Political party reform – the elephant in the room

Political party reform - the elephant in the room

Political party reform – the elephant in the room

The need for reform within the Queensland Labor Party is discussed in a letter to Redlands2030 by one of our regular correspondents.

Labor Party frontbencher Mark Butler recently called for democratic reforms to allow party members to vote for important positions including state leaders, Senate candidates and vacancies, saying that “backroom buffoonery” is holding the Party back.

But Labor is not the only party divided by factions. Writing in the Australian, Ross Fitzgerald said:

It’s a common misconception that only the Labor Party has factions. The Liberals’ factions aren’t quite as well organised; they don’t have the range of jobs to deliver; and they don’t have the same reach into the federal parliamentary party, but they’re real and they can readily pressure people to put survival before principle and conformity before judgment. “Vote for this person and you’ll be considered for a job on that MP’s staff”; “Vote this way and you’ll have support for that preselection”. That’s how the blandishments go: in order to get ahead, you’re to toe the line.

Reform needed in QLD Labor

Briefly during the late quarter of 2017 I was the Secretary of a Queensland Labor reform group named Local Labor before I resigned after 5 years of continuous membership within the party. During that time our group were working with the party executive to evaluate potential reform talks within our party regarding the viability of a total branch restructure in the party.

We conducted a state wide research analysis and drafted several submissions in the process, what we found in the party was a systemic bullying problem among some of the officials in the party and unions, a growing factional problem, a disconnect between branch rank and file members and career driven representatives in the party, lack of drive towards policy development or in some cases no regard for consensus on policy issues (particularly environmental issues), a disconnect between the metro and regional branches, some branches were in even in favour of restructuring how they raise money via campaign finance structures.

What is clear from our research is that the Queensland Labor party needs to develop measures to introduce a arbitrary mechanism to ensure disputes are dealt with fairly in the party’s disputes tribunal, MECs, SECs, FECs (which raise campaign finance on different levels of government) should be considered to be restructured into a more relevant bodies, a policy network should be introduced, ethical training should be introduced in line with upskilling both party officials, unionist, and activist, and further rights and say should be continued to be delivered to the party’s rank and file members.

Federal party president Mark Butler put it best in January that the party nationally needs to address similar issues in comparison to the UK Labour party at present its membership dwarfs the ALP making some wonder if further empowerment of the membership should be further explored. It is evident that without reform the mainstream political parties will not continue to grow.

Cal J. Sorensen

Victoria Point

Writing to Redlands2030

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Redlands2030 – 29 January 2018

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