Perfect time for Labor Party reform
'Perfect time' for Labor Party reform

Federal Labor MP Alannah MacTiernan says she "despairs for the future" of the WA Labor Party if it does not seize the opportunity to reform itself.

And she has taken a swipe at Labor's biggest affiliated unions - United Voice and the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association, which she described as representing low-paid female workers - as more "autocratic" than other unions that represented relatively well-paid male workers.

Ms MacTiernan's comments came after _The Weekend West _ revealed details of an internal Labor report whose recommendations would significantly weaken the stranglehold of union powerbrokers on the party's affairs.

Sources said Labor's administrative committee wanted to quash the report, whose authors argued it should be released in full to all party members.


Among its recommendations are tougher rules around secret ballots for internal voting and direct election of Labor's State executive, in a bid to weaken union bosses' power over votes.

The report says only 20 per cent of Labor's 80 WA branches are active and ordinary Labor members believe factions have "taken over" most of the local branches in a bid to gain extra representation over and above the 50 per cent provided for in party rules in key decision making forums.

Slimming down the number of branches from 80 to 59 is one of 10 recommendations in the report aimed at reviving the party.

"The party is just not going to be able to survive without structural reform," Ms MacTiernan said. "We will continue to have a party structure where all the political energy goes into organising upwards (to faction leaders) and not organising outwards."

Ms MacTiernan, whose efforts at party reform have been blocked in the past, said it was "the perfect time" to pursue change.

"We're out (of Government), we're a couple of years out from elections both at State and Federal level," she said. "Within the Labor party Australia-wide, we are the poorest performer.

"If we don't shape up at this time, I would despair for our future."

The West Australian

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