. It shall consist of a National Secretary and a National Treasurer as well as other officers as determined by the National Conference.
PART 2 – The National Committee will have the responsibility of overseeing and developing the organisation on a national basis. Its role includes setting the overall political direction of the organisation. The National Committee shall meet no less than once every three months.
PART 3 – The National Committee will be elected by the slate method by the National Conference. It will comprise of at least one member from each state or territory where Branches exist.
PART 4 – The National Committee shall have the authority to co-opt members between conferences and set up such bodies as appropriate to further the aims of the Socialist Party. Such bodies will be subject to, and will report to, the National Committee.
PART 5 – The National Committee will be responsible to, and will report to, the National Conference and can be recalled by a specially convened National Conference. The National Committee shall be convened by the National Secretariat.
PART 6 – A special National Committee meeting must be convened by the National Secretariat at the request of one third of the National Committee members.
CLAUSE 8 – NATIONAL SECRETARIAT
PART 1 – A National Secretariat shall be elected by the National Committee and shall have the authority and responsibility of that body between committees. It shall have the day-to-day responsibilities of overseeing and developing the work of the organisation on a national basis.
PART 2 – The National Secretariat will be responsible to, and will report to, the National Committee, and can be recalled by the National Committee.
CLAUSE 9 – BRANCH STRUCTURES
PART 1 – The basic unit of the Socialist Party is the Branch, which is based on an area or workplace group. When a Branch is of sufficient size, it may decide to divide itself with the agreement of the National committee. A Branch must be recognised by the National Committee before it has the status as a Branch of the Socialist Party.
PART 2 – Each Branch should meet at least fortnightly but it is strongly recommended that Branches meet on a weekly basis. When a Branch is of sufficient size, it should elect a Branch Committee at an annual general meeting or a specially convened meeting of the Branch. The Branch Committee should include as a minimum a Branch Secretary and a Branch Treasurer, as well as other officers as the Branch deems appropriate. The Branch is responsible for implementing the decisions of higher bodies in their area and directing local activity. Specially convened meetings must be convened by the Branch Secretary at the request of not less than one third of the Branch membership. Such meetings can replace or reelect the branch officers or Branch Committee.
PART 3 – Branches shall have the right to send motions to the National Committee, and in cases of urgency, the National Secretariat.
CLAUSE 10 – DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS AND DISIPLINE
PART 1 – All policies, strategies and tactics of the Socialist Party will be determined after the fullest and most democratic discussion involving the membership.
PART 2 – While fulfilling the conditions of membership, all members and minorities have the right to present dissenting views within the Socialist Party, both verbally and in writing. All members have the right to appeal to higher bodies against any decision with which they disagree. This includes the right of access to internal bulletins and mailing lists. After exhausting all possible procedures for discussion members have the right to form factions around specific issues and ideas where disagreement exists.
PART 3 – All leading Committees are elected and are accountable to the body that elected them. Leading Committees shall explain their decisions and encourage lower bodies to express their views, raise problems and make suggestions.
PART 4 – Decisions made by majority vote are binding on all members. Leading bodies have the right to make decisions binding on lower bodies.
PART 5 – Members violating these decisions shall be subject to disciplinary action. The National Committee shall have the power to discipline members whose conduct or actions are detrimental to the Socialist Party. Disciplinary measures can include statements of condemnation for the relevant action, removal from office, suspension or expulsion.
PART 6 – Any member subject to disciplinary procedures shall have the right of appeal to the National Conference. The disciplinary action shall in the meantime remain in full effect pending the result of the appeal.
PART 7 – All members involved in public work shall act in accordance with the democracy and discipline of the Socialist Party and shall not benefit financially from their position.
PART 8 – All meetings are to be minuted and the minutes made available to the members of the body concerned and by agreement by that body to the broader membership. Each body shall be responsible for the security of their minutes and records, so that these documents may not be used to the disadvantage of Socialist Party members.
PART 9 – Full time workers for the Socialist Party will be appointed by the National Committee.
PART 10 – All officers and full time workers of the Socialist Party shall be subject to immediate recall by the National Committee, National Conference or any other Special Conference.
PART 11 – Full time Workers who have a grievance or complaint about their conditions of employment can appeal to the National Committee or National Conference or any Special Conference. Full time workers will work under the direction of the National Committee. Wages for full time positions will be set by the National Secretariat and reviewed on an annual basis. Financial contributions will not be required from full time workers for the Socialist Party.
PART 12 – Where a genuine grievance between members can not be resolved between them alone, the Branch Committee shall be called upon to institute an appropriate process for resolution. If members feel their grievance has still not been satisfactorily addressed, they have the right to appeal to the Control Commission. If the member is still dissatisfied with the outcome they have the right to appeal to the National Committee.
CLAUSE 11 – CONTROL COMMISSION
PART 1 – The Control Commission shall be elected at the National Conference. It shall not comprise of either National Committee members or full time workers of the Socialist Party. The Control Commission shall comprise of a panel of comrades to enable it to function effectively at a national level.
PART 2 – The function of the Control Commission is to: A) Investigate any complaints or special enquiry which may be referred to it by either the National Committee or the National Secretariat. It shall report back to these committees with the results of its investigations and enquiries. B) To investigate complaints of individual members or Branches against disciplinary measures taken against them by higher organisations, and submit their recommendations to the National Committee for final decision. C) To attempt to resolve any grievance between members that Branch Committees have been unable to resolve.
CLAUSE 12 – FINANCES
PART 1 – Branch Treasurers shall be responsible for overseeing finances at a branch level. The National Treasurer shall be responsible for overseeing finances at a national level. All treasurers are subject to immediate recall by the body that elected them.
PART 2 – Branches Treasurers shall, as minimum, issue quarterly financial reports, but monthly reports are strongly recommended. The National Treasurer shall also issue quarterly financial reports to the National Committee. And a full financial report shall be issued to the National Conference.
PART 3 – A Financial Auditor will also be elected by the National Conference. The Financial Auditor shall not be either a full time worker for the Socialist Party or a member of a Branch Committee nor National Committee.
PART 4 – The role of the Financial Auditor is to investigate any complaints about finances or about any treasurer or individual member of the Socialist Party in regards to finance. The Financial Auditor shall make recommendations to the National Committee. Complaints about finances or about any treasurer or individual member shall be made to the National Secretariat.