Labor’s national president Jenny McAllister has written an opinion piece in The Australian, in which she says it is time for party reform. McAllister also said union bosses should relinquish some power to members, and that changes to the party’s preselection processes were needed.
She joins several senior Labor figures who have advocated for major change since the party’s loss at the federal election, including calls to remove archaic laws that force ALP members to join unions.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten was scheduled to deliver a speech on modernising the ALP this week, though was forced to take leave following the unexpected death of his mother Ann.
The ALP suffered a big swing against its candidates at the recent Western Australia Senate election, with McAllister calling the current selection process “broken”.
“Labor’s vote in Western Australia’s Senate election suggests we have a long way to go to meet our two goals — winning elections and fighting and winning the battle of ideas,” she wrote.
“Union leaders, parliamentarians and faction leaders who exercised enormous power under the old model need to accept that the old ways have to change. We need to move to a system that allows far more people to have a say in who represents Labor in the Senate.”
While McAllister said change was needed, she also stressed the party should not break its strong links to the union movement.
“To grow, our organisation also needs cultural change, mirroring the practices and skills in other organisations that take membership seriously.
“To this end, Labor should not fall into the trap laid by conservatives that positions unions as the key impediment to membership growth. Unions remain the largest and best organised progressive institutions in Australian public life.
“With just under two million members, it’s hard to think of another institution better able to fight injustice and inequality. It’s also hard to think of a better place to look for a component of our membership target.
“Removing Labor’s requirements for union membership is a sensible decision, formalising existing practice in most states. However, union members need to know we want them in our tent.”
Here full piece is here.