Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Division, Disgrace and Disfunctionality In the Australian Labor Party Under Bracks - You Can't Trust Either Side

14,000 Victorian ALP members, along with a handful of trade unionists at the bottom of Lygon Street, control the preselection of the entire government which runs our State. While this corrupt state of affairs continues, Victorians can NEVER expect an honest, effective and responsive ALP government in Spring Street.

Andrew Landeryou exposes the corrupt way in which the divisions within the ALP are being fought out across the State, with media organisations like The Age and the ABC are taking sides in the battle to control the State.

None of these people give a tinker's cuss about integrity of process as long as their chosen candidates win and as long as they can maintain the rotten boroughs of ALP membership and union affiliation votes that give them power. - Branch Stacking: The Ugly Truth

One of the most important things Andrew points out is that in this fight, you can't trust either side. While The Age is ranting about Labor Right branch stacking hurting it's beloved Left faction, that same faction are busy using control of the Unions to build campaign slush funds and to tie up the vital "union bloc" votes within the ALP:

A self-styled anti branch stacking campaigner is Brian Daley, frequently favourably quoted in the left wing Age newspaper. The Socialist Left ALP President Brian Daley controls secret slush funds that levy money from staff and from employers that he purports to oppose in his union activities. So one day he is on the phone to an employer demanding money or better conditions for his members. Nothing wrong with that. But the next day he might be calling the same employer hitting them up for a campaign contribution. Or service providers to his union, whether they be lawyers or what have you, what do they do when they get a call from Brian Daley politely requesting a donation? Do you think they say no? Of course not. Using those techniques, Brian Daley built a massive war-chest for his last election campaign, some say as much as half a million dollars . . .

The Socialist Left and their house journal The Age are unwilling to address the systematic corruption of trade union affiliation to the ALP. They are unwilling to seriously examine who funds trade union election campaigns and how. They are unwilling to examine LHMU boss Brian Daley's slush fund accounts and how he funded his massive re-election bid. They are unwilling to examine the scandal of MP's living outside their electorates, sometimes there are important family reasons why this happens but it is a growing trend that reflects horribly on what the ALP has become for some. Instead the Left and their house journal want to focus on the 0.003% of Victorians who've joined the ALP, especially anyone from the other side of the fault line.
- Branch Stacking: The Ugly Truth


At 9:32 AM, Blogger Andrew Landeryou said...

Hi Joel, thanks for the plug and the encouraging words.

Do you think the Liberal Party would consider opening up its processes? Why couldn't Liberal voters determine who Liberal candidates should be, like Republicans choose GOP candidates in the land of the free?

I am not an expert of internal Liberal ways although obviously noticed occasional recruiting wars in Doncaster and other places.

I personally believe radical change is needed. 15000 (or whatever it is) ALP members plus 20000 Libs get to choose nearly every MP for 5 million. It is an elite cabal.

As "joining" becomes less and less fashionable and because of time pressure of work less and less feasible, both parties become susceptible to attack from either left-wing fanatics or right-wing crazies. Both parties have systems to deal with this but I wonder whether those systems would survive the scrutiny of the courts. Taxpayer funded parties don't get to determine their own destiny these days, the courts have shown a willingness to intervene in the public interest.

I believe the rotten boroughs have to change, whether it's a few dozen ALP members choosing ALP MP's for life or Liberal members doing the same.

Whether it's primaries or tying public funding to a minimum level of community participation or whatever remains to be seen but change is certainly needed.

At 2:50 PM, Blogger JP said...

Thanks for the comment. There has been a movement in the Victorian division of Liberal Party to have primary style plebiscites to preselect candidates, where instead of having a convention, every member who is on the electoral roll in that electorate can vote in an open preselection.

I personally think this would be a big solution to part of the problem, but logistically it is a nightmare, we don't have anywhere near the funding we would need to do that.

As a side note, you might be interested in Voting For The Senate - The Power Of The Parties, which republishes an interesting piece I found about how changes in the voting process have increased the power of the parties over the Senate.

I think a lot of the change that is needed is an attitude change. Go and find someone who would make a good candidate for State Parliament. Chances are, they are in their 30 to 50, have a demanding small business or professional career, family commitments and a strong involvement in their local community (this involvement is of course probably why you think they would be a good candidate).

Then ask them to run for State Parliament, tell them no-one else wants the preselection, and the incumbent is unpopular as well, so the Party will send out lots of volunteers to make the seat a guarunteed win. Chances are, you will get told good luck, but please go ask someone else, they are too busy already with their family / business / career / community group. Furthermore, they aren't sure they want to risk their career by going to Parliament, then losing the seat in eight years and not having either a parliamentary pension or a guarunteed entry back into their career.

We need to make being in Parliament something that normal people, the people we want in Parliament, can aspire to, not something they will try and avoid at all costs.

At 12:58 AM, Blogger Andrew Landeryou said...

The solution to the problem of the expense of open primaries overseas is for public monies to be used in their administration.

I believe, while expensive, they would be a small price to pay for a lot of democracy.

They could be AEC administered, as are trade union elections and obviously other elections to forever eliminate the endless, useless discussion about internal rorting etc that seems to infect both parties, but esp. Labor.

You make a good point about the sacrifices people make to go into public life. It is a very entrepreneurial pursuit in some ways, tremendous risk, high stakes and spectacular failures sometimes. I admire everyone who has a go, on any side. It is very rare I think for them to have bad intentions.

I read the piece on PR, it's a complex issue although I do wonder whether introducing it, and therefore the Greens, to the Legislative Council in Victoria was wise. The government apparently felt honour bound to comply with its PR promise to the Greens, although the Scoresby promise to hundreds of thousands of Victorians was not so constricting. Go figure.

At 1:17 AM, Blogger JP said...


I am not a PR proponent, I just thought the practical aspect of the technique of an election can have such a big influence.

I guess my problem with AEC administration is that I don't think political parties should be receiving public monies in the first place. If they would just allow private political parties to keep donors confidential, it would be more than easy enough to raise the required sums.


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