A letter from John Lannan

From John Lannan

Dear ALP member

I am contacting you to ask for your vote in the forthcoming election for National ALP President.

I am standing because of my commitment to reform and democratisation of the ALP.

As a rank and file member of the Party, I have experienced the frustration and sense of powerlessness of being a member of today’s ALP. If elected as National President I will be a voice for rank and file ALP members as I strongly believe that the only way forward for the Party is to make the role and contribution of the rank and file member the focus of major reform.

I have never held a paid position in the ALP or with an MP or an affiliated union. I have served in a range of positions mainly at the local level including branch president, local campaign director and state conference delegate. I joined the Party in 1975 to work for a better, fairer society and remain in the Party because I still want to work for a better, fairer society. Never a member of a major faction, I am a member of the small Victorian Independent group which has fought for Party democracy and against branch stacking.

The ALP is in deep trouble. Public support for the ALP across Australia is at record low levels and there are difficult times ahead.

A strong ALP composed of active, dedicated members is needed.

Instead the Party organisation is in decay. Local branches are closing. Membership is declining and disillusionment prevalent among those who remain.

Rank and file ALP members have little say in pre-selection, policy development or decision making generally. Instead of democratic decision making, the Party is run by a clique of factional and union bosses, often aided by branch stacking, who seem more interested in furthering their own ambitions than the principles of the Party. The result has frequently been bad policy and poor choice of candidates.

Reform of the Party is essential!

In fact almost everyone in the Party is now calling for reform, not least Julia Gillard, but we need to be wary of what is meant by “reform”. Some proposed “reforms” have the potential to reduce, not increase, the role of rank and file ALP members.

We need genuine reforms, not reforms that leave the same old gang of power brokers back in charge.

Genuine reform of the ALP means giving power in the Party to its ordinary members. It means direct election by the rank and file of major office bearers. It means state and national conferences which are composed overwhelmingly of rank and file ALP members, directly elected by their fellow ALP members. It means pre-selections for all parliamentary seats by local rank and file ALP members.

Genuine reform also means real secret ballots in pre-selections and other Party elections so that voters can’t show their completed ballots to factional enforcers, or worse, let the factional enforcers fill them in. And genuine reform means Labor governments implementing policies which have been democratically determined by the membership, using plebiscites where appropriate.

Genuine reform must go far beyond the tokenistic election of a proportion of national conference delegates by the rank and file, and it must challenge the capacity of union leaders to appoint blocks of delegates to state and national conferences.

The Party needs to attract and retain activists of all ages, people with a commitment to making the world a better place. There needs to be less control by factional and union power brokers, fewer factional deals, and much more real debate, diversity and encouragement of ideas.

When people join the ALP they need to be assured that they will participate equally with other ALP members in decision making, including pre-selections and policy determination. They also need to be assured that they have become a member of a Party which lives up to its values and implements its policies.

Rank and file democratisation of the ALP will not mean the overnight renewal of the ALP, but it is the essential starting point for any program to reform the Party, return it to its core values and build a more vibrant, diverse, open and ethical Party culture and a politically stronger and more effective ALP.

Now is the time for an ALP President who knows what it’s like to be a rank and file member of the ALP and who will strive for an ALP firmly based on genuine rank and file member democracy.

I encourage you to show your support for real reform of the ALP by giving me your number one vote in the election for National President.

I particularly ask you also to forward my email to all of the ALP members that you know so that they are aware of what is at stake in this election for ALP President.

For more information about my background and why I am standing:

My candidate statement at

Further information

John Lannan contact details

Phone: 0477 068 727

Email: john.lannan@bigpond.com

Yours in friendship

John Lannan
Mount Martha ALP Branch

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