National ALP Conference: What the Executive Must Do
The ALP National Executive must now think of itself as having the sort of responsibilities that weigh on a board of company directors, as if it has statutory duties. Its members are not there to look after factional interests but to guarantee the battered and bruised party has a future.
Speaking at the conference with John Faulkner and Steve Bracks on the review of the party’s performance at the last election, I said the national executive now has a responsibility to deliver action on the following:
• increase membership, adopting the PM’s target of 8000 new members;
• give the party a lively online presence, which will include being able to join the party online, to attend team branch meetings online, to question party leaders and spokespeople online, and to debate other party members online;
• plant resources and personnel in Western Australia, where the Labor base vote is chronically low even by the standards of parlous polls in other States;
• set up systematic training for people who hold public office and speak for the party. I said the Labor Party was now the only serious organisation in the country (to be truthful, I don’t know about the Liberal Party) that has no systematic training, mentoring, coaching or sponsorship for high-potential individuals and, as a result, we deploy people in front-rank positions woefully ill-prepared.
• the party must fund some template community activist campaigns sponsored by local Labor Party branches which want to offer their members something more than attending branch meetings and working in polling booths.
These are parts of the Faulkner, Bracks, Carr review that do not need rules change. They require work and resources. They may well be more important than increasing rank-and-file representation at the National Conference or experimenting with primaries, that is, the structural reforms.
To the national executive, don’t let this drift.
Get on with it.