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Monday, October 7, 2013

ALP Leadership Update: Candidates Commit to Organisational Reform




Just to let readers know we have been made aware of statements by Anthony Albanese and Bill Shorten – both claiming they will work to implement organisational reform if elected as Labor Leader.  This was in response to the "Local Labor" Survey of Candidates.
Nb: In the two posts immediately preceding this one I published a series of policy questions which unfortunately have not been answered. 

I also wrote an analysis of the commitments made by Shorten and Albanese. 

which can be found here:


http://leftfocus.blogspot.com.au/2013/10/what-are-strengths-and-weaknesses-of.html


But there is new information in this post!

The following is a summary of many of the commitments both Albanese and Shorten made in recent Statements:


Albanese

·        Albanese specifically indicates he will implement the recommendations of the 2010 Carr/Faulkner/Bracks Review.
 

·        He argues he will maintain the direct election component for parliamentary leader.


·        He indicates he will “give members a direct vote in electing ALP National Conference delegates”.   (A crucial commitment for this ALP member)
 

·        He says he will provide grassroots members with  “training, resources and support”;

 
·        He supports further trials “of community preselections”.   (I’m not so sure of this one for reasons I’ve given in the earlier article)


·        He  indicates he will bring National Conference forward to 2014 to discuss these organisational issues, and policy issues as well.

Shorten

I sent some questions to Shorten on these and other issues and didn’t receive a reply (and not from Albanese either!!) ; but upon having found a statement by Shorten I believed it important to let readers know what his stated positions were.

·        Shorten argues he will “act on the reform commitments made at [the] last National Conference; and will maintain the direct election component for ALP Parliamentary Leader

 

·        He argues he will ; work for “a bigger ALP”, with “discounted rates” for pensioners, the unemployed, students and union members; and with “training” with regard the party’s “history, structures, principles and processes”  Also he claims he would  create a “supporters” category – a “low cost option” that would aim to turn Labor into a larger mass party.

 

·        He argues he will provide flexible options for involvement (eg: internet) for people who have trouble regularly attending branch meetings

 

·        He also argues he will involve members in policy development

 

·        Like Albanese he would continue the “community pre-selection trials” (which I personally fear would divert our resources and lead to the scenario where the ‘big fundraisers’ would dominate.)

nb:  I hope this update is useful to ALP members who have yet to vote!  Importantly it seems to me that while Shorten is making some very constructive commitments to mobilising and involving the grassroots (and Albanese likewise), I could not find an explicit commitment to Direct Election for National Conference from him. (ie: Shorten)  If I am mistaken I would appreciate being corrected - because I want to get accurate and comprehensive information out to members!  But we really need a direct statement from Shorten in order to confirm his position on this issue.

Tristan Ewins



UPDATE; DICUSSION AT 'LOCAL LABOR':

 
posted here 7/10 1:07pm
At the "Local Labor" Facebook Group Stuart J Whitman has posted the following:
 
"FINDING COMMON GROUND
Yesterday, BILL SHORTEN gave his commitment to support direct elections of delegates to National Conference. This had not been spelled out in his original response to the Local Labor ALP Reform Survey. Now I wonder if we can get ANTHONY ALBANESE to address gaps in his response and commit to establishing an Implementation Committee to ensure the reforms are achieved in the coming year, and to open the way to further review of standards of integrity and conduct in the application of rules and Party office holders carrying out their responsibilities?  Then we have a Win-Win for reform."


But Don Alma McAllister responds:  
 
"I'm confused here. Albo's response seems to be unequivocal support of the 2010 National Review document (31 recommendations excluding the withheld sections.) But Shorten is saying "I will:
• act on the reform commitments made at our last National Conference;
• encourage our state branches to align their commitments and rules with these changes; and ..etc etc “
which seems to be offering support only for the remnant bits cherry-picked out of the document by his faction at the 2011 Nat. Conf."



Yet Race Mathews has written at 'Local Labor':
 
Memorable day – in fact the day for which I’ve been waiting ever since writing my first party reform paper, back in 1965. Full house attendance at the ALP leadership contestants debate in the Trades Hall Council Chamber. Heard great contributions from Anthony Albanese and Bill Shorten to frequently passionate applause. Proud to belong to a party that can produce prospective leaders of so outstanding a quality. Realised halfway through Bill’s speech that he and Albo now on the same page in support of direct election of conference delegates. Couldn’t catch Chair Jane Garrett’s eye for a question, but confirmation in brief conversation with Bill and aide Steve Michaelson following the meeting. So grateful to have been present after all these years at the true dawning of the party’s democratisation. Or as Bill has it, not just a party but a movement. Music to my ears. Tears in my eyes.


NEW UPDATE: 
Race Mathews of 'Local Labor' and the Australian Fabians has said that Shorten and Albanese are "on the same page" on Conference Direct Election.  But in light of this I'm not certain what to make of Don Alma McAllister's contribution.  Race wrote to me this afternoon that Shorten had indicated to him personally that he would support some form of direct election - But he did give specifics on implementation, including what model.

SO the offer still stands  - for a clear statement from both candidates on the issue of direct National Conference delegate election - and what specific form they would have this take.


LATEST UPDATE:  9/10/13

The following has come through from the Sydney Morning Herald; It reports Shorten is NOT prioritising Rank and File Direct Election of ALP National Conference delegates.

But Race Mathews insists Shorten had given him a personal guarantee. He's trying to clear things up today; I will post again here if we get a clarification - some kind of direct clarification from Shorten.

QUOTE: "Mr Shorten said he wanted to make it easier to join the party, commenting that it was ''crazy in the 21st century that it's difficult to join the Labor Party online''. He also said he wanted to involve more people in preselections.

''I believe that we do need to open the party up, that we do need to make it easier to participate in and we do need to give people more say,'' Mr Shorten said.

But a spokeswoman for Mr Shorten's campaign later contacted Fairfax Media to clarify that while Mr Shorten supported the recommendations of the Bracks, Carr and Faulkner review ''in principle'', allowing members to elect conference delegates was not one of his priorities. His focus was on growing and diversifying the party membership, the spokeswoman said.

Read more:
http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/labor-leadership-candidate-bill-shorten-commits-to-extending-party-reforms-20131008-2v507.html


FINAL UPDATE

I guess we're not going to get a direct and public confirmation from Bill Shorten on ALP National Conference Direct Election and we'll have to deal with that; Given what one of his staffers said, it may well just be as they put it "it is not a priority". Such that he felt no urgent need to clear that up with a direct, public and personal statement. A lot of people will already have voted for Bill Shorten on the understanding he WILL introduce direct election to Conference. It will be incredibly demoralising and divisive if Bill doesn't try and push it through after this - try and get the Party and the factions behind him on the reform apparently he has promised privately to Race Mathews.... I hope Race Mathews and other people are right! But why else would Shorten not make a public statement?

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