ALP National Policy Platform March 2021

Disclaimer: these are unedited excerpts – and may be out of sequence.


Strong borders and a strong humanitarian immigration program

62. To maintain Australians’ confidence and trust in the integrity of our migration system, Labor will fund and maintain robust border security measures that support the orderly processing of migration to our country and protect our national interest and our national borders.

63. To combat all forms of people smuggling, trafficking and exploitation by boat, plane or other means, Labor will engage with Australia’s neighbours to address ‘push factors’ by seeking innovative, effective and lawful solutions to the irregular movement of people through the region.


64. Under the Refugee Convention, people seeking asylum have the right to seek protection and asylum. Labor will continue to show global leadership and increase Australia’s humanitarian refugee intake and we will treat people seeking our protection with dignity and compassion in accordance with our international obligations, the rule of law and the principles of fairness. Labor believes as a nation we must not harm people seeking refuge.

65. Labor will maintain Australia’s reputation for having some of the best migrant settlement services in the world. Labor will seek to improve these services through improving the availability and integration of Commonwealth-funded migrant and settlement services.

Chapter 1 Building Australia’s prosperity

A creative culture: arts and entertainment

143. Labor recognises that arts and culture contribute to innovation, prosperity and Australia’s diplomatic efforts around the world. Unlike the Coalition, Labor will articulate policies and plans that ensure the vibrancy and sustainability of creative sectors, markets and institutions and integrate these within our broader social and economic goals. Recognising the importance of access to arts and culture, Labor will ensure that Australians, regardless of their background or where they live, can access high quality arts and cultural experiences.

144. Labor in government will work with federal and state governments to eliminate the many obstacles faced by the live music industry, to provide a stronger foundation for Australian music.

145. Recognising that art and culture contribute to innovation and prosperity, Labor will integrate art and culture policy within our broader social and economic goals, including recognising the important role that the arts can play in Australia’s diplomatic efforts around the world.

146. Labor will provide strong support to protect and promote First Nations people’s culture.

147. Labor will support legal frameworks and safeguards to protect artists. This includes the legal framework of copyright to ensure fair distribution of income, and ensuring the authenticity and originality of First Nations people’s artworks and cultural goods are protected from inauthentic imports and practices


An excellent start: early childhood education

66. Labor believes that investing in the early years is good for children, families and the economy. It delivers significant social and economic returns to the country. We will therefore improve Australia’s affordable, accessible, high quality, integrated early learning and care programs.


Early education and care programs should meet the learning and development needs of individual children, including children with disability. We believe early intervention programs for children at risk and children with specific educational or developmental needs are particularly important.

67. Labor will maintain the current universal access to preschool and kindergarten programs and will explore improvements in line with world’s best practice, including expanding it to two years before school. We will work with the states and territories to increase enrolment and attendance in preschool and kindergarten programs and ensure that parents are equipped with the skills they need to be part of their child’s educational journey.

68. Labor believes that early childhood education and care is one of the most valuable careers for our nation’s future and that it should only be provided by a highly skilled, professional and wellpaid workforce. Labor will support high quality training for early childhood educators as well as improvements in their wages and conditions.


1. Labor will ensure that Australia becomes a renewable energy superpower, harnessing our natural advantages in clean energy to become energy independent from the world and a major clean energy exporter, whilst lowering power prices, reaching zero net emissions by 2050 and strengthening the future growth of Australian industry and jobs.

2. Labor believes in a strong national environmental protection framework that strengthens our natural environment, reduces and manages waste, helps to prevent dangerous bushfires, secures cleaner air, protects our native species and habitat and builds our nation’s water security and biodiversity, in the face of increasingly frequent and severe drought.

3. Labor supports the sustainable and responsible use of our natural resources. Our nation must secure existing jobs and support the creation of new high paying jobs to prepare for our growing environmental and economic challenges.

4. Labor understands that Australia’s wellbeing depends on a sustainable global environment and that as a substantial power we can make a significant contribution to international efforts on climate change, biodiversity and waste management.

5. As the first and enduring custodians of the land, oceans and rivers, First Nations peoples‘ authority, knowledge and experience is crucial to conserving nature and acting on climate change. Working with First Nations peoples, modern science and traditional knowledge will together be instrumental in solving today’s environmental challenges.

6. Science is always central to Labor’s decision-making in relation to climate change, energy and the environment.

7. Labor recognises the strength and sustainability of our economy depends on the health of the environments in which we work, live and play, in which clean water, air and healthy ecosystems are protected. We recognise a strong economy is underpinned by a healthy environment. We recognise the intrinsic value of nature and believe that each generation has a responsibility to engage in stewardship of the natural environment

First Nations and heritage

50. Labor recognises the deep trauma caused to First Nations peoples from the destruction of their spiritual, cultural, and physical heritage.

51. Labor will assert the strong national interest in valuing and protecting First Nations spiritual, cultural, and physical heritage as the embodiment of the oldest continuous culture on earth, and as an essential part of our national identity.

52. Labor will work with First Nations people and states and territories to create an effective national framework for protecting First Nations heritage, including the adoption of minimum national standards, improved Commonwealth mechanisms for heritage listing and emergency protection, and proper keeper protocols consistent with Australia’s international obligations, and built on the foundation of free, prior, and informed consent.

53. Labor will: a. work with Traditional Owners as well as the states and territories to create better governance structures and management programs for Commonwealth properties of heritage significance; b. support the investigation and nomination of areas suitable for future listing led by Traditional Owners in cooperation with state and territory governments and other stakeholders, and support Traditional Owners to pursue World Heritage listing for the Kimberley; c. support Traditional Owners to pursue resolution of outstanding Cape York tenure issues and, if consent is granted, subsequently pursue World Heritage listing for appropriate areas of Cape York, recognising the importance of federal leadership and the consent of Traditional Owners d. work with Traditional Owners as well as the states and territories to create better governance structures and management programs for Commonwealth properties of heritage significance; e. ensure cultural values are included in all National and World Heritage listings; f. oppose resource extraction in national parks or World Heritage areas; and g. ensure environmental laws are fully applied to protect World Heritage sites from the construction of dams or the raising of dam walls that would inundate those sites.

The Great Barrier Reef

54. Labor recognises the significance of sites like the Great Barrier Reef. It is part of Australia’s national identity. We believe a healthy Reef is not just a key part of our culture and


environment, but its health also is critical to our economy—supporting thousands of jobs in the tourism industry. Labor will protect the Great Barrier Reef by: a. addressing climate change; b. increasing ocean protection in the Coral Sea; c. improving water quality including through assisting communities to adapt and apply scientific advice; d. strengthening our environmental laws and institutional capacity; and e. safeguarding the biodiversity of species and ecological habitats in its catchments.


1. Labor believes that all people are entitled to respect, equality, dignity and the opportunity to participate in the social, cultural and economic life of our nation free of hatred or harassment.

2. Labor was instrumental in the creation and adoption of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights in 1948, which recognises that human rights are to be enjoyed by all people, no matter who they are or where they live. These include civil and political rights, like the right to life, liberty, free speech and privacy as well as economic, social, religious and cultural rights, including the right to social security, health and education…

5. Labor will review the Human Rights Framework established by previous Labor governments and consider whether it could be enhanced through a statutory charter of human rights or other similar instrument.

6. Labor will promote public awareness and understanding of human rights and strongly supports the work of the Australian Human Rights Commission. Labor recognises the equal status in international law of all human rights. Labor will adhere to Australia’s international human rights obligations and seek to incorporate them into Australia’s laws and administrative decisionmaking.

Equality for First Nations People

7. Labor acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Nations First Peoples and will uphold their inalienable right to self-determination and inherent right to maintain language, cultural lore and practices and connection to, and custodianship of their traditional lands, seas and water ways.

8. Labor is committed to reconciliation, truth-telling, the empowerment of First Nations people and to self-determination. These principles will guide and underpin Labor policies and programs. Labor supports all elements of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, including a constitutionally enshrined Voice to Parliament, a Makarrata Commission for agreement making and a national process of truth telling.

9. Labor acknowledges the profound impact colonisation and racism has on First Nations people. We recognise that First Nations people experience particular unacceptable disadvantage as a consequence of injustice both historical and continuing, compared to other Australians. Labor will work in partnership with First Nations people to achieve the change they aspire to, including Closing the Gap on First Nations people’s disadvantage. This commitment is underpinned by Labor’s support for the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which includes the right to self-determination.


10. Labor believes Treaty is needed to reconcile the truth of Australia’s past with our future. A Labor Government will start the process of Treaty or treaties, recognising the importance of all parties being treaty-ready and treaty processes being pursued by states and territories.

11. Labor acknowledges the historic injustices of the past committed against First Nations people and the need for the truthful telling of Australia’s history and a Makarrata Commission as part of the journey towards reconciliation. This includes the teaching of the history and culture of First Nations people and their contribution to the Australian story, as well as acknowledging events of national significance. Labor will advocate for returning to their traditional owners, remains, artefacts and other items of cultural significance to First Nations people, which are currently held by foreign countries.

12. Labor recognises that acknowledgement of First Nations people as traditional owners and continuing custodians of country is an important mark of respect and reconciliation at appropriate events, including at the opening of the Federal Parliament. Labor believes that reconciliation is an important vehicle for healing and justice in Australian society and Labor will continue to work with First Nations people to implement Labor’s Reconciliation Action Plan, and to further treaty processes.

13. A Labor Government’s policies will not be discriminatory and will ensure policies and service delivery focus strongly on meeting the needs and supporting the aspirations of First Nations people.

14. In recognition of the centrality of land and water to First Nations people’s spirituality, law, culture, economy and wellbeing, Labor supports land rights and Native Title as property rights under Australian law and will work to accelerate the resolution of outstanding land and Native Title claims in partnership with other stakeholders. Labor will work with First Nations people and organisations on reforms to address unfairness in Native Title agreement making.

15. Labor supports the statutory recognition of inalienable freehold title under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976.

16. Labor believes that First Nations people have a right to live on their traditional lands. We will provide essential services to remote communities that are relevant to local circumstances. Labor will focus on achieving the direct participation of First Nations people’s communities through consultations, negotiations, partnerships, and the facilitation of the devolution of decision making at regional and local levels.

17. Labor believes that the cultures and languages of First Nations people enrich the nation and are integral to our national identity. Strong cultural identity is essential to the health, social and emotional wellbeing of First Nations people. Labor supports initiatives to strengthen the rich and diverse cultural practices, knowledge systems and cultural expressions of First Nations people.

18. Labor recognises the importance of community control and direct involvement of First Nations people in the planning and delivery of programs and services. Labor will invest in community controlled First Nations people organisations to deliver the services First Nations people want and need.


19. Labor is committed to closing the Gap and to the investments and programs that are required to deliver that change. Labor regards closing the gap in life expectancy, employment, justice, health and education outcomes between First Nations people and other Australians as a national priority. We believe self-determination is fundamental to being able to achieve this. In recognition of higher rates of social disadvantage and additional needs, Labor will work in partnership with First Nations people to:

a. improve culturally safe supports for families with a focus on the early years;

b. reduce violence against women and children, and in communities generally;

c. improve child safety by supporting programs that will help reduce the unacceptable number of First Nations children in the child protection system, ensuring children in care maintain contact with their culture, language and community including providing cultural support for all carers;

d. support policies like justice reinvestment to reduce high rates of incarceration for First Nations people and provide federal leadership to prevent and ensure accountability for deaths in custody;

e. address the inadequacy of health services for First Nations people through a comprehensive approach that goes beyond health services to include cultural wellbeing and connection to the land, education, environmental health and employment and training opportunities;

f. lift school engagement rates and educational results;

g. improve job readiness, along with economic, employment and business opportunities for First Nations people including by actively using government procurement policies;

h. replace the Community Development Program and ensure that people receive real wages, and that communities have more control;

i. ensure the Commonwealth invests adequately in housing, including remote housing;

j. enable and empower First Nations people to realise the economic potential of Native Title and First Nations people land; and

k. support First Nations people’s participation in sport.

20. Labor delivered the Apology to Australia’s First Nations people, in particular the Stolen Generations. Labor will work in partnership with the Stolen Generations and family members who continue to be affected by that legacy to comprehensively respond to their needs as a distinct group. We support the Healing Foundation and its work to aid healing in the communities of First Nations people.

21. Labor was the first Australian political party to develop a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). Labor will continue to implement its RAP as endorsed at the 2018 National Conference and work towards developing future RAPs.

Modernising the Australian Constitution

9. Labor believes that the Constitution is a living document which should be amended to reflect contemporary Australia and to embody enduring Australian values. Labor will put important and long-sought-after constitutional reforms on the national agenda.

10. Labor supports the Recognition of First Nations peoples in the Australian Constitution, including an enshrined voice to the Parliament, as outlined in the Uluru Statement from the Heart. In partnership with First Nations people, Labor will develop a concrete proposal for constitutional recognition which has the broad support of the First Nations people and fosters public support for change.

11. Labor supports and will work toward establishing an Australian republic with an Australian head of state.

12. Labor supports recognising local government in the Australian Constitution.

13. Labor believes that other constitutional reforms, such as fixed, four-year terms for the House of Representatives and the Senate and the recognition of local government in the Australian Constitution, should be progressed through a new and independent Australian Constitutional Commission.

14. An Australian Constitutional Commission would work with the Australian people and government to ensure that our Constitution remains relevant to the lives, values and aspirations of our nation and our people.

Healthy public debate

31. In an era when media diversity, media freedom and quality public interest journalism and local news are under threat around the world, Labor will ensure Australians have access to a strong, healthy, diverse and independent media operating in the public interest. We will:

a. properly fund and support the independence of Australia’s national broadcasters, the ABC and SBS by – i. maintaining the ABC and SBS as separate individual broadcasters;

ii. maintaining the ban on ABC advertising and sponsorship;

iii. opposing the privatisation of the ABC and SBS;

iv. ensuring board members of the ABC and SBS are chosen through a rigorous and independent process; and

v. maintaining a staff-elected member on the ABC Board;

b. support and fund community broadcasting;


c. apply appropriate mechanisms to support Australian content;

d. ensure advertising is properly regulated and reflects community standards;

e. ensure Australians will continue to enjoy free coverage of events of national and cultural significance, including sporting events; and

f. ensure the Australian Communications and Media Authority has sufficient resources and regulatory powers to do its job.

32. Labor will ensure Australian charities and not-for-profit organisations are able to participate in public debate, in accordance with charities law, and remove politically motivated ‘gag clauses’ or restrictions that inhibit their ability to collaborate with Australian or international partners.

33. Labor believes all Australians have the right to exercise their freedom of speech in a manner that respects the individual and collective rights enjoyed by other Australians and allows others to live in dignity, and free from violence or the threat of violence. To this end, Labor will oppose any attempt to weaken the longstanding protections against hate speech in the Racial Discrimination Act.

34. Labor will provide a strong regulatory framework to protect people’s right to privacy and ensure the security of their personal information, whether held in the public sector, not-for-profit sector or the private sector, on paper or in digital form.

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