All the way with WA

This year’s November National Conference took place in Perth ahead of its State election in March and the energy was infectious.

By Rebecca Galdies, National Secretary

The theme of this year’s November Conference was “What the Future Holds”. Our November National Conference is always an inspiring place to be: from the annual election of our office bearers to detailed negotiation of the national budget between member states to passionate discussions on wide-ranging topics, it’s certainly never dull.

This year, I was thrilled to be elected as National Secretary and to have our former National Secretary, Alex Schlotzer, step up to join Giz Watson as National Co-Convenor. At the same time, we’re very sad to say farewell but not goodbye to Penny Allman-Payne who steps away from her national role as Co-Convenor after three years but who will continue as Queensland delegate to National Council and will take on more responsibility on the international stage with the Asia-Pacific Greens Federation.

The other office bearers elected over the Conference are:

  • Deputy Convenor: Holly Kemp
  • Deputy Secretary: Abigail Boyd
  • Treasurer: Nick Cooper
  • Deputy Treasurer: Sabine Hahn
  • Policy Coordinators: Rod Swift and Catherine Garner
  • International Secretary: Felicity Gray

We’re especially pleased that so many of our new office bearers are women.

Diversity, dollars and doing it differently

Improving the diversity of our Party is an issue that’s dear to me, and so it was terrific to take part in a wide-ranging discussion during Conference that resulted in a consensus decision to work towards a National Multicultural Committee, with separate sub-networks for First Nations Members and Members who are People of Colour to work together. During breakout groups, others committed to establishing a National Disability Working Group, a National LGBTIQ Network and a National Women’s Network. We’ll be contacting members with more information about these in the new year.

Some people think of finance as dull, but our budget session and another session talking about tax and inequality were two of the most well attended sessions of the weekend. Our Budget was confirmed to June 30, which completes our transition from calendar year to financial year Budgets.

We also heard from Parliamentary Greens Leader Senator Richard Di Natale about the challenges we face with the rise of right-wing parties and independents and the important role we can play by continuing to reach out to multicultural communities and show our support for a diverse Australia.

This was followed up with a terrific opportunity for members to pose questions to our MPs — which we believe is unique among most political parties. Naturally, WA topics were popular, including the fresh news that Attorney-General George Brandis had allegedly done secret deals with the West Australian Liberal Government over funds from Alan Bond's failed Bell Group and the continuing saga of Roe 8 and what our Federal and State MPs are doing to protect the Beeliar Wetlands from this freight project.

Other sessions covered what the future holds for progressive politics, a fantastic session hosted by the Young Greens arguing that the future is already here, a session exploring the four-day work week and the idea of a Guaranteed Adequate Income, a thought-provoking session on what the future holds for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and naturally a session on the next federal election.

People and parties

In the evening, the WA Greens hosted delegates and friends at Pretty in Green, their first major fundraising evening for the State election. Apart from excellent food and great company — all the candidates, campaigners and volunteers were very welcoming to interstaters — everyone enjoyed Campaign Manager Andrew Beaton’s stint as an auctioneer. Flogging WA MP Robin Chapple’s famous hat, a Reef poster signed by Senator Larissa Waters, green bans memorabilia from Senator Lee Rhiannon and more, the campaign raised almost $10,000 for the night.

If all this sounds like something you wish you’d been at, start saving up now. The next National Conference will be in May in Alice Springs and promises to be yet another incredible experience.