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Labor's factions still have 'too much power'

Jon Stanhope

Jon Stanhope Photo: Wolter Peeters

 

Labor's federal caucus has had a "vitriolic and nasty factional brawl over the spoils of defeat", say the former chief minister Jon Stanhope and two of his former senior colleagues.

And the chorus of "self-praise" for Labor's recent democratic reforms are aimed at bolstering the continued dominance of the party's factions, the ACT Labor stalwarts say.

As members of Bill Shorten's new frontbench settle into their jobs, Mr Stanhope and two of his former chiefs of staff say that some of the people in the new shadow ministry should have been kicked out of the party for their behaviour during the 34rd Parliament.

Mr Stanhope and long-term ACT Labor activists Greg Friedewald and Ross Maxwell, writing in today's Canberra Times, say the party will continue to struggle as long as the unions and their factional allies hold sway.

They are agreed that the reforms, which give ordinary party members a say in deciding the federal leader, are a step in the right direction.

But Mr Stanhope and his colleagues say proponents of the reforms, including the new party leader Bill Shorten, defeated aspirant Anthony Albanese and ACT branch secretary Elias Halaj, have themselves been enthusiastic factional players during their careers.

"It doesn't go nearly far enough, despite the claims of the chorus of self-congratulation that has followed," the trio write.

"That chorus is led by the two aspirants to the leadership, and joined most recently by the secretary of the ACT branch of the party, all of whom have a long personal history of factional activism."

The successful grassroots revolt that ACT Labor mounted against a factional preselection agreement in 2010 should be held up as a template for the party nationally, they write.

"Reform in favour of rank-and-file empowerment worked in the ACT.

"Achieved in 1999, its effect was clearly demonstrated in the 2010 federal preselection where a backroom deal orchestrated by factional players - including some notables from outside the territory who are still active in factional affairs - was overthrown by the membership."

The three men express the opinion that the Labor Party will continue to be defeated until it modernises and reflects the diminished status of the union movement as a force in society.

"The democratisation of the party is vital to the future success of the ALP," they write.

"It is imperative that the power of the factions, exercised through the weighted advantage currently invested in the affiliated unions, is transferred to the ordinary members of the party, the rank and file."

2 comments

  • Sounds like Stanhope has island fever and by the way he's clinging onto the arm of that chair, he's desperate to get off the Island. Sorry Jon but you have to stay there until your contract has finished.

    Commenter
    Sharron
    Location
    Canberra
    Date and time
    October 21, 2013, 9:35AM
    • Why does this bloke keep getting headlines.

      Commenter
      OLD DOG
      Date and time
      October 21, 2013, 11:50AM
      Comments are now closed

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