I am the Secretary of the Kings Cross Branch of the ALP. If you have been paying attention, you will know that Labor branches are dying.
And they are boring places where no real policy is debated. Just a bunch of old-timers talking endlessly about better days.
Both of these things are untrue. At least for the Kings Cross Branch. My branch is alive and well.
In fact it is growing, with a 19% increase in meeting attendance since I took over as Secretary (humblebrag over).
So let me tell you about my branch…
Good progressive policy is central to good governing, and central to Labor branches. It is no different in the Kings Cross Branch.
We are most definitely situated in our community, and those issues are important, we also debate the ‘big ideas’ of the day.
The last few meetings have been no exception. We have debated the presumption of innocence, a proposed treaty banning the use of drones in extra-judicial assassinations and also the public safety plans for a dilapidated street.
And of course the alleged corruption by members of our own party.
NSW Council For Civil Liberties
A strong society needs civil liberties, and this branch has many defenders of them.
We have the President, Vice President and a couple of committee members of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties.
Our branch has stood apart from the legislated policy of our own party on occasion, because we believe that sometimes the moral imperative should outweigh the political one. And we have many members in our branch to remind us of that imperative.
NSW Bar Association
There is a running joke in our branch whenever we get a new member, we ask them “are you a barrister?”
We are a diverse branch, but the largest group by occupation are lawyers, and barristers at that.
Everybody knows a good lawyer joke, but the lawyers in the Kings Cross Branch are a decent lot. Some are members of the Council for Civil Liberties, all defend the law as well as their clients.
The Branch has a few criminal barristers too. What I have learnt from them is the importance of justice.
The police, the government, and the laws of the land are powerful instruments of good. But misused they persecute the poor, the marginalised and the unlucky.
And they need people stand against them to demand justice for all.
In the 1960s a young lawyer was the Secretary of the Branch. That lawyer went on to be a High Court Justice.
It’s a bit of an extreme example, but given the passion for the law, civil liberties and justice, it is not really a stretch to think that some of the lawyers in the branch may go on to high office.
The other high profile former member of the branch is the current Federal Minister for Health, Tanya Plibersek MP.
Anne Summers, a local, came to one of our meetings recently and wrote this great piece on Tanya and her origins in our branch.
Candidates For Public Office
Having so many passionate, dedicated Labor members in one branch means that we are over-represented in high quality people who want to run for public office.
In the last few years our branch has produced the candidate for the state seat of Sydney, candidates for the community preselection, and the City of Sydney Council election. As well as many internal Labor ballots.
Many of these elections are not about Labor winning per se, but about seizing the opportunity for our values, our people and our purpose to engage with our community.
There is an alternative to an Abbott Government, and we will always stand up to the conservative forces. And thankfully many of my branch members feel the same way.
We Define The Labor Party
Our values define us, not the Newspoll results. It is easy to be fixated on arbitrary numbers, to be fixated by leadership non-campaigns.
But what the Labor Party stands for, what defines it, is not who the leader is at a particular time. It is the rank-and-file members of branches like the Kings Cross Branch that defines the Labor Party.
It is easy to get caught up in power politics, get caught up in faceless men. But it is the branch member talking to their neighbour, talking to their friends about what Labor means to them that is the ‘real’ Labor party.
The Kings Cross Branch of the Australian Labor Party knows what it stands for, do you?
Join us, we fight for a better future for all Australians. What have you done to make a difference.
Alex Hamilton - Secretary, Kings Cross Branch, ALP NSW.