Reform within Labor Terri Butler for Griffith

Reform within Labor  Terri Butler for Griffith

It’s been fantastic to talk to so many Labor party members over the past few days, about how we can defeat the LNP at the Griffith by-election.

In my discussions with fellow members, we’ve canvassed other issues as well. The topic of Labor party reform has come up on a number of occasions.

I see party reform as being important for a range of reasons. I believe Labor is at its best as a broad-based mass membership party. We need lots of members to campaign, but also to develop policy and to help elected members keep in touch with their constituency.  To be a mass membership party, we have to be good at recruiting members, and, once people have joined, retaining members.

I’ve supported many reforms in Queensland Labor over the years. The move to bring in affirmative action in 1999 has assisted us to increase the number of women in public office. The work done in 2002 to improve the integrity of party processes has led to a more open and democratic party. The changes in the mid-2000s to ensure that areas where lots of members live have more representatives at state conference than areas with fewer members, made our state conference more representative. The extension of affirmative action to our electoral college vote has made our affirmative action rules more effective. The changes last year to give branch members a greater say in selecting candidates is at work in this preselection, today. And Kevin Rudd’s lasting legacy, from a party reform perspective, is to have given members a say in our federal parliamentary leadership.

Labor has been, over the last few years, focusing on reforms to make our party a more engaging organisation, and to give members more opportunities to participate.

We can do more, to make our party more engaging. We can find better ways for members to be involved in policy development, and to communicate ideas and strategies. We can establish organisations within the party, to allow members to coalesce around issues they care about. We can give members more say in selecting our candidates for public office.

We can try novel approaches, like ‘gamification’: for example, we could produce an app for smartphones that allow users to show off their campaigning and policy activity, and win badges and acknowledgement. An approach such as that would have a social dimension and might encourage friendly rivalry between branches, providing an incentive for participation.

And we can listen. We can ask our membership, more often, how we can improve the way our party interacts with members.

In that spirit, I’m interested in your views about how we can innovate. Perhaps you’d be willing to leave me a comment. Alternatively, you could fill in this short survey, which contains suggestions from reform already I’ve already received from local ALP members:

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