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Organisational Framework of the Australian Greens

THE FOLLOWING IS AN OVERVIEW OF THE ORGANISATIONAL FRAMEWORK OF THE AUSTRALIAN GREENS AT THE NATIONAL LEVEL, AS AGREED TO BY NATIONAL COUNCIL OCT 92, AND NOW (1995) REVISED DUE TO SUBSEQUENT MODIFICATIONS MADE. IT SHOULD BE READ IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE CHARTER OF THE GREENS, THE REVISED CONSTITUTION (Oct 94) AND BY-LAWS.

Any organisational framework needs to be based on the primary purpose of that Organisation, i.e. why it was created. It needs to be beneficial to and be supportive of the efforts of the membership, i.e. local groups benefit from being part of a national organisation.

Purpose of National Organisation

1.     Coordinate individual State based activities for federal elections.

2.     Coordinate the formation of a national policy platform.

3.     Facilitate the sharing of information and resources between the States.

4.     Give the green political movement in Australia a national identity and organisational coherence.

5.     Reinforce public perception of The Greens involvement at all levels of politics from local to national to international.

Benefits for Local Groups

6. Opportunity for federal representation.

7. Opportunity to be involved in policy development of policies on national issues.

8. Development of and increased communication for greater efficiency in sharing of information and resources between groups, both within and between States. (This can bring in new ideas, different ways of dealing with issues, remove isolation, aid morale, provide economy of scale for joint ventures in commercial matters, etc.)

9. A higher profile by being a part of a national movement; a strong unified front of collective effort adds more weight within the community; potential for increased membership; all helping to increase effectiveness at local level.

Primary areas of Activity

From the above, there are four primary areas of activity:

1. Facilitation of information and resource sharing;

2. Continuation of the education process;

3. Formation of a national policy platform.

4. Coordination of federal election activities;

To this needs to be added the formal obligations required to give the Organisation legal status, which not only legitimises the collective activities of those involved but also provides protection for individual members.

Features of an Effective and Efficient Framework

1. Lines of communication need to be clear, direct and simple as possible.

2. Not to be bureaucratic or top heavy.

3. Provides the means of networking which does not infringe on the autonomy of the States or local groups, but still provides basis for sharing, support and joint actions.

4. Needs to be impersonal but friendly.

5. Needs to be effective and efficient in cost, time and outcome.

6. Takes into account formal and informal contact.

7. Provides for internal and external connections.

8. Flexible enough to adjust to changing circumstances but not so loose as to be all over the place!

Decisions feed out from the National Council to the coordinators involved in the primary areas of activity. Their experience and input from the broader membership, feeds back into the National Council to facilitate. informed decision making.

Working structure of the National Level

THE FOLLOWING DEALS WITH THE NATIONAL LEVEL, AS THE STATES ARE FREE TO ORGANISE HOW THEY WISH. Possible "contact points" with the States and local levels will however be indicated.

All positions at the national level are open and accessible to the broader membership. Therefore it is important that positions are sought for widely throughout the membership. This will not only spread the workload but bring into this level a wider diversity of experience and ideas.

To help this diversity there needs to be an understanding that individuals should restrict their involvement to one main role at any one time. This does not however restrict their input into other areas.

Communication Channels

From the above, there are four primary areas of activity:

1. State delegates to the National Council;

2. Official spokespersons of the national body;

3. Coordinators of working groups, etc;

4. Individuals holding official positions.

To this needs to be added the formal obligations required to give the Organisation legal status, which not only legitimises the collective activities of those involved but also provides protection for individual members.

Section 1. National Decision Making Process Administration

  National Council

The National Council is the decision-making body of the national Organisation. It has been given authority by the founding State Parties (Member Bodies) to be the focus of the legal structure /obligations of a separate entity - The Australian Greens.

The National Council meets every four months (one meeting being the Annual Conference) and makes decisions by a consensus process. Delegates from each of the, Member Bodies form the membership of the Council along with the national office bearers. Their task, as the National Council, is to coordinate and organise the policies, functions and administration of The Greens at a national level. (further details see Constitution, Sect: 2).

All positions held at the national level are, at present, unsalaried.

  National Council Delegates

Delegates nominated by each Member Body to the National Council hold a pivotal role in seeing that decisions made by the Council and tasks allocated to states are carried out within the time frame set, The majority of State Councils nominate their two National Council; delegates on a yearly basis. This allows for greater continuity and efficiency at both the national and state level.

Delegates fundamentally carry their respective State Council's voice to the national level and correspondingly take back to the states the joint decisions made at that level.

For the National Council to work effectively delegates need to see their role in a far more extensive way than just attending National Council meetings. For delegates to fulfil their function they need to:

*  be instrumental in ensuring that National Council agenda items are discussed and decisions made at the state level;

*  be well briefed by previous delegates, state office bearers or state reps on the various national committees which affect items to be discussed, also to discuss potentially contentious issues with delegates in other states, if possible;

*  be very clear on the extent of their mandate to make decisions outside those areas formally discussed and also what mechanisms their state has to deal with the necessity for quick decision making; (It is important for delegates to be given the ability to move within parameters regarding decisions rather than just one restricted position, this will allow for the consensus process to work as positively as possible.)

*  attend Council meetings well prepared and punctually;

*  check that the minutes from the Council meeting are an accurate record of the meeting, making sure that where tasks or decisions effect individuals in their state, that they are notified and be prepared to offer background information to decisions. Ensure that a full report of the meeting is presented to the next available State Council meeting and highlight those items that states need to respond to.

  National Office Bearers

The office bearers at the national level are: Convenor, Secretary, Treasurer. Other national positions are: Public Officer, Party Agent, Registered Officer. (roles are defined in Constitution) To assist office bearers it is suggested that they assemble a support group around them to help generally or by task.

Organisation matters (basically procedural) are the task of the Convenor, Secretary, Treasurer in consultation with State Secretaries.

Each office bearer needs to ascertain who they should liaise with to fulfill their role most efficiently and discuss with those individuals the best mechanisms to employ depending on what resources are available to each.

Secretary, Convenor and National Council delegates are the primary channels for communication to disseminate and collect information pertaining to the activities of the National Council. All individuals holding these positions need to be prepared to be seen as a contact point for not only members but also outside organisations, etc. and to make sure they are known and accessible.

  National Spokespeople

Specific spokespersons are appointed by the National Council. These individuals take on the role as the official voice of the national Organisation with the "outside world". Public comments are to be restricted to these spokespersons. This contact can include any means of communication that can be shared with the general public including electronic conferences open to the public. This, however, does not restrict private and individual comment to another individual.

As procedures are defined they are to be written down and circulated widely so that there are no misunderstandings on what is required and that members are able to contact the right person for a particular task or information needed. These guidelines to be reviewed annually to take into account changes in office bearers, changes in circumstances and new ways to deal with things.

  National Working Groups

Includes individual positions, working groups, committees, groups.

Working Groups are either established through a decision of the National Council or if a coordinator believes it is helpful or needed to fulfill their role more effectively.

All working groups are directly accessible to members for information, clarification and input. The primary contact with each group is through the designated coordinator or state representative.

Working groups are:

1. Accountable to the national council;

2. Restricted to activities designated in their written job descriptions;

3. Constrained to follow The Charter and policy frameworks;

4. Not to act without the authorisation of the National Council.

Their principle role, no matter what area they work in, is to actively encourage input both from within and without the Organisation; co-operate with other working groups where areas overlap; provide options and recommendations to the National Council for informed decisions to be made; act on the mandate and decisions pertaining to their role efficiently; be a contact point for members needing information regarding their area of concern.

Annual review of job briefs and an evaluation of tasks is to provide formal recognition of the work carried out by working groups/coordinators, and to provide an avenue for changing briefs and allowing concerns to be raised.

  Specific Working Groups

There are four working groups which are involved directly with the decision making process of the Council. These are: Constitution Review Panel; Registrations Committee; Quick Decision Making Group; Legal Advisory Group.

The Constitutional Review Panel is responsible for liaising with the States through their State rep on the panel on matters pertaining to the national constitution be they proposals for amendments, additions or interpretation and clarification of wording. The panel advise the National Council accordingly.

The Registrations Committee, again consisting of reps from each State, offers the National Council advice concerning registration matters.

The Quick Decision Making Group consists of a state rep from each Member Body and the National Convenor and Secretary. The QDMG is called when a decision needs to be made that cannot wait for the next scheduled Council meeting. Decisions must be made by consensus and put forward for ratification at the next National Council meeting.

The Legal Advisory Group (when established) work closely with the involved with federal election activities. This "group" to basically consist of a list of individuals experienced in the matter of law. They are there to offer advice on matters referred to them and may oversee generally so that advice or caution can be offered. Can either work individually or as a group.

Section 2. Information and Resource Sharing.

Information and resource sharing are closely aligned with the next section, the education process. There needs to be a regular reappraisal of what information and resources groups want to share, and what would be the most effective ways for this to happen.

The following are just some possibilities....

Information:

1. How/why different groups form and the different ways groups organise themselves.

2. Promotional activities and membership drives.

3. Election campaign tactics - local/state level.

4. Positive and negative experiences re elections. i.e. what worked and what didn't work.

5. How groups deal with conflicting views of members.

6. Policy papers. Policy development and wider input.

7. Fundraising initiatives.

8. Activities other than elections that groups become involved in.

Resources:

1. Sharing tactics/policies for election campaigns where issues of concern are similar.

2. If geographically close, groups could share "hardware" such as office space, typewriter, photocopier, contacts for Pegasus, fax access. Also joint newsletters, etc. .

3. Publications produced by one group may be appropriate for others. In some instances such material could be a source of revenue for the group. e.g. new branch kits or new members kits.

4. Take advantage of "economies of scale" by production of promotional merchandise such as t-shirts, badges, stickers, posters which can cut costs.

Some areas may be dealt with more appropriately through the States, others directly between local groups, others through formal publications produced at national level. Formal contacts for information sharing would be through the education process, Secretaries at the different levels have a primary role of channeling information. The national Secretary will take on the overseeing role of this particular area of activity.

As all secretaries should be involved in this area it is important that their "role" be regularly reviewed to see if new tasks need to be added or changed to facilitate the movement of information, etc.

Section 3. Education Process.

This area is the interface between internal communications and activities and the rest of the community. However, the education process has wider implications than just sharing information and resources.

Other components to consider:

1. Public relations which would include: membership expansion; general promotion to encourage individuals to join/form local groups; contact and promotion of Green objectives with other "green" organisations.

2. Publications including: national newsletter/bulletin both hardcopy and electronic; general promotional material that can be offered to groups for their use. e.g. standardised membership form.

3. Contact and involvement in the international Greens movement.

4. Media Contact/publicity.

5. Proactive exchange of information collected from the broader community (including international) and used and disseminated to and within all levels of The Greens.

6. Skills development within the membership. This could involve both workshops and written material.

Each of the above being a distinct area of activity is to be coordinated by an individual elected at the Annual Conference. Written job description/guidelines for the following positions are contained in the by-laws.

*  Public Relations Coordinator

*  Newsletter Editor

*  International Coordinator

*  Media Coordinator

*  Information Exchange Coordinator

As with the working groups, coordinators are:

1. Accountable to the National Council;

2. Restricted to the activities and areas designated in their job description;

3. Constrained to follow the Charter and policy frameworks;

4. Not to act without authorisation of the National Council.

Depending on skills, resources available and workload, coordinators can decide if they wish to do the work themselves or form a team around the specific tasks required of the job. Primary channels of communication will be directly between counterparts at the State and local level. Again between them they decide the mechanics of such channels.

Section 4 - Policy Co-ordination

Policy is the outward manifestation of the ideals of The Greens. Its formation could be, at some stage, the area causing greatest conflict amongst the members. It is therefore important that any process arrived at is open, fair and democratic, and those involved must strive to see that it is SEEN to be so.

To oversee the policy formation process is the Policy Coordinator who is accountable directly to the National Council. The Coordinator's role includes facilitating the finding of individuals who are prepared to act as issue convenors and to set up committees to prepare draft policies on specific issues and to see these through to the final draft and possibly beyond.

A Policy Coordinating Group, consisting of a state rep from each Member Body, assists the Coordinator, and along with advising the National Council on policy matters also scrutinises draft policies for compatibility, helps with final editing of documents and prioritises issues when required.

Following are the steps involved in the evolution of policy statements under normal conditions:

1. First draft stage:

Convenors of different policy issues actively seek information and/or policies from:

1. Constituent bodies;

2. members with a special interest in an area;

3. individuals outside The Greens who are "experts" or have known experience;

4. organisations which have a special expertise in the area.

All information obtained from the above should be seriously considered when preparing the first written draft. Members should be encouraged to put forward contacts for organisations, individuals or copies of relevant information to the convenors.

A draft statement is prepared by the convenor or convenor and committee.

2. Dissemination of first draft:

After the convenor/committee has agreed to the content and format of a draft statement, the convenor sends the draft to the Policy Coordinator.

The Policy Coordinating Group check the draft to see if statements made in one policy are compatible and not contradicting statements made in another. Any contradictions need to be dealt with early in the process.

As well as sending the draft to the Policy Coordinator, the convenor would also send copies direct to: local groups who have indicated a special interest in the issue, individuals and local groups who have contributed to the draft, asking, for their comments. A personal approach can often illicit a response when a vague plea to everyone will get lost.

The Policy Coordinator sends the draft to State Secretaries for distribution to all local groups and branches within their State.

Local groups and branches have six weeks to consider the draft and return comments and suggestions directly to the convenor of that particular draft. The convenor to maintain a register of responses to the draft. This timeframe may need to be extended if there is more than one policy to be considered at the same time. Any extension can be arranged directly between group and convenor.

3. Second draft stage:

The convenor/committee considers all feedback to the first draft and prepares the second draft. Before distribution to the States, the Policy Coordinating Group and Policy Coordinator organises the editing of the draft for uniformity of style, grammar.

4. "Approval" of second draft:

The second draft, once scrutinised and edited is disseminated to the membership (the actual process to be decided by the individual States). The purpose of this distribution is to ascertain if there is any strong objections to any policy document as a whole. PCG then evaluates comments and decide on which drafts will be forwarded to the Annual Conference for ratification.

5. Format of policy document:

The final draft will consist of three parts:

1. Background to the issue

2. The Policy Framework of The Australian Greens on. . . . (issue)

3. The Australian Greens Policy on . . . (issue) (being policy detail)

POLICY FRAMEWORK: The basic philosophy concerning an issue and the ideal position sought by The Greens. As stated in the constitution, not as broadly general as the Charter but still allows people's opinions to differ.

POLICY DETAIL: A brief documentation appropriate for the particular issue concentrating on national and international initiatives; including transitional initiatives to move society from where it is at to where The Greens believe it should be. This section could also include specific targets or goals to work towards.

National policies cover national issues; States orient the Frameworks to State issues; Local Groups focus on specific issues to their area.

6. Ratification by membership:

Policy drafts will be adopted as official policy by the consensus of delegates at an Annual National Conference. If consensus is not achieved then the policy documents will be submitted to a postal ballot of the full membership.

To be adopted, a policy will need to receive 66% support of those voting in such a ballot. A postal ballot to determine policy will be conclusive provided that 10% of the eligible membership do vote. (clause 41.3)

The postal vote will ask two questions:

1. Do you agree with the adoption by The Australian Greens of the following Policy Framework on........... ? (draft framework following)

2. Do you agree with the adoption by The Australian Greens of the following Policy? (draft policy detail following)

Ratification of the Framework means that the Framework becomes binding on all constituent groups of The Australian Greens. (cl 15.2.2) It is obligatory on all constituent group to remain within the Policy Frameworks adopted by the membership. If a constituent group wishes to promote a policy that differs from that of The Australian Greens then this difference must by made clear in any public announcement. (15.3)

Ratification of the full policy means that the policy becomes the, "The Australian Greens Policy on.......... However, it is not binding on the constituent groups.

A Constituent group may decide to develop its own policy, either by amending, adding to, or subtracting from that of The Australian Greens or derived from an entirely different source. The Australian Greens policy is there to be used by the constituent group if it so desires but it is not obligatory.

7. Beyond ratification:

After ratification there is to be an ongoing process that continues to gather material on issues, that is accessible to members for further input, and that takes into consideration changing circumstances that could indicate a need to change or modify content of a policy.

Once a substantial amount of information has been accumulated that indicates there is some need to modify or change a policy direction then a discussion paper should be prepared by the convenor indicating the extent of information and possible options for consideration. This is then circulated to all constituent group. If the response to this paper is heavily in favour of a review, the policy process will be formally started again.

Policy formation must be seen as a flexible process which adapts as community awareness increases, new ideas arise and circumstances change. This however does NOT mean that it changes too frequently to become confusing and therefore meaningless .... a balance needs to be sought, and experience, time and commonsense will be the indicators of WHEN it is appropriate for a review to take place

When an early election is called, follow this link to the section below Calling and Early Election.

Section 5. Federal Election Activities

There are two phases concerning federal election activities:

1. Preparation phase between election campaigns;

2. Phase of high activity during actual campaign.

  Preparation Phase

Activities during this time are fairly low-key and broadly based. The majority of which would take place within the other areas of activity being coordinated at the national level as described above. Facilitated by the Election Campaign Coordinator in conjunction with other national coordinators.

Possible specifics relating directly to election campaigning preparation could be:

Policy Coordination: the continuing refinement and adaptation of policy documents as outlined under policy process; the introduction of new issues requiring attention as need arises.

Resource Sharing: experiences with past election campaigns (at all levels); campaign tactics; possible joint strategies for future elections.

Education Process: skills development in such things as: dealing with the media; public speaking; legal requirements for campaigns; keeping financial records; analysing trends; "reading" the community; choosing candidates; fundraising.

  Federal Election Campaign Phase

An Election Campaign Team is convened to establish: national coordinator's job description; timeline for national coordination; links between state and national coordination; mechanisms for two-way communications; mechanisms for exchange of media opportunities.

This Team would also be responsible for broader strategy development and policy priorities, themes, slogans, forecasts, formats, etc. It would liaise closely with the Policy, Media and Public Relations Coordinators. Campaign information would be fed into the State system.

The Campaign Coordinator to handle the day to day activities such as media events, central access point for outside contacts, dissemination of information to State campaigns.

The Campaign Coordinator to liaise closely with the Media Coordinator, Spokespersons and Public Relations Coordinator. Also establish the Central Campaign Office.

The Media Coordinator to be responsible for creating media opportunities, writing press releases, linking with Spokespersons, media training and assistance. Concerning press releases, the media Coordinator plus one other member of the media support group will "vet" them before release.

Public Relations Coordinator to be responsible for organisation/production of stickers, t-shirts, posters, common electoral material or formats. Fundraising is another area that needs to be covered, this would include appeals, liaison with sympathetic groups. Each coordinator will have already established a support group of workers, where necessary, and a network of contacts at State and local level which will enhance coordination and communication.

The Treasurer to be linked into the campaign process to make sure that the legal obligations and requirements are adhered to. Also involved here would be the Public Officer, Registered Officer, Party Agent and the Legal Advisory Group.

  Calling an Early Election

If an early election is called all policy development will cease and on an interim basis existing policy documents would be accepted for election campaign purposes in the following order of priority:

1. ratified policies

2. third and final drafts

3. second drafts as amended after quality control of PCG

The minimum requirement in case of an early election being called is:

1. Calling of a QDMG to establish where the election team is up to;

2. Status of policies;

3. Selection of Senate candidates;

4. Budget and financial matters;

5. Authority given to Campaign Coordinator to proceed with previously established timeline of activities;

6. Authorise budget.

At the time of this revision the details of national coordination were under review and therefore the above subject to possible changes.

 

Information from Queensland Greens.

 

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