Albanese to contest Labor leadership
Anthony Albanese says the best contribution he can make to Labor is as leader, as he prepares to face off with party powerbroker Bill Shorten.PT0M45S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2tr11 620 349 September 14, 2013
Be patient. That was the message from acting Labor chief Chris Bowen as the party worked out how its plan to consult grassroots members on the new leader would play out.
While the concept is simple - grassroots members will get 50 per cent of the votes and the parliamentary team will get the rest - a lot of details remain up in the air. These include the eligibility of members to vote, the cost of the process and arrangements for public debates between the declared contenders, Bill Shorten and Anthony Albanese.
It is also unclear how a deadlock between the caucus and rank-and-file members would be resolved. Labor's national executive will meet on Monday to decide the finer points.
Bill Shorten. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Mr Bowen said Labor was ''big enough and mature enough'' to conduct the ballot openly and respectfully.
''Of course when any political party embarks on a new and major reform, there will be details to be settled by the national executive,'' he said.
The rules require a person to have been an active Labor member for at least two years to participate in the ballot, but Fairfax understands the national executive will consider lowering the threshold.
Anthony Albanese. Photo: Andrew Meares
It is extremely unlikely people who sign up now would have a say in the looming ballot.
The two-week ballot will be conducted by Labor's national returning officer, Victorian barrister Anthony Lang, after nominations close next Friday.
Costs are likely to run to tens of thousands of dollars but it remains unclear whether Mr Albanese and Mr Shorten's travel around Australia to drum up support will be paid by the party or the taxpayer.
Labor national secretary George Wright said the party would deal with outstanding issues as quickly as possible but the core structure was known.
Mr Wright did not see a problem with the leadership contenders having public, televised debates about who should secure the top job, saying this would be ''a healthy thing not just for the Labor Party but for Australian democracy''.
The caucus will meet to vote on the leader after the rank-and-file ballot is completed - but before those results are known.
Kevin Rudd, who secured caucus support for the rule changes in July, hit back at critics such as Victorian Right factional powerbroker Stephen Conroy, who predicted the month-long process would be a ''complete and utter farce''.
''We should bear in mind that our British colleagues have a four-month electoral process, as do the Canadian Conservatives, while the US Democrats run a six-month primary before settling on their candidate,'' Mr Rudd told caucus on Friday.