It was a weekend of highs and lows at the Labor Party National Conference. This week the dust is settling on Labor’s new policy positions, but with so many of the campaigns championed by GetUp members involved in the weekend’s debates and votes, we wanted to give you the wrap on what those decisions mean for our movement. Some of them were great victories, while others were decisions that made it clear we have more work to do – and we’re already diving straight into it. Here’s what happened:
One of the biggest wins out of Conference? The ALP committed to sourcing 50% of Australia’s electricity from clean, renewable energy by 2030 – a promise they’ll take to the next election.
That’s a huge win for thousands of clean energy workers and for our country, made possible by the power and passion of the thousands of people like you, pushing the major parties to unshackle us from the big polluters and their dirty energy. In the months leading up to this decision, GetUp members flooded Labor MPs’ offices with calls from constituents and funded strategic ads whenever clean energy policy was up for debate. And as the decision went down this weekend, GetUp members were there rallying in our hundreds alongside clean energy workers and community leaders to show Labor that Australians are ready for vision and leadership on a clean energy future.
This is great news, but it’s not over yet. Labor hasn’t yet committed to cutting any more pollution than Prime Minister Tony Abbott and without strong cuts we can’t transition to a cleaner, safer economy. Mr Abbott has already stepped up his attack on clean energy, making this a key battleground ahead of the election. Your power will be crucial in keeping up the pressure in this campaign – not just in making sure Labor follows through, but in pushing all parties to do better, especially the Coalition who remain hell-bent on destroying our chance at a clean, safer economy. Click here to fund the ongoing fight for climate justice.
Refugees & asylum seekers
On Saturday, Labor delegates voted to support a refugee policy that includes increased humanitarian intake and a commitment to get kids out of detention quickly. The media is reporting they also voted to turn back boats carrying asylum seekers, but that’s not quite right – what they did do is vote down an amendment that would have prohibited turning asylum seekers around at sea,1 leaving the Labor platform without any mention of the policy.2 While details are still coming in, it’s clear from comments from Shadow Immigration Minister Richard Marles that a Labor government would keep the option open to turn back refugees fleeing persecution.3
The Conference has voted, but that doesn’t mean the debate is over. The decisions from Conference mean Labor’s platform is effectively silent on many of the core problems facing Australia’s asylum seeker policy. And we can work with silence. We can fill silence with our demands – and we will.
Manus and Nauru detention centres are expensive, harmful and heartless experiments – and yet they remain open and supported by our major parties. Kids have been systematically abused in our offshore detention centres and yet they remain imprisoned. Turning back asylum seekers on the open sea risks endangering the lives of entire families – and neither major party will stand against it.
Above is the ad thousands of GetUp members chipped in for at the last minute, to put in national papers and in front of Labor delegates: a pitch for compassion, for fairness, and for justice for people seeking refuge. This backs up our thousands of emails and phonecalls to Labor MPs this week alone, and calls for compassion repeated across social media. It’s just the beginning. We won’t stop the pressure, and won’t stop demanding better treatment of those seeking asylum. Sign the petition to close the detention centres on Manus Island and Nauru: www.getup.org.au/alp-detention-disgrace
Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)
Trade Minister Andrew Robb is headed to Hawaii this week for talks that could decide the fate of the controversial TPP deal.
We know from previous remarks that Minister Robb is all aboard the TPP train and will likely sign Australia on to the deal – but rest assured, that’s not the end of the line. The Labor Party will still have a critical vote to determine the future of this dirty deal when the enabling legislation is debated in the Senate.
That’s why over the weekend more than 220 GetUp members from marginal Labor electorates hit the streets distributing door hangers in their neighbourhood, putting the facts about this secretive deal straight into the hands of key voters. This was happening at the same time the Labor Party was debating their national policy on trade deals. We heard some strong words from Conference delegates against the nastiest part of the TPP deal – the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions, which will allow multinational corporations to sue Australian governments.4
To make sure Labor turns their words into action, we’ll need to show them they have our support to vote against this dirty deal. Click here to find out more about the campaign and sign the petition calling on Parliament to vote against the TPP.
The Buffett Rule
Another win! On Friday, the Labor Party adopted the Buffett Rule as part of the tax policy they’ll be taking to the next Federal Election.
Over the past several months, 63,000 Australians have been calling for an Aussie Buffett Rule that would close loopholes for the wealthiest 1%. Last week alone, over 7000 members of the GetUp community got the facts into the hands of their Labor MPs and senators, and hundreds more chipped in to fund a giant mobile billboard promoting the Buffett Rule to Labor National Conference delegates. And we won their support!
The Buffett Rule was part of a groundbreaking report by The Australia Institute, funded by GetUp members, that found that closing tax loopholes for those who earn over $300K could generate $2.5 billion a year in revenue.
Just this morning, Treasurer Joe Hockey told ABC radio that he’s happy to look at the policy as part of the government’s tax white paper. That’s why GetUp members are again leaping to action to get the Buffett Rule into the Treasurer’s office. Click here to send Mr Hockey the Buffett Rule facts and ask for government leadership on fair tax reform.
For this year’s budget, GetUp members tried something game changing, pitching in to fund eight fairer budget policy alternatives backed by rigorous modelling and analysis from some of the best policy brains in the business. And it’s having a massive impact: not only did the ALP endorse the Buffett Rule at National Conference, Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen also put negative gearing reform and changes to the capital gains tax discount into the mix, recognising the impact of these tax breaks on housing affordability.
Our revenue ideas have helped shift the conversation about reform in Australia. This demonstrates the importance of getting on the front foot to propose positive alternatives to the Abbott Government’s austerity cuts.
Last week, dozens of GetUp members jumped on the phone to ask their ALP MPs and Senators to support negative gearing reform. We stand alongside a long, illustrious list of chief executives, former CEOs, think tanks and peak bodies – including the Reserve Bank of Australia – voicing concern about how negative gearing drives up property prices, locking first home buyers out of the market.
Labor is still far from committing to reform as part of their policy platform, and so far the Abbott government has ruled out changes. GetUp members will keep up the pressure, getting ideas for fair tax reform into politicians’ offices and the national media. Click here to fight for a future where all Australians have access to good health care and education, and a home to raise a family.
Events like the Labor National Conference showcase the breadth and impact of our change-making community. Across the movement, GetUp members worked on the issues they care about, getting them on the agenda, shaping the debate, and influencing outcomes. We don’t always get exactly what we want, but every time we speak out we make it clear that we are truly a force to be reckoned with.
Thanks for being a part of it,
Kelsey, Alycia, Nat, Jess, Daney, Aurora and Adam, for the GetUp team
P.S. Core members form the backbone of GetUp – people dedicating a small amount of money every week or month to the causes they care about, ensuring the campaigns we champion have the resources needed to respond quickly and strategically to the fast-moving world of politics. Funding means we can spring into action exactly when it’s needed, and make sure our politicians are always held accountable.
Can you spare a few dollars a week and become a core member of GetUp? Click here to set up your regular donation: www.getup.org.au/support-getup
 ‘ALP conference: left loses vote on motion to prohibit boat turnbacks – politics live’, Guardian Australia, 25 July 2015
 ‘Draft National Platform’, Australian Labor Party, July 2015
 ‘Richard Marles on ALP’s boat turnback policy’, ABC Radio National, 27 July 2015
 ISDS: The devil in the trade deal, ABC’s Background Briefing, 26 July 2015