This is from Phil Drew, an attendee at yesterday’s protest…
There were about fifty people present from the far South Coast as well as the city. The Party hierarchy was conspicuous by its absence. They were locked away on the 9th floor all the decisions rubber stamped. No one had the stomach to appear or to invite a delegation. It was good to put faces to some of the names that we read each day as we work towards reform.
So what can I comment?
“F. U. A. An open Conference is what we want.”
This is the banner than is featured outside the offices of the NSW ALP branch. It is an ironic backdrop to the rally for reform outside those offices on Friday 20 May.
In a recent circular Sam Dastyari, General Secretary of the NSW ALP branch, spoke of a commitment to greater rank and file involvement. How was that demonstrated on Friday?
• By increasing the fee for nominating for a Parliamentary position by 50% to $750.
• By closing off the 9th floor to members and asking the building manager to advise those outside not to trespass on private property.
• By telling potential nominees (such as recently defeated Steve Whan, former Minister of Emergency Services, for Small Business and Rural Affairs) “that they had no chance”.
• By not holding a ballot of members to fill positions that were widely indicated in the press as already decided. In fact Eddie Obeid apparently linked his resignation to the appointment of Walt Secord. Pre-selection is less democratic that in the Liberal Party.
Despite the shellacking on 26 March this year more than 250 members attended a meeting a week later, from all over the State, to indicate their commitment to Party reform. But it is clear that the energy that was evident in that meeting is of no consequence to the Party hacks. In the past the rank and file have been letter-box stuffers and how-to-vote hand-outers.
From now, because of the diminished subventions from a diminished parliamentary representation, we will have a new role: to fund the Party. But have a say in pre-selections or in policy? Nah.
What do we want now? What should be the banner on the Party Offices wall next year?
How about: “An open Conference is what we want in 2012”?
Let’s show we won’t be ignored. It’s our ALP.