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Attempt to break factional chains goes online

Online ... Andrew Leigh is looking for people who want to join the Labor party, but don't want to join a faction.

Online ... Andrew Leigh is looking for people who want to join the Labor party, but don't want to join a faction. Photo: Lyn Mills

Federal Labor MP Andrew Leigh has stepped up his recruitment effort for his independent group, with a website calling for support and offering an alternative to his party's factional system.

The group, ACT Independents, which describes itself as ''a network of independent, or non-aligned, Labor members in Canberra'', has established a website and appealed for potential members who want to be in ACT Labor but do not want to be in a faction.

Dr Leigh said that the site was attracting new blood to the ranks of the party's ACT branch, not poaching members from the established Left and Right groupings.

The member for Fraser was joined by his Labor colleagues Liz Dawson and David Mathews to launch their site, which encourages potential party members to consider getting involved with the non-aligned grouping.

The network has about 50 members, according to the MP, out of a Labor membership in the territory that hovers between 1200 and 1300.

''It's about attracting people to the Labor Party,'' Dr Leigh said on Monday.

''I've got a lot of respect for people in factions, plenty of friends who are in factions, but if people are keen to join the Labor Party but not to be involved in a faction, then it's important for them to know that that's an option for them.

''I think there are people who join the Labor Party because of the factions, I think there are people who join the Labor Party wanting a non-factional alternative.

''I just want to make sure that all of those options are on the table.''

The party's factional problems have been very public this month with elder statesman John Faulkner warning the NSW branch that it must rid itself of the influence of the groupings for the good of the party. The same day, the state branch's Left faction voted to apologise for preselecting scandal-plagued former minister Ian Macdonald.

There was also a call for the NSW branch to hold a special conference to deal with ''extreme factionalism'' within NSW Labor other reforms.

But Dr Leigh, who ruffled feathers in the federal Labor caucus this month with a pro-Palestinian motion that had the potential to embarrass Prime Minister Julia Gillard, said he was ''relaxed'' about factions in the party.

''Every grouping in the party makes its own decisions about how to get engaged. My view is that this was a potentially [good] way to draw people to the party but nothing other than an idea to help us reach our membership targets,'' he said.

''I take a horses for courses approach … Good people join the Right, good people join the Left and good people join the independents.''

9 comments

  • Isn't this just another faction - the one you have when you are not having a faction?

    Commenter
    Irene
    Date and time
    December 11, 2012, 8:57AM
    • Exactly Irene, exactly and this is the man Federal Labor have already endorsed unopposed for his electorate at next years election, personally having tried on several occasions to converse with Leigh I smell a rat.

      Commenter
      NITRO GANGSTER
      Location
      ACT
      Date and time
      December 11, 2012, 9:39AM
  • It's a bit rich to be calling themselves ACT Independants. They are probably trying to hoodwink the electortate into thinking they are true independants, when really they are just Labor members trying to distance themselves from the train wreck that Labor has become.

    Commenter
    Peter
    Location
    Braddon
    Date and time
    December 11, 2012, 8:57AM
    • The website in question is: http://www.act-indies.org/

      Commenter
      Henry
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      December 11, 2012, 9:18AM
      • The Liberal Party has factions, the Wets( small l liberal) and Drys( ultra conservative). We don't hear about it as often these days because under Howard the Conservative "Drys" smashed the Wets. Abbott has continued this with the extreme right of the party having total control. There are very few Wets left, Malcolm Turnbull amongst them. I would rather vote for a party with a variety of ideas, factions than one totally dominated by the extreme right any day. Abbott and his mentor Howard have moved the Liberal party so far to the right is is almost unrecognisable and home to the ideas of crackpots like Lord Monckton and Andrew Bolt. It's highly amusing when the right uses inflammatory language like Faceless men when they have their own "Faceless Men" and factions.

        Commenter
        Dick Andora
        Location
        Canberra
        Date and time
        December 11, 2012, 10:49AM
        • Extreme Right, Dick? Really? Conservative, perhaps, but Extreme Right suggests facism at the very least. When I last looked Australia seems to be enjoying all the freedoms of a modern democracy, both during and after the Howard years. Perhaps you need to visit a few countries who actaully do have Extreme Right Governments and then blush with embarrassment at your hyperbole!!

          Commenter
          Bronte
          Location
          Belconnen
          Date and time
          December 11, 2012, 2:53PM
      • As an academic Andrew Leigh might be viewed as 'smart' and progressive. However, as a politician he is a rank amateur and will likely become an embarrasment to the Labor Party. Another 'hey look at me' stunt. For God's sake does the man think that we are all fools. Another faction grouping to the Centre progressive. Where do they keep digging these individuals up from. Enough to drive you to vote Green!. Well maybe not ...that would be really silly. Almost as silly as voting for the Get Up candidate in the Senate.

        Commenter
        Grange
        Location
        Canberra
        Date and time
        December 11, 2012, 12:02PM
        • Exactly Grange, Leigh spends more time academicing at lectures and uni's and such than he does being a politician.
          A recent meeting of citizens he called at a northside club had I think 14 starters and I think I am being generous.

          Commenter
          NITRO GANGSTER
          Location
          ACT
          Date and time
          December 11, 2012, 7:18PM
      • Careful here Gillard, everytime you held a media show about something to do with the ACT so it wasn't often Leigh was there glued to your hip and bobbing his head.
        Perhaps he spent those media opportunities looking for a good spot for the long blade.

        Commenter
        OLD DOG
        Location
        ACT
        Date and time
        December 11, 2012, 1:22PM
        Comments are now closed
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