Rudd backs push for ALP reform
Kevin Rudd says power must be returned to party members. Photo: Louie Douvis
KEVIN Rudd has declared Labor must ''get real'' about party reform, condemning the inadequate response to the sweeping party review undertaken by senator John Faulkner and two former premiers.
As the debate about the state of the ALP reignited, left factional leader Doug Cameron called on Julia Gillard, state Labor leaders, union leaders and MPs to get together to consider how reform of the Labor Party can be achieved.
Senator Faulkner this week strongly renewed his push for change. As well as declaring - in the wake of the revelations about corruption in New South Wales - that it was time to publicly acknowledge that some in the party had been lacking in principles, he attacked factions. ''The practice of factions, affiliates or interest groups binding parliamentarians in parliamentary party votes or ballots must be banned,'' he said.
Mr Rudd said power must be returned to party members and removed from ''unelected factional faceless men'' and their closed culture. It was time for ''deep and fundamental reform.''
He said last year's ALP national conference had decided the report from Senator Faulkner, Bob Carr - now Foreign Minister - and former Victorian premier Steve Bracks was all too hard and watered it down, establishing a committee. Since then, the committee had met once.
''That's to consider the implementation of a watered-down report … As a party on the progressive side of politics, we have to get real.''
Despite being a factional convener himself, Senator Cameron agreed that factionalism has gone too far.
It had reached the stage where power had been concentrated in a few people, leading to less democracy in the party and the making of decisions that probably should not have been made, he said.
One big mistake had been to give the leader the power to choose ministers, he said. Before Kevin Rudd the caucus elected the ministry and the leader allocated portfolios.
Senator Cameron said the change had weakened democracy within the party.
He favoured members of the party having a say in choosing the leader. This would give the leader ''some more strength to resist the nonsense that went on [in the overthrow of Rudd]''.
Former New South Wales state minister and one-time party official John Della Bosca said: ''One of the irritating things is that when people come up with really meaningful changes, they're swept under the carpet, and then what happens is the response becomes really superficial changes.''
Schools Minister Peter Garrett said that in his state of New South Wales the factions had had too strong an influence.
Senator Faulkner got support from one unexpected quarter.
Mining magnate Clive Palmer, who recently quit the Liberal National Party, said factions were a cancer that eroded the rights of rank-and-file members and fostered corruption.
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