I feel privileged to have been re-endorsed as the NSW Labor Assistant General Secretary. I continue in that position at a moment of big political change and opportunity for our party.
The bruising defeats of 2019 have done something to the Labor psyche. I hear it from members and affiliated unions I talk to all around the state. There is an urgency to their calls. They are sick of losing and they are hungry to win. They want us to be spend less time focussing on ourselves and more time getting ready to battle our political opponents. They desperately want us to win to defend and lift the living conditions of the millions of people who need Labor Governments.
The last two years have been difficult for Labor members and supporters. Not only because of the election defeats but also because they have had to watch the Party Head Office yet again be engulfed in scandal. This conference will be the first time that the NSW Right will have to answer for that organisational failure of 2019.
The reason that this party plunged to one of its lowest depths in 2019 was because those in control placed factional interest over party interest. Rather than holding leadership to account and asking tough questions, they would show up at conference and carry on about Fortress NSW. It turns out we weren’t a fortress at all. We were a house of cards. In 2019, that house of cards crumbled.
The events of recent weeks have upended the last decade of Liberal and National dominance in NSW. In the week we are about to emerge out of lockdown, the Liberals and Nationals have been entirely focussed on themselves. At a federal level, Scott Morrison is trying to deflect blame from the fact that millions of people in Western Sydney have been plunged into economic and social ruin by a lockdown that could have been avoided. This pandemic has exposed the cruel and callous ideology of our political opponents. We can seize this moment to take power.
But the politics of incumbency is still strong in pandemic politics. If we want to seize this moment, we need the organisational leadership to have a winning mentality and have a plan to make that happen. It requires focus and a ruthlessness to make tough decisions. Most importantly, it requires us to set aside narrow self-interest or crude factional interest to prioritise winning.
There are still some people in our party who have missed the lesson from 2019. They still seek to disrupt and agitate for the sake of personal or factional interest. They do that to the detriment of our collective interest.
This conference will be like no other. An entirely online conference mere months from a federal election will never be able to replicate the spectacle of a packed a Town Hall on a Saturday morning in June.
In that context, we might be less concerned about what happens at this conference and rather consider how we can use it to achieve our ambitions for the next conference. If we can keep up the pressure on the organisational leadership to prioritise party interest over factional interest we are in a strong position to win. Next year on a Saturday in June we could be sitting in a packed Town Hall, maskless and not socially distanced, being addressed by Labor Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. That’s the prize on offer if we’re hungry enough for it.
George Simon is the Assistant Secretary of NSW Labor