Tasmania has already staked its claim as the most progressive branch of the Party when it comes to renewal and reform. At this weekend’s State Conference we have the opportunity to go even further. The Conference will be asked to embrace a change to our rules that will enable the direct involvement of members in the selection of a future leader of the Party.
We know from experience around the world that throwing open the doors to democratic participation in the selection of a Party’s leader can bring in large numbers of new members and supporters.
We have seen hugely successful direct leadership elections conducted in recent years by the UK Labour Party, the Parti Socialiste in France, and the NDP in Canada.
The New Zealand Labour Party has recently released its Organisational Review which recommends the Party give members a direct vote in leadership elections.
The ALP is well behind the eight ball when it comes to embracing this change. We do not have the luxury to dally on this reform or the broader cause of greater involvement and participation for members.
We all know that nationally we are shrinking as a Party and that we have to turn that trend around. We must be a Party of growth.
To do so we must offer a vibrant and full experience for members where their contribution is valued and respected. That means more opportunities for members to engage directly with the Party’s leadership. It means being given a vote in selecting the Leader.
Actively seeking the involvement of card carrying union members is also important for the expansion of the Party amongst what is meant to be our traditional supporter base.
The selection model that is being put forward at Conference will see an equal weighting given to the Parliamentary Party, the Party membership, and the membership of affiliated trade unions in a leadership selection ballot. That is that each component will make up a third of the total ballot.
This is in line with the model used in the UK.
With the direct endorsement of the broader movement, a Leader’s authority to implement their agenda and program will be far more secure.
Momentum is building for this issue to be placed front and centre at the 2014 ALP National Conference.
We must aim to achieve this flagship reform at a national level within this decade, and sooner rather than later.
It is incumbent on The Left in every State and Territory to be at the forefront of the push for democratisation and expansion of our Party.
Tasmania is prepared to take a big step in that direction this weekend.
Author: Adam Clarke
Adam is President of Tasmanian Young Labor