Policy Action: Popular Public Policy
It is obvious that the methods of voting for any Liberal Party office as currently provided for in the Constitution of the Victorian Division can be open to manipulation through Branch stacking and unrepresentative delegates. Branch stacking has at its core the manipulation of the SEC and FEC delegate system and the grabbing of power by factions and unrepresentative power-brokers with the sole purpose of voting at State Council and obtaining power in the administration of the Party.
The current delegate appointment requirements of the Party’s Constitution evolved in the days when the tyranny of distance meant many ordinary members could not afford the cost or the time to attend State Council or similar Party meetings. The transportation and communications now available to society make the use and reliance of delegates to represent our views both superfluous and an unnecessary cost and add a level of complexity to the simple option of Universal Voting.
There would seem to be no obstacle to implementing a system of voting for elected positions in the Liberal Party that was any different than that recently used to elect local government Councillors.
Therefore we suggest:
That all electable positions for Branch, SEC, FEC and State Administration and Committee officials including the State President, should be elected by a vote of current Financial Members that hold membership in the relevant jurisdiction.
A first step is to acknowledge that it is unlikely that the present State Council Meeting system can be retained in the short to medium term due to the COVID 19 virus and the inherent dangers its presents to the age cohort of most attendees.
Similarly, the present delegate system, voting methods and requirements no longer meet any reasonable methodology of a truly democratic party, that even without the emergency isolation and distancing provisos, is fully interconnected and aware of the democratic society in which we live.
To ensure that the Liberal Party remains relevant and can attract new members it must offer not only new members, but also long serving incumbents, a way to have a voice that is not only recognised but heard. The only way to do that in a democratic society, organisation or political Party is to allow all members to vote whenever possible.
So that the Party can democratically continue and advance in preparation for the upcoming Federal and State election we suggest the Party immediately carry out two plebiscites by postal vote to change the Victorian Divisions constitution.
Plebiscite 1: The Party to undertake a plebiscite of all financial members to authorise the Party to implement Postal Voting for all electable positions.
Plebiscite 2: To have all elected positions in the Party fall vacant on a specific date each year and those elected be announced and take up their appointment 30 days (one month) from that date.
The following suggestions should be considered in revamping the voting system to obtain the best democratic outcome for the Membership, Elected Officials, the Party Organisation and Administration in that order.
1. The principle of ‘one person – one vote’ shall always apply.
2. All persons voting must be financial 3 months before an election.
3. All voters shall only vote in relation to the electoral districts where they are registered on the electoral roll.
4. All voting shall be done using the ‘Optional Preferential’ system.
5. No individual shall be able to stand for any position for more than two consecutive terms. (this means that any elected individual shall stand aside after two terms but may then contest again after the third term has expired).
6. The Party shall adopt Postal Voting as its method of determining the election for all positions.
7. The calling of any election shall cause a postal mail out of the voting forms to the financial members qualified to vote within seven days of it being called.
8. No Mail voting returns shall be accepted after 7 days have passed from the closing date of the poll.
9. The Party shall engage an independent polling organisation such as the Victorian Electoral Commission to administer the state wide voting processes previously undertaken at State Council.
10. FEC and SEC and Branch and State committee elections shall be postal and follow the same time frames for implementation and receipt.
11. Candidates for any position within the Party will have the opportunity to provide one A4 double sided statement in support of their candidature which may be included in the mail out of voting forms.
12. Consideration needs to be given to the expenditures of candidates for elected positions of any additional or other campaign materials to ensure that candidates are elected on capability not capital.