LETTER TO THE EDITOR, SMH, UNPUBLISHED.
While there are several people in the Left of the ALP who deserve commendation for their principled stance in support of party values over the asylum seeker issue, it is not fair of the SMH to purely characterise moves within the party for greater democracy as only coming from the Left. There are many, many people in all factions of the party very disturbed about the direction of the party on refugees, asylum seekers, and human rights. Calls for greater democracy and action to open up democratic channels inside the party are being instigated by those who would be traditionally associated with the Right, as much as the Left . The ALP needs renewal and one thing that needs to be done is to stop the easy labelling of people and events as being of the Right or the Left.
THE left wing of the ALP will launch a nationwide campaign today aimed at mobilising the grassroots to push for greater democracy and policy reform in the party.
Emboldened by the Left faction finding its voice over asylum seekers and other issues, the Labor renewal campaign will have at its core the reforms to the party's rules and structures recommended in the election review by party elders John Faulkner, Steve Bracks and Bob Carr.
Ten days ago, the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, sanctioned a full-blown debate at the December national conference over the proposed reforms.
Advertisement: Story continues below She proposed a handful of measures she would like to see. She left open to wider changes by calling for the party to embrace ''the party members' empowerment reforms proposed in the Faulkner-Bracks-Carr review''.
The Left took this as a sign to push for the direct election of a greater proportion of delegates to the national conference, which is the ALP's premier policy deciding forum. The renewal push, to be launched today, will include the direct election of national conference delegates and changes to the way candidates for elections are selected.
A petition to be circulated among the rank-and-file nationwide calls for the driving of new policy agendas ''by embracing new policies and ideas grounded in solid Labor values''. It demands the party always puts Labor's values first.
''By making sure that whether we are elected members of parliament, trade unionists, policy committee activists or branch members, we always keep our unique Labor values at the core of our work and put the party's interests as a whole first,'' it says.
The ALP has been wrestling with its conscience in recent weeks as it grapples with direction over asylum seekers.
The Left has begun to speak out openly, both in and out of caucus.