Campaigning is about creating change. When we talk about campaigning in the Labor party we’re talking about organised action around a specific issue that aims to get people to do something that will lead to change (e.g. an election campaign). As a member you’ll be given many opportunities to be involved in campaigns as a supporter, an active participant or even as a leader.
Public facing campaigns
The Labor Party and our members are actively engaging with the wider community to make a case for change. These campaigns often involve talking directly to people through phone banking, door knocking, social media activity and other public events. Sometimes the aim is about building a case for change and other times the aim is about communicating great changes that Labor has already implemented.
Internal party policy campaigns
Labor members are actively making a case to change Labor’s position on a particular issue. These campaigns often involve engaging other party members to build support and working with elected members to bring forward the proposed changes to a state or national conference. These kinds of campaigns often form around an action group such as the Labor Environment Action Network (LEAN), who fought for our current renewable energy target, or Rainbow Labor who fought for marriage equality.
Campaigning isn’t just confined to activity initiated inside the Labor party. One of the great things about being part of Labor is that you’re part of a movement. This means that you’ll often get the opportunity to be part of campaigns organised by groups outside the Labor party but who are part of the wider progressive movement. Unions, community groups, charities and other activist groups have strong links to Labor because we share the same values and often have a large crossover in membership. Because of this you’ll often see them promote their activities through the party.
The largest campaign opportunities come from elections. In the ACT we focus on two elections – the Federal election, which is held roughly every three years, and the ACT Territory election, which is held on the third Saturday in October every four years.
In the Federal election the ACT has three lower house seats that we contest as well as the Senate. As a party member you can volunteer to be part of any of these campaigns. Many members also head interstate to campaign in marginal seats.
Why we campaign
Change doesn’t just happen because an idea is good policy or morally right. That means we have to actively fight for the change we want. Campaigning is the most effective way of achieving change.
There are many reasons we campaign.
- Campaigning can shine a spotlight on issues that have not yet been picked up by policy makers or are not at the top of their priority list (e.g. a campaign to fix a road might get the attention of a local Member that previously didn’t know that it needed fixing),
- Campaigning can address the root causes of problems and not just their effects. (e.g. a charity might provide food for the homeless but also campaign for the government provision of services that address the problem),
- Campaigning can provide a structured way of bringing people together in collective action. (e.g. workers running a campaign for improved conditions would only be possible when they are unionised and work together to coordinate their demands rather than all making individual asks that could easily be dismissed by an employer),
- Campaigning can bring about social change on issues where not only laws are changed but so are people’s views (e.g. the long term campaign for marriage equality not only brought about a change in the law but also changed people’s views on LGBTIQ people).
How we campaign
Campaigning is about bringing people along on a journey towards change. To make this happen we need to talk to people. Whether it’s an internal party campaign and you’re talking to other party members, or it’s an election and you’re talking to voters, having direct conversations with people is the most effective way to campaign.
It’s why what we call “Direct Voter Contact” (DVC) lies at the heart of all our campaigning. During an election we prioritise making phone calls and knocking on doors because we know that one on one conversations with people is the most effective way of persuading them.
That’s not to say there aren’t other ways we campaign. The tactics used on each campaign will change depending on their goals and resources. But what doesn’t change is the philosophy that at the heart of all campaigns is the focus on talking to other people.