Secular Party Constitution

THE SECULAR PARTY OF AUSTRALIA CONSTITUTION

 

1 IDENTITY AND STANDING

2 DEFINITIONS

3 PARTY OBJECTIVES

4 MEMBERSHIP

5 DIVISION ORGANISATION

6 NATIONAL ORGANISATION

7 BRANCH ORGANISATION

8 NATIONAL COUNCIL

9 POLICY FORMULATION

10 FUNDING

11 PARLIAMENTARY REPRESENTATION

12 USE OF PARTY FUNDS

13 CONFLICT RESOLUTION

 

1 IDENTITY AND STANDING

 

1.1 The name of the Party is “Secular Party of Australia”.

 

1.2 This constitution identifies the principles governing the conduct of the Party’s affairs and the bodies responsible for implementing them.

 

1.3 All other Party documents are subordinate to this constitution and the Rules of the incorporated association Secular Party of Australia Inc.

 

1.4 This constitution can be changed only by a resolution which is supported by a two-thirds majority of such members of the Party as, being entitled to do so by membership of the National Council, vote in a Party ballot in accordance with this constitution.

 

1.5 The National Council of the Party is legally constituted as an incorporated association and Council members are bound by the Rules of the Secular Party of Australia Inc.

 

2 DEFINITIONS

 

2.0 In this constitution, unless some other meaning is clearly intended:

 

‘body’ means a committee or officer of the Party at national, divisional or branch level;

 

‘branch’ means a group of members within a division who conduct meetings at a local level;

 

‘division’ means the organisation of the members of the Party within each state and territory of Australia;

 

‘elected public office’ means an elected position in a state, territory or federal parliament or other institutional authority;

 

‘executive’ means the national executive of the Party;

 

‘majority’ means more than half of the persons voting;

 

‘member’ means a person who is enrolled as a member of the Party;

 

‘Party’ means the national organisation;

 

‘Party ballot’ means a ballot open to all members of the Party who are qualified under this constitution;

 

‘policy’ means a public statement by the Party for and on behalf of the members and endorsed candidates and the Parliamentary representatives of the Party on matters of general and/or specific concern to the people of Australia, which statement shall take the form of a declaration, opinion and/or pledge and shall be determined according to the provisions of this constitution;

 

‘political party’ means an organisation or group of people active in political affairs related to achieving the election of persons to any state, territory or federal parliament;

 

‘preselection’ means the endorsement by the Party, in accordance with the relevant constitutional provisions, of a person to stand as a candidate of the Party for elected public office;

 

‘relevant governing body’ in a national context means the National Executive, in a divisional context means the governing body of the division, and in a branch context the governing body of the branch;

 

‘relevant members’ in a national context means the members of the Party, in a divisional context the members of the division, and in a branch context the members of the branch;

 

3 PARTY OBJECTIVES

 

3.1 To bring about a true separation of Church and State in Australia.

 

3.2 To seek to promote secularism worldwide.

 

3.3 To stand for human rights and social justice, affirming the dignity of each human being.

 

3.4 To support the maximisation of individual liberty and opportunity consistent with social and environmental responsibility.

 

3.5 To defend freedom of expression everywhere.

 

3.6 To espouse policies which support a rational approach to human problems.

 

3.7 To promote the fullest use of science for human welfare.

 

3.8 To eliminate privileges granted to people solely on the basis that they are members of religious bodies.

 

3.9 To promote the use of reason and evidence as a means of overcoming ignorance and superstition.

 

3.10 To promote the election to parliaments and other institutions and authorities of Secular Party endorsed candidates.

 

4 MEMBERSHIP

 

4.1 Membership of the Party is open to any person who is not expressly excluded from membership, is not a member of another Australian political party, and is prepared to comply with this constitution; provided that the Party may reject an application on the ground that its acceptance would be against the Party’s interests.

 

4.2 The National Executive shall set a membership fee, which may change without notice from time to time and may be set at zero.

 

4.3 A member may resign from the Party at any time by notice in writing.

 

4.4 The National Executive may expel from the Party any person who:

 

(a) while a member of the Party, retains or accepts membership in another political party;

 

(b)  the executive decides by two-thirds majority has acted against the interests of the Party.

 

4.5 Each member shall be bound, except as otherwise specified by or determined under the Constitution or Rules, to:

 

(a) uphold and comply with the Party’s Constitution, Rules and any decisions which may be made by the National Executive of the Party or the relevant Divisional governing body.

 

(b) uphold and comply with decisions made by ballot of the members of the Party, or the member’s Division or Branch.

 

4.6 Any decision of a body or involving the membership can be made by electronic means approved by the National Executive prior to use.

 

4.7 Members must not act against the interests of the Party.

 

4.8 A member who holds Party office or the Party’s endorsement as a candidate for public office must carry out the responsibilities of the position in the Party’s interests.

 

5 NATIONAL ORGANISATION

 

5.1 National Executive.

 

There will be a National Executive of the Party comprising the following voting members:

 

a) President;

 

b) Vice-President;

 

c) Secretary;

 

d) Assistant Secretary;

 

e) Treasurer;

 

f) One representative from each state Division, elected by the members in each state.

 

5.2  The National Executive serves as the Committee of the incorporated association.

 

5.3 Other National Executive members may be co-opted for specified terms by the Executive but cannot vote in decisions made by that Executive.

 

5.4 The President may also be the Registered Officer, or may appoint another Executive member to be the Registered Officer, as agreed by the Executive.

 

5.5 National Executive Duties and Responsibilities:

 

(a) To direct, organise and co-ordinate, as required by the membership, the policies, campaigns, functions and administration of the Party, in accordance with the Constitution.

 

(b) The Secretary, or another committee member, as agreed by the National Executive, is responsible for the carrying out of the administration, and for the conduct of the correspondence, of the Party.

 

5.6 Elections for the National Executive are to be conducted annually, as per the rules of the Secular Party of Australia Association.

 

6 DIVISION ORGANISATION

 

6.1 Divisional Executives are based on each state and territory and subject to establishment and dissolution by the National Executive.

 

6.2 All members recognised by the National Executive are members of the Division within which they live.

 

6.3 Divisions must endeavour to achieve registration for state elections, to endorse candidates to contest those elections, and to influence public debate in accordance with the Party’s objectives.

 

6.4 The Divisional Executive will consist of a President, Vice-President, Secretary and Treasurer. Other members may be co-opted by the Executive for specific tasks, such as Campaign Manager, but these members will not vote in decisions of the Divisional Executive.

 

6.5 Elections for positions on the Divisional Executive shall be conducted annually in a manner determined by the Divisional Executive and endorsed by the National Executive.

 

6.6 Divisions may determine their own operational procedures but should be guided by the Rules which apply to the National Executive.

 

7 BRANCH ORGANISATION

 

7.1 Branches are based on each federal electorate and are subject to establishment and dissolution by the National Executive.

 

7.2 All members recognised by the National Executive are members of the Branch within which they live.

 

7.3 The Branch Executive will consist of a President, Vice-President, Secretary and Treasurer.

 

7.4 Elections for positions on the Branch Executive shall be conducted annually in a manner determined by the Branch Executive and endorsed by the Divisional Executive.

 

7.5 Branches may determine their own operational procedures but should be guided by the Rules which apply to the National Executive.

 

7.6 Branches may select and nominate candidates for National Council.

 

7.7 Branches may select and nominate candidates for elections, subject to endorsement by the National Executive. Branches must not take any action not in accordance with a directive of the Divisional Executive or of the National Executive.

 

8  NATIONAL COUNCIL

 

8.1 Members of the National Council will be entitled to vote on motions to change the constitution,  to elect members of the National Executive, and to select candidates in contested preselections. The National Executive may agree that only National Council members resident within a Division be permitted to vote on specific matters restricted to that Division.

 

8.2 Members of the National Council will become members of the incorporated association and will be bound by the association’s rules.

 

8.3 Divisional Executives are entitled to become members of the National Council. Each Division is entitled to one additional delegate to the National Council for every two federal electorates in that Division.

 

8.4 Delegates to the National Council are elected annually for a fixed term of three years by all Party members of the Division, as vacancies arise.

 

8.5 The Divisional Secretary shall issue a call for nominations to all Party members not less than 14 days prior to nominations being due. The call for nominations shall include the election procedures in the case of nominations exceeding vacancies and an election being required. Any Party member may be nominated for a National Council position, provided that they meet the eligibility criteria for a member of the Secular Party of Australia Association. Nominations should be made in writing to the Secretary and include the consent of the candidate.

 

8.6 For each Division where the number of nominations for the National Council exceeds the number of vacancies available in that Division, the National Executive shall appoint Returning Officers to conduct an election in accordance with the rules laid down by the Divisional Executive and endorsed by the National Executive as described in the call for nominations. The Returning Officers may not be candidates for any position in the Division. The close of votes shall be not less than 14 days after the full candidate list (and statements where applicable) are made available to all voting members.

 

8.7 All ballots restricted to National Council members must be conducted electronically, with limits on time for response and material sent to voters to be determined by the National Executive.

 

9 POLICY FORMULATION

 

9.1 Policies shall be formulated with the maximum practicable participation of members, which may be conducted by electronic means, but are to be finally determined by the National Executive.

 

9.2 Policies which concern only one Division may be formulated and proposed by the Division subject to the approval of the National Executive.

 

10 FUNDING

 

10.1 The Party shall abide by all relevant laws including electoral and association laws in seeking donations and public funding.

 

11 PARLIAMENTARY AND OTHER REPRESENTATION

 

11.1 No member may stand as an endorsed candidate for election to a national or state parliament, local government or other institution without the approval of the National Executive, though Divisions may select candidates for that approval.

 

11.2 The National Executive has the final authority to decide whether the Party stands candidates in specific electorates or Divisions. This includes by-elections;

 

11.4 The National Executive and Divisional Executives may endorse candidates at any time up to the close of nominations.

 

11.5 The National Executive can withdraw endorsement at any time up to the election date.

 

11.6 Preselected candidates and elected representatives must promote the policies and aims of the Secular Party of Australia.

 

12 USE OF PARTY FUNDS

 

The Party is a non-profit organisation and accordingly the following provisions shall apply:

 

12.1 The income and property of the Party howsoever and whencesoever derived or acquired shall be applied solely towards the promotion of the aims and objectives of the Party as set forth in this Constitution.

 

13 CONFLICT RESOLUTION

 

13.1 In the event of conflict within the Party, not resolved by this constitution or any existing rules, the National President will act as mediator. If this mediation is not successful the matter will be resolved by a motion put to a vote of the National Council.