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Issue #1806      December 13, 2017

CPA 13th National Congress

To the People

The 13th National Congress, which took place in Sydney on December 1-3, was a resounding success and saw delegates enthusiastically confirm the Party’s commitment to the task of “Taking the Party to the People”. Three days of reports and discussion revealed a picture of a Party growing in numbers and confidence. At the end of the Congress, some minor changes to the Party’s Constitution, several updates to the Party Program and an analytical document – the Political Resolution (see page 12) – were endorsed by delegates. Ambitious targets were set and a new Central Committee elected to guide the CPA through what promises to be an exciting period of even more rapid growth.

Photo: Anna Pha

The public event for the opening of Congress had the Party’s commitment to an independent working class agenda and internationalism on display. Guests included representatives of the embassies of socialist countries – the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, the People’s Republic of China and Cuba. The Cuban Ambassador, Jose Galego Montero, thanked the CPA for dedicating the work of the Congress to the memory of Lenin and the Great October Socialist Revolution and Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution. First Secretary of the Chinese Embassy, Dr Jiang Lin, read a greeting from the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China.

Entertainers from Chile, Iran and Australia gave reinforcement of the internationalist theme of the night. Unity was the other major theme. Lindy Nolan of the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist) spoke and expressed her Party’s satisfaction with the developing working relationship with the CPA.

In his address to the event, CPA General Secretary Bob Briton said:

“Maybe you’re not convinced that socialism is a viable alternative or that the sacrifice needed to achieve it is worth it. That’s OK. In that case you might be better off working for better policy within the ALP or the Greens. We don’t agree with that conclusion but we realise our responsibility.

“We need to sharpen our arguments and find the language necessary to persuade you. We need to have the policies and the vision to demonstrate that socialism – working class state power – is necessary if we are ever to get the social priorities and guarantees we need as workers and others currently denied control over our own lives ...

“One of the big lessons our Party and our history teaches is that we will work with everybody genuinely committed to defending and advancing the interests of the working class. I see promising examples of this joint work all over the country and I’m heartened to see a closer relationship between ourselves and the CPA-ML developing. We must continue to deepen our working relationship with these comrades and others, regardless of party affiliation or other difference because, in the fight that is unfolding, we will need allies with a common aim to defeat our enemies in the war on workers.

“The Communist Party remains convinced that a decisive factor in building a new and just society is the building of a bigger and more influential CPA showing leadership in the many key areas of this struggle. We need to pursue an independent working class agenda. If ever you become convinced of this conclusion, and we will keep working to achieve this change of heart, you will be most welcome in our ranks.”

A feature of the Congress was the increased representation of women and, in particular, younger members. A meeting of young members took place on the last day of Congress. Comrades exchanged ideas about the development of CPA Youth, which is now an affiliate of the World Federation of Democratic Youth. Delegates from the CPA reported about their recent attendance at the 19th World Festival of Youth and Students held in Sochi, Russia, in October. Around 30,000 young people gathered under the slogan “For peace, solidarity and social justice, we struggle against imperialism. Honouring our past, we build the future!”.

The work of Congress was carried out in a spirit of unity. A lively Party-wide pre-Congress discussion resulted in support for all the changes to the main documents including the Political Resolution. This was supported unanimously. The Political Resolution and the amended Program and Constitution will appear on the Party’s national website soon.

There were many contributions from delegates and observers to Congress. Their contributions complemented the main report from the General Secretary and confirmed that the Party is growing in influence and activity in the trade unions, in the workplace and the community.

The increase in CPA membership since the last Congress led to decisions to expand the numbers on the Central Committee, its Executive and Secretariat. The main positions on the Central Committee remain the same as before. Bob Briton from SA was re-elected to the position of General Secretary, Vinnie Molina from WA is the National Secretary, Andrew Irving from Victoria is the Assistant General-Secretary and David Matters from Queensland is Party Vice-President.

President of the CPA Vinnie Molina addresses the Congress. (Photo: Anna Pha)

Members at the Congress observed tradition with a strong rendition of the Internationale at the close of proceedings. They left with a better awareness of the strengths and shortcomings of our collective work and a sense of awesome responsibility to live up to the slogan of the Congress; that we must get busy “Taking the Party to the People”.

Next article – Editorial – For those who arrived late Welcome to the Cold War

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