“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.

Shorten

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…]


Julie Bishop Sacks Steve Bracks As Consul General In New York

One of the new government’s first decisions is to sack Steve Bracks, Australia’s Consul General in New York.

Bracks, Labor Premier of Victoria between 1999 and 2007, was appointed to the post in May by the Gillard government. He took up the position on August 5, the day after the election was announced. He confirmed today that the incoming Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop had informed him she would be revoking his position. [Read more…]


Rann Now Longest-Serving Premier

Peter Beattie’s resignation as Queensland Premier will elevate South Australia’s Mike Rann to the position of longest-serving state premier. Rann was elected in March 2002.

Mike Rann, Premier of South AustraliaThe Northern Territory Chief Minister, Clare Martin, will become the longest-serving state or territory head of government, having been elected in August 2001. She just eclipses the ACT’s Jon Stanhope, elected in November 2001.

The retirements of Bob Carr (elected 1995), Steve Bracks (1999) and Beattie (1998) have resulted in the Labor governments which dominate the Australian states and territories moving to a second-generation of leaders.

Western Australian Premier Geoff Gallop (elected February 2001) resigned due to ill-health in January 2006. Tasmanian Premier Jim Bacon (elected September 1998) also resigned due to ill-health in February 2004.

Rann remains the last-elected and only original member of the clutch of Labor Premiers elected between 1995 and 2002.

John Howard remains the longest-serving head of government, having been Prime Minister since March 11, 1996.


Bracks Resigns As Premier Of Victoria

Victorian Premier Steve Bracks has announced his retirement as Victorian Labor leader, Premier and member for Williamstown. The announcement came at 10.40am, following a Cabinet meeting.

Bracks said he had recently made the choice that he could no longer make the commitment to the job. He confirmed that recent events involving his son contributed to his decision. [Read more…]


Historic Reform Of Victorian Parliament

The Victorian Parliament has passed historic legislation providing for reform of the Legislative Council, fixed four-year terms and the abolition of the Council’s power to block Supply.

The legislation – the Constitution (Parliamentary Reform) Bill – was introduced by the Premier, Steve Bracks to the Legislative Assembly on February 26. It was passed with amendments on March 20 and introduced into the Legislative Council on the same day by John Lenders. The Bill was passed without amendments on March 27.

The bill is the first major reform to be passed by the Legislative Council since the Labor Government secured a comfortable majority in the general election of November 30, 2002.

The bill provides for:

  • a fixed four year parliamentary term, unless dissolution of the Assembly occurs sooner;
  • re-constitution of the Council to consist of 40 members, elected from 8 regions each region returning 5 members;
  • proportional representation with optional preferential voting for members of the Council;
  • the filling of casual vacancies in the Council;
  • the President of the Council to have a deliberative, but not casting, vote;
  • recognition of the principle of Government mandate;
  • removal of the ability of the Council to block supply (Annual Appropriation) Bills;
  • a dispute resolution process for deadlocked Bills;
  • the entrenchment of certain legislative provisions.

The legislation fixes the last Saturday in November every four years as the election date. The Legislative Council, a bastion of conservative domination for over 150 years, is to be reduced in numbers from 44 to 40. Proportional representation will mean that the ALP will likely lose its majority at the next election, with the balance of power going to minor parties and/or independents.