Would a trip to a remoted island ease your mind… What @AustralianLabor doesn’t understand about leadership #auspol

I’ve previously written that I’m in support of the ALP holding a leadership ballot.  Here’s a quick revist of why:

But could a ballot be used to promote and communicate a sense of unity and stability within the ALP?  Yes. […] The solution is to hold a ballot where the candidates ‘campaign’ for each other, rather than for themselves.  Ordinary ballots have candidates striving to ‘win’ by promoting themselves and tearing down opponents.  A ballot could instead have the message: ‘The ALP is overflowing with leadership talent.  Here are three candidates that we think are excellent.  Regardless of which is picked by the ALP membership, we will have a leader better than our political opponents.  We believe this so much that our candidates will promote the alternative candidates rather than themselves.’

Since then, we’ve had the leadership ‘debate’ where the candidates, Bill Shorten and Anthony Albanese, have emphasised that the competition will be about policies and not personalities.

This completely misses the point of leadership debates.

The result has been a publicly civilised (though privately less so) conversation between two people who are struggling to show any sort of difference, any sort of disagreement, or any point of distinction from the other candidate.  There has been some pressure — and, certainly, enough opinion writers have been braying for it — for the candidates to talk about differences in policies and opinions.  The debate is slowly shifting into this area, with both candidates starting to discuss various quota systems and even asylum seeker policy.

But should a party’s policies be a discretionary matter for the leader?  Does the ALP want a system where its leaders start arguing that they’ve got a ‘mandate’ to pursue a particular policy?  Isn’t this one of the reasons we all criticised Rudd?

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