Kevin Rudd.
Kevin Rudd. John Gass

Rudd provides reforms for NSW branch to stamp out corruption

THE Australian Labor Party's national executive has taken control of the New South Wales branch in a move Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is confident will stamp out corruption.

Mr Rudd, who on Thursday outlined a raft of reforms for the NSW branch, said he had been "appalled" by allegations aired during hearings of the Independent Commission Against Corruption's investigation into the dealings of former state Labor ministers, including Ian Macdonald and Eddie Obeid.

With ICAC due to deliver its findings before the election, Mr Rudd's intervention is a pre-emptive strike designed to limit damage during the upcoming election campaign.

ALP national secretary George Wright will report back to Mr Rudd in 30 days on the progress of the intervention.

"The Labor Party I intend to lead will be a modern Labor Party," said Mr Rudd, who left on Thursday afternoon for talks in Indonesia.

"I want a more democratic Labor Party, I want one which is more representative of the face of modern Australia, and I want a Labor Party which is free from the taint of some of the things we have seen emerge in ICAC in NSW."

Mr Rudd left the door open to further reforms depending on what comes out of ICAC, and hinted the NSW action would be the beginning of wider reforms across the ALP.

He said the reforms were aimed at attracting the "broader church" of Australians who needed to be represented in the labour movement.

But Mr Rudd would not be drawn on whether Julia Gillard, who he vanquished as Labor leader and PM last week, should have intervened earlier in NSW.

"I'm not about to rake over decisions which were taken or not taken in the past," he said.

"I have been a prime minister of this country for a week. This is something I have been determined to address, but haven't had the opportunity to do so, for a long, long time. 

"I have not the slightest intention of criticising my predecessor on these matters."

Deputy Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the changes, which he described as the "most significant reform into the NSW branch in 40 years", would ensure what has happened in NSW "never happens again".

Mr Albanese, who will "switch-on" NBN services in Coffs Harbour this afternoon in his first act at Acting Prime Minister, said the existing structure of the NSW branch had allowed a powerful minority to impose their will on the party through factions.

"It has been very clear for some time that there is a problem with the culture and structures of the NSW branch," said Mr Albanese, a former NSW branch official.

"Those structures must be reformed. The days of factional dominance in NSW must also be reformed because they have clearly led to an abuse of power."

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott dismissed the proposed reforms as an "election fix" rather than a "corruption cure".

"Let's never forget that Mr Rudd was quite happy to be installed by the faceless men. Then, of course, the faceless men sacked him," Mr Abbott said.

"Now, he is happy with the faceless men because they have put him back and all we have seen today is that for just 30 days, just 30 days, the faceless men in Canberra will be giving directions to the faceless men in New South Wales. It is just a joke.

"The only way to clean up the Labor Party is to give them time out in opposition so they can get their house in order."

 

THE REFORMS

1. Zero tolerance of corruption. Mr Rudd has asked the NSW branch to impose new rules so that any person found guilty of corruption is immediately expelled from the party. Further, anyone being investigated for improper behaviour can be removed from the party.

2. A ban on property developers as candidates

3. Establish an independent tribunal for judicial oversight . Mr Rudd has asked for the Dispute Credentials Committee to be dissolved, arguing its has been too controlled by factions. Tribunal to be chaired by a retired judicial officer.

4. Establishment of a Labor ombudsman for rank and file members to have their complaints heard and investigated.

5. Mr Rudd has sought an assurance that in the future 50% of the administrative committee of the NSW branch, the major decision-making body, be made up of rank and file members as well as containing three independent directors with board experience.

6. Establishment of a charter of rights and responsibilities, making it clear the rules are binding on all members. 



'Ipswich's sweet side': Strawberry lovers get behind farmers

premium_icon 'Ipswich's sweet side': Strawberry lovers get behind farmers

Fruit sales and prices recover ahead of "Strawberry Sunday"

Mum is no longer the word on teen pregnancy

premium_icon Mum is no longer the word on teen pregnancy

Classes open for Ipswich teen mums

Third year in a row for Ipswich artist to win top award

premium_icon Third year in a row for Ipswich artist to win top award

The awards are Flying Arts Alliance's annual visual arts prize

Local Partners