From Open Labor:
An overwhelming vote of ordinary Labor members for a candidate in the state seat of Macedon is set to be overturned this evening by a secret deal between Left and Right factions.
The decision to disregard the vote for Christian Zahra, who obtained more than 80 per cent of two-candidate’s preferred votes in a plebiscite of members in Macedon, makes a mockery of adherence to the rules and commitment to democracy within the ALP.
It follows last week’s decision of the National Executive to deny local votes for Victorian Upper House candidates and to preselect candidates itself, after ignoring the National Returning Officer’s decision that the ballot was invalid due to not meeting Affirmative Action rules.
Open Labor calls on the ALP’s Public Office Selection Committee to respect the wishes of ALP members in the seat of Macedon and to preselect Christian Zahra.
The issue in Macedon is not the quality of the two main candidates, who are both excellent.
Nor is it exclusively an affirmative action issue, although the party’s commitment to women being preselected in 40 per cent of winnable seats will no doubt be invoked to justify the Macedon decision.
The issue is democracy, and whether the ALP leadership wants to have a party that engages and respects the views of its members and the rules that it currently has in place, or whether it is happy to have branch members continue to leave the party in frustration at being denied a role and selectively applies the rules to distort the outcome to suit the purposes of a few factional warlords.
Open Labor supports the current rule for Affirmative Action, but believes that the party must consistently apply the rules, and not pick and choose which rule to implement to suit a factional, pre-determined outcome.
It will be nothing short of breath-taking hypocrisy if the Affirmative Action rule is used to justify the overturning of a local rank and file vote in Macedon, and at the same time over-ride the National Returning Officer’s ruling on a National Executive ballot that ignores the AA rule.
Open Labor also calls on the State Branch of the ALP to follow the examples of other state branches to make pre-selection processes more inclusive and democratic and to abide by the Affirmative Action rule, not simply when it is convenient for factional purposes.