“What is the agenda of the Sydney Alliance?”

 What is the Sydney Alliance?

This, according to their very expensive web site, is what they are.

Sydney Alliance:

The Sydney Alliance is a citizens’ coalition whose vision is to provide the community with a voice to express common values and aspirations for a fair and just Sydney.

Sydney Alliance is a way people for people to have their say in what they want for Sydney now and in the long term and to act together with others that feel the same way.

Sydney Alliance brings together people from diverse community organisations, unions, universities and religious organisations who want a better city.

The Alliance is the largest and most diverse network of citizens in Sydney.

The Alliance is an independent organisation that does not take government funding and is a non-party political organisation.

The Alliance believes that a strong and connected community enables the people of Sydney to shape their own future, to grow and develop as leaders, to be full democratic citizens and to speak and act with others on their own behalf. We build grassroots power that respects the contribution and dignity of all people.”

Sounds OK, but is it?

Around two years ago at a New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies meeting, we were ‘introduced’ to the Sydney Alliance with great fanfare, with the promise of the group doing wonderful things for our fair City of Sydney.  The chance to participate and to undertake leadership courses.

At the time I had a quick glance at the web site.  I wasn’t interested, plus the cost to join was $500 for an individual.  That was not including the $200 fee for a two day training course, or $1,000 for the 6 day one.

I heard nothing more about it until late last year/early this year, when I was asked if I would attend a meeting at Sydney Town Hall.  I have no idea why, but I agreed to attend.

I was surprised to see so many people, at a guess a few thousand. Sydney Town Hall is huge and was filled to capacity.  Various groups sitting at different tables, with the balconies packed.  There was tiered seating on the stage for the leaders of the various groups.  I would estimate at least one hundred.  Each one of those, in turn spoke about their own group.

The event lasted for two very boring hours and left me wondering why they were ‘motivating’ people.

What was it about?  Apparently it is all about people power.  For what though?  I am not sure.  Even the NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione , to rousing cheers, pledged his support?  I wonder if he knew what for?

I put the Sydney Alliance out of my mind until a month a so back when it was brought to my attention from elsewhere.

I decided then I would have another look at the web site,  concerned with what I had read, it urged me to look further.

The whole thing is set up and run by the Unions.  For what I cannot be sure, but I tend to think to raise money. For what?

The first mention of unions is in their About Us section and continues from there.  Their address gives us a huge hint of what is to come in regards to Unions

Address: Sydney Alliance, Suite 209 Level 2 Trades Hall, 4 Goulburn Street Sydney 2000

Next their Staff :

Amanda Tattersall is well recognised as a leading coalition builder and social change campaigner in Australia.

She is the founding Director of the Sydney Alliance, a massive coalition of unions, community organisations, schools and religious organisations that uses community organising to make Sydney a better place to live.

She has been the President of the National Union of Students (NSW Branch), founded Labor for Refugees, co-founded and former chair of  Get Up  – an internationally renowned union based Australian web-based campaign organisation with over 650 000 members.

She has previously worked as a union organiser and was an elected official (Deputy Assistant Secretary) with Unions NSW, the central labor council in Sydney NSW that represents over 600 000 workers.

She completed a PhD on coalition unionism at the University of Sydney featuring case studies of coalitions from Sydney, Chicago and Toronto.  In undertaking this research, she spent two years living in the United States and Canada as a visiting fellow at Cornell University’s Industrial and Labor Relations School.

Her bookPower in Coalition, is based on her research and wide experience as a union and community organiser.  The militant unionist Jack Mundey has commented on it too.

She says

“I approached Unions NSW with the idea of setting up a broad based coalition”

David Barrow was an activist. Past president of the National Union of Students.

Mary Waterford, Executive Officer of the Western Sydney Community Forum says why she has joined the Sydney Alliance

“I am a long-term union member. I was an active member of the YR@W campaign, along with many of you. It was during this campaign that I saw the potential of unions and community organisations working more strongly together.

YR@W (Your Rights at Work) was one of the most successful campaigns in political history; we can learn from that experience and build an Alliance, the Sydney Alliance that is able to deal with multiple issues and is built to endure. “

An extract.

“By waging their campaign on behalf of ‘working families’ rather than ‘workers’ per se (Muir 2008), the ACTU (Australian Council of Trade Unions) in the YR@W (Your Rights at Work) campaign deliberately sought to transcend sectional class interests and instead project the YR@W campaign as defending a general interest, namely the effect of the Howard government’s Work Choices on Australian society.

The aim of this paper is to debate whether the YR@W (Your Rights at Work)
Campaign thus illustrates Polanyi’s concept of the ‘active society’ and counter movement (Burawoy 2003).”

This link to an interview given by Amanda Tattersall pretty much sums it up.

When I came back to Australia in April 2007 I approached Unions NSW for support. They were in the heat of the Your Rights at Work campaign, doing community outreach in a way they hadn’t been doing before. I asked them to resource the Sydney Alliance for the first six months, which they did. By November of that year we had 13 organisations pledge $130,000 to fund it and the year after 22 organisations pledged a million dollars. Unions NSW provided the seed funding but it got a life of its own relatively quickly.

Why did you think unions were so important to involve in the Sydney Alliance?

Unions were obvious partners given the size and track record of unions working on community issues. Unions have played a critical role in many social issues like healthcare, superannuation – both workplace and social issues. The union movement when it works well it campaigns for thousands of people, when it stands for the whole. I was very committed to bringing out that side of unionism and the Sydney Alliance became an opportunity to make that happen.

I leave you with the question what is the money for.?

$500 pa membership fee for an individual.

$10,000 pa for an organisation

$200 and $1000 for training courses.

$130,000 from 13 organisation which funded it with monies raised in 7 months.

22 organisations have pledged one million dollars for the second year.

Unions NSW provided the seed funding but it got a life of its own relatively quickly.

Why am I not surprised?

I also leave you to form your own opinion about the Sydney Alliance and ask why is the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies a member of this group?

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12 comments

  1. Can we make an educated guess about its attitude to Israel?

  2. It seems that nowadays any and every organisation, group, coalition etc etc feels that it must include an anti-Israel plank in its platform in order to enhance its “prestige”, even if that organisation’s ostensible reason for existence has absolutely nothing to do with the Arab-Israeli conflict.
    I wonder if this alliance has one, too.

  3. You can bet that any organisation that claims it is working for a ‘fair and just’ society has a social justice agenda, which involves deciding who is the victim and who the oppressor. You won’t have to delve deep to find the ‘Palestinians” are the victim and of course Israel is the oppressor.

    This is just another radical far left group whose agenda is to get more power for the union powerbrokers, most of whom don’t care about workers’ rights – which was the original purpose of setting up unions.

  4. Syd. Alliance has been going on for some years and our NSWJBD joined it almost immediately. If I remember well the protagonists banging the Board’s pulpits in its favour in our community could be easily identified as “lefties”, OK loony leftists, to make “someone” happy. I wont mention names but they were also, a bit later, the same, in the same loony mood, who founded NIFAustralia. The move snatched indeed ten thousand big ones from a depleted communal budget, if I am not wrong.
    As the author identifies plenty, this is just a Labor/Union quasi political machine. God terms abound in their rhetoric, activism looks as if something good and necessary is being achieved simply because people who have nothing better to do than work out pseudo Marxist of latter days ( and final days ) proletarian ideologies among the well hilled lumpen bourgeoisie prefer to waste their weekends away from partners and kids so that they can climb up some egotistic ladder. As far as various ethnic communities being attracted, the magnificent results of this bogus lefty club can be seen in the never ending anti Zionist marches all over Sydney brandishing Hamas flags alongside trade union banners, various Xtian Church leaders cum anti Semitic speakers etc. Yes, an Alliance for sure. Question is WHY against Israel and its people, including the Jews of Sydney, bloody well paying then thousand bloody bucks for the bloody privilege !! More of a tradie I cannot impersonate.

  5. There is nothing wrong with unions, muslims, christians or any other members of the Sydney Alliance, but what is the purpose of the group? And why was my question of the cost of membership not answered at a Board meeting? And why did the NSWJBD join the group when it shares few of its concerns and, as far as I can tell, there is nothing in the Board’s constitution providing for its becoming a member of any organisation apart from the ECAJ?

    It may be a good publicity exercise, but for whose advantage I am not quite sure.

  6. Paul, let me jog my memory. At the time Sydney Alliance was formed, a few deputies were strongly advocating for the Board to join it. By far, the then Vice President, Robin Margo, insisted that the Board HAD to join it. There were no clear disclosures, as I see now, of the essential composition of the entities responsible for the creation of the Alliance. It was presented as political neutral, without any affiliation to any Party as such. There were no suggestions of the Alliance being the creation of a “left” leaning section of the political spectrum, not at all. Eventually the Board joined the Alliance and there were no suggestions that our Board would benefit from any reduction in the normal joining fees. So, I would venture that, if the fee for something like the NSWJBD is dollars ten thousand, so THAT IS IT !!
    Other enthusiasts were Uri Windt, who also represented the Board and, of course it had the imprimatur of the then President, David Knoll. In addition, the Board is obliged to reveal to its deputies the entire financial statement of the Board ON DEMAND. In it one will see clearly what for and how much etc. item by item. So, go for it !

  7. The membership fee of The Sydney Alliance, $10,000 pa for an organisation, is extortionate. Presumably this is what the Board of Deputies paid. Let’s hope they weren’t also one of the initial 13 who jointly paid $130,000 to kick start it, or, G-d forbid, that they weren’t one of the 22 organisations who have pledged one million dollars for the second year!

    What we do know is they have already paid $20,000 for two year’s membership. This is communal money, which should be used for the Jewish Community of NSW, not to fill the coffers of the NSW Unions. It is clear from reading their website and doing some background research that the Sydney Alliance is a front for the unions..

    It is therefore incumbent on the Board to issue a statement explaining the benefits to the Jewish community of allocating large sums of money to the Alliance, rather than spending it on Jewish education and outreach, or on countering the endless propaganda against Israel and the Jews, often emanating from the radical left, which the Alliance represents.

  8. Since researching the Sydney Alliance I have also come up with this from a PDF of theirs.

    “UnitingCare supports citizens’ movements and is actively involved in the Sydney Alliance along with the NSW Synod & Uniting Church congregations.

    UnitingCare NSW.ACT as part of the Synod committed $15,000 p.a. for three years to support the establishment of the Sydney Alliance. Combined agencies within the Synod make contributions that together total $40,000 p.a.”

    I wonder how much Communal money the Board gave?

  9. Sydney Alliance from the UnitingCare web site

    The Sydney Alliance is a citizen’s coalition with a vision to rebuild and renew civil society in Sydney. It offers tools with the potential to further engage with vulnerable people as well as Uniting Church congregations.

    UnitingCare and the Sydney Alliance have common principles and priorities. Their vision statements have common themes of dignity, respect and social justice.

    The Sydney Alliance aims to create a space where organisations can come together to respond to citizens’ problems collectively. This involves three main activities – relationship building; leadership development; and action and reflection.

    Click here to download UnitingCare NSW.ACT – Sydney Alliance Statement of Purpose for Staff.

  10. Having said all that, and considering what everybody has said, I think that the following will prevail, as far as the NSWJBD would , if they will ever, reply.

    ” The aim of the Alliance is not to enlist orgs. along a certain political agenda. They state that they ( the Alliance) is a civic forum where EVERYBODY regardless of etc. is welcome. The aim is to …………bla bla bla, The fees are agreed by etc. ( as if that is a good reason to fork out ten big ones )…………”

    Then a list of “achievements” will appear, among them the actual meetings and other functions. Because a number of entities which have traditionally caused the Jewish community concerns and real trouble are in the Alliance, our presence will be deemed necessary so that the “Jewish voice is present AND heard ”

    Here is the key issue. How is he Jewish voice heard, what is the Jewish voice saying and, most importantly what effect so far since the Alliance’s inception and the fee paying started, what results of the civic nature consistent with our principles have been attained ?

    Any cynic will have his/her say and then will be labeled a “bloody cynic” and immediately dismissed. Mind you to be a cynic is far worse than serial rapist ! Mind you also that anyone criticising any organisation without having sufficient numbers to make a difference within the org. is automatically a cynic, therefore worse than a serial rapist !!I As such, if we, here, cannot muster enough support, guess what………….

    From recent experience, since the Alliance, we have witnessed some of the most obscene non-Alliance type manifestations right in Alliance territory, Sydney CBD and environs !!

    If the Alliance had reacted as a body, consistent with its principles then it justifies its existence and fee demands, if not then we are entitled to ask even cynical questions and maybe even a……..refund !!!

    Noble ideals are what we, Jews, are all about. Where we find them we join with glee and hope, where we see them paraded CYNICALLY, farcically, we must uphold them and object to the ideals being abused. We must remember and remind EVERYBODY that in a civil society, particularly of the Western type, when civic ideals have been abused, the first – and sometimes the principal – target have been the Jews !!!

    In recent times the only target of street un-civic manifestations in our Syd. CBD has been the Jewish community !!!
    I could un-cynically hold the Alliance responsible for the phenomenon. It occurred well after the Alliance was formed, functioned and took our money !!

    The minimum they could have done was to voice their abhorrence, to hold responsible some of its members who DO represent the objectionable groups responsible for the non-Alliance manifestations, for attempting seriously at our civic society, a society which is, indeed an “informal” alliance of decent people, indeed of all kinds etc. !! The Alliance and the Jews in it in particular should have been seen and act efficiently in condemning specific ethnic/religious quasi political groups still very active in destabilising our civil society.

    Where is THAT voice !!

    and where is my money…………………..