Tuesday, September 13, 2011

BOF's gift to the NSW ALP

The great Rodney Cavalier identified a long time ago that the major flaw in the ALP is the position of affiliated unions as a controlling influence at conferences, and hence elections to the Administrative Committee etc.

Rodney has for a long time advocated for the disconnection of the unions from party governance. I've noted recently other calls for this. I've also noted the damage that comes to the ALP from the very dodgy culture within some unions.

The ALP itself is caught in a trap - how do you get the union movement to vote itself out of power? And then along comes BOF.

He has introduced a bill that changes election funding laws to (a) make campaign spending by affiliated organisations count towards spending limits and (b) to outlaw affiliation fees.

As Andrew Norton rightly notes (pun intended) the first part may not be very effective. The penalty is not to invalidate the election, merely incur a fine. And it is a little unfair as the party can't control the spending of its affiliate.

The second one which makes the affiliation fees illegal gifts would mean I think that like unidentifiable donations the money needs to be surrendered to the Electoral Commission.

So the logical response from the unions and the ALP is to disaffiliate, whereby the unions can continue to spend just as much as they currently do.

The other change that bans donations from corporations and organisations will impact all parties, so we can just expect a lot more third party campaigning.

At the heart of this is one of the great conservative strategies to "defund the Left." In his book The Wrecking Crew Thomas Frank even gave this as a reason for deficit spending by conservatives - Government had to be left impoverished for the next cycle of "liberal" rule.

More extreme views argue the left can only succeed because of all the leftist programs funded by Government.

But will this be a case of wishing for too much - like Work Choices. Could BOF actually deliver for the ALP a reform it can't deliver for itself?

Novae Meridianae Demetae Dexter delenda est

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