“Towards A Modern Labor Party”: Bill Shorten’s Speech On Party Reform

The Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten, has proposed a series of reforms to the operation of the ALP.


In a speech to a Per Capita forum at the Wheeler Centre in Melbourne, Shorten proposed giving party members more say in the preselection of lower and upper house candidates. He also proposed a system of direct election of National Conference delegates.

“We need to change ourselves,” Shorten said. “We need to change our party. If we don’t change, we are putting our very future at risk.”

Shorten called for a “membership-based party” with 100,000 members and said that by July new members would be able to join online via a “one-click” procedure. He said he had asked National and State Secretaries of the party to establish “low cost, uniform national membership fees”.

Shorten said “it should no longer be compulsory for prospective members of the Labor Party to join a union”. This is a party rule more honoured in the breach than in the observance. Shorten conceded it was a “symbolic change”. [Read more...]

Neville Wran, Balmain Boy And Labor Great, Former Premier Of NSW, Dies, 87

Neville Wran, the Labor Premier of New South Wales from 1976 until 1986, and the man who provided a template for modern Labor leadership, has died from complications arising from dementia. He was was 87.

WranIn the aftermath of the Whitlam Dismissal and a decade of Coalition rule in NSW, Wran was the Labor leader who returned his party to government with a majority of one seat.

Wran won three more elections in 1978, 1981 and 1984 and retired undefeated in 1986 when he memorably announced his departure to the NSW State ALP Conference.

With the slogan, “Wran’s Our Man”, Wran led the ALP to a landslide victory in 1978 that saw the party poll an unprecedented 57.8% of the primary vote and the Opposition Leader, Peter Coleman, lose his seat. The “Wranslide” was repeated in 1981 when the ALP won its biggest majority ever, reducing the Liberal Party to 14 seats with the Opposition Leader, Bruce McDonald, losing his seat. There was a swing away from Wran at the 1984 election but he still won a large victory. [Read more...]

Brian Harradine, Long-Serving Independent Senator Expelled By ALP, Dies, 79

Brian Harradine, an influential independent senator from Tasmania, who was expelled by the ALP in 1975 following a long and bitter dispute in the aftermath of the 1950s Labor Split, has died at the age of 79.

Harradine was elected as an independent senator from Tasmania at the 1975 double dissolution election following the dismissal of the Whitlam Government. He was re-elected five times (1980, 1983, 1987, 1993 and 1999) and served for 30 years. He chose not to contest the 2004 election and left the Senate on June 30, 2005.

At various times, Harradine’s vote was a crucial balance of power factor in the Senate, especially between 1996 and 1999 when he was instrumental in supporting the Wik legislation and voting to privatise Telstra. He voted against the Howard government’s GST legislation in 1999.

A socially conservative Catholic, Harradine was an organiser with the Federated Clerks Union in the 1950s. He was Secretary of the Tasmanian Trades and Labour Council and a member of the Australian Council of Trade Unions executive from 1964 until 1976. He founded the Tasmanian division of the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association in 1967. [Read more...]

Minor Changes To ALP Shadow Ministry; Parke Gone, Jones And MacTiernan Promoted

The Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten, has issued a revised list of ALP shadow ministers and shadow parliamentary secretaries, following the resignation of Melissa Parke.

Parke, the member for Fremantle, resigned as Shadow Assistant Minister for Health for personal and family reasons.

Stephen Jones, the member for Throsby since 2010, formerly the Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Development and Infrastructure, has been appointed Shadow Assistant Minister for Health.

Alannah MacTiernan, the newly-elected member for Perth, has moved into the Regional Development portfolio. Her elevation ensures Western Australia’s representation in the shadow executive remains unchanged. [Read more...]

Lara Giddings Launches ALP Election Campaign In Tasmania

The Labor Premier of Tasmania, Lara Giddings, has launched the ALP’s campaign for the state election on March 15.


Giddings was introduced by the Deputy Premier, Bryan Green, and the federal Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten.

She promised to replace the Schoolkids bonus abolished by the Abbott government with a state scheme worth $14 million.

Her voice failing as her speech progressed, Giddings implored voters to re-elect a majority Labor government. Claiming Tasmania needed people who care more about people than trees, she distanced herself from the Greens who have been her coalition partners in government over the past four years. In his speech, Bryan Green tore up a piece of paper with the Greens logo on it.

Giddings and Shorten both warned of a Liberal government that would emulate the policies of Tony Abbott and the Queensland Premier, Campbell Newman. Giddings also attacked the Palmer United Party, which polls show could win one or two seats, comparing Clive Palmer to Pauline Hanson. “Once he loses interest in politics, he’ll just move onto something else. He’ll leave behind a mess and the fragments of his party, just like another Queenslander in Pauline Hanson did.”


The Labor government has been in office since 1998 under premiers Jim Bacon, Paul Lennon, David Bartlett and Giddings. It has been in coalition with the Greens since the 2010 election. The ALP and the Liberals each won 10 seats in the election, whilst the Greens won 5.

Polls show the ALP polling less than 30% of the vote and facing defeat on March 15.

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Don’t Hold Your Breath Waiting For Bill Shorten To Make A Speech Like This

The British Labour Party is holding a Special Conference to consider historic reform to the party’s structure.

MilibandIn this speech, the party’s leader, Ed Miliband, argues the case for reform of British Labour’s links with the trade unions. The Special Conference is considering a plan to end the automatic affiliation of trade union members and the introduction of “one member, one vote” in leadership elections.

Miliband’s proposal would see an end to the 3-part electoral college system in which the votes of MPs, trade unions and rank-and-file members are weighted equally to elect the party leader. Union members would be able to opt-in to join the party.

The election method adopted by the Australian Labor Party in 2013 involved an electoral college in which MPs and party members had a 50-50 say. It is likely that there will be an attempt by unions to add a union component to this structure at the next National Conference.

The Miliband proposal is a bold attempt to broaden the base of the party with an influx of new members.

Some quotes from Miliband:

  • How do we persuade the people who have left the stadium to think about coming back?
  • How do we persuade other people that Labour Party members are normal?
  • We’ll be voting for the biggest transfer of power in the history of our party to our members and supporters.
  • The depth, the diversity, the reach of a movement is the true measure of its strength and its ability to make change.

Text of UK Labour leader Ed Miliband’s speech to the Labour Party’s Special Conference.

Thank you.

I want to thank all of you – local parties, trade unions, socialist societies – for being part of our discussions on party reform.

Some people worried this debate would simply cause deep division and discord. But we have shown our discipline.

And month by month we have grown more united, stronger, more ready to fight and win the general election.

Today I ask you to vote for the report of Ray Collins, overwhelmingly endorsed by Labour’s National Executive Committee.

Today I ask you to support the biggest changes to our party since 1918.

Today I ask you to seize the chance to change our party so that together we can change the country.

Friends, Britain needs us to do this. Because somebody has to mend our broken politics. [Read more...]

Terri Butler (ALP-Griffith) – First Speech

Terri Butler was elected as the ALP member for Griffith at a by-election on February 8.


Butler, an industrial lawyer with Maurice Blackburn, replaced the former prime minister, Kevin Rudd, who had represented the electorate since 1998. Aside from one term from 1996-98, the seat has been represented by the ALP since 1977.

Griffith is a mostly residential electorate in southern Brisbane. The main suburbs include Balmoral, Bulimba, Camp Hill, Carina Heights, Coorparoo, Dutton Park, East Brisbane, Greenslopes, Highgate Hill, Hawthorne, Kangaroo Point, Morningside, Norman Park, Seven Hills, South Brisbane, Woolloongabba and parts of Annerley, Cannon Hill, Carina, Holland Park, Holland Park West, Mount Gravatt East, Murarrie, Tarragindi and West End.

This is Butler’s maiden speech to the House of Representatives.

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Hansard transcript of Terri Butler’s maiden speech to the House of Representatives.


Ms BUTLER (Griffith) (09:59): Madam Speaker, I acknowledge the Ngunnawal and Ngambri peoples, the custodians of the land on which we meet. I pay my respects to elders past and present. I am honoured today to come into this chamber as the elected representative for the people of Griffith, on Brisbane’s south side, so I also pay my respects to the first nations people of that land, the Ugarapul, Yuggera, Jagera and Turrbal peoples. [Read more...]