18 Jun 2014

Young Labor Left Back Revolt on Asylum Policy

By Pete Landi

Members of Young Labor Left in NSW have voted to withdraw support to candidates who do not commit to a rethink on asylum seeker policies, writes Pete Landi*.

The asylum seeker issue is one of the most important issues of race and representation in our generation.

The status of our so-called “Immigration and Border Protection” policy is utterly debauched. And it is one the Liberal Party inherited from the Labor Party.

The government contracted the man who beat Reza Berati to death with a rock, clearly demonstrating the operation of the centre unviable, dangerous and an exemplification of brutality against the powerless.

Richard Marles the Opposition Spokesman for Immigration continues to endorse the centre’s operation. Even after the trauma of this event, Marles initiated a cruelty bidding war with Scott Morrison, challenging him to restate that no asylum seeker on Manus Island would receive an Australian protection visa.

Young Labor Left took a step in the right direction recently; we decided that we will not campaign for any candidate at the state or federal election who does not publically oppose mandatory detention and offshore processing.

In a practical sense this means that we will not door knock, letterbox or call on behalf of any candidate that does not support an end to the indefinite detention of asylum seekers in detention centres, and encourages rank and file activists from Young Labor all around the country to move similar motions in their respective branches, with a view to putting pressure on the leadership from the ground up.

There is no reason why dissenting voices within the rank and file of the ALP can’t create a movement internally to hold our representatives to account.

After the PNG solution was introduced by the previous Labor government, members of YLL convened in Newcastle, unanimously approving a motion to petition the Senior Left, urging the party to change its position on refugees.

Not alone in outrage at the actions of the Parliamentary caucus, the Australian Council of Trade Unions also condemned the policy when it was announced, yet this too was to no avail.

Although frustrated by the indifference shown by the ALP, even in the face of dissent from both the parties own youth wing and the labour movement at large, Young Labor Left continues to engage in community campaigns around the issue.

This internal dissent is more than a way to show Anna Bourke and Melissa Parke that they are not alone in their stand in federal caucus against labor’s current position.

We should not have to rely on the benevolence of elected MPs for direction on policy. Rank and file pressure needs to be immediate, and the youth movement can play its part with a well-publicised boycott of anti-refugee candidates.

To end this policy, all forms of agitation, both external and internal to the Labor Party need to be engaged with to ensure the best chance of success, and this cannot exclude the open criticism of my own party.

Young activists in the Labor Party need to make a decision about how they intend to reconcile their progressive views on asylum seekers with their Party Membership, and what role they intend to play in changing Party Policy.

* Pete Landi is a member of NSW Young Labor Left.

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This user is a New Matilda supporter. hannahs dad
Posted Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - 21:10

Well said [or written] Pete, highly commendable.

So who will you campaign for - Greens candidates?

Not being sarky, its a serious question and, on this issue, the Greens are a serious alternative for your stance.

Posted Thursday, June 19, 2014 - 06:15

Manus Island was a Labor response to Abbott's big xenophobic mouth. Labor should never have played his game and now there is no way back without severe political cost. Abbott has got the indiots amongst the voters believing that boat people are a major problem, and that bashing them is good stuff.  There is an organised protest against the Abbott government's treatment of asylum seekers in Melbourne next Sunday.  I have not attended a protest since about 1980, however I am going to travel 220 Km to get there.  This obscenity cannot be allowed to continue in my Australia.  This is my world and I haven't finished with it yet.

Posted Thursday, June 19, 2014 - 10:24

The hope is in the future generations, they don't believe all the BS and still have a moral compass... proud of this action, well done.

Posted Thursday, June 19, 2014 - 10:26

NSW Young Labor Left are not lone voices for decency and humanity in the neoliberal Right-dominated ALP aka the Alternative Liberal Party, Another Liberal Party , the Apartheid :abpor Party, the A[artheid israel-supporting Labor Party, American Lackey Party, Anti-environment Labor Party, Anti-human rights Labor Party  and Australia Lying Party.

Thus several Federal  Labor women MPs - Melissa Parke, Anna Burke and Maria Vamvakinou - backed a motion in the Federal Caucus to close the offshore refugee concentration camps but it was defeated by the Shorten Right (see Melissa Parke, "My motion on offshore provcessing was defeated - where to now for Labor?",  The Guardian 18 June 2014: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jun/18/my-motion-on-offshore-processing-was-defeated-where-to-now-for-labor ).

Full marks to NSW Young Labor Left, and Federal ALP MPs Melissa Parke, Anna Burke and Maria Vamvakinou for demanding closure of these highly abusive, off-shore concentration camps for refugee men, women and CHILDREN. Unfortunately a swallow doesn't make a summer and the Caucus of the neoliberal Right-dominated ALP (in horrible reality the Alternative Liberal Party, and Another Liberal Party) rejected the motion of these humane women.

Those who ignore, deny, excuse, support, advocate or are otherwise complicit in gross abuse of mothers and children have crossed a line separating decent humanity from barbarism. Decent Australians for whom abuse of mothers and children is utterly unthinkable will vote 1 Green and put the Coalition last.

All young Australians and older Australians who care for them and future generations must utterly reject the future -eating, climate criminal, war criminal, Zionist-perverted, US lackey, terracidal, effective climate change denialist   Coalition and Labor Right aka the Lib-Labs (Liberal-Laborals).

This user is a New Matilda supporter. M.R.
Posted Thursday, June 19, 2014 - 14:45

Oh, thank all the gods ! - I've been whingeing on for MONTHS about this: that the ALP is not an option as long as its current hideous policy on asylum seekers stands.

I have been thinking I'm going to have to vote Green next time; so the question is, what influence are the Young Labor people going to have on the old farts ???

Posted Thursday, June 19, 2014 - 14:53

Thank you My Lundi and Young Labor. Finally, something positive to come out of one of the two major parties!

This user is a New Matilda supporter. outrider
Posted Thursday, June 19, 2014 - 15:35

Australia does have an obligation to asylum seekers on Manus and Nauru islands. If they are all permitted to be processed in Australia it will open the flood gates again. For a humane solution see

 A more humane two part solution to the fate of asylum seekers sent to Manus & Nauru islands


Admit to Australia for processing those on the water when the new rules took effect on 19 July 2013. and legislate to change the Migration Act to be able to re-negotiate the Malaysian solution

Published online in theindependentaustralian.com.au

Posted Thursday, June 19, 2014 - 17:39

I refer members to an article in the Age (Thurs 19th June) by Julian Burnside. I heartily endorse his views and support young labour in their efforts to effect change in the policies of both labour and the coalition. Proud of the young ones, maybe hope for the future treating asylum seekers with compassion and respect.


Posted Thursday, June 19, 2014 - 18:14

All those young idealists expressing their views here.   They have not done enough living to know the alternative.  Nor have they thought through their way of action.

Julian Burnside's version would open the floodgates.   I hope that Argen read the comments as well.

The Abbott govenments leaves a great lot to be desired, but Scott Morrison gets it as right on refugees as he possibly can given the circumstances.   My preferred option is explained in the other post on this forum.  No repeats.

Posted Friday, June 20, 2014 - 02:28

I thought that Labor was supposed to represent the interests of the Australian workers. Are the young members of the Labor Party unaware of the laws of supply and demand? Do they really think that they can increase the supply of workers without reducing the price of labour?

Posted Friday, June 20, 2014 - 10:15



Considering the paltry number of refugees, the effect on labor suply is de minimium- or, to put it more bluntly, your argument is spurious.

As to "Labor Left," you're better to put your efforts into the Greens, who actually stand for AND work for progressive values that will make yours -and all of our futures a much better place.

In the end, you can always preference Labor #2.