Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has announced a plan to shred the rules of the ALP that allowed factions in the federal parliamentary party to turf both him and Julia Gillard out of office before they could finish a term in government.
He’s just announced a plan to have the leader of the parliamentary party elected on a combination of 50 per cent of the vote from grassroots members and 50 per cent from the caucus.
Currently, Labor’s federal MPs have absolute say over the leader, and therefore who is prime minister when the party is in government. In 2010 Rudd was removed from office by MPs who were growing increasingly worried by sliding poll numbers and replaced by Gillard. Last month, she received the same treatment for the same reasons.
A version of the proposals can be found here.
“When you become prime minister of the country people expect that you will remain in that position,” Rudd said in Canberra this evening.
The PM said the changes would make sure “that power will never again rest in the hands of the factional few”, a reference to the powerbrokers who control voting blocs in the federal parliamentary party.
It’s a dramatic intervention, with Rudd using his current political capital after being restored to the leadership to try and bulldoze the factional leaders in the parliamentary party. He is positioning it as a much needed reform to rebuild trust with voters but it will be perceived by many as a brutal act of vengeance on the factional leaders.
One of the rules proposed is that if a leader wins an election, that person will serve out the full term of government as leader – ruling out future assassinations of sitting prime ministers by the caucus.
Whether it’s seen by the electorate as evidence of the party’s underlying dysfunction — or a sign that Rudd is taking the party in the right direction — remains to be seen.
The reforms will be discussed at a special meeting of Labor MPs later this month.
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