Beazley: “It’s not a US-style primary”

On the 7.30 Report, Dr Peter Botsman called for a rank and file election for Labor Leader. His criticism of Beazley for lack of party reform was also interesting. Crean tried to some extent, Beazley did not. The fact that Beazley is the candidate of AWU leaders Bill Ludwig and Bill Shorten, and of the NSW and Queensland Right machines is dispiriting in this context. I made some detailed points about the need for Labor to reinvigorate its structures and develop a participatory culture in this earlier post, and I think this is an important task for the new ALP leadership.

As to direct election of the leader, both the Tories and New Labour in Britain now have this system. The disadvantage is that it’s very difficult to remove a non-performing leader. As the Australian Democrats could no doubt attest, with Natasha Stott-Despoja’s leadership in mind, if the Leader elected by the party membership lacks support in the Parliamentary Party then big problems occur. Still, it’s worth thinking about.

About Mark Bahnisch

Mark Bahnisch is a sociologist and is the founder of this blog. He has an undergraduate degree in history and politics from UQ, and postgraduate qualifications in sociology, industrial relations and political economy from Griffith and QUT. He has recently been awarded his PhD through the Humanities Program at QUT. Mark's full bio is on this page.
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Scott Wickstein
2021 years ago

Wow. I’d love to see the ALP introduce direct election. Look how that works for the Presidency. Please do it!

Nic White
2021 years ago

I watched that report actually, but I couldnt remember the guys name or his website, thanks for pointing it out.

Did you see the next story?

brian mcmahon
brian mcmahon
2021 years ago

At last some real discussion about the much needed internal reform of Labour, rather than the media driven circus and personality cult politics. Only by democratising the A.L.P. will we see better quality candidates,reforming social and economic policies and real participation and interest from its members and the voting public.I would support a Primaty style election of the Leader, in preference to the present factional king makers rule and the polotics of bitterness,that has destroyed Labour for the past 4 years.Such a system gives the public a good look at the candidates, their views, policies and personality. It would avoid a future Latham type disaster, mostly created by the factionalised and bitter Caucus.

Labour began as a party for the masses and must return, if it is to ever reclaim Government.

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2021 years ago

Scott and Brian, I think Botsman was suggesting a vote of the ALP membership but Swan previously put forward the idea of primaries for ALP pre-selection and I think there’s some merit in discussing it.

It’s instructive to go around the blogs and see the passion and interest in politics and then look at the current organisational structure of the ALP which sometimes actively discourages involvement to protect factional fiefdoms and powerbases.

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2021 years ago

Party members can join in via the pre-selection process.

It is only mad leftwingers like botsman that would propose such a system.

Leave to the people that count. the parliamentary members ie Caucus.

Scott Wickstein
2021 years ago

Primaries can be stacked like everything else. Do you think G.W. Bush won the Republican Primaries on merit?

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2021 years ago

True Scott, but if a primary were conducted by the AEC and authorised by law, it would be possible to minimise problems. Aside from the issues of money and the media, the biggest problem with the US is that the party activists and supporters who vote in primaries are often unrepresentative of the broader electorate. Hence if you’re a Republican, you tack right to win the primary, then move to the centre to win the general election, and if you’re a Democrat, you tack left, then move to the centre.

brian mcmahon
brian mcmahon
2021 years ago

Mark, your quite right, Swan has in the past proposed a primaries system for pre selection. The most recent U.S.( Democrats ) Primaries showed that although the Dean activists, who in the US were labeled left wing, won the early primaries, eventually Kerry a more moderate and party machine endorsed candidate carried the Nomination.I agree fully with your comments Mark in respect of the high level of interest in Politics in Australia, yet the apparent barriers put in place by the rigid A.L.P. structures and culture of factional deals, which only throws up mediocre candidates.

If Labour made this move it would create a groundswell of interest and support.

James Hamilton
James Hamilton
2021 years ago

Even though I am a RWDB I have always wondered about the simplistic criticisms about how the unions dominate the ALP, or somebody is a party hack who never had a real job blah blah.

Am I silly if I think that if the person is talking sense then the fact that he or she arrived via the Teachers Federation or some other pathway should not be cause for concern. Similarly if they talk shite then the fact that they started off driving a train for Gough is not really the point either.

I’m not at all sure there is anything much wrong with the way the ALP chooses candidates, the problem is that it has too many lefties.

James Hamilton
James Hamilton
2021 years ago

And why would you want direct election by members. Couldn’t you argue that the parliamentary party as a group might have a better clue who would perform better as a leader and who would be more likely to win community support?

How about a leader elected by everyone who is NOT a member of the ALP. Who cares what the members think, theyre gonna vote the right way anyway aren’t they?

Is this me or am I channeling Graham Richardson?

derrida derider
derrida derider
2021 years ago

I’m with James. Party members almost by definition are zealots, who will vote for “traditional labor values” rather than what attracts the median voter.