December 5, 2012
Senator John Faulkner in this annual Neville Wran lecture given at University of Melbourne goes beyond the muckracking of recent weeks that has plagued political life in Canberra.
Faulkner addresses the political corruption in general and that in the Australian Labor Party in particular:
It is time to publicly acknowledge that there have been some in our party's ranks with neither political principles to defend nor moral convictions to uphold.It is clear that the current power balance, the current power structures, have enabled too much disgraceful conduct and arrogantly corrupt behaviour. It is clear, too, that some of those empowered by our current structures are resistant to measures which curtail their power.
He says that to have integrity, politicians must have the courage to defend their political principles and the strength to uphold their moral convictions. Fail either of these two challenges and political integrity is an impossibility. He adds that recent ICAC hearings in NSW have seen serious allegations made that some Labor Parliamentary and Party representatives in NSW have failed these two challenges.
Each of Faulkner's reforms seeks to diminish the power of factions inside the branch, increase accountability and empower the rank-and-file. I doubt that the ALP will be able to reform itself as some of its members hope.
The factions wield too much power. At best the NSW ALP may cap the worst excesses or make cosmetic changes. However, Labor will die unless it increased and invigorated its membership by democratising its processes.