The ALP needs a ballot for its parliamentary leadership even if it takes a month or so to do so. It will be time well spent. It needs to find the right leader and continue the process of democratisation that the ALP badly needs.
Those who want to rush to a quick decision on the leadership are the faction heavies and union bosses that want to continue to control the ALP and for it to continue on its disastrous course. They want control rather than power on behalf of ordinary working people.
Kevin Rudd set in motion a new arrangement whereby the parliamentary leader must be selected jointly by the ALP membership across the country and by the parliamentary caucus, with each given equal weighting. That change and many others are necessary to reform the organisation and structure of the ALP which is controlled by an elite which is unrepresentative of ALP members and supporters.
After the 2010 election, the ALP commissioned Carr, Bracks and Fawkner to report on ALP reform. That reform was almost entirely ignored. It is important that the Rudd reforms don’t suffer a similar fate.
If there is only one nominee for the leadership of the parliamentary party there will be no ballot for the leadership and no participation by the 50,000 plus ALP membership across the country. So Anthony Albanese please put up your hand. Labor supporters need your type of leadership as well as the process of rank and file participation that your nomination as leader would trigger.
After the disaster last Saturday, the ALP needs to take a clear democratic path, starting with the election of the parliamentary leader. If there is no ballot for the leadership the back-room fixes and deals will continue. We have already seen this with the appointment of Sam Dastyari to the Senate. He was the General Secretary of the NSW Branch who said that he was committed to reform of that branch! But it didn’t last long.
Now Paul Howes, the General Secretary of the AWU who did so much with Bill Shorten to tear down Kevin Rudd in 2010 and Julia Gillard in 2013 is now being touted as a likely replacement for Bob Carr in the Senate. Some people don’t ever seem to learn.
The failed Canberra bureau of the ABC which became a participant in the political processes in the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd era is now pushing for the status quo and highlighting that the ALP could be without a parliamentary leader for a month or more. Senator Stephen Conroy, a right wing faction leader in Victoria, and who failed so dismally to put even modest restraints on the Murdoch media is now urging a quick outcome in choosing a leader which will exclude the rank and file of the ALP.
Let’s hope that the ALP learnt something from the results last Saturday and stays on the path of reform which Kevin Rudd set out for the leadership of the parliamentary ALP. But that must be only the first step. A lot else remains to be done.