Electing the party leader

Parliament house flag post

Electing the party leader

Posted 1/10/2013 by Deirdre McKeown

On 8 July 2013, then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced proposed changes to the way in which the Australian Labor Party elects its leader. The changes included votes by the party membership and votes by the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party (FPLP), weighted at 50% each, and processes for when and how a leader can be challenged and the amount of Caucus support needed to mount a challenge to the leader. The special meeting of Caucus on 22 July 2013 endorsed the proposals but agreed that a petition challenging the leader should require 60% Caucus support rather than the 75% proposed by Rudd. It was also agreed that, in the period between the federal election and the ALP election of its leader, the deputy leader or the highest ranked House of Representatives member would act as leader.

On 17 September, the ALP National Executive issued guidelines and a proposed timeline for the election of the leader of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party:

13 September      Nominations open

18 September      States send National Returning Officer (NRO) rolls of qualified Party
                            members

20 September      5:00pm nominations close

24 September      Member voting opens, ballot papers and candidate statements issued

9 October            5:00pm Member ballot closes*

10 October          4:00pm Members of FPLP meet to vote for Leader

11 October          NRO count of member ballot

13 October          2:00pm Caucus RO count of FPLP vote and declaration of elected
                           candidate

* The National Executive extended the members' ballot to 5.00pm Friday 11 October because of a delay in some WA members receiving their ballot papers.

Financial members of the ALP at 7 September are eligible to vote. Candidates are not permitted to use paid media advertising and all financial transactions related to the election are to be conducted through ALP National Secretariat accounts established for this purpose.

At the close of nominations on 20 September there were two candidates: Anthony Albanese (Grayndler, NSW) and Bill Shorten (Maribyrnong, Vic). Because the FPLP’s deputy leader (Albanese) was a candidate, former Treasurer, Chris Bowen, became acting leader for the interim period in line with the rules endorsed by Caucus on 22 July.

Both candidates have embarked on nation-wide campaigns: meeting members in each state and territory, giving media interviews, using social media and holding public debates. The candidates have held three public debates; two televised live on ABC News 24 and one on the ABC TV Q&A program. Members have reacted positively to the process and there are reports that the ALP has experienced an increase in membership. Interim leader, Chris Bowen said in a radio interview ‘it’s a great process; the party membership has been invigorated by it … [and] we’ve been deluged with membership applications’.

Concerns have been expressed about the distraction caused by the month-long campaign and the legitimacy of the successful candidate if he does not secure a majority of both caucus (FPLP) and party member votes. Commentators have suggested that Mr Albanese will secure a majority of members’ votes while Mr Shorten is expected to win the Caucus vote.

Australian political parties have been slow to adopt more democratic models of electing the party leader and members of parliament have, until now, retained the exclusive right to elect their leader. Only the Australian Democrats, no longer a party represented in the federal parliament, have included members in the election of the party leader. 

A large number of international political parties have moved to democratise party processes and now include party members in the election of the party leader. In the United Kingdom, all three major political parties have given formal voting rights to their individual members in leadership elections.

UK Labour has adopted a three-way Electoral College model consisting of members of the parliamentary party, affiliated members (for example, trade unions) and Labour Party members. In 2010, Ed Miliband won the leadership contest with a majority of union votes but not a majority of the votes of MPs or party members. The Guardian said before the vote that ‘Labour is lucky, save in the 1981 deputy leadership contest, that it has never elected a leader or deputy in the modern era against the majority wishes of ordinary party members’. The election of Labour Party leaders is described in detail in a paper published by the House of Commons Library. The UK Conservative Party and the Liberal Democratic Party both involve party members in leadership elections. In Canada, most of the major parties have also adopted a more democratic election process involving members.

In November 2012 the New Zealand Labour Party adopted a model, much like that used by UK Labour, giving caucus 40% of the vote, party members 40% and affiliated unions 20%. The leadership election took place in September 2013 with three candidates nominating for the position. The successful candidate, David Cunliffe, secured a majority of votes from members and affiliated unions but not the Caucus.


Thank you for your comment. If it does not require moderation, it will appear shortly.
Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Add | Email Print

FlagPost

Flagpost is a blog on current issues of interest to members of the Australian Parliament


Parliamentary Library Logo showing Information Analysis & Advice

Archive

Syndication

Tagcloud

refugees asylum immigration Australian foreign policy Parliament climate change elections women social security Indigenous Australians Australian Bureau of Statistics Employment Sport illicit drugs people trafficking taxation Medicare welfare reform Australian Defence Force higher education welfare policy United Nations health financing Asia income management Middle East criminal law disability Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency World Anti-Doping Agency United States federal budget gambling school education forced labour aid statistics Australian Electoral Commission WADA emissions trading dental health Australia in the Asian Century steroids detention Private health insurance OECD ASADA labour force transport Law Enforcement Australian Federal Police Industrial Relations people smuggling National Disability Insurance Scheme Australian Crime Commission slavery Senate election results Papua New Guinea Australian Public Service constitution International Women's Day corruption Afghanistan Fair Work Act child protection debt federal election 2013 parliamentary procedure poker machines ALP New Zealand Newstart Parenting Payment 43rd Parliament political parties Census High Court skilled migration voting Federal Court terrorist groups Higher Education Loan Program HECS youth paid parental leave Aviation environment foreign debt gross debt net debt defence capability customs doping health crime health risks multiculturalism aged care Gonski Review of Funding for Schooling sex slavery sea farers Special Rapporteur leadership United Kingdom UK Parliament Electoral reform politics banking firearms public policy violence against women domestic violence mental health China ADRV terrorism social media pensions welfare ASIO intelligence community Australian Security Intelligence Organisation governance public service reform Carbon Pricing Mechanism carbon tax mining military history employer employee fishing by-election European Union same sex relationships international relations coal seam gas family assistance planning United Nations Security Council Australian economy food vocational education and training Drugs health reform Indonesia children codes of conduct terrorist financing health system money laundering asylum seekers early childhood education Canada Population Financial sector national security fuel disability employment Tasmania integrity science research and development Australian Secret Intelligence Service sexual abuse federal state relations World Trade Organization Australia accountability housing affordability bulk billing water renewable energy children's health health policy Governor-General US economy export liquefied natural gas foreign bribery question time speaker superannuation expertise Senators and Members climate Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry food labelling Pacific Islands reserved seats new psychoactive substances synthetic drugs UNODC carbon markets Indigenous constitutional recognition of local government local government consumer laws PISA royal commission US politics language education baby bonus Leaders of the Opposition Parliamentary remuneration Australia Greens servitude Trafficking Protocol energy forced marriage rural and regional Northern Territory Emergency Response ministries social citizenship human rights High Court; Indigenous; Indigenous Australians; Native Title ACT Indigenous education Norfolk Island External Territories emissions reduction fund; climate change child care funding refugees immigration asylum procurement Indigenous health e-voting internet voting nsw state elections 44th Parliament 2015 ABS Age Pension Death penalty capital punishment execution Bali nine Bali bombings Trade EU China soft power education Fiji India Disability Support Pension Antarctica Diplomacy by-elections state and territories workers Bills anti-corruption fraud bribery transparency corporate ownership whistleblower G20 economic reform innovation standards NATO Members of Parliament Scottish referendum Middle East; national security; terrorism social services Criminal Code Amendment (Misrepresentation of Age to a Minor) Bill 2013 online grooming sexual assault of minors ACT Assembly public health smoking plain packaging tobacco cigarettes Asia; Japan; international relations Work Health and Safety Migration; asylum seekers; regional processing China; United States; international relations fiscal policy Racial Discrimination Act; social policy; human rights; indigenous Australians Foreign policy Southeast Asia Israel Palestine regional unemployment asylum refugees immigration political finance donations foreign aid Economics efficiency productivity human rights; Racial Discrimination Act employment law bullying Animal law; food copyright Australian Law Reform Commission industry peace keeping contracts workplace policies trade unions same-sex marriage disorderly conduct retirement Parliament House standing orders public housing prime ministers election timetable sitting days First speech defence budget submarines Somalia GDP forestry world heritage political engagement leave loading Trade; tariffs; safeguards; Anti-dumping public interest disclosure whistleblowing Productivity Commission regulation limitation period universities Ireland cancer gene patents genetic testing suspension of standing and sessional orders animal health live exports welfare systems infant mortality middle class welfare honorary citizen railways disciplinary tribunals standard of proof World Health Organisation arts international students skilled graduate visas temporary employment visas apologies roads Italy national heritage NHMRC nutrition anti-dumping Constitutional reform referendum Rent Assistance competition policy pharmaceutical benefits scheme obesity evidence law sacrament of confession US presidential election international days DFAT UN General Assembly deregulation Regulation Impact Statements administrative law small business Breaker Morant homelessness regional engagement social determinants of health abortion Youth Allowance Members suspension citizen engagement policymaking federal election 2010 workplace health and safety Trafficking in Persons Report marine reserves hearing TAFE Victoria astronomy resources sector YMCA youth parliament alcohol Korea rebate Australian Greens presidential nomination Racial Discrimination Act entitlements political parties preselection solar hot water Financial Action Taskforce Horn of Africa peacekeeping piracy Great Barrier Reef Stronger futures political financing Hung Parliament political education social inclusion Social Inclusion Board maritime early childhood National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care Murray-Darling Basin Iran sanctions Norway hospitals republic President Barack Obama Presidential visits

Show all
Show less
Back to top