THE HON MARK DREYFUS KC MP
MEMBER FOR ISAACS
ALP NATIONAL CONFERENCE
NATIONAL PLATFORM CHAPTER 6
STRENGTHENING AUSTRALIAN DEMOCRACY
18 AUGUST 2023
I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, the Turrbal and Jagera people, and pay my respects to their elders past and present.
And I reaffirm the Albanese Labor Government’s commitment to implementing the Uluru Statement from the Heart in full.
Chapter 6 of the National Platform outlines Labor’s commitment to a strong Australian democracy. It is about a democracy that works for the Australian people, not just for elected officials.
Labor knows – in opposition and in government – that Australia’s strong democratic traditions are precious and must be protected.
But that does not mean complacency, or a lack of appetite for reform.
Our commitment to the Voice is just one example. An Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice achieved through a successful referendum will enhance our democratic system. It is a clear case of a gap that must be filled.
Decades of policy failure have shown that First Nations people are not being given enough of a say in matters that directly affect them. It’s time for that to change.
This chapter canvasses other areas of potential constitutional reform, as well as electoral reform, the importance of a sustainable and independent media sector, issues of law and justice and the significance of a strong public sector.
It is worth pausing to acknowledge the achievement of one long-term pledge in this part of the platform, and that is the establishment of a National Anti-Corruption Commission. We said we would legislate a National Anti-Corruption Commission by the end of 2022, and we did.
I would like to thank delegates, party members and activists who agitated for this change over many years.
That brings me to my final point – when the Labor Party talks about keeping Australia’s democracy strong, the greatest example is right here, in this hall. Unlike every other party, we are not scared of robust debate and disagreement – in a very public forum. We think direct input from our party members is a good thing. It doesn’t just keep Australia’s democracy strong, it keeps the Labor Party strong. And it keeps us focused on our most important task – working for all Australians.
I commend this Chapter for delegates’ consideration.