Unrepresentative ALP caucus snubs its membership again

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Even though Anthony Albanese was the clear choice of ALP members, the Labor caucus have decided to ignore their wishes and elected a tainted factional boss. Labor member Peter Wicks expressed the widespread disappointment.

New Labor leader Bill Shorten. (All images in this piece by John Graham / johngraham.alphalink.com.au)[/caption]

OVER THE LAST COUPLE of weeks, the people have spoken.

In the election for the Labor Party leadership, approximately 70% of rank and file membership voted, which is an extraordinary success considering the voting occurred during school holidays and there was a delay in sending the ballots out as it would appear someone forgot to book in the delivery with Australia Post.

The membership have indeed spoken and, in the infinite wisdom that has seen the Party brought to the brink of crisis point, the powers that be have decided that the views of the membership, made up of those who pay to support them, should be discarded  like the leftovers you find growing hairs at the back of the fridge.

In the historic election that, for the first time in Australia, saw the rank and file members of a major political party have a say in their leadership, the weight given to the caucus vote ensured that the poor old rank and file punters opinion counted for jack shit.

It would seem that some members of the caucus who were elected to represent the interests of their members have instead chosen to ignore the views of those members who pre-selected them and go with their own self-interest instead.

Some of these, such as Julie Owens and Laurie Ferguson, are from Labor's left who chose to vote against theirs' and their branches' natural alliances, and I hope the members of their local branch remember this next time pre-selection comes around. It would be interesting to know what it was that was dangled before them that made them into turncoats.

Is this the reform that Rudd promised us all?

The NSW Branch of the Labor Party was put into administration by Kevin Rudd as it was being run so badly — so what has changed?

Former State Secretary Sam Dastyari was handed a cushy Senate seat; in return, Matt Thistlethwaite was gifted a safe electorate (which he nearly lost) for a seat in the House Of Reps. In NSW, we now have Jamie Clements, Sam’s former assistant secretary, at the helm — so again, what has changed?

Sweet FA is what.

[caption id="attachment_48511" align="alignright" width="225"]Former prime minister Julia Gillard: was knifed by Shorten, although she also owed her position to him after he knifed Kevin Rudd. Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard lost her job after losing the support of Bill Shorten, although she also owed her position to him after he assisted in the knifing of her predecessor, Kevin Rudd.

Meanwhile, the one part of the reform that has been put in place – the rank and file having a say in who their leader is to be – has ended up a farce, with the rank and file once again put in their place. We won’t be useful again until there is a campaign to run when doorknockers and people to hand out flyers are needed.

It took the media less than three minutes to start asking the questions about the knifing of Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard and Shorten's involvement in both of those knifings, we can expect this line of questioning to continue for a long time to come.

In fact if Tim "the Demtel man" Shaw was selling politicians, Bill Shorten would come with two sets of free steak knives.

Scandals? But wait, there's more....

As members we pay for the right to have a say. We have seen our say ignored in the past on issues such as our lurching to the right on the asylum seeker debate, something as a Party we can all be well and truly ashamed of, and also the failure of the Party to adopt same-sex marriage as a Party position rather than some lame conscience vote crap that ensures it will never be passed.

The caucus were elected to represent us, not to suddenly find a conscience.

If our say is totally ignored then what is it exactly that we pay for? Little wonder then there are calls for mass resignations from the party all over social media.

There are those who are talking about a now unified Party taking the fight to Abbott. This is wishful thinking on what is seemingly the grandest of scales.

What this election process has highlighted is that the Party is far from unified — it actually has a split of epic proportions. In the past, the split has been seen as between right and left; from what we know now, it is even worse than that, as the split can now be seen as between the Labor caucus and the general rank and file membership. This is not something that will be fixed in a hurry, if at all.

Instead, we can expect the Coalition and Murdoch to make an upsized super value meal out of this. Out of the leader the rank and file rejected.

Tonight, I have a branch meeting I won’t be attending. Instead I will be staying home and contemplating my support of the Labor Party — something I don’t do lightheartedly.

I won't be giving my apologies for not attending tonight, as I think it is the Party apparatus that owes members like me an apology for ignoring us once again — particularly after being told for so long that our say would make a difference.

The way I see it, we had a chance to push through the reforms the Party needed so desperately and come out fighting, but our elected representatives screwed it up for us — yet again.

It feels like a dog that has been a loyal and trusted companion has suddenly become ill and is suffering.

Despite loving it dearly, sometimes it’s best to just have it put down and buy a new pup.

I hope the caucus have a decent explanation for their decision to reject reform and maintain the status quo that is doing us so much damage when they report back to their branches.

Remember the Queensland wipeout of 2012?

The way we are headed as a Party, that may end up looking like a good day.

I hope I'm wrong, but it smells pretty bad from here.

Peter Wicks is a former NSW State Labor candidate. You can follow Peter on Twitter @madwixxy.

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