Saturday, 26 November 2011

The Case for Democratisation of the Australian Labor Party


LAUNCH OF TROY BRAMSTON’S BOOK “LOOKING FOR THE LIGHT ON THE HILL”
RIVERBEND BOOKS, BULIMBA

26th NOVEMBER 2011


Thirty years ago I made three life changing decisions.
I married Therese, for which 30 years later she deserves an Order of Lenin.
I joined the foreign service where 30 years ago were always on the lookout for anyone suspected of having an Order of Lenin.
1981 was also the year I joined the Australian Labor Party, from which we had already purged all known members of the Order of Lenin, or at least I hoped so.
For those who know my history, I did not come from a Labor family.

My father before his death was a member of the Country Party – which then would have put him considerably to the left of the modern Australian Labor Party.
My mother, a Catholic from central casting, had, since the split, voted for the DLP.
And despite attending local Young Labor meetings at the Nambour Cane Growers Hall while still at school, I deliberately delayed my decision to join the Labor Party proper until after my university years – so that I could sort it all through both in my head and my heart.
My heart had always said yes, because the Party’s call for a fair go for all appealed both to my deepest human instincts as well as my recent experience, coming from a family of meagre means for whom the Whitlam revolution meant my chance to attend university.
My head took a little longer as I worked through how a party of the centre-left could manage a modern market economy while still delivering a fair go for all – because the latter without the former was little more than political fraud.
Or as the late John Button said later, the Australian Labor Party could not redistribute the nation’s wealth unless it was equally pre-occupied with the generation of the nation’s wealth.
And so began my life-long journey with the great Australian Labor Party.
A Party which formed the first Labor government in the world.
A Party which for the duration of our federated history has either been the government or the alternative government of this nation.
A Party that has painted most of the nation’s history on a wide and expansive canvas; its economic reforms, its social innovation, the centrality of the environment, the place of indigenous Australians, as well as Australia’s independent place in the affairs of the world.
And just as we have painted this great canvas for the nation, the conservatives’ historical mission has been, wherever possible, to erase it.
Ours, a positive agenda of building the nation.
Theirs, invariably a negative agenda to tear down what we have built up.
Because in the end, our creed is about the rights of the many – theirs being about the privileges of the few.
And it has always been thus, which is why I cast my lot all those years ago with the party of progress, as opposed to the party of reaction.
So why would I come to launch a book like this that has more than a few harsh words, as well as a few kind words, to say about yours truly’ s record as the eleventh Labor Prime Minister of Australia?
The reason is simple.
I have never believed that the Government that I led was somehow infallible.
That is palpable nonsense.
The Government achieved a number of great successes, like keeping Australia out of recession and mass unemployment despite the worst global recession since the Great Depression.
The Government, like all governments, had a number of failures – of which I have already spoken over the course of the last year. 
I believe that a genuine public contest of ideas is fundamental to the continuing viability of the Party – and its capacity to adapt to the challenges of the future.
Open debate allows the sunshine in.
Closed doors, driven by factional self-interest does not.
Open participation by all our members and, dare I say it, all our supporters, keeps us grounded in the values for which we have stood for more than a century, and how to apply those values to the challenges of the future.
By contrast, factional deals are primarily about the preservation of power.
To the point that our values are lost in the mud of factional intrigue.
We are now on the eve of the first National Conference of the Party since the events of June 2010 – the Conference which will now consider the Bracks-Carr-Faulkner Review.
It is time therefore for an open debate on the Party’s future.
Its values.
Its policies.
And critically, its structure. 
My core concern is how to reform our Party so that it has a future, not just as a diminished political rump, not a marginalised third party of Australian politics given the opportunism of the Greens, but as the force of progressive politics for our nation.

The Democratisation of the Australian Labor Party: Returning the Party to the people
The core truth is this; the centralised power of the factional leadership of the Australian Labor Party is exercised to the exclusion of the 35,000 members who make up our rank and file.
This does not advance the interests of the Party at large, but rather the interests of the few.
Moreover, it does nothing to expand our core membership, in fact it does the reverse.
Furthermore, it does nothing to advance our core interest in forming and remaining the long-term progressive government in Australia.
In fact, it retards it, it is a comprehensive national turnoff.
So how do we reinvigorate our membership so we are in a position to be the continuing Party of reform.
Of course, this is the continuing challenge of Labor – applying our constant values to the changing circumstances of the nation.
Being what I have long called the reforming centre of Australian politics – a Party for all working Australians, a Party also for Australian small business, a Party of nation building, and critically the Party of the future.
Always looking beyond the horizon, identifying the next great challenges we face as a country, not just reacting to them once they hit us in the face.
In other words, how does the Party renew itself in the troubled times in which we govern, recognising that the Party has re-invented itself many times in the past since its birth during the Great Shearers Strike and the Great Maritime Strike of 1891
The truth is that for the many who do the heavy lifting in our branches, in our community, and on the front line come election time, these 35,000 forgotten members, they don’t have any real say in the big decisions on the Party’s and the Government’s future.
It’s time therefore for some fundamental change.

Principles
I would like to outline what I believe should be the principles for this change:
 1.      The Party needs to be fully democratised by giving full voice to the full membership rights to the Party - members of the ALP want a direct say in their Party on the positions that really matter, not just on the margins.
2. This democratisation should extend the principle of direct election principles as per the following:
(a) The National Secretary, the person most responsible for the future of the Party’s organisational activity in the community;
(b) The National Executive, the chief administrative authority of the Party;
(c) The delegates to the National Conference of the ALP, to give members a real say on policy, to break the power of the factions, and to encourage our mass membership to become fully engaged.
3. I also support a full national debate on proposals already advanced by others on the extension of this democratic principle of direct election to other critical positions for the Party. 
This does not represent a comprehensive blueprint for the future reform of the Australian Labor Party .
Nor does it seek to do so.
But it does go to the fundamental question of who controls power within our Party.
This is one proposal for a focused national conversation to be had by our whole membership around a simple set of principles underpinning the full democratisation of our Party with the simple objective of re-connecting the Party with its full membership.
And to make sure, therefore, that we remain fully connected with the people of the nation.
Because if this Party cannot reform itself then over time it cannot reform the nation. 
Subject to consideration of National Conference, it should also be considered whether these principles (refined through a structured national dialogue) should be then be referred to a plebiscite of all Party members.
Because it is my view, consistent with the principle of democratisation, it should be the full membership of our Party who should determine such fundamental reforms for our future.

The Bracks-Carr-Faulkner reforms
There should no longer be any argument that Labor needs to reform itself.
Those who say that the way we conduct ourselves now and the way our Party is structured is sustainable for the future are wrong.
I don’t believe any delegate to National Conference credibly believes that the status quo is any longer defensible.
Books like the one we are here to discuss today cause us to pause, to reflect, and then to confidently embrace reform as we have done throughout history.
It is difficult, if not impossible, to imagine the Party in 10 years time operating the same way it does now.
Otherwise, there is a real danger that we simply fade away as other progressive parties around the world have done, becoming a shadow of their former selves against the aggressive conservative onslaught of a resurgent right.
If in 10 years time, we have not renewed our purpose and our compact with our membership, then we will have failed to maintain our place as the true Party of ideas.
It is also sobering to recall that it was almost 10 years ago we were last given a blueprint for reform.
The Hawke-Wran review came and went without the Party truly embracing a total program of reform.
The truth is we pushed most of it to the side.
Just imagine if, for example, in 2002 Labor had truly embraced the recommendation for online branches.
It is this litany of lost opportunities that should cause us to think very carefully about Labor’s collective response to the Faulkner Review – particularly given the fact that six months later, the factions have continued to suppress the full contents of that review.
Remember, Bracks, Carr and Faulkner, the authors of the Review called for its full public release – what are we afraid of?
That our 35,000 branch members might actually read it?
I believe it is these lost opportunities of reform in the past that mean we must fully embrace the reform package proposed for the future through this review.
Because to pick and choose the reforms we embrace based on the recommendations of the factions, after the process of comprehensive consultation across the breadth of the ALP, by the Review team itself is death by a thousand cuts.
If (and that’s a big if) we have the courage to implement the recommendations of the Review in full, we must also continue our national conversation about the ongoing reform of Labor.
We need to break the cycle of reform only being considered when we reach a political impasse.
Ours must be the process of continuing reform, otherwise we will continue to fail and our political successes will be short lived. 
We should not be fearful of what the full membership have to say.
These good people are drawn from across the Australian mainstream.
And as such they are our best way of keeping in touch with the Australian mainstream.
As Paul Keating rightly reminded us on the Centenary of the Federal Australian Labor Party in 2001:
We were and are a pluralist Party; we’ve had all sorts of people in it – Fabians and Marxists, single taxers and all sorts of characters. But I suppose our boast is we can absorb any culture, and we have.
And we have done so to preserve a single inclusive, progressive voice in Australian national politics through the agency of the Australian Labor Party.
This book, Looking for the Light on the Hill, has other worthy suggestions that warrant further debate over the course of 2012.
And I would like to also put forward some suggestions that the ALP National Executive could adopt tomorrow, if it found the collective will to do so:
-          National Conference should move around the Country.

I look forward to a conference here in Brisbane in coming years.

If Queensland can host the Commonwealth Games, I think we can handle a Labor Party conference.

Sydney does not own the National Conference.
-          National Conference should meet yearly – both of the major British parties seem to be able to manage to do that without the collapse of Western Civilisation as we know it.

Otherwise our total membership becomes marginal to the business of government.
-          The National Policy Committee should be elected after the conference meets, as the Party Rules require, not 12 months before conference as too often happens in practice.

What we stand for – our enduring values
Looking for the Light on the Hill  alleges that the Government does not have an overarching narrative, and that this problem stems from Labor’s values themselves not being clear enough.
I have to disagree with this.

As has been written elsewhere:
The story of the Australian Labor Party is a story of hope triumphing over fear.
It is also our nation's story. Our nation's past, and our nation's future.
A continuing narrative throughout Australia's history that says it is better to build up than to tear down.
That it is better to build the nation, than to wait for someone else to build the nation for us.
That it is better to create opportunity for all, rather than tolerate opportunity for the few.
That it is better to face the future, than to fear the future.
The story of Labor is a story of the triumph of hope over fear.
A story that says afresh to each generation that we can build a better Australia.
A stronger Australia.
A fairer Australia.
An Australia in which all our families can aspire to a better future.
And an Australia that proudly raises its independent voice in the councils of the world in the belief that together, we can also build a better world.
Friends, this is the continuing mission of Labor.
These are the continuing values of Labor.
This is the continuing purpose of Labor.
Now that isn’t me writing a narrative in response to the Bramston challenge.
That is the opening of my address to the Chifley Research Centre in June last year.
And if you look at this government over the last 4 years, our actions do not waver from the principles of the Labor Party that Chifley spoke of in 1949:
Chifley said the job of Labor ministers and leaders was “to create new conditions”
            Which is why we abolished WorkChoices
Chifley said the job of Labor ministers and leaders was “to reorganise the economy of the country”
Which is why we took strong and decisive action in response to the Global Financial Crisis and protected Australians from recession and mass unemployment.
Chifley said the job of Labor ministers and leaders was “bringing something better to the people, better standards of living, greater happiness to the mass of the people.”
Which is why we delivered paid parental leave, a pension that provides dignity for our seniors, support for our families with children in childcare, an education system where kids have the best facilities, the best technologies and the best education standards the government can provide.
And Chifley said we should ”aim to reach, by working for the betterment of mankind, not only here, but anywhere we may give a helping hand.”
Which is why we have doubled our foreign aid over the last five years and we are on track to double it again over the next.
Which is why we supported the Libyan people in the face of a tyrannical dictator.
And is why we stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the Horn of Africa as one of the largest donors to support the 12 million people facing death from starvation.
But as Chifley also said all those years ago, these achievements rest on the shoulders of the people of the Labor Party.
Listen to his words again today:
When I sat at a Labor meeting in the country with only ten or fifteen men there, I found a man sitting beside me who had been working in the Labour movement for fifty-four years.
I have no doubt that many of you have been doing the same, not hoping for any advantage from the movement, not hoping for any personal gain, but because you believe in a movement that has been built up to bring better conditions to the people.
Therefore, the success of the Labor Party at the next elections depends entirely, as it always has done, on the people who work.
It is this central fact, it is this core truth, to quote Chifley once again, that “the success of the Labor Party at the next elections depends entirely, as it always has done, on the people who work”  is what must drive us to ensure that the full membership of the Australian Labor Party are our core for the future.

The democratisation of the Party
Which brings us back to where we began – the democratisation of the Party.
Above all other values, democracy is the core value of the Labor Party.
A Party that was formed to make sure that there was a voice for working people in the affairs of the Commonwealth.
A Party that has been doggedly democratic from the start.
A Party that has been at the forefront of making Australia a fully democratic nation – irrespective of ethnicity, gender or sexuality.
Here in this federal division of Griffith, my local ALP Federal Electorate Council held a members’ forum about a month ago.
Some 50 local ALP members, sat in a circle at the Morningside School of Arts and discussed the 2010 Bracks-Carr-Faulkner Review.
It took us three hours.
That’s democracy in the Labor Party.
It can be slow.
It may not be spectacular.
But it does work.
It is how we came to agreement on those matters that members are willing to give up their time to discuss, to deliberate on, and then to resolve a way forward.
In our case, the challenge was for each branch to adopt in its own right a single local project to demonstrate to the local community that the Light on the Hill was alive and well and shining strong in the suburbs of Brisbane’s Southside.

Finally, I want to touch on how we, as a political party, engage in our national political debate.
The tone we adopt.
The civility we embrace. 
There are some fundamental principles that we must keep in mind to maintain the respect of the Australian people.
First, we must be a party that is honest, truthful, straightforward – warts and all.
The public is tired of spin.
The people want us to explain in straightforward terms why we are doing things, and why we are not doing things.
The people do not expect us to perform miracles, nor do they expect to be misled.
We must also be the Party that is positive – the Party with the plans – the Party of the future.
The Australian people are tired of the wave of negativity that makes up the mainstream of our national politics.
They want a positive plan for the future.
By and large they already grasp the negativity of our opponents.
The third is that we are a party of civility in our national discourse, rather than simply tearing people’s heads off.
Civil doesn’t mean that if Tony Abbott is being a niff nuff that we won’t point it out.
But it does mean that we conduct the affairs of politics and government with greater respect.
We are fools if we do not understand that the public has had a gutful of what currently passes for much of our national political debate.
Finally, we will need to ensure that a Young Labor member, who is out, doorknocking for Labor’s candidates, is doing so because they believe in the values for which we stand.
Not because he or she is a pawn in some obscure factional game.
I was troubled recently to hear that the latest young Labor National Conference had former Senator Graham Richardson as a guest presenter.
To hold Senator Richardson up as a moral exemplar for the next generation of our Party and our movement is just wrong.
The author of “Whatever it takes” – good grief.
To be a member of the Labor Party is to be an optimist.
Optimistic about the future of Australia.
Optimistic about the ability of government to make a difference.
As a member of the Labor Party for 30 years, I am an eternal optimist.
I am optimistic too about the future of Labor in Government, working to create the Australia that we are proud of.
Optimistic that we can keep the economy strong in good times, and in bad.
Optimistic that we can ensure that those who want a stable, secure job can find one, or the help to train for one.
Optimistic for the future of reform of this great Australian Labor Party as we open its doors to the 35,000 members who make up our heart, our hands and our soul.

107 comments:

  1. Mr Rudd, well said. Thank you for your honesty, your dedication, your truth. I encourage you on your journey. I agree we need true democracy in the ALP. I am thankful there are people like you to lead the way. Take care.

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  2. Hear hear. I couldn't agree more. I believe in progressive reform through democratic process, I agree this is the way to keep the Party fresh and relevant for the future. Cheers.

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  3. Mr Rudd, thank you. You have articulated the reasons, I am sorry to say, I no longer consider myself an ALP voter. I voted for you to be my Prime Minister and I was infuriated when the 'interests of the few' resulted in you being removed you from your elected position. It was that day I decided to never vote Labor again. I cannot vote for a party that has so little regard for the democratic process as to remove an elected leader mid-term. To those who say that you vote for your local member not the Prime Minister, I ask, why then do we have polls centred on the 'preferred Prime Minister'? I sincerely hope that democracy returns to the ALP for if democracy returns, I may return also...

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  4. I've been dithering for 30 years whether to join the ALP. I've always voted Labor, my family has since the beginning. I've never joined because I can't abide the 'closed shop' of any hierarchical organisation. If there may be changes afoot as you suggest, this just may be the time for me to join.

    and btw, I knew Therese way, way back - I worked with her a lifetime ago.

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  5. I agree with you 100%. I also believe the Labour Party needs to get back to grass roots and start listening to the every day worker and ALP members, we as a body of people who have a voice but it is only heard every 4 or so years at the polling booths I have email my local ALP member on more that one occasion and many topics including the "Carbon Tax" and all I get is Gillard spill if this is the way the ALP I will be voting inform at the next election and will continue that way till Gillard is dumped as leader of the ALP. I can not see myself voting for any other party or Independent

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  6. My take on this is that the ALP needs to find the balance between vision and implementation.
    For too long the implementors (numbers men) have ruled the roost and have done whatever it took to achieve a shallow vision. When you got to the top Kevin with vision,you surrounded yourself with like minded visionaries who struggled to implement and we all know what happened then.
    Thank you for keeping the vision going and opening the debate but this time Kevin do us all a favor and use your considerable intellect, energy and passion to surround yourself with some implementors to get the change done.

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  7. If the ALP party embrace the change outlined then the future is bright, otherwise we are looking at 10 years of Abbott as PM. I am one of those on the fence and the reason I do not follow the ALP by voting every election is simple, any party that allows the Unions to run them doesn't understand what the public want, change is coming whether the AWU, ETU etc like it or not....

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  8. I read this and rather than respond immediately as one usually does with blogs, I pottered about for about an hour before posting this comment; Ithink you are on the right track Kevin. The only way the ALP will rebuild itself following the massive swing against NSW Labor in the last election and the last Federal election results which almost saw the ALP ousted as a one term government, is for the party to engage with the people. I almost wrote re-engage there but there never has been an engagement with the people in my life. I suspect one of the many things that is keeping new blood from joining the party is the image that the party has as being akin to an " Old Boys Club" where wheeling and dealing goes on, shifty deals are done and ballot boxes have mysterious trips on the back of motorcycles. Loyalty seems to have disappeared off the radar with heavyweights like Richo acting like a political mercenary with his own gig on pay TV. The internet has given us an excellent tool for engaging with the people, this very blog is a good example of the internet being used in a productive and positive way. There are millions of good young Australians out there who are smart and who work hard for a better Australia for the future. The concept of an Online ALP where members join for a nominal fee and participate in fruitful discussions about all manner of things to do with the national interest is also something that should perhaps be considered as it could prove to be the catalyst that is needed to rekindle the fire in the belly of the ALP at a grass roots level. Local branches could also engage with the constituents in each electorate through an Online Forum and in time there could become homogenous. The ALP power base needs to be wrestled away from Sussex Street and replaced with a transparent democratic system that is governed by the members and not run how it currently is by the annointed few.

    @Nik0nMan

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  9. Thanks for sharing your vision - I agree that National Conference should move around, to regional centres as well as state capitals; also the prospect of real grassroots engagement of members through internet forums etc. would help to revitalise the party, I think.

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  10. The Labor party needs to be the party of the centre-left, not the party of trade unionists.

    I have a couple of friends that are in their mid-20s, both are wage earners, both are of Asian descent and both are socially progressive: one votes for The Greens and the other for the Libs. They both should be Labor voters.

    Every time Labor moves to the right on social issues we turn young people away. If this continues, we'll lose a generation of voters to The Greens.

    I disagree a bit with Labor's overarching story. We have a handful of major economic policies - carbon, NBN, mining - but Gillard and Swan are incapable of joining the dots on these.

    Agree with pretty much everything else re party reform, open primaries etc.

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  11. Thank you for rightly the most thoughtful, heartfelt and well grounded piece about the past present and future of the ALP.

    We have the greatest asset in the nation, the optimistic hearts and positive minds of tens of thousands of members who want to engage with the process, not just at a political level but also at a community level.

    Which for us Laborites is one in the same. It should all begin and end in the community.

    Thanks for showing leadership on this, there are many voices but few familar faces to temper this movement. But we won't be stopped and I am optimistic that we can make the ALP all it truly can.

    Also thank you for sticking to your guns and not ever giving up on the grand old ALP. While things have been difficult for you at times, please take solice from the indisputable fact that you and your thoughts represent the thousands of us rank and file members.

    Let's do this!

    BRad

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  12. Wow,
    having read and reread this I could be persuaded to re-join the party.

    Having left the party in the late seventies through being bored and ignored as I wasn't 'in the club' and then on the second try leaving in disgust after witnessing the factional shenanigans and seeing many people who were in it for themselves I swore off joining again 'forever'.

    If the forthcoming conference can begin the process of implementing some of what has been suggested and not just be another stage managed bit if window dressing that pays lip service to true grass roots membership involvement then I may overcome my Marxism (the Groucho variety of not stooping to join any club that would have me as a member) and join again.

    Maybe it will be third time lucky for both me and the party.

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  13. There is a forum about Mr Rudd, ALP and relevant issues on http://forum.onlineopinion.com.au/thread.asp?discussion=4817. Hopefully, it can be of some interest to you.

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  14. Like Gillard and her ministers there isn't a word about our unholy alliance with the brute of brutes which is Israel. The Labor Party's rank and file despise all of Israel's murderous invasions of Palestinian land and the building of hundreds of thousands of homes on stolen blood soaked ground and not a word of protest from today's Labor? You've dropped the baton Kevin, you had it once so bend down and pick it up again. You don't have to be scared of Gillard and her Israeli loving cohorts because she does not represent True Labor anyway nor does she represent the views of 75% of Australia that wants Israel sanctioned.

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  15. Have never voted Labor and the shape that the ALP is in at the moment would have to say It may be the case for a very long time come. At the moment I find it hard not to compare our Government to some of the dictatorships that are being over thrown around the world as we speak. How can anyone have any confidence or trust in a government that was implemented the way it was and then to go on and introduce socialist reform. I have enormous amounts of respect for Mr Rudd for carrying on with his new appointment and maintaining a professional posture after being removed as PM. On top of that he has continued to display a clear direction that the ALP should be achieving and acountry as a whole. Give the Coalition a party that is worthy of debate and something to work with so we can meet in the middle. We all know as it stands now, come election time we could plug a bit more of that hole in the budget by saving the money to hold an election and just hand it over to the coalition. Last election was just a waste of a day for every single person who voted, lets not let this happen again. Keep strong and push on KRudd you have clear vision and direction. Something that our current leader struggles with.

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  16. Maybe if elected party members did what they were actually employed to do, REPRESENT AND ENACT THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE rather than dictating terms and beliefs to those who employ you then you may have that fighting chance.

    If the party continues down this path of self righteousness and belief in "the people dont know whats good for them, we know whats best for the people" then the party will be condemned the pages of history as is should!

    The solution to the problem is clear.

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  17. Two sentences jump out:
    "The tone we adopt."
    "The civility we embrace."
    I expect the party that leads our country to be made up of role models for our children. As the "average Joe" I dont pretend to know everything about the major global and national issues but I do know that we can't address them without listening, cooperating and putting forward our solutions in a respectful manner. The name calling, abuse and negativity exhibited by both Labor and Liberal is pushing everyone towards the smaller parties and yes they will disappear. The "average Joe" is looking to find solutions to violence, unemployment, addiction, lack of motivation in youth, poverty, waste of public monies and the things they encounter every day. I voted for Kevin Rudd because when I saw of him in debates with Joe Hockey on Channel 7 he always put forward his ideas in a well researched manner without directly personally attacking anyone and I thought "this is what I want my children to aspire to. With civility, research and positivity we can find solutions to the every day problems and stop making excuses".

    So to revamp the Labor party take the stand of "no excuses".
    1. No excuse for rudeness, negativity and bad behaviour. When it is exhibited in parliament sittings state clearly that it is not acceptable. Have a 3 strikes and your out rule for memebrs of the labor party who are rude or badly behaved. (Or maybe even 1 strike)
    2. No excuse for violence or workplace/school bullying and make education in this area a part of the school curriculum as well as making penalties harsher. At the moment you spend more time in prison for crimes like fraud against the government. Sorry but my families safety is more important.
    3. No excuses for non profit organisations not being accountable for compliance with their funding criteria and dont accept the excuses they give about not having funds to employ people. I've worked for many and the 30% tax break has meant I've been on a higher wage than many in other employment. Many people employed in non profits are so low in skills they would never get employment elsewhere so they go to non profits because they employ anyone and pay well. The organisations outputs are so low. They waste money donated and they either don't comply with funding requirements or they lie to comply. It needs to be brought under control and they need to have demonstrated business skills as part of their recruitment to ensure they can manage their programs and funding.
    4. No excuses for poor health systems! Take the health system away from the State Governments. They have proven they cant do it right. Consistency across the nation allows us to put in key performance indicators. Health like education can't be subject to State politicians agendas. They are both so important to every individual!
    5. No excuses for our government being swayed by individual agendas! When we vote for a Prime Minister we expect him to be in office until we vote him out! Yes Kevin is a workaholic and expects a lot of his staff. So do I, they get paid a hell of a lot from my taxes! Stop your whinging Labor party and get the job done. You are a political party in a democratic society not a union who bullies to get their own way! I voted Labor for the first time when Kevin Rudd was a contender. I look forward to Kevin Rudd being reinstated as Prime Minister and until that time I will vote Green.

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  18. To get the voter back to Labor needs to address the amount of money being wasted in the Northern Territory. Government Business Managers are paid between $120K and $200K a year. They are given new 4 wheel drives, free accommodation, free electricity, free internet, free austar, free phones, 6 free flights to their home state plus flown free to Darwin or Alice Springs 3 times a year and put up in the best hotels only to listen to exactly the same information they have already received by email. The ones who try to work are told that they dont understand their job and their contract isn't renewed. Ones who sit in their accommodation watching Austar, playing games on Facebook and not interacting with the people are kept on because they are prepared to just be figureheads. Shire Service Managers have much harder jobs and are paid a pittance so the position attracts unskilled lazy staff. Shires are not forced to be compliant for their huge amount of funding and often don't follow workplace safety rules. State government workers often exhibit a lack of work ethics. The SIHIP program was an example of this. My time in the Northern Territory and remote Communities in South Australia absolutely shocked me at how corrupt it all is. Staff from every Government Department go out in the communities and think they should be paid for just being there and not have to work. Non profits justify their existence and jobs by using (and making excuses for) the plight of the people instead of being realistic. If anyone employed in Federal Government, State Government or Local Government speaks up about it being unacceptable they are removed from their position.
    On the other side lets stop making excuses for the plight of Australias indigenous people. For us or them! We have created a race of people who have given up on self dignity by making excuses and giving handouts. They are not looking after themselves and their families. There are many jobs in remote communities but you can't get people to work in them because they have been created by a government who wants to say "see what we are doing" instead of "what do the people need". You cant motivate people with money or positions that hold no value for them. We should combine their interests of music, mechanics, knowledge of the land, football etc to find solutions. Make attendance at football games reliant on children going to school and see how it improves! Start up car servicing workshops in every community. Why build a house for a family they are not allowed to communicate with? Get them building their own! Why work in a shop with someone they are not allowed to speak to? Make families responsible for different services and then get them to trade access to those services between families. In this manner they will have to exhibit harmony and cooperation, just as they once did with waterholes and animals. Don't allow violence, unlicenced driving, unsafe cars, unsafe driving, child neglect, public drunkenness. We dont allow it for other races. It is disrespectful to consider Aboriginal people "know no better". Get the whole community involved in publicly rejecting these so they know it won't be accepted and people will avoid the humiliation. If you neglect or abuse a child it should be removed, it doesnt matter what colour your skin is. That child deserves a chance to thrive and be loved. Pay indigenous people who are good parents to foster those children instead of giving handouts for nothing. We are so scared of the "stolen generation" being repeated that we are aiding abuse. No I'm not racist, I am Aboriginal too, my mother was one of the stolen children but I know how many good people there are in communities who have lost motivation because people have made excuses. We cant stay too scared to address the real issues. It is disrespectful to the Indigenous people who have good values and behaviours. Comeon Labor have the balls to stand up and support our indigenous communities in a way that gives them back self respect.

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  19. A truly great speech Kevin. Now lets see if we can put your message into practice. I very much look forward to hearing the results of the National conference.
    Now, please tell us why we are being lap dogs to the rabid US and allowing them to put their troops into Darwin and why we are going to sell uranium to India.
    These are not Labor principles, neither is the continuing war in Afghanistan where our troops are fighting a lost cause and dying in the process.
    I do come from a Labor family, am vice president of my branch and have always voted Labor, but these three subjects make me very much doubt the validity of what Labor is standing for now.
    I look forward to an answer.
    Thank you.

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  20. Thanks for the informative and insightful post.

    In terms of re-distributing wealth and helping those on lower incomes to achieve social and financial independence as has always been the goal of Labor, let's look at this government's record:

    1. Medicare: Bulk billing rates continue to fall and *nothing* has been done about this whatsoever. Finding a doctor who doesn't charge fees in 2011 is near impossible.

    2. Housing: Negative gearing helps those who already have property and means to deprive those of us who don't from home ownership (and therefore freedom from an ownership class). Again, you'd rather see us rent in perpetuum than take on the 'negative gearers'.

    3. Education: John Howard raised the HECS rates substantially and when Labor came into office, *nothing* was done to reduce the HECS levies again. All very well to thank Whitlam for your free education whilst denying the current generation even an affordable one.

    4. Job security: Labor really has done very little to provide job security by persisting with short-term individual contracts which are forced upon staff. Do you think that it's fair to employ people with a string of 12-month contracts? C'mon, this isn't what Labor should stand for.

    Modern Labor needs to *act* on these important aspects of policy as well as the bigger issues like climate change which I applaud.

    From my vantage point, it seems the baby boomers had it all whilst they deprive my generation of any sense of security or opportunity if it cuts across their financial interests.

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  21. Although I could be a lot more eloquent, I think my Twitter responses covered most of it, so I may as well just transcribe them for others to know my thoughts :)

    @KRuddMP I have a say with Greens & GetUp. I'd go back to Labor in a flash if I thought my voice would be heard there.

    @KRuddMP The answer to fighting "the aggressive conservative onslaught of a resurgent right" is 'not' if you can't beat them, join them.

    @KRuddMP I've watched NSW Labor made unelectable by the right-wing faction. They almost did it Federally as well and must be stopped.

    @KRuddMP But if the Labor membership had a vote, you'd seriously have to do something about them being misled by the media.

    The only thing I really want to add is that I voted for the vision you gave us in 2007 and I felt absolutely ripped off when Labor turned into just another (sometimes worse) version of John Howard's vision. I have my life set up ok, what happens in the government doesn't much affect me personally, but I have strong feelings for other people. Your apology to Aboriginal people and your stance against Howard's cruel policies toward asylum seekers were important to me. I truly believe that you can judge a nation by the way it treats it's most vulnerable members and I've been ashamed to be Australian under Labor for the past 17 months. Right-wing policies against people are alien to what Labor is supposed to stand for.

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  22. Pat Clive, Cairns: I have voted Labor since 1968 but have been wavering lately because I don't feel those elected are the ones pulling the strings. Only the fear of Tony Abbott has kept me from changing although I have been guilty of voting Greens with Labor 2nd as a wake up call. So these proposed reforms are timely.
    At least I feel better now about being Australian: carbon tax, gambling reforms and cigarette plain packaging are world leaders if not greatly influential on a global scale VS Tampa, children overboard and invasion of a sovereign state (Iraq) to help the US fulfill its objectives.

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  23. The Federal ALP has fallen for the 3 card trick of needing to react every time Aboott barks. They seem to have forgotten who is in government. Intially the Rudd then Gillard government had its heart in the right place regarding trying to achieve some social equity for the wider Australian public but has now under seige started flapping in the wind of public aproval polls. Not a good look and certainly not "governing" anything! Hopefully the ALP can address the error of its ways soon enough to ward off the Coalition threat to take the Government benches back by becoming singular of purpose on real issues that matter to the people on the street (Unlike lofty theoreticaly feel good positons like a questionably effective carbon tax when there are more well known and more effective ways to address the problem) and taking stands to please allies. Do we really need to be in Afghanistan now? Are we that keen to please George Bush's war mongers?

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  24. Well said Mr.Rudd.As a swinging voter I am totally fed up with the negativity that exists between the 2 major parties.I wish someone would step up and actually speak from their heart.The last time i saw this was your 'sorry' speech and your parting speech.We need strong leaders who have the courage to wear their hearts on their sleeve.We need to work together to look after this great country and ensure a prosperous,democratic and safe future for our children

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  25. i have no fear of Tony Abbott or any leader who should win government, in a democracy we must support those who win, we have enough checks and balances in place to prevent a Saddam Hussein or Gadaffi taking over and for me a great majority of politicians have this country at heart irrespective of their political persuasion . Even blind freddie can see that the voters in this country are divided equally between the major parties (forget the greens), it is all about respecting the other persons point of view and acting accordingly, this is the spirit of democracy. I will always vote for the person in my electorate I like irrespective of his party politics, I once voted for somone three times in three different elections for three different parties, and no he did not get in but he would have did a bloody good job. I have a view, if you are an arsehole, you are an arsehole no matterwhat your colour,creed or political persuasion. My favourite politicians are Bob Hawke, John Howard, Peter Beatty, Joh Bjelke-Petersen, Malcolm Turnbull and Kevin Rudd, read into that what you will.

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  26. Very thought provoking. Certainly it looks as if factions have had their day, I for one would love to see some progressive change and renewed faith in a great political party.

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  27. I agree with Louise, I thought what happened to you as PM was appaling and shook my faith in democracy to the core. I felt betrayed by the labor party. Why bother voting if the powers behind the throne can pick and change leaders at whim?

    I thought you were doing a good job under very trying conditions. Your contempary Barack Obama certainly hasn't done any better. For you to to still be so passionate about Labors future i find both suprising and inspiring.

    Personaly I think Labor has lost its identity, Much like the rest of Australia. It's certainly not the party of the worker anymore. Forcing draconian taxes onto the peasentry should have gone out the door with feudalism. It's becoming clear there is a hidden agenda for the future of our nation and we are all just along for the ride.

    "You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time" -Abraham Lincoln

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  28. Returning power to the rank-and-file is the right way to go.

    The ALP should seriously consider letting the rank-and-file choose the Parliamentary leader.

    Alternatively, consider the UK Labour Party's practice of the leader being chosen by the rank-and-file, members of affiliated organisations, and Commons members (weighted a third each).

    Keep up the good work and fighting the good fight.
    Cheers

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  29. It is not a rocket science to see the overwhelming number of swinging voters (include myself) fleeing the party that is surrounded by factional warlords trying to spin, manipulate and deceive the general public.

    If the factional warlords have the approval of assassinating the best Prime Minister Australia has ever had, it will be the ALP that is going to suffer with its lack of appeal to the general public, as general public will only see our democracy as one illusion. Then again, there is always the Greens, GetUp! groups to turn to...

    Go on Mr Rudd! Take them on! Your country needs you! We need you! By implementing your ideas, Australia will be better for it!

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  30. I agree. I know we elect politicians to make the big decisions for us, but I'd still like to feel like i have a say. At present it feels like I am powerless to a government that just does whatever it wants, even breaking its own election promises which are the reason I voted them in in the first place. I don't respect a government that "gets a lot done" by just ignoring the people of Australia. At present Australia feels like a dictatorship to a handful of politicians in the Labor party. The Prime Minister seems like a puppet whose only goal is to do whatever it takes to remain in power by saying yes to whatever the power-brokers behind the scenes decide
    As for Graham Richardson, we want politicians who are there to serve the people, not their own interests

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  31. This is what brought Kev down. He's too progressive for his own party. How sad

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  32. Kevin, do you realise that when the leadership spill occurs that it will be a compromise candidate (Bill Shorten) that will be appointed? The people want you back as PM but not the Labour parliamentarians who fear for their careers if you return. Bill Shorten has been following a very careful plan for several years....it's really quite impressive....but it's not democracy.

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  33. Kevin Rudd, progessive? I voted you in and would definitely have voted you out. I had no problem with Julia challenging...there was no other option. You were and are out of touch, arrogant and completely egocentric. I'm not entirely happy with the current performance of Labor,but the right is offering nothing at all worth considering. I'll back Julia in the belief that once you're out of the way; she'll be able to get on with the job

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes I wholeheartedly agree with these sentiments. Julia Gillard has not been given "a fair go" a phrase Mr Rudd often quotes. I just sincerely hope that 'for the good of this great country' you will bow out gracefully if defeated and support the party from the backbenches. If you win I'm afraid I will not be voting Labour

      Delete
  34. Way to go Kevin!!!!!!! You had my vote in 07 and you will have my vote...shake that Labor Party make them work for their money and make them worthy to work along side you!!!!!!!
    F...inky go for it!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  35. I am deeply sadened by the treatment you have received. It is so wrong. I voted for you, and for the first time in years I actually felt happy and secure in actually voting for someone to run our wonderful country. I was in shock and was up all night when Ms Gillard underminded you and took the position from underneath you. Now I feel I have no faith in the way our country is run. We live in a country where we are lucky enough to choose our leader and not be shot in the street for not agreeing with it, and the way things have been delt with makes our great Australia nearly on par with the unlucky countries! Kevin, you should run again for Prime Minister! If not, my vote wont count, it will be blank. There is only one thing i pray for from a good government, and that is the correct funding for our childrens schools! Kevin, I wish you all the best and hope you come back and make Australia right! Kind regards , Jules Phillips.

    ReplyDelete
  36. I have a son who is an 8y.o. philosopher. Recently when playing a game of chess with his father he looked like getting a sound beating. In a few surprise moves he turned the whole show around and his chuckling advice to dad was "Just because I don't have many pieces doesn't mean I can't win the game". I wish you all the best and hope that my sons wise counsel can somehow be translated to your position too. Under Gillard the next labor campaign is unwinable. Cheers.

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  37. Go for it Mate.... Your got a great Family behind you and my Vote. If you don't win start your own party

    FXXXing Proud of u and your family

    Best Wishes Glen Syd

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  38. I voted for you at the 2010 election. I believe you have waited 2 years to say everything you said last night and today. I hope that they will see commonsense and put you back in the job that myself and the rest of the country voted you in for.
    Regards Jo

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  39. There are no puppet strings on you, hope you win.

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  40. It's simple. You were voted in by the majority of Australians to be prime minister of this country.What true democracy can take that away from you?You have not done anything serious enough for members of your own party to take that away from you. They have no right to deny you what the majority of Australians elected you to do. Julia was not elected by these people.They have been betrayed by our system(so called democratic).You are more trustworthy to Australians than Julia or Tony. I pray you win for all Australians in the name of true democracy. You have my full support, and I believe the vast majority (the silent majority) of Australians support. We need a strong honest politician like you Kevin. Whatever happens you will not lose the vast respect of Australian citizens.

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  41. I think you had your shot. Put the ego away and support the party, which would show you have really changed. Sad to see you ripping the party apart and you cannot pretend you are not part of the problem.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Australia need one Prime Ministerial material in waiting after September 2013...yes! if it had not started with then Deputy Prime Minister's political entourage to play a risky game that could be never ending until the curtains fall on ALP, blame it on instability. Who started it all, may i ask? I will soon join ALP with over 10,000 Australian Papuans once the formalities are finalised. When you undermine goodwill democracy by a few than the system fights back...it cannot be underestimated by reason of simple logic where logic is not always a balanced diet.We always agree to disagree or disagree to agree. The grass ruts want Rudd, the political system is in the hands of a few, is this democratic principle or is it democracy adopted for convenience of a few?. In such situations a primary ballot could solve the impasse... so we should if it truly is democratic by nature filtered by people preference.Dig up the humble beginnings....the roots...we haven't looked hard enough..have we cleaned the cobwebs.... sad but true!

      Delete
    2. agree 1000%...the impasse started somewhere somehow, as a Papuan warrior...we defend Rudd because he was able to say sorry to the indigenous population as the owners of Australia, Papuan Warrior of Oro Bay origin and a Orokaivan.. good on you My Wantok.

      Delete
  42. The question will have to be asked soon.
    Do we really need polititions

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  43. You asked the public to make their views known. Mine is that I do not believe you have the capacity to lead. I believe the image that endears you to some of the public is false. You are wrong about your appropriateness to lead the country.

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  44. The thing that you anti Rudd people don't get is his ability to give all hope that Australia and the world can be a better place. It really doesn't matter that this may be a false reality, he and his government will always do alright and will also make the population feel better. Lets face it Australia has little pull in the world scale, but Kevin wants to put himself and and our country on the map, give the bloke ago. At least he doesn't sit back like Costello did. Good on you Kevin. Either way Kevin Put it up Julia and that little shit Shorten

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  45. Proud Kevin Supporter24 February 2012 at 12:18

    Kevin

    I think you're the best thing to happen to the Australian Labour Party since Gough Whitlam.

    My family and I have great respect for you.

    A big thank-you for your Apology to the Stolen Generation.

    You were treated badly by those who should of had your back.
    The labour party is turning in on itself, fed by their own egos, I never thought it would come to this.

    Love your honesty. openess, determination, vision and optimism. Good on you Kevin.

    My family and I hope Labour MP's realise you are our best hope for the Labour Party and the country as a whole.

    We back you 100%. Have emailed various MP's to let them know what we think. Hope they see that you are the right person for the job.

    Good luck to you.

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  46. I'll be watching the pre-selections for '13. Can ALP derail some earnest prospects, in favour of giving candidacy to one or two outstanding Australians? Do that, and membership will increase. More so, if ALP can find a way to get more recognition for First Peoples.
    On branch meetings, yes, the school halls are bigger and brighter, but they echo. You'll need to look at smarter (ie, electronic) ways of getting people to together.

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  47. I have just subscribe to the newsletter after reading the information and comments in the forum. I am interested in the future of Kevin Rudd as I feel he will become prime minister again with hindsight.

    I’m just wondering if anyone else has noticed the lizard like facial expression on Tony Abbott when he starts to dribble about nothing. You see his mouth open to one side and then he gets a bit of tongue action going as if his tongue is tripping over itself. What makes me really laugh is that some of his ministers have started to mimic this same expression.

    ReplyDelete
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