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Balmain voters have their say in Labor's community preselection

Date

Damien Murphy

NSW Labor has moved to allow all Balmain voters - party members or not - to have a say in the preselection of the Labor candidate in next year's state election.

It is part of a continuing campaign to distance the ALP from the preselection rorts and branch stacks that opened the party to corruption and saw it voted out of office in 2011.

Although NSW Labor has been testing the water with "community preselection" ballots elsewhere, the Balmain announcement was especially significant.

Many believe a meeting in what is now the Unity Hall Hotel in Darling Street on April Fool's Day 1891, which saw the formation of the Labour Electoral Leagues of New South Wales, was a forerunner of the ALP.

On Monday, every enrolled voter in Balmain will be able to take part in a poll to choose who will represent the ALP in the state election.

Two candidates, former Minister for Education and Member for Balmain Verity Firth, and Mayor of Leichhardt, Darcy Byrne, have nominated.

Online and postal voters have until April 30 to take part in the "community preselection" while a polling booth will be open on May 3 for traditional voters.

NSW Labor General Secretary Jamie Clements said: “Labor is changing, and we want the local community to be part of that change. There is no better place to take another significant step in the renewal of NSW Labor than in Balmain, the birthplace of the Australian Labor Party”.

“NSW Labor isn't just talking about reform, we're putting our principles into practice by opening up our candidate selection processes to the entire community. I'm excited that the community will be able to partner with NSW Labor members to choose Labor's local voice”.

Under reforms designed to stop the corruption of ALP preselection processes, registered voters will have a 50 per cent say in the final result. Local ALP members will also have 50 per cent of the say.

Voters in the "community preselection" will be asked to sign a declaration that they do not belong to another political party but Mr Clements admitted it was "an honour system" and could not be policed.

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