Labor party stalwart wants more diversity and democracy in the Labor party

A big ask for people whose basic instincts are authoritarian. But their big losses in NSW, Victoria and Western Australia plus their unpopularity in Queensland and Federally have unnerved them

BRISBANE Labor stalwart Cr David Hinchliffe has added his voice to a growing list of party faithful calling on the ALP to change or risk slipping into political obscurity.

Cr Hinchliffe, who has been a member for almost 40 years and an ALP councillor for 25, accused the party of being "tired and dumb" by refusing to embrace the 21st century and continuing to insist members speak and act uniformly in public. "Former PM Kevin Rudd has spoken forcefully of a 'cancer' within the Labor Party. You don't cure a cancer by ignoring it," he said. "Labor caucus members should be able to exercise a free vote on issues affecting their local area and should be able to do that without having to get 'permission' from their party."

The comments came as federal Labor backbencher and Caucus chair Daryl Melham argued that changing leaders would go no way towards lifting Labor out of its problems. "If people are talking about changing the current leadership of the Labor Party, then we're headed for certain defeat," Mr Melham told Channel 10. "Anyone who goes for that solution are kidding themselves and will be punished."

Cr Hinchliffe said Labor members should be able to exercise the right to vote as they saw fit. "The Queensland ALP conference next weekend has just such an opportunity to be the first Labor Party in Australia to enshrine such a principle in its platform," he said. "Will this get a hearing? If we're serious about addressing what Kevin Rudd calls a 'cancer', it should."

Cr Hinchliffe also backed Senator John Faulkner's call to open up candidate selection and free it from the grip of "factional warlords". "We should embrace those in the community who are Labor supporters but are not Labor members," he said.

Cr Hinchliffe urged the party to move forwards. "Of course we need to remember where we came from, but we also need to know where we're going in this ever-changing 21st century," he said. "Will Kevin and John as the elder statesmen of the Labor Party be heard? For the sake of progressive politics I hope they will."


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