What do you do when you sign up to join the Australian Labor Party?

The Australian Labor Party (ALP) is divided into 6 state branches and 2 territory branches, and you join one of those branches (not the national Labor Party), so processes may differ a little in different branches.

In New South Wales you join using this form: https://membership.nswlabor.org....

On that form you have to answer four questions:

  • "Have you previously been a member of any other political party or any affiliate or auxilliary of any other political party?" (Having done so does not automatically disqualify you, but your suitability to join will be checked.)
  • "Have you ever opposed an ALP candidate during an election (ie. by standing as or assisting an opposition candidate)?" (Again, not an automatic disqualification, but ...)
  • "Have you previously been a member of the ALP?" (If you let your membership lapse in the past, no problem, but your membership must be specially approved if you were expelled.)
  • "Are you enrolled to vote at elections at the residential address shown on this form?" (If you are eligible to vote, you must be enrolled to vote. In addition, where you live determines which local branch you can join and which preselections you can vote it.)

After you have submitted the form (together with the membership fee), the state branch will assign you to a local branch based on your address. However, you don't have to join that local branch: you can join any local branch within the state electorate that you live in. You can get details of those local branches (including when and where they meet) from the state branch, or from your local ALP member of the federal or state parliament.

You can then attend meetings of your local branch, and take part in its activities - and even, at the annual general meeting each April, stand for office within the branch. Eventually you will be able to vote in preselection ballots for your local councillors, state MP and federal MP - or even stand for preselection yourself if you have political ambitions.

As a member, you don't have to support everything the party does. You can even publicly campaign against some of its policies - many members do. However, to continue as a member you cannot:

  • Join another political party (even if you try to keep that secret).
  • Stand for public office in opposition to candidates chosen by the party (unless, of course, you have been preselected by the party).
  • Publicly campaign against candidates chosen by the party.

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