COMMUNITY PRESELECTIONS ARE A RADICAL IDEA.
That an established political party would willingly open up itself to the community and let it help choose who becomes the Labor candidate goes against deeply ingrained culture, traditions and democratic practice.
But Labor has done it. And by doing so we have given the endorsed Labor candidate a significant head start to win this seat in 2015.
In Newtown, the community preselection got Labor members out and about talking to the community about what they want from state government, what they want from Labor and what they want from a local representative.
Freed from the white noise of an election campaign, candidates and their teams reached out to local community networks via local media, social media, email lists, sporting clubs, school P&Cs, resident associations and most importantly through person- to-person conversations.
Community members were at first bemused and then intrigued. For long-time Labor supporters, community preselection was seen as a positive move.
For progressive voters with no rusted on party affiliation, community preselection provided an opportunity to have their say and to understand a bit more about Labor and what we stand for in the inner city.
For Labor members, the community preselection gave them a say about party reform, policy and programs for Labor. Members also put the candidates to the test. Old members became reengaged and newer members found a way to get more involved.
For candidates, the community preselection was a challenging process. It is so new there is little experience to fall back on and it is very time intensive. We could always use more money. But these challenges lend themselves to very good preparation for the campaign ahead. I know that I am a better candidate for Labor as a result of the community preselection.
On 29 March 2014, over 1,500 Labor members and community voters participated in the community preselection for Newtown.
Given that the political opposition was preselected by just 62 people, I am very grateful to have been able to put myself forward for community preselection.
The real test of our success will be measured by the outcome in 2015, but 12 months out, the campaign to win this new seat is off to a flying start.