Australian Political Parties for Democracy

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Australian Political Parties for Democracy

"Democracy building in our region requires an effective political dimension, not just armed intervention." [1]

"The [Australian Government's] department [of finance and Administration] administers the Australian Political Parties for Democracy Programme. This programme provides annual grants in aid of up to $1 million to the Liberal Party of Australia and the Australian Labor Party, to assist with activities to strengthen democracy in the region and internationally. Such activities may include training, education and advice to international political parties, assistance with conducting elections, and liaison with international organisations to promote and strengthen democratic institutions and good governance. Guidelines for the programme were prepared in consultation with the Departments of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Foreign Affairs and Trade and the ANAO. The guidelines provide for the parties to re-apply for funding each year and set out the criteria against which applications for funding are assessed. The guidelines also provide for formal agreements between the parties and the Government that set out the conditions under which the grant may be used and the information requirements for proper acquittal of moneys spent. Payments of $1 million were made to each party under this programme in 2006–07." [2]

Australian Labor Party

In 2006: "The program aims to assist the major Australian political parties in promoting strong and robust democracies in the Asia-Pacific region and strengthening linkages with parties in the region. It brings the major Australian parties into line with international approaches to technical assistance to political parties and is akin to the activities undertaken by organisations such as the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs and the Friedrich-Ebert Stiftung.

"The government took the view that the program would best be administered by political parties directly. Accordingly, funds were made available to the Liberal Party and to the Australian Labor Party. The ALP received $500,000 to be used to implement the program for the last six months of financial year 2005-06 and will receive $1 million for financial year 2006-07. It is the ALP component of the APPD program that I wish to speak about tonight.

"In order to oversee the disbursement of these funds, the ALP established a committee, which we have called the International Party Development Committee—another acronym, the IPDC. The committee consists of my colleague Senator Michael Forshaw, who is the International Secretary of the Australian Labor Party; another colleague in the House of Representatives, Mr Kevin Rudd MP, who is the Deputy International Secretary of the ALP; former Senator Sue West, who is the Socialist International Women’s Vice President and a former International Secretary of the ALP; Mr Mark Butler, who is an ALP National Executive Committee member; Mr Richard Marles, who is ACTU Assistant Secretary; Dr Carmen Lawrence MP, another colleague, who is the Vice President of the Australian Labor Party; Mr Greg Sword, another National Executive Committee member; Mr Tim Gartrell, the National Secretary of the Australian Labor Party; and I can also inform the Senate that I chair this committee.

"We appointed a director of international projects, Dr Michael Morgan, to be responsible for the administration of the program. Dr Morgan meets with the IPDC on a regular basis to discuss the direction of the program and report on its progress. Given the relatively limited funds available and the size and diversity of our region, the committee has identified a group of six target countries: Indonesia, the Philippines, Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Fiji. The ALP’s commitments under the APPD are to provide practical training and facilitation to political parties in the Asia-Pacific; strengthen ties with recognised fraternal parties; and build new relationships with political parties in the region, including through existing international associations and frameworks." [3]

"Part of the ALP’s effort has been to work with the United States National Democratic Institute (NDI) to strengthen women political leaders in Southeast Asia.

"Andi Yuliani Paris, a member of the Indonesian People’s House of Representatives (DPR) for the Partai Amanat Nasional (National Mandate Party, formed by Amien Rais), stressed the importance of educating the élite of Indonesia’s political parties about the role women can play in building democracy. It was not enough to establish a quota (30 per cent) for female party membership. Women must also be placed high enough on the ticket to have a real chance of being elected.

"Her point was reinforced by another speaker, Stephanie Lynn, the director of the Political Party and Women’s Participation Programs (NDI Southeast Asia). Lynn pointed out that when voters, rather than parties, had a direct choice they preferred female candidates. This had been the case in the elections to the Indonesian upper house, where voting is based on individuals not on party lists." [4]

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References

  1. A Democracy Building Agenda, ALP International Projects, accessed December 22, 2007.
  2. Services to Senators, Members and Their Staff, Australian Government, accessed December 22, 2007.
  3. The ALP and the Australian Political Parties for Democracy Program, ALP International Projects, accessed December 22, 2007.
  4. Women in Politics in Asia, Asian Currents, accessed December 22, 2007.