Kevin Rudd, reform and democratising the ALP

“We are fools if we do not understand that the public has had a gutful of what currently passes for much of our national political debate” – Kevin Rudd discussing the need for major reform within the ALP.

Kevin Rudd is correct in saying the general public is not happy with the way policy is produced by the federal Labor party. Policy should not come exclusively from the Prime Minister and Cabinet (nor the Leader of Opposition & Shadow Cabinet).

We are also unhappy with the ‘pledge’ binding OUR representatives, both MPs and senators, to vote in accordance with policy produced in this fashion. It goes against the democratic principals which once made the ALP a truly progressive party of the people, by the people, for the people.

Until recent decades Labor party policy was produced by the party’s mass membership. Members, who numbered in the hundreds of thousands, were directly responsible for suggesting, debating and approving the party’s policy platform. Once the policy was democratically approved, ALL party members were bound to it under the Labor Party Pledge. This produced a strong unified front around policy which was truly representative of the party’s membership and support base.

In this context, the Pledge ensured MPs and Senators actually acted as representatives of their support-base. Today, this is no longer the case.

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Kevin Rudd’s Iraq Policy ‘at risk’

The news today presents an article entitled “Labor Iraq Policy at risk as US considers downsizing Jordan base”. The meat of the article is says US training bases in Jordan could be downsized or closed, endangering the Labor party’s plan to pull Australian forced out of Iraq and send them to training Iraqi security forces in Jordan instead.

Unfortunately there are many complications in this policy anyway. Travelling to Jordan from Iraq is not as easy as it sounds with new Visa restrictions – even if it is to train to become a security guard  More importantly there are already several hundred thousands Iraqi’s displaced in Jordan; many of whom are there under expired visas.

I have a suggestion for Mr Rudd and I say this not as an opponent to his policy but merely as someone who truly wishes for a successful policy for easing the strain on the already stressed Middle East. Especially the Iraqis.

I believe some Australian forces should pull out in exchange for a humanitarian mission like those we have sent to our own neighbours, like Indonesia after the Tsunami for instance. But even these shouldn’t go to to Iraq. They should go to Jordan to process and transfer displaced Iraqi’s into secure living circumstances, where THEY can plan how to bring some political solutions to Iraq’s problems.

This would also bring some relief to Jordan’s over-worked immigration and policing ministries and to the dedicated UNHCR staff there. The mission could quite easily obtain UN approval and as such possibly get emergency workers for UNHCR brought to Jordan.

On the other hand the Australian troops could be placed along the Jordanian border, where they could build high-quality temporary accommodation to host those refugee’s who are refused entry, or deported from Jordan (they could possibly set a few of these up at other borders too?)

There are many low-risk jobs that need to be done. What we need is for the international community to step up and start taking responsibility for not preventing the US invasion in the first place, and the only way to do that is to become part of the solution to this huge problem.