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Beattie ready to help reshape Labor if asked

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Former Queensland Labor premier Peter Beattie has said he is prepared to act as a facilitator in a reform of Queensland Labor, if he were asked to do so.

He also said Labor’s branches needed to be modernised, candidate selection broadened and social media better used, among quick measures to reshape the party.

‘‘There are a number of things we can do in that way; branches need to be modernised, we need to use social media a lot more often,’’ he said, adding that, "branch meetings are as boring as imaginable.

‘‘We have to re-engage with the community.’’

Retired Brisbane councillor David Hinchliffe called Saturday night for an immediate reform of Queensland Labor, with a plan to go to Labor’s state conference in 2012.

He suggested Labor’s ‘‘elder statesman’’ Wayne Goss, Jim Soorley and Mr Beattie act as facilitators for the reform process.


‘‘I understand his view and I understand his frustration,’’ Mr Beattie said.

‘‘What I am prepared to do is that if anywhere along the line that if they need help with some facilitation, then I am happy to do that."

Mr Beattie, a life member of the ALP, declined to comment on Mr Hinchliffe’s call for state secretary Anthony Chisholm to stand down following heavy defeats for the ALP at the state election and the Brisbane City Council election.

‘‘I am not going to get into any of that, sorry,’’ Mr Beattie said.

He said any decision on a reform process had to come from the ALP’s administration committee.

Mr Beattie reviewed Queensland Labor with Labor historian Dennis Murphy after the 1974 election loss and shaped the background for Mr Goss to be recruited to the party.

In 1974, Labor lost two-thirds of its seats, ending up with just 11 seats, recording around 30 per cent of the primary vote.

‘‘So I have already done this once and helped facilitate candidates like Wayne Goss and so on into parliament,’’ Mr Beattie said.

At the state election in 2012, Labor finished with just seven seats.

Mr Beattie acknowledged that the party had well-recognised problems, that its ‘‘brand’’ was ‘‘badly damaged’’, and that recent poll results were ‘‘just appalling.’’

‘‘We have to build from that and if we don’t we will win the next federal election,’’ he said.

He said Labor’s administration committee was the vehicle to start any new review of Labor in Queensland.

‘‘But I think the national executive of the party needs to think about these things as well,’’ he said.

Mr Beattie agreed that review was essential after Labor needed Green’s preferences to win the seat of South Brisbane.

‘‘The fact that one of our safest seats - we’ve won in a by-election - we’ve got to go to preferences. I mean we lost the primary vote," he said.

‘‘I’m a life member. I have been in the Labor Party forever.  I don’t ever remember seeing a result like that.’’

In a reflective mood, he later said that when he first entered state politics, West End was in his electorate of Brisbane Central.

‘‘And I remember we used to get something like 70 per cent of the primary vote at the West End State School,’’ he said.

‘‘So these results are extraordinary - and in many senses, while we lost the lord mayoralty yesterday - in many ways the South Brisbane result was just breathtaking in terms of the brand.’’

Mr Beattie said the position of former Labor MP Craig Thomson - who stood down on the weekend - was hurting Labor throughout the country.

‘‘Part of the reason why we didn’t do well in the Council actually was the last week - and this might sound strange - but it’s true because I was out there with Heather (his wife and Brisbane Central candidate) talking to people - was an enormous resentment for people like Craig Thomson.’’