The Labor Party has, for the first time, exceeded 1,400 party members in the ACT. The previous record for the size of its membership was in 1976 following the dismissal of the Whitlam Government by John Kerr, when membership peaked at 1,393 members.
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ACT Labor Branch Secretary Elias Hallaj said “People are re-engaging with Labor after the disunity of the past 6 years finally ended with the election of Bill Shorten as Federal Leader and Tanya Plibersek as Deputy Leader in 2013.”
“I think it’s clear that many Canberrans share the aims and values of the ALP and they know how important it is to get involved and be active in the democratic process,” said Mr Hallaj.
“It’s also clear that opposition to severe Liberal job cuts, as well as severe Liberal cuts and broken promises on school funding, university education, hospital funding, pensions, superannuation, petrol and a new tax on sick people are motivating factors for new Labor Party members.”
Mr Hallaj explained that membership normally fluctuates between 1,200-1,300 per year and dropped as low as 1,000 during the worst of the rivalry between former Prime Ministers Rudd and Gillard. He added “it’s clear those years are well behind us now.”
ACT Labor Branch President Louise Crossman said the Canberra-based Labor Party members had always been the most progressive in Australia and recent reforms such as more direct member votes in the Party’s local leadership ballots had been wholeheartedly embraced.
“Our recent Annual Conference was the best attended for several years and unanimously endorsed important reforms, including a direct say for members in the future elections of ACT Labor Party Leaders and Party Presidents,” said Ms Crossman.
“Also for the first time this year our conference delegates directly elected our local Women’s Coordinator, who had previously been elected through a committee process. Building on from our long history of rank and file only ballots for preselections, I think it’s clear that ACT Labor is one of the most democratic parties in Australia.”
“For the past two months we’ve also accepted direct membership applications via our website. Anyone who is enrolled to vote in the ACT and is a union member can immediately join ACT Labor via our website www.actlabor.org.au ,” said Ms Crossman.
“Students, retirees, the unemployed and other categories of workers not normally covered by unions can all join online now with minimal hassle. We also offer new ways for our supporters to get involved through Associate Membership and the Labor Supporter’s Network” Ms Crossman said.
ACT Labor has also recently updated its website and Facebook pages and is trying new innovative ways to attract and keep new members. In a couple of months, everyone who was a Labor Party Sub-Branch member in March will get a chance to vote directly to elect the ACT Labor Branch’s President and Vice-Presidents for the first time. The ACT Labor Party office is also encouraging members to recruit relatives, friends or colleagues to the ALP.
Earlier this year Bill Shorten led a push to try and double ALP membership across Australia in the lead up to the next Federal Election due in 2016. It seems that ACT Labor is on track to meet that goal in Canberra, with a bit of help from Tony Abbott and his razor gang.