ALP members - you’ve got 3 hours to reclaim your dignity
At 12.10pm last Friday Julia Gillard strode into the Blue Room in Parliament House with Bob Carr in tow and knocked everyone’s socks off. In the hubbub one of the journos even called Carr “Senator-elect Carr”.
Then at 2pm on the same day NSW Labor emailed its members saying this:
Due to the resignation of Senator Mark Arbib, a vacancy has arisen in the Australian Senate. Under Rule N.4, the NSW Labor Party Officers have called for nominations for this position to be determined by a ballot of the NSW ALP Administrative Committee, according to the following timetable:
Nominations open: 1pm, Friday 2 March 2012
Nominations close: 5pm, Monday 5 March 2012
Nomination fee: $750
The rest of Gillard’s Cabinet movers were sworn in this morning without Carr, who is waiting for this ALP process to pan out and then a joint sitting of the NSW Parliament before being sworn in as both a Senator and the Foreign Minister. It’s all a bit weird.
Bob Carr, along with Steve Bracks and John Faulkner, authored an extensive review into the Labor Party last year, which had many, many recommendations including: “Community engagement with primaries, introducing primaries for preselections in nonheld and open seats so that Labor’s supporters have a say in their local representatives.”
The tone of the review was all about member engagement giving members more say in policy and representation.
Yet today the ALP is performing a pantomime, pretending that anyone other than Julia Gillard has any say in who takes Arbib’s spot. At the time of writing this post, no one else had stumped up the $750 nomination fee. Why would you bother? Gillard wasn’t mucking around on Friday.
The Prime Minister has been praised widely for “asserting her authority”. How quickly the members, who in later 2011 were put front-and-centre, have been pushed to the back again.
When he resigned Mark Arbib said his decision was partly a gesture to the party, so the ALP could start to heal after all the back-room wheeling and dealing shot to the surface and threatened to engulf Labor.
Yet on Friday afternoon Paul Howes, the other “faceless man” Tweeted: “Just signed Bob Carr’s nomination form for the ALP Senate pre-selection - Awesome!”
After all the hand-wringing, the tears, the resignations - what’s changed?
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