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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 11 Hansard (Tuesday, 15 Sept 2009) . . Page.. 3997 ..

She went on:

the … ethnic branch stacking has been the decline of dedicated branch members and the destruction of effective local branches. In this climate, the new Labor candidate in Fowler will face many challenges.

She continued:

While some retiring members have hoped to anoint a successor, I can say that I have no wish to do so. But if I could influence the selection, it would be to favour a candidate who shares my passion for the electorate of Fowler and for the Western Sydney region in general. It would be to favour a candidate who, guided by Labor principles, would place the interests of their community above the wishes of a state or federal Labor government. And it would be to favour a candidate who would be dedicated to mending the factional rift in Fowler branches and rebuilding the party with genuine Labor Party members.

She goes on and on about factional divisions and branch stacking in the Labor Party. It is a rare insight from a tightly controlled machine about what is happening in the Labor Party, in particular in New South Wales.

Can we draw parallels with what has occurred in the ACT of recent times? Is there any difference? The mother of all branch stacks, the affiliation with the CPSU planned by the left faction, would have brought 7,500 members if it had gone ahead. What of the factions? Now that the Treasurer is here she may be able to shed some light on the fights between the left and the right factions in the Labor Party. I must confess that she and Mr Barr would have far greater knowledge of that than I.

We do know that things have got so bad in the ACT that the national executive has felt it necessary to take over the party. Rather than a simple branch stack, which we know goes on all the time in the Labor Party, we had a situation that was described as so hopeless by members of the national executive that we have seen a takeover by the national executive. I think most members of this Assembly would agree with that.

Did Mr Stanhope block this? Did he demand the rights of the grassroots members of the Labor Party? No. So far as I am aware, he voted for it. He did not speak up for democracy and grassroots membership at all. The national executive postponed the ACT Labor Party’s annual conference and put in a new administration team. Is it a local boy done good? No. It is a New South Wales Labor ex-union official who has been working in the national secretariat. Someone from the national executive has been imposed on the local Labor membership. I can only imagine what the local membership, the grassroots membership of the ACT Labor Party, are thinking right now about what is happening to their party. They must be disgusted.

But the implications are not just for the members of the Labor Party. They go far broader than that to the entire community. Backroom hacks running a party rather than local members, grassroots members, is hardly the way to do business. It is not what we expect of a political party here in the ACT. It is not what we want to see.

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