Over the weekend, Queensland became the latest state Labor branch to embrace the direct election model for ALP leader. An Electoral College that evenly divided votes amongst rank-and-file ALP members, the State Parliamentary Labor Party and affiliated unions (33/33/33) was adopted rather than the 50/50 model.
Unlike the rules adopted by Tasmanian Labor, affiliated unions will have their Conference delegates cast their votes. Unions will be able to ballot, or otherwise consult with their rank and file members, an approach that New Zealand Labour has adopted. New Zealand Labour lets each affiliated union decide if voting will be undertaken by union delegates to Conference or amongst the eligible membership of the union.
This morning, the Queensland Secretary of the National Union of Workers announced that all union members would be balloted to determine who is supported. I imagine that most other unions are likely to follow, however, there is no guarantee that all will adopt this approach. During the 2013 New Zealand Labour leadership election, only one union, the Service and Food Workers Union, conducted a ballot of its members in determining who it supported.
Some unions may get their delegates to cast the vote but in the long-term, it may not be teneable and would be criticised heavily. A rule change requiring unions to ballot members individually and allocate the results proportionally, similar to that adopted at the 1993 British Labour Conference, is likely to be put up.
While the campaign for the direct election of leader has nearly won, Queensland Conference demonstrates that the battle over what model is still far from over.