Who are state MPs supporting for NSW Labor leader?

During June, NSW Labor will be holding a direct election ballot for the state parliamentary leadership. The contest will be between Jodi McKay and Chris Minns, both from the Centre Unity (Labor Right) faction. It will be the first ballot held for a Labor leader in any jurisdiction since the ballot between Anthony Albanese and Bill Shorten after the 2013 federal election.

The election will be conducted via postal ballot with the rank and file component of the ballot closing on 21st June. The State Parliamentary Labor Party will meet on the 29th to conduct their ballot and a declaration of the result on 30th June.

Under Section P of the NSW Labor rules, 50% of the vote will come from the State Parliamentary Labor Party and 50% will be from rank-and-file members. I do understand there are nomination thresholds for candidates in the State Parliamentary Labor Party rules which are not publicly available.

Estimates of the number of voters range from 15,000 to 20,000. The 74% turnout for the 2013 ballot gives a rough indication though that participation may be less than that, especially due to the lack of excitement about the choices, especially amongst left-wing members of the party.

Given they will constitute half the vote and may override the rank-and-file vote, I have listed the state MPs that have publicly indicated who they will support to date:

Jodi McKay Chris Minns
Lynda Voltz Greg Donnelly
Kate Washington Ron Hoenig
Jenny Aitchison Jihad Dib
Paul Lynch Walt Secord
Adam Searle Steve Kamper
Trish Doyle Tania Mihailuk
Mark Buttigieg Jo Haylen
Julia Finn Rose Jackson
David Harris Anna Watson
Prue Car Shaoquett Moselman
Jodie Harrison Edmond Atalla
Yasmin Catley Guy Zangari
Anthony D’Adam Courtney Houssos
Greg Warren Nick Lalich
Peter Primrose
Stephen Bali
Marjorie O’Neill
Liesl Tesch
Tara Moriarty
Michael Daley
Sophie Cotsis

A range of other endorsements have been made by unions, federal MPs and other organisations which are listed below:

Jodi McKay Chris Minns
MUA (Newcastle) AWU
Justine Elliott MP HSU
AMIEU* Hellenic Caucus
Mich-Elle Myers, ALP National Vice President Stephen Lawrence, Dubbo Regional Councillor
Mark Greenhill, Blue Mountains Council Mayor Bill Saravinovski, Bayside Council Mayor
CFMMEU Chris Bowen MP
Barrie Unsworth, former NSW Premier Chris Hayes MP
Susan Templeman MP Linda Burney MP
Sue West, former NSW Senator Sharon Grierson, former Labor MP for Newcastle
NSW Senator Doug Cameron John Robertson, former NSW Labor leader
Jenny Dowell, former Mayor of Lismore Doug McClelland, former NSW Senator
Christine Robertson, former NSW MLC
Transport Workers Union

* Did not explicitly endorse McKay but publicly opposed Minns

Some have suggested that this leadership contest is actually a proxy battle for control of Sussex Street within the NSW Centre Unity faction between the current General Secretary Kaila Murnain who is supporting Jodi McKay and those who were more supportive of her predecessor Jamie Clements who are supporting Chris Minns. If that is the case, it reinforces the ambivalent mood that many party members have about this contest.

If there are any corrections or additions that need to be made to these lists, please leave a comment.

UPDATE: Jodi McKay won the ballot with 60.5% of the vote, receiving 63% of the rank-and-file votes and 29 votes from MPs (58%) compared to 21 for Chris Minns. Overall 10,822 rank-and-file members voted, a turnout of around 61.5%.




Three observations about the Labour leadership election

For weeks Jeremy Corbyn had been expected to win the British Labour leadership race but the sheer scale of yesterday’s victory has shocked many.

While some thought it would go to a second round, Corbyn won in the first round with 59.5%. His closest competitor, Andy Burnham, only received 19%. It was a larger victory than Tony Blair’s in 1994 who won with 57% (although the selectorate was far larger in 1994).

It has left no doubt about Corbyn’s mandate amongst the Labour membership and the sheer number of registered supporters have quelled concerns about entryism.

Personally I am sceptical that Corbyn is the long term answer for Labour but neither were the other candidates. His victory does highlight, as Tim Lyons has noted, that the centre-left needs to deal with its inability to seek with moral clarity and a clear purpose. I can only hope that the disruption that his victory brings may force many within Labour to rethink and move on which it sorely needs to do.

There will be a plethora of thinkpieces about what Corbyn’s victory means over the next few weeks and months. It’s too early to tell what the long-term implications of his victory are but there are three quick observations I have from the leadership election based on the results.

1. The landslide victories were built on recruitment campaigns

Corbyn won 49.6% of the membership in the first round but he absolutely dominated the registered supporters section with 83.8%. The size of his victory amongst registered supporters is staggering but not a surprise.

Unlike the other leadership candidates, his campaign team actively recruited. Similarly Sadiq Khan actively recruited registered supporters and it helped to secure a landslide win over Tessa Jowell who was seen as the favourite to become the London Mayoral Candidate. She was well-regarded, had a good public profile and was associated with the successful London Olympics.

The moves by winning candidates to expand the selectorate reminds me of Canadian leadership elections. In the three major parties, members directly vote fo the leader and party memberships are actively sold to supporters during leadership contests by each campaign team. Those who can often recruit and organise the most supporters win.

The lesson for future Labour leadership elections will be the need for genuing organising and fieldwork and to bring potential supporters into the tent.

2. Union turnout was low

I have been sceptical of opt-in affiliation for unions and whether it would actually engage members of affiliated unions. While initial registration figures made me question my scepticism, the low turnout suggests that union member engagement, even amongst those who opted-in, was not high.

While turnout has not been officially revealed, based on those who registered to vote, only 48.2% of union members who opted in did. In contrast, 93.6% of registered supporters and 83.8% of members voted.

In the end, affiliated voters constituted only 16.9% of total votes (down from 27%) with 71,546. Rank and file members were 58.1% (up from 53%) and registered supporters made up 25% (up from 20%).

If there is no greater Labour Party engagement amongst affiliated union membership, it raises questions about what opt-in affiliation has really achieved beyond reducing funding from unions.

3. There will be a rethinking of support for primaries

The great irony of this result is that that the New Labour Right were the biggest advocates of primaries. They have admitted that it was an attempt to dilute left-wing member and union influence (through opt-in affiliation and primaries). Meanwhile the Left opposed the Collins Review that suggested recommended.

The problem is that their understanding of how primaries would work relied on America and the idea that a significant portion of the general population would participate. A better example to study would have been the party primaries run by the Italian Democratic Party (PD). The model was the same with a small fee and a pledge that voters needed to sign.

Academic studies have been done on participants in PD primaries, profiling them and their attributes. These studies found that participants have been more political than the average voter and more left-wing with no guarantee of party loyalty.

It is quite likely that the Labour Left will become converts to primaries whereas elements of the Labour Right will rethink their support. Already Dan Hodges has admitted that the Labour Right got it wrong.

There will be ripple effects here. It is likely to strengthen opposition to further democratisation of the Labor Party and the use of One Member One Vote being used to select leaders. Nick Dyrenfurth has already highlighted concerns about such a direct election model and is unlikely to be the only one to do so. The global trend, however, seems to be towards greater democratisation and primaries which poses a challenge for opponents.

Whatever does happen next, British Labour and social democratic politics will never be the same again after Corbyn’s victory.

Over 600,000 to vote in British Labour leadership contest

Early this morning AEST, the deadline to register to vote in the upcoming British Labour leadership election passed.  It will be the first time that a One Supporter One Vote system will be used.

With registration now closed, the Labour Party revealed the total number of people who applied to vote on social media:

In total, 610,753 registered to vote in the Labour leadership contest.

While some may be struck off the list of voters, it is a big number. It is 80% more that the number of valid votes (338,374) cast in the 2010 Labour leadership election.

Of the 610,753 potential voters, affiliated union members are 189,703 (31%), registered supporters are 121,295 (20%) and party members are 299,755 (49%). Interestingly affiliated union members will have a similar share to what they had under the old Electoral College model.

It is by no means a return to Labour being a mass party, the 1994 leadership election had 952,109 valid votes, but is a bigger than expected selectorate, particularly considering the membership fell to a low of 156,205 in 2009.

Ballots will start to be sent out from 14 August and the result will be announced on September 12. Polling has suggested the insurgent candidate Jeremy Corbyn will win, a massive upset to the party establishment.

The fallout is likely to be massive criticism of this new One Supporter One Vote system. Claims of “entryism” by the far left have already begun and there may be attempts to change the electoral system once again.

It is also unclear how sustainable this growth is. It is unclear how many registered supporters will become members, how many members will remain once the leadership election is over or whether the number of affiliated supporters will continue to grow.

Whatever the result is, it is clear that the high levels of registration will address a lot of the scepticism about opt-in union affiliation and whether registered supporters would join to be involved in party elections. Both seem likely to stay in one form or another.

UPDATE 26/8/15: LabourList reports that the number of eligible voters has been revised down to 553,954. The majority of these exclusions are because individuals do not appear on the electoral roll.

Based on these new figures, party members (292,973) will be 53% of the vote, affiliated unionists (148,182) will be 27% of the vote and registered supporters (112,799) will be 20% of the vote.

No Labor Right majority does not guarantee a left-wing agenda or party reform

This morning, The Age carried an exclusive story claiming the Labor Right had lost its ALP National Conference majority, based on internal party numbers. The possible loss had been couched in a Guardian Australia article and I did a rough estimate many months ago that suggested numbers would be close.

No final breakdown has been provided so it is unclear whether the Queensland Old Guard is counted in the Right camp or how close the margin is. The lack of a Right majority, however, does not guarantee that the Left’s agenda, particularly on reform, will get up, even with the support of unaligned delegates.

While The Age spins a tale of independents controlling the balance of power, it is far more likely that sub-groupings in the Left and Right will be courted to split off on contentious issues. They may be “bought off” by Labor leadership giving them concessions on issues they care about. Independent delegates are unlikely to be more than a handful at most and they are not an organised grouping.

Neither faction is a homogenous group and each is made up a number of sub-groups with different stances on a range of issues. On a range of issues, there is no factional consensus. Party reform is one such issue where there is no consensus on the detail. For example, the NSW Left did not bind on party reform proposals at the last NSW State Conference because left-wing unions could not agree to John Faulkner’s proposals.

For a pro-reform agenda to get up activists must be disciplined and strategic. Common ground needs to be found with left-wing unions and antagonising them by talking about how bad “union influence” is only makes reform less likely.

There are a range of possible reforms and actions that could gain broad support, including from the unions. These reforms could include:

  • Cross-preferencing to ensure no Right majority on ALP National Executive
  • Direct election of rank-and-file National and State Conference delegates by members (not by Federal Electorate Council or State Electoral Council delegates)
  • Directly electing Presidents at a State level and giving them and National Presidents full voting rights
  • Entrenching the direct election of Parliamentary leader

This is not an exhaustive list but they are achievable outcomes that will have a long lasting impact and help make the party more contestable. Arguably ending the Right majority on National Executive is the most important as it makes real reform of the NSW ALP possible through an intervention and will flow through to future National Conferences.

Rather than seeing this as a one-off chance to push for everything, the priority should be to ensure lasting changes that ensure that Right never has an absolute majority again. This Conference is a chance to make that happen. If that chance is lost, it may not be regained for decades. It means the focus should be on a set of changes that will bring together a majority pro-reform coalition that will support lasting change. That coalition will require left-wing unions as allies.

Activists should not get ahead of themselves. Making control of the party contestable is the most important long-term outcome that may come from this Conference. It means being cautious and willing to compromise as it is easy to peel off a few delegates and wipe out a pro-reform majority. Whether this can all be pulled off is yet to be seen.

UPDATE 24/6/15: Mike Smith previews National Conference and rightfully points out that the tight numbers and the leakage of votes are likely to lead to negotiation and compromise, not unaligned delegates determining the order of the day.

UPDATE 6/7/15: The Guardian quotes party sources saying the ALP National Conference delegate breakdown is 196 Left, 197 Right, 4 unaligned.

British Labour leadership election is the first big test of opt-in affiliation

Following its shocking election defeat on May 7, British Labour will be holding an election for a new party leader. Unlike previous elections, there is no obvious candidate and the field is likely to be wide open. The Labour leadership election will be held concurrently with London Mayoral candidate and Deputy Leader election with results announced at a special conference on September 12.

Importantly, it will be the first Labour leadership election since the end of the Electoral College model. MPs and union members will no longer have separate votes. Instead, a closed primary will be run where members, individual members of affiliated unions who opt-in and supporters who pay a small fee will be able to vote in a One Member One Vote system. The timetable and process for the elections are available here.

The most interesting aspect of the Labour leadership election (for those outside of the United Kingdom) will be how opt-in union affiliation works in practice. It is the first big test of opt-in union affiliation, which Ed Miliband brought in last year and may shape the debate in Australia. There are already a number of high profile advocates of opt-in affiliation within the ALP.

It is difficult to estimate the number of union members who will opt into affiliation. In the 2010 leadership election, approximately 240,000 union members voted. Union members were all sent postal ballots which would have increased turnout. It has been estimated that only around 10% will be the proportion of trade unionists that will opt-in, but it may be lower. According to Labour Uncut, estimates of the potential number of trade union voters have ranged from 25,000 to 80,000. Some though are predicting that union members could cast more than half of the votes (250,000 out of an estimated 400,000 voters) in the contest, though that seems unlikely.

Concerns were raised, before the election rules were finalised by the National Executive Committee, about how many union members had opted in. Labour’s largest affiliate, Unite, has said it had only just begun signing up members. A longer race means more time for unions to engage with their members and get them to opt-in. August 12 will be the last day to join as a member, opt-in as an affiliated member or register as a supporter.

Whatever the result is, the level of participation by union members in the British Labour leadership election is likely to influence debate here about opt-in affiliation and how much of a say affiliated unions get over preselections and National Conference.

NSW Labor’s leadership contest

The resignation of John Robertson months before the state election has thrown a spanner into the works for NSW Labor. Few expect Labor to win in March and even fewer expected Robertson to continue as leader post-election but a 2PP swing of 10% and the return of 15 seats seemed likely. Labor would have new MPs, elect a new leader and be competitive for 2019. All that is now up in the air.

While NSW Labor now directly elects its party leader, the new rules adopted ensured that it would only occur after the 2015 election and if there was more than six months until a state election. This Caucus only ballot will occur on January 5. Until the ballot, Deputy Leader Linda Burney will be the Acting Leader of the Opposition.

To date, two contenders have declared their candidacy: Michael Daley and Steve Whan. Both are from the Right and have been touted as potential leaders in the past. Linda Burney has also been suggested as a candidate. The main contender who has not declared his candidacy yet is Upper House leader Luke Foley.

The main barriers to Luke Foley becoming the leader have been the lack of a Lower House seat and his membership of the Left. With Robertson’s resignation and the need to quickly get a new leader, these barriers are disappearing courtesy of Head Office.

The emergence of a deal to let him take the state seat of Auburn through a National Executive intervention addresses the lack of a Lower House seat. The pre-selection there has not been finalised and it would be a solution to the reports of branch stacking that have dogged the Auburn pre-selection process.

Being part of the Left faction means being in the Caucus minority. Of Labor’s current Caucus, 14 MPs are from the Left, 22 are from the Right and one is unaligned. To gain a majority and become leader, Foley would need support for an additional five MPs, mainly from the Right. Who could those five be? The Right’s Walt Secord is on the record as a Foley supporter and with Head Office’s backing, it seems likely he will get at least four others if he decides to run.

While Luke Foley would be the best option, he does have baggage. He is a machine man, having been a union secretary and also been the NSW Labor Assistant General Secretary. There has also been a lot of controversy over his socially conservative views on marriage equality, however, he is clearly Labor’s most effective Shadow Minister. He cuts through and scored multiple hits on the Government in the environment portfolio. The same cannot be said of the other contenders.

If Foley does become leader, it seems unlikely that he would accept unless Head Office backed him in a the ballot post-election. It also might mean that the expected post-election direct election does not occur. More concerning is it may mean that leaders are torn down six months before an election to avoid a direct election.

Whatever does happen, the new leader needs to ensure Labor articulate a clear vision and plan for New South Wales. It has not outlined an alternative to the Liberal’s plan to fund infrastructure through privatisation which is a major weakness. There is only so much that a new face can do for Labor, the party needs a credible agenda. Opposition to privatisation will not be enough as the public remembers Labor’s attempts to privatise electricity. Whoever is elected Labor’s leader must show leadership and ensure that credible agenda for Government is developed and campaigned for over the next two elections.

UPDATE 28/12/14: Luke Foley has announced he will contest the NSW Labor leadership but will run in a rank-and-file preselection for Auburn.

UPDATE 29/12/14: Steve Whan has withdrawn from the leadership ballot & Linda Burney has ruled herself out.

UPDATE 30/12/14: Michael Daley has pulled out leaving Luke Foley as the only candidate for leader.

The contagious effect of directly electing the party leader

Earlier today, the ABC reported that the Tasmanian Greens are considering a series of reforms to democratise their party.

The Tasmanian Greens are notorious as the least democratic branch of the Greens. With no rank-and-file input into preselections, the Tasmanian Greens make the Labor Party look like a vibrant participatory democracy. This is in contrast to almost every other Greens branch where One Member One Vote rank-and-file preselections are the norm.

Amongst the reforms is a proposal for party members to directly elect the leader and have the ability to remove them. While no detail has been provided about the proposed model, the fact that they are proposing this change is important.

In their 2012 book, Politics at the Centre: The Selection and Removal of Party Leaders, William Cross and Andre Blais point out that almost all the established parties that have democratised leadership selection after a disappointing electoral result, something the Tasmanian Greens have just experienced, and that there is a contagion effect “inducing parties to converge in the way they select their leader.”

At the time, Cross and Blais concluded there was no clear indication of a contagion effect in Australia and New Zealand while they identified one in Canada, Ireland and the United Kingdom. Australia was cited as an example of the contagion effect in reverse with many politicians interviewed citing the example of the Australian Democrats as a reason why direct election would not be adopted.

This however seems to be changing. New Zealand Labour adopted direct elections last year while federally and all states (bar Victoria and South Australia to date) have adopted the direct election of the Parliamentary Labor Party leader.

The coming debate within the Tasmanian Greens about the direct election of leader suggests there is a contagion effect at play in Australia. The success of Labor’s direct election after a disappointing election result has meant that the idea of direct elections is being seriously considered across party lines.

If the Tasmanian Greens do adopt direct election of the leader, it is likely that other state branches will follow. It may also only be a matter of time before the Coalition joins in and directly elects their leader but it will all depend on electoral results and grassroots pressure.

UPDATE 15/9/14: I have been informed that other than federally, in Tasmania and in Victoria, there is no formal leader. It may be that direct elections are intertwined with the creation of a formal leader role in other states.

Which Labor branches have a directly elected component?

Earlier this week I was asked if there was a good summary of what has happened with Labor Party reform across the country.

One of the downsides of being a federal party is it is conducive to silos. While there is knowledge about the larger East Coast branches, there is far less knowledge about what is going on in the smaller states and territories. To my knowledge, there is no detailed comparative summary of reform.

The table below, focusing on which branches have a directly elected component, is the best summary. It along with some of the following commentary were in the recent hard copy issue of Challenge.

Jurisdiction Parliamentary Leader National Conference delegates Senators Young Labor President & Secretary Party President
Federal X X
Victoria Expected in March X X Expected in March
Queensland X
South Australia X X X X
Western Australia X Expected next year

On the reform front, there have been some key changes over the past year.

  • Since the direct election of the federal ALP leader, Queensland, the ACT, NSW, the NT and WA have moved to directly elect their Parliamentary Leaders. Tasmania and QLD have a 33/33/33 model while the others have opted for 50/50.

Other reforms, however, have stalled.

  • Even though there was a National Conference resolution adopted on directly electing delegates, only NSW and Tasmania have adopted this key reform to date.

  • While there is the recognition of a need to change, only the ACT, NT, Queensland and Tasmania allow party members to have a direct say in who Labor’s Senate candidates are. All other jurisdictions have no direct election input.

  • Despite a push at Conference, New South Wales Young Labor remains as the only state branch that does not give all its members a vote on its President and Secretary and no Young Labor member gets a say over who the National AYL President or Secretary is.

From this it is clear that there has been some positive movements on party reform but there is still much more to do.

Queensland Labor rejects 50/50

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.

Tasmanian Labor to directly elect its leader

The Tasmanian branch of the Australian Labor Party has become the first state branch to announce that it will directly elect its next parliamentary leader.

Media reports suggest that a three way contest is likely and that current Deputy Leader Bryan Green is being urged to run by the dominant Left faction. Lara Giddings has indicated she would like to stay on as leader and there are suggestions that Brian Wightman may be another contender. All are members of the Labor Left faction.

Unlike the direct election of the federal Labor leader, a three section Electoral College will be used. A third of the vote allocated to the State Parliamentary Labor Party, a third to rank-and-file members and a third to individual members of affiliated unions. Those who join the ALP before April 10 will also be allowed to vote in the ballot.

Tasmanian Labor amended its party rules in 2012 to allow the direct election of party leader. The rules passed at the Tasmanian Labor Conference were that:

17.3   Following every House of Assembly election where the Party forms Government or at other times when in Government, the SPLP shall elect its Leader and Deputy Leader, Parliamentary Office holders, its Chairperson, and Ministers. The Leader shall allocate portfolios.

Subject to an amendment of the National Principles of Organisation Part C 4, the ALP Tasmanian Branch Party Rules shall allow for the direct election of the Leader of the State Parliamentary Labor Party (SPLP) when in Opposition, by Party Members, rank and file Members of Union Affiliates and the Elected Members of the SPLP consistent with the democratic practices of other social democratic, socialist and labour parties around the world. The three constituent components in such an election will be equally weighted at 1/3 of the total ballot.

(a) Upon Rule 17.3 being adopted the ALP Tasmanian Branch shall develop further rules to allow for its implementation.

The further rules agreed to were:

 (a)  The Leader of the SPLP when in Opposition shall be elected by a ballot, with the electorate comprising three constituent components, each to be equally weighted at 1/3 of the total ballot.

(b) The three constituent components of the electorate will comprise;

(i) Every financial member of the Tasmanian branch of the ALP who meets the requirements of Rule 2.11(a),

(ii) Every financial member of an affiliated trade union provided that person has been a member for at least 6 months and,

(iii) The Members of the State Parliamentary Labor Party.

(c) Members who are entitled to vote in more than one of the three constituent components shall be entitled to vote in any or all segments of the ballot for which they are entitled to vote.

(d) A vacancy in the leadership may be declared by:

(i) The incumbent Leader or,

(ii) Following the petition of a simple majority of members of the SPLP for a ballot to the State Returning Officer; and in such case, the State Returning Officer shall open nominations for the position for a period of 48 hours and,

(iii) A vacancy occurring for any other reason.

(e) During any vacancy for the leadership the SPLP shall elect an Acting Leader who is not a candidate for the leadership.

(f) The ballot of eligible members of the Tasmanian Branch of the ALP and affiliated trade unions shall open 30 days after the close of nominations.

(g) The ballot of eligible Members and members of affiliated trade unions shall be conducted by postal ballot using a double envelope system.

(h) The ballot period shall be a minimum of 10 working days to a maximum of 20 working days as determined by the State Returning Officer.

(i) On the final day of the ballot period a special meeting of the Members of the SPLP will be held to conduct that constituent component of the ballot.

(j) The balloting will be conducted under the full compulsory preferential system of voting within each component of the ballot.

(k) A leader will be declared elected after carrying a simple majority of all weighted ballots cast after the distribution of preferences.

(l) The Party may call a special meeting of the membership, affiliated unions and SPLP to announce the Leader of the State Parliamentary Labor Party.

(m) Following the election of the Opposition Leader the SPLP shall elect its Deputy Leader, Parliamentary Office holders, its Chairperson, and Shadow Ministers. The Leader shall allocate portfolios.

The contest will provide the first opportunity to compare and contrast how a 33/33/33 operates against the 50/50 contest held for the federal leader last year. What will be most interesting is how the union component of the ballot operates. The level of turnout by union members, existence of multiple ballots and also the role of union endorsements on the final result will be heavily scrutinised by critics of the 33/33/33 model.

Regardless of who wins, how this Tasmanian Labor leadership election goes will influence arguments for and against each model for direct election of a party leader and is worth keeping an eye on.

UPDATE 2/4/14: There will not be an election for the Tasmanian Labor Party leader as Bryan Green was the only candidate and was elected unanimously.