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Majority of ALP members want more say

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Australian Financial Review chief political correspondent

View more articles from Phillip Coorey

ALP federal secretary George Wright.

ALP federal secretary George Wright. Photo: Angela Wylie

A survey of almost 11,000 Labor Party members and supporters has found more than half want more discussion and a greater say in party policy.

The survey was the brainchild of the ALP national secretary George Wright who is seeking to reinvigorate and increase Labor’s membership.

He received 10,942 responses, of which 5719 were from members and 5223 from supporters. It found the views of both groups very similar.

An email sent to members and supporters yesterday summarising the results  says ‘‘it is clear what members want from the party’’.

It says 55 per cent want more discussion and say on ALP policy and 52 per cent want more of a say over who their elected representative is.

Those surveyed cited the mining tax, pricing carbon and abolishing WorkChoices as the three most important policy decisions of the federal Labor government.

In her speech to the ALP national conference in December, the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, set the party the challenge of signing 8000 new members this year.

She also gave the go-ahead for reforms aimed at strengthening community links with the Labor Party. The NSW branch is experimenting with US-style primary elections to pre-select candidates, an approach that would involve the local community with the aim of encouraging supporters to join the party.

The survey found  that of the 5223 supporters who responded, 25 per cent, or 1300, were former members and 54 per cent of those, or 705, were prepared to re-join if asked.

While there was significant enthusiasm to become involve in policy development, there was less, but still significant support, when it came to helping out at the grass roots level.

The survey found 39 per cent were prepared to hand out how-to-vote cards at polling booths whole 25 per cent were prepared to staff a campaign office.

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