Among their other tasks over the long weekend, delegates to the CPA’s 10th National Congress considered an updated Party Program. Rob Gowland, Central Committee member and Secretary of the Sydney District Committee, gave the meeting an outline of the changes, which built on the analysis of the current of the national and international political scene, contained in the previous Program. Rob noted that the document had benefited considerably from the work carried out by Party organizations since the first draft was circulated January 2005. In particular, the description of the anticipated two-stage process of political change leading to socialism in Australia has been clarified.
Rob pointed out that the essential thrust of the Program is unchanged. The CPA is a working class party, "… a party that is not only ‘confident that the working class is capable of leading the struggle to win political power from the capitalist ruling class’ but which believes that ‘the socialist reconstruction of society is only possible when the working class becomes the class which governs society’."
The crucial role of the CPA in the transition to socialism is emphasized in the program. "The Communist Party of Australia seeks to establish its political leadership by winning support for its policies and by earning respect for its members by their commitment, organization and activities in the struggles of the working people", as Rob pointed out. He also emphasized the fact that Marxism-Leninism is a living science and not a dogma; that new answers must be found to meet constantly changing circumstances.
The Program summarizes the current, extremely volatile world situation that has mobilized millions of people in struggle around a host of just demands; for "… freedom, democracy, workers’ rights, national independence, peace, protection of the environment and socialism", as Rob noted. Despite the overthrow of socialism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe and despite the crowing of the ideologues of capitalism, the choice for the world community remains either capitalism, with its incapacity to solve the crises besetting humanity, or socialism "… which replaces the profit motive with the fulfillment of people’s needs and the development of people’s abilities as the driving force of social development."
The document describes the political situation in Australia, where the Coalition and the Australian Labour Party have shown themselves to be subservient to US interests. Both parties have encouraged the increased militarization of Australian society. Both have sought to shift the burden of the cost of radical changes to the economy onto the workers through changes to the tax system and attacks on trade union rights. However, the resistance to these trends continues and is set to intensify. As Rob said, "… overall, the number of wage and salary earners and their proportion of the total number engaged in production has continued to grow and the working class remains by far the jost numerous social class in our society… the damaging effects of the Accord on the trade unions and on class struggle are now being overcome."
The greatest possible unity among left, the working class and other forces favouring progressive change must be built. "These three forms of unity do not stand alone, isolated from each other: ‘Left unity, the unity in action of the working class, and the unity in common struggle of the working class and the other progressive and democratic social forces in society are interdependent processes’."
The purpose of this unity is to establish a government made up of "… political representatives of all the progressive, democratic and patriotic forces, from socialist and labour parties, trade unions and progressive community organizations of all kinds, small working farmers, professional and middle class circles." Rob described the establishment of such a government as the first stage in the process of establishing socialism in Australia.
Chapter 7 of the Program deals with the move to revolutionary change when "… working class control of the state apparatus will be achieved and the alliance of forces that was established to challenge the power of monopoly must be consolidated to achieve new targets." This will be a time of complex developments when the international ruling class will strenuously resist changes being ushered in by the socialist government. Again, the closest unity of the working class and other progressive forces will be needed to defend the gains won by the people.
The Program concludes with assessment of socialism; its past and its future. As the Program says, the setbacks in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe must be understood as a "… result of an inadequate understanding and application of socialist principles, a failure both to see what was wrong and how to correct it. Socialism itself did not fail…. history is a continuous story of people rising up against those who exploit and oppress them, fighting for a better life, for freedom, security and independence. Socialism enables human society to achieve these long-held goals." The new program was endorsed unanimously.