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Why branch stacking is a really bad idea

There are a few reasons why parties might engage in branch stacking.

One could be genuine grassroots support for a worthy local candidate who has inspired political engagement.

Much more likely than that altruistic possibility is that party factions are at play with power to influence party structure and direction the sought-after goal. Unfortunately, this can lead to incompetent puppets being put forward

Even more insidious than both those options is when a small minority take over and try to push views that are out-of-step with the direction that broader society is comfortable with.

That is what has happened in the Coalition with the religious right seeking domination. Swept up in this crowd are climate change deniers, homophobes, anti-vaxxers, and xenophobes.

Appealing to these groups might be a political strategy advocated by some, but it is definitely not a strategy for good governance.

Branch-stacking leads to confirmation bias and the promotion of fringe issues. Niche audiences have their voices amplified by Sky After Dark which is streamed for free into Canberra parliamentary offices and listened to avidly by Coalition MPs.

The constant culture wars, wedge politics, and the denigration of experts as ‘unelected elites’ over the last decade has been exhausting and pointless. Finally, Australia woke up and said enough is enough.

We are sick of elected representatives refusing to listen to evidence and expert advice.

We are sick of confected conflict.

We are sick of factional deals that see incompetent people promoted.

We are sick of politics standing in the way of solutions.

The Labor government will need the best advice available and the best team possible to negotiate the difficult times we face. People want truth, not spin.

Can they forego the politics and party favours? Will they finally realise that internal wars are only destructive? Can they share good governance rather than petulantly wanting to own it?

We shall see.


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  1. pierre wilkinson

    we can but hope…
    at least we woke up enough to rid ourselves of that previous corrupt incompetent cabal of crooks

  2. Terence Mills

    Turnbull said of his branch stack :

    “I recruit people to the Liberal Party. I’m entitled to recruit support from wherever I choose.”

    Doesn’t sound unreasonable until you look at the seat of Cook.

    Morrison v Towke : Michael Towke won easily, on the first ballot, he polled 10 times as many votes as Morrison, 82 votes to 8 : Morrison was eliminated in the first round.

    Then a campaign on malicious attacks on Towke’s character and his Lebanese heritage encouraged the Liberal executive to call another ballot – branch stacking and a Newscorp campaign attacking Towke brought about a reversal and Morrison was inflicted on us.

    It took the teals and the democratic force of the Australian people to finally get us out of that one, but how can we avoid it
    happening again ?

  3. RomeoCharlie29

    If the Albanese government turns out to be as good as many of us hope, it will attract more people with idealism to the Party. If the Dutton opposition proves as incompetent and reactionary as it’s leader already appears to want to make it, members of that party will be turned off. End of branch stacking. Ha.

  4. Harry Lime

    The obvious answer to your final questions Kaye Lee,is they had better, or we are doomed to the downward spiral.If Albanese can build and maintain on his stirling start,we can have hope.Has the back room of Labor learned from the errors of their past?Can they put the wellbeing of the country before factional wrangling? As you say,we shall see.I’d like to live long enough to see the usual game of politics as bullshit put to death.

  5. Terence Mills

    The Albanese government did well in getting the Naval submarine contract breach dealt with expeditiously and within this financial year : if you remember, Dutton had said that it couldn’t be resolved until next financial year.

    Quote : Australian voters are unlikely to be told the full cost of scrapping the French submarine deal before the election, with Peter Dutton signalling the negotiations will not be wrapped up until after July.

    The defence minister (Dutton) said the talks with France’s Naval Group would “take some time” and the information would not be released publicly until after those figures were settled.

    Despite suggestions that we have paid too much in compensation for the breach of contract it could have been a lot more had it gone to arbitration.

  6. Kaye Lee

    The government has started very well. As well as the world welcoming our re-engagement on climate change action, they are dealing with issues that have caused unnecessary distraction. Returning the Biloela family home, finalising the sub fiasco, showing a willingness to address the deportation of Kiwis who have lived most/all of their lives in Australia – all positive.

    The various Ministers have all hit the ground running, identifying and, better still, admitting problems and convening stakeholders to start devising solutions. Much of the work has already been done. Dust it off and polish it up with all voices contributing to the design.

    My one worry so far is Richard Marles. Instead of a sober reset, he seems to want to prove he is just like the Coalition on defence. I find him a weak link and have always felt he got the deputy job purely as a factional deal. He also hangs around on Sky and morning tv far too much. I’m not sure he is the man for the job in sensitive times. Defence Ministers shouldn’t be media junkies.

  7. margcal

    On merit/qualifications, Andrew Leigh should have got a much more important role. But apparently he isn’t in a faction.

    Chris Bowen tends to unattractive abrasiveness which could be toned down.

  8. Kaye Lee

    I absolutely agree with both assessments margcal.

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