By Janet Burstall
A “Labor Renewal” movement was launched in capital cities across Australia on 8 October, aiming to push democratic reforms through biennial conference of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) in December.
The campaign sets five general aims, and more specifically demands implementation of the recommendations of Labor’s official review of its own organisation, published in February 2011.
Kevin Rudd’s possible aspirations for a Blair-like comprehensive restructuring of the ALP, and radical marginalisation of the unions, have faded, for now. Probably worried by the decline in ALP membership — after a modest rise of about 13% in 2003-7, it declined 22% between 2007 and 2010 — the Bracks-Carr-Faulkner review proposes a tilt back towards democracy. It recommends:
“That... state and territory conferences be solely based on the principle of 50 per cent representation for members and 50 per cent representation for [union] affiliates. That the practice of including additional delegates from administrative committees, policy committees, Young Labor, and the parliamentary parties in the members’ component cease”.
“That intervention in Party preselections by the National Executive and state administrative committees only occur as a last resort, rather than a first resort, and then only in exceptional circumstances”.
At the Sydney launch, several people asserted that the point is not simply getting Labor in, but what Labor does when it is in.
Many expressed their disappointment with Labor in government.