Outgoing ALP president Mark Butler has hit out at the “backroom buffoonery” of factional warlords in his own party and launched a fresh push for reform.
Addressing the Victorian Fabian Society, Mr Butler warned Labor is “treading water” with falling numbers and only 50,000 members out of a country nearing 25 million.
The rank and file needs to be given more input, he says.
“I’m sorry to say that ours remains a party that gives ordinary members fewer rights than any other Labor or Social Democratic Party I can think of,” he said in the speech on Monday night.
Mr Butler says many of the reforms discussed at the national conference in 2015 have been blocked by factional leaders.
“It is time to issue a strong call for the conference in Adelaide this July to grasp the nettle and to give ALP members the range of democratic and participatory rights that members of our sister parties across the world take for granted,” he said.
Mr Butler also pushed for a new category of member, called a registered supporter, who could vote in leadership ballots.
The president cited British Labour’s recruitment of 35,000 new members in four days after the 2017 election, taking its body up to 550,000.
“Our members here in Australia are hardworking, motivated believers in the Labor mission but as a group we are not representative of the broader Australian population,” he said.
While Labor can come together for election campaigns, there isn’t the army of supporters to organise beyond them and it can’t compete with the likes of GetUp, Mr Butler said.