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Colleagues see red over Rudd's plans

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Australian Financial Review chief political correspondent

View more articles from Phillip Coorey

THE Minister for Foreign Affairs, Kevin Rudd, has raised the ire of colleagues by proposing a democratic overhaul of the Labor Party far greater than any of the reforms being proposed at this weekend's ALP national conference.

In a speech on Saturday and on television yesterday, Mr Rudd called for the ALP membership to vote for all the delegates to the ALP national conference, for the national executive and for the party's national secretary.

Combined, this would eradicate the influence of trade unions in Labor. He also said the party should debate the idea of the members choosing the parliamentary leader.

''In 2007, we had some 50,000 members of the Australian Labor Party, that's now collapsed to 35,000 members,'' he said.

''You can't tell me, therefore, that all is well. Therefore we've got to deal with it.''

The sharp decline in Labor's membership occurred under Mr Rudd's leadership which many of his colleagues pointed out yesterday was the most dictatorial in the history of Labor.

The caucus and the cabinet were reduced to rubber stamps for decisions taken by a cabinet gang of four, comprising Mr Rudd, Julia Gillard, Wayne Swan and Lindsay Tanner.

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