A plan to allow ordinary Labor members in NSW a say on who gets preselected on upper house tickets has been rejected by the party’s NSW conference.
A bid by Labor elder John Faulkner to allow ordinary ALP members to select upper house candidates has been rejected by the party’s NSW conference.
But in a mixed day for reform at the ALP state conference in Sydney, the almost 900 delegates backed a plan to give members a say in choosing the party’s NSW leader.
Under the plan, which is aimed at taking away power from factional bosses, leadership will be determined by a ballot weighted at 50 per cent caucus members and 50 per cent members of the party.
Senator Faulkner’s controversial proposal would have allowed rank-and-file members the opportunity to choose who stands on the party’s Senate and Legislative Council tickets.
He said the present system, which allows the conference to elect candidates, was broken and had allowed corrupt former ministers such as Eddie Obeid, Ian Macdonald and Tony Kelly to enter parliament.
“It’s our responsibility to change that system that inflicted them, not only on our party, but on the people of NSW,” he told the conference, held at Sydney’s Town Hall.
The proposal, which was strongly rejected, ignited a heated debate between the party’s right and left factions.
The right, led by NSW state secretary Jamie Clements, opposed the plan, saying it would dilute the power of trade unionists.
Mr Clements disputed Senator Faulkner’s claim that direct elections of upper house candidates would stop the likes of Obeid and Macdonald being preselected.
“The system that is proposed would suit those two to a tee,” he told the conference.
Mr Clements said Macdonald was the secretary of the socialist left, which he said would have been supported by many ALP members in a free ballot.
Obeid, meanwhile, was an “ethnic branch stacker” with more than 3000 members supporting him.
Earlier, delegates at the conference backed a motion that bans seven former Labor members from rejoining the party.
“We want a small manila folder with a large red stamp on the front: never to be readmitted,” assistant general secretary John Graham said.
The motion targets former ministers Obeid, Macdonald, Kelly and Joe Tripodi, all of whom where found by the Independent Commission Against Corruption to have acted corruptly while in office, as well as former Health Services Union chiefs Craig Thomson and Michael Williamson, who have been sentenced over fraud relating to the misuse of members’ funds.
Mr Tripodi’s former staffer Ann Wills has also been banned from rejoining the ALP.