Now is the time
This is a critical moment in Australia’s political history. A historical federal election is looming. The electorate is cynical of politicians. The current government is hustling us towards the inequalities and dislocations of a US style of society under the pretence of ‘small government’ and a ‘free market economy’. We need your help to expose this subterfuge and to ensure we move towards a fairer more equitable Australia.
Our key vulnerability
The ALP was established to improve the lot of the vast majority of Australians, so to demonstrate this, we have to have a genuinely engaged and enthusiastic membership – not a disenfranchised and dispirited one. This is Open Labor’s agenda. Open Labor is a strong presence in Victoria and a developing presence in NSW.
At present all the membership gets are constant exhortations from the top down, to promote policy positions they have not been involved in developing.
Seize the moment
There is hope. The long election period gives us an excellent opportunity to highlight the need for internal party reform. To overcome electorate cynicism and to differentiate us from other Parties, the Australian Labor Party needs to show its true colours through what it promises and how it behaves i.e. both policy and party reform.
During this crucial period, when the electorate is more engaged by politics, and taking more notice of us, the Party leadership should commit to introducing all the reforms proposed by the Bracks/Carr/Faulkner Review via a wide ranging consultation with members and supporters. Such a commitment would demonstrate how we will behave as a Party in the future. If we are to be trusted we have to show we will be an open, honest and transparent Party - and that’s how we should promise to be in government.
Such an approach would be consistent with a party culture based on:
Make a difference
Open Labor NSW conducted a well-attended and stimulating Fringe Event at the February 2016 NSW State Conference. This involved a conversation with Rebecca Huntley, a well-known social researcher and David Hetherington of Per Capita, a progressive think-tank followed by a Q&A.
We videoed the event and now have released it through YouTube. We have edited it into a full version which runs just over one hour with lots of questions and a shorter version which is Rebecca’s initial presentation, a bit short of 15 minutes.
The focus of the conversation was whether Party reform mattered to the electorate. Rebecca explained the distinction between polling which asks questions of interest to the pollsters vs more in-depth, open discussion. She made the point that Party reform is never likely to be high on the electorate’s priorities. But, a Party which seems to allow corrupt, bullying tactics, and which pre-selects poor candidates has an additional hurdle to overcome when the elector considers the Party’s capacity to deliver on the issues which have higher priority.
Rebecca also stressed that support for Rudd and the Party fell dramatically after he dropped the Emissions Trading Scheme. The ETS was not high on the list of electorate priorities but by walking away Rudd lost what had made him electable: that he believed in something. It was that he appeared to walk away from his beliefs that lost him support. Malcolm Turnbull’s honeymoon seems to have ended on the same basis.
Please watch the videos and pass the link to others who may be interested. Also keep an eye on the Open Labor website (openlabor.net.au) for developments, in NSW.
The full conversation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F5AnEq-nxJY
Rebecca’s initial address: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r6gwDHYAbH8