Bill Shorten has won the position as Labor Party leader with 63.95% of the caucus vote and 40.08 of the member vote. Shorten has called this a win for democracy and has proclaimed the process a success. Well he may. With 74% Labor member turnout, a high voting rate, still the caucus has managed to protect itself from the will of the membership.
If the membership is allowed to vote, indicating that they are to be trusted with choosing an appropriate leader, why does a caucus member’s vote count for more than a rank and file member? Granted the system is better than that which existed before, for which we have Rudd to thank. For whatever other failures he is guilty of, Rudd clearly saw the need to reinvent the democratic processes of the party. But are the changes enough? Since the leadership campaign was announced 4500 people have said they want to join the Labor Party. How many of those will change their minds now, disillusioned by the failure of the new democratic processes to secure a member approved leader?
Shorten claims the process has “made the ALP more transparent and open”. This is hard to accept when you look at Shorten’s track history of manipulations from the sidelines. Now that he is leader, can we be sure that he will suddenly be transparent? From outside appearances, and to many of the disaffected Labor voters, the old guard right faction is still very much entrenched.
In fairness to Shorten, his choice of Tanya Plibersek is likely to have assisted his campaign. While Albanese indicated he would support Shorten for Deputy if he won, Shorten indicated he would choose Plibersek as Deputy, which would have gained him some traction from the left and from affirmative action advocates. Indeed many hoped to see Plibersek herself vie for leadership, including former Prime Minister and leader Julia Gillard who described her as one of the nation’s most gifted communicators.
It is now up to the caucus (and not the membership) to ensure Plibersek is elected Deputy.