Democracy dies in darkness, but the light was still burning for the 150 people who attended a vibrant meeting held by Open Labor, the Independents and members of the Melbourne FEA 19 July to stop shadowy preselections and the undemocratic way federal and state shadowy they are being conducted in Victoria right now.
At the end of a lively, intelligent and collaborative discussion, the meeting supported the following motion, with just one vote against:
‘Democracy is the foundation of the ALP. This meeting strongly protests against the undemocratic process of preselection currently being inflicted on Party members in Victoria. We insist that it becomes a transparent and democratic process and demand that the National Executive immediately reinstate the voting rights of Victorian members in Federal and State preselections and in other elections. Further, we seek a Zoom meeting as soon as possible between representatives of the National Executive and representatives of last night’s meeting, namely Janet McCalman and Eric Dearricott (the Independents), and Katherine Cozens and James Button (Open Labor), in order to discuss this matter.‘
We have written to the National Executive seeking this meeting.
Most people at the meeting were non-aligned but members of Left and Right factions were also present, and welcome: we seek to work with all party members and supporters who want to see a more open, democratic ALP.
Present at the meeting were two sitting MPs: John Kennedy from the State Parliament and Bill Shorten from the Federal Parliament. Five former MPs – Maxine McKew, Ken Coghill, John Langford, Bob Ives and Graham Ihlein – were also present.
In a brief contribution Bill Shorten said that ‘enough is enough’ and that it was unacceptable to keep members shut out of preselection votes until 2023.
Non-aligned members of the Victorian ALP and their sympathisers within the factions have no formal power; we are usually sidelined in decision-making. But Monday night’s meeting showed, once again, that we speak for the ordinary members.
Increasing the number of ordinary members is the only way our party can grow. But if the membership is given no role beyond staffing phone banks and handing out HTV cards on election day, the membership will become like the vanishing white dot on an old black and white TV.
What kind of political party will we be then? There is a better way and we will keep fighting for it.