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A fine message to voters, but grassroots get trampled

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I suspect, like many others, I face a dilemma following the Prime Minister's unilateral decision to have Nova Peris endorsed as the lead Labor candidate for a Northern Territory Senate seat.

On the one hand, as an older Anglo Saxon male, I applaud the decision to preselect an articulate young indigenous woman to become the first Aboriginal to represent the ALP in Federal Parliament, and have no doubt that her election will send all the right messages to the electorate.

On the other hand, as a life member of the Labor Party with more than 40 years of active service, I have great difficulty accepting the denial of the right of the party rank and file to have their views considered.

It is well accepted that one of the major reasons why membership of the ALP has declined is the feeling by many former members, and indeed current ones, that their views are no longer deemed worthy of being heard by the parliamentary wing of the organisation and that their only value is seen as being foot soldiers during elections, where they are used to letterbox, attend fund-raising events, buy raffle tickets and staff polling booths.

At the 2011 national conference, Julia Gillard set a target of 8000 new party members and, while this figure was reached, some 4300 existing members did not renew, resulting in a net increase of less than half the target. While it is commendable that the gross figure was reached, it is reasonable to ask why so many chose not to renew.

Surely the bigger issue raised by the Prime Minister's decision to recruit Ms Peris is why she, and people like her, do not find the ALP a sufficiently attractive organisation to be a member and what the party is doing to address this?

On balance, I don't believe denying the party's rank and file the right to choose the candidates they wish is a step forward in the process of encouraging people to either become or remain ALP members.

If the ALP is to continue to be a major, mainstream political organisation, then future potential political representatives need to be encouraged and nurtured and not have their aspirations shattered by the parachuting in of perceived ''dream'' candidates.

Ian De Landelles, Hawker

The latest in a spate of knife attacks on Labor MPs seems to have escaped media attention.

Hence my surprise when the perpetrator (Julia someone or other) of an earlier attack (on a Kevin someone or other) was favourably presented in a front-page story in the The Canberra Times (January 23).

The second victim (Trish someone or other) was apparently an associate of the first victim.

M. Gordon, Flynn

Despite the fact the Labor Party seems to have an obsession about unfair dismissal, Senator Trish Crossin has been sacked to make way for a celebrity, Aboriginal gold medallist Nova Peris, who is not even a member of the Labor Party.

Trish Crossin was only told about it on Monday night, despite backroom negotiations going on for some time.

This is not only unfair, it is illegal. But what can we expect? Julia Gillard carried out similar tactics to have Kevin Rudd demoted.

Anne Prendergast, Reid

Wouldn't it be great if those advocates of democracy in the Labor ''par-ee'', Senators Cameron and Crossin, were consistent? Cynically, they rant over the Nova Peris issue but were silent about ''par-ee'' democracy when K. Rudd parachuted Peter Garrett into a seat.

Oh, I forgot, they are vocal Rudd supporters. At least Gillard didn't use the traditional Labor approach of having a faceless factional heavy tap Crossin, but was upfront and public.

James Mahoney, McKellar

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