Who's who and what's what at the Labor conference

Federal Labor Opposition members Stephen Conroy, Tanya Plibersek, Bill Shorten and Penny Wong (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas) Source: AAP

Learn more about the key Labor figures and issues that will feature at the party's national conference.

Labor leader Bill Shorten will face pressure to change the party's asylum seeker policy at the coming ALP national conference, but it's not the only issue on the agenda.

This weekend's Australian Labor Party's national conference has a full agenda, from asylum seekers to socialism.

What's on the agenda

Asylum seekers

  • The Left wants a more compassionate approach towards asylum seekers who arrive by boat while the Right doesn't want any daylight between the coalition and Labor.
  • The draft platform keeps offshore processing in place, but says people won't stay in detention longer than 90 days.
  • It also seeks to increase the annual intake of humanitarian refugees to 27,000.
  • Turnbacks will be a key debating point among delegates.
  • Protests are expected outside the conference.


  • Frontbencher Tony Burke will move that if no progress is made towards a two-state solution "and Israel continues to build and expand settlements, a future Labor government will consult like-minded nations towards recognition of the Palestinian state".
  • This goes against the status quo in the national platform, which calls for a two-state solution and for Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace within secure borders.


  • Bill Shorten will commit the party to a target of 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030.
  • The platform makes no reference to specific emissions targets - only that any cap should be based on robust independent advice - but some say it should.
  • Others say the party can't afford another carbon tax scare campaign.
  • Mining unions say jobs are at risk and the platform needs to give Shorten some flexibility.

Same-sex marriage

  • Some in the Left want a binding vote - initially led by deputy leader Tanya Plibersek, although she's gone quiet on the matter since there's been cross-party movement within parliament.
  • But a conscience vote is likely to remain policy.
  • Equal Love Australia is planning a rally outside the conference at the same time as debate to call for a binding vote.

Party reform

  • Incoming party president and key Left faction figure Mark Butler wants branch members to vote on upper house candidates and is seeking direct election of conference delegates.
  • Shorten and other Right members support less ambitious reform - an increase in rank-and-file say in selecting candidates and delegates to national conference, consideration of trials of primary-style preselections that involve Labor supporters as well as members, lower membership fees and a one-click sign-up model.
  • Expect a battle.

Gas reservation

  • Unions want to force big gas companies to reserve gas supplies for domestic use rather than flog it all off overseas.
  • The Australian Workers Union's Scott McDine is leading the Reserve Our Gas campaign.
  • Shadow energy spokesman Gary Gray will lead the charge against the policy, which he says will destroy jobs and investment.

China Free Trade Agreement

  • Unions and key federal MPs fear the deal will make it easier for Chinese investors to bring in their own workers for major projects.
  • Arguing too strongly against the FTA will leave Labor vulnerable to attack from the government on their trade credentials and commitment to economic growth.

Socialist objective

  • Right faction members, such as NSW opposition leader Luke Foley and federal frontbencher Chris Bowen, are pushing for this 1921 statement of principles to be updated to express a more modern view of Labor.
  • The Left is expected to object.
  • May be put off for another time if it is looking like a messy fight.

Who's who at the conference

Bill Shorten

  • Federal Parliamentary Labor Party leader
  • Key Right faction powerbroker in alliance with Senator Stephen Conroy
  • His first national conference as leader

Tanya Plibersek

  • Federal Parliamentary Labor Party deputy leader
  • Key Left faction figure

Anthony Albanese

  • Federal Labor frontbencher
  • Former leadership contender
  • Left faction powerbroker

Chris Bowen

  • Shadow treasurer
  • Right faction powerbroker

John Graham

  • National left convenor
  • NSW assistant secretary

Dave Oliver

  • ACTU secretary
  • Left faction powerbroker

Scott McDine

  • Australian Workers Union national secretary
  • Right faction powerbroker
Source AAP

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