Tuesday, July 05, 2011


Anna Patty, SMH.

5 July 2011.

LABOR'S rank and file vow an open revolt against Sussex Street powerbrokers if their calls for reform are rejected at the party's annual state conference in Sydney this weekend.

More than 100 members, including ALP branch secretaries and presidents, have signed a strongly worded letter threatening an ongoing war against party bosses if they reject genuine reform and fail to give members a greater say in how the party is run.

''If conference chooses not to endorse any increased powers for members, it will be an unmistakeable repudiation of the will of our party's rank and file,'' the letter says.

Advertisement: Story continues below ''Such a snub has the potential to provoke rank and file members across the state into a campaign of open revolt against the party's current hierarchy.''

The letter says the executive's proposals ''provide no road map at all for how to halt and reverse the devastating shrinking and ageing of our membership base over the next three years''.

Among the letter's signatories is Paul Pearce, president of Labor's Bronte branch and former MP for Coogee.

In a scathing account of the party's massive failure at the state polls in March, he criticised the ''ideological straitjacket of public-private options, or outright privatisation'' of services.

He said "ideologues in the cabinet and Caucus" - including former Treasurer Michael Costa and numbers man Joe Tripodi - pushed power privatisation in a "brutal and uncompromising manner.''

In his confidential submission to a review of the ALP defeat by former minister John Watkins, Mr Pearce, of the party left, said the power privatisation "was a step too far for even those members who were generally open to private sector involvement, yet numbers were brutally crunched, personal abuse became a tool of trade, and coherent argument ceased". Mr Pearce said Mr Costa had undermined the authority of the former premier, Morris Iemma, who was later forced to ''fall on his sword''.

''The final nails in the coffin came with the ill-advised and, to the public perception at least, arguably incompetent exercise by the former Treasurer to proceed with the partial privatisation of the electricity assets,'' Mr Pearce said in his submission