Monday, 26 September 2011

The news today is that all Labor MPs will vote for the Malaysia amendments to the Migration Act despite the public comments of a number of ALP MPs that they strongly reject the proposals. It is a pity that Labor MPs do not have more freedom to express their own views. Our democratic system needs MPs who can represent their constituencies and, in this case, many rank and file Labor supporters do not support the proposals and yet those views are not able to be put on the record. It means in practice that Labor supporters are ignored and this is part of the explanation why the number of Labor branch members has continued to fall. The Liberal party has similar issues although Liberal MPs are entitled to cross the floor and vote against their own party's position and can do so without fear of immediate expulsion which is the penalty within Labor ranks. There are numerous recent examples of Liberal MPs exercising these rights. The explanation for this tight caucus arrangement goes back to the formation of the ALP and is part of the culture of Labor.

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