Membership must matter in preselections

In a confidential submission to the ALP’s election review, the right-wing Transport Workers Union (TWU) says the Gillard government must become “profoundly more Labor” to win back the broad electoral coalition that supported the party at the 2007 election.

Under its plan to broaden Labor’s support base, the union says candidates should be decided by one-third party members, one-third union members living in a seat and one-third members of the public, who would pay $10 to participate in the ballot.

ALP told to get real on candidates, The Australian, 30 November 2010

There’s merit in re-evaluating how ALP candidate preselections occur and how to achieve broader participation, however, there’s one glaring issue that sticks out from the TWU submission.

If you were an ALP supporter who didn’t have any political ambitions or couldn’t be significantly involved, under this model, why would you join the party? For just $10 you could vote in a preselection without needing to attend meetings or be a member for a minimum period. It would dissuade and further hollow out rank-and-file membership because membership would be even less valuable.

You might as well drop barriers to participation by lowering fees, minimising requirements for voting in preselections and adopting the model used for the recent London Labour mayoral preselections. The preselection used a process where half of the votes came from party members, the other half came from individual members of affiliated unions. This two section electoral college model would achieve the same outcomes envisaged AND encourage party membership at the same time.

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