Sunday, October 13, 2013

Responses to the ALP Leadership Election Result

above: The winner of the Opposition Leader election - Bill Shorten

With a 'mixed mandate' from the ALP's first experiment with a rank and file component in electing the parliamentary leader, Bill Shorten needs to move straight away to implement the reforms he promised to 'Local Labor', Race Mathews and others - in order to keep the Party unified and with high morale - as we rebuild and aim to retake government in three years.

Tristan Ewins

With Albanese getting about 60% of the membership vote there's a 'mixed mandate' here. Importantly, I read that the Right was enforcing 'pairing' to ensure their members were voting for Shorten in the caucus. That said, I don't know why some members of the parliamentary Left decided to vote for Shorten. Hopefully the full story will come out in the coming days and we’ll have a fuller appreciation of how this process has panned out….

But we agreed to this process, and this is what we've got to work with. 50% of the vote for the rank and file is still a step forward. Especially if we get more far-reaching reforms as part of the deal over the coming months......

Another matter is that with Albanese recording such a strong vote amongst the members he deserves recognition. There's the option of the Deputy Leadership. Though Shorten has already committed there to Plibersek - and Plibersek is certainly incredibly talented - and could have had a go at the leadership herself if she'd been inclined to do so. Perhaps whoever misses out should receive a shadow ministry of their choice? Though that's complicated by the fact Bowen did a good job as Treasurer.

Albanese overwhelmingly won the rank and file vote on the basis of unequivocal support for direct election to Conference and other reforms. Shorten supported reform too - giving personal guarantees to Race Mathews which were then communicated to the membership and to ‘Local Labor’.

Perhaps Albanese could also be given the job of heading a Committee to oversee democratic Party organisational reform between now and the next Conference. And maybe Conference could be brought forward so that whatever policy positions we adopt - we have plenty of time to campaign on difficult issues which nonetheless are a matter of principle. (for example: increasing Newstart in the face of Conservative attacks)

On the plus side Shorten will make a very articulate leader; But he has to overcome the 'Bill the Knife' tag; He needs to break through against those perceptions early on to stop it from undermining his position.

If we get direct election for National Conference the victory for Party democracy will still be great. (so long as the Parliamentary Party then accepts the policy parameters set by Conference)

At Facebook Glenn L. McGrath reports that: "Bill won by 4 MP votes, 55/86 = 63.95, it would need to have be 51/86 = 59.3% for Albo to have won." So if the Left had held it really would have been down to the wire. I'm trying to confirm whether there were three Left supporters of Shorten or more.

In any case – again, it is done now; Bill will be an articulate leader;  Bill Shorten has tried to overcome the ‘Bill the Knife’ tag  today; And I hope he succeeds - for him and for the Party. On the night Shorten supported Rudd he looked like a ghost. I'm certain it was a very difficult decision which weighed heavily on him.


Of great importance:  With such a close vote the pressure needs to be on to implement further internal democratic reform quickly - starting immediately; With such a strong rank and file vote for Albanese Shorten needs to move quickly on democratic reform to keep the party unified at this point and into the future.

A Committee made up of members genuinely committed to democratic reform ahead of the next National Conference – and with a brief to achieve this - would be a the best thing;  So long as it isn’t distorted into a mechanism for ‘burying’ reform rather than implementing it ASAP.

If Albanese is at the helm of such a committee here’s hoping that won’t happen that way…

PLS Debate!!!

nb: 'Christian Kunde' at Facebook writes:  "1 caucus vote = 350 member votes. Albo lost by 700 votes/2 caucus votes. If 3 from the Left voted Shorten, that would have easily been enough"

I'm still trying to work out just how close it really was...



  1. re: internal cohesion and discipline - so long as there's a fair degree of 'give and take', and the broad parameters of Conference are observed - we should be able to enjoy the discipline we need.

    Except for a few things: a) We need the Conference process to be democratic - with direct election of delegates, and the observance of its content. b) And we should reform the leader direct election process further - say to 45 (caucus) / 55 (membership) - as it is potentially harmful to our cohesion when a very clear majority of the members vote for a candidate only for the other candidate to win.

    nb: Though the problem with that would be if a candidate was elected without the support of a clear majority of caucus. So what I'm saying here is not a 'final word' on potential reform of the leadership election process. Rather I'm hoping to encourage debate... Perhaps there is a better answer re: the leadership election.

    But direct election of Conference delegates and observance of the Platform need to be non-negotiable.

  2. More on Internal ALP Democratic Reform - Shorten must stop equivocating:

    In the ALP We Need to press strongly and resoundingly for Bill Shorten to Stop Equivocating on the issue of democratic party reform! Shorten explicitly supported Direct Election of Conference Delegates in an exchange with Race Mathews. That was then communicated to Local Labor which has over 800 members on Facebook. Meanwhile Albanese was absolutely unequivocal about Party Reform - and as a consequence received a resounding mandate from the membership.

    The least we can do now is to establish a Committee on Party Reform ASAP - with a brief to develop proposals for Direct Election and other reforms before the next Conference. Albanese should chair that committee. If the ALP is to move forward with high morale and unity we need to end all equivocation and adopt a footing towards implementing reforms - including greater participation in party activism, policy development - but most crucially of all - direct election to Conference - and respect for Conference's authority.

    The following is From an Interview With new Leader Bill Shorten on ABC Radio National this morning: Shorten backs reform - but he is not unequivocal - and he does not specifically mention Conference direct election.... Opinions welcome...

    ALISON CARABINE: The membership ballot was part of a process of democratising the party. You have given a commitment to ongoing party reform. Under your leadership, can you guarantee that the recommendations of the Faulkner, Carr and Bracks Review will be fully implemented at the next National Conference?
    BILL SHORTEN: I do support the principles of reform, and some of the principles of reform which I think are fundamental to making the Labor Party a healthy organisation, and competitive at the next election, include but are not limited to encouraging more people to join our party.
    The fact is that there are 43,000 - 44,000 members of the Labor Party. I would like to see a much larger Labor Party. I think that democracy – it doesn't matter if you're Liberal or Labor – flourishes when more people take an active role. What I also am committed to is improving the diversity of our candidates who run for elected office representing the Labor Party.
    We look at the Abbott Coalition, where they've managed to only find a position for one woman in the top twenty Cabinet spots in Australia. I reject the assumption that merit is more located in the brains of men than women. I can't believe that it's not possible to have a greater proportion of your Cabinet who are women. I'm looking forward to what the Shadow Ministry do, and the Shadow Ministry elections, in terms of seeing more diversity.
    So, when it comes to our party reform, we've got to improve the base. We've got to improve people's participation. I will certainly work with National Conference to see how we can further improve the party. We'll also do that on the basis of these principles of engaging people and we need to reach out to new constituencies as well. There are too many Australians in small business or regional Australia who think that Labor doesn't speak to them, when in fact, we do, and we can, and we need to engage.


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