So you want to save the ALP? Easy. Choose a safe seat. It doesn’t matter if the sitting MP has won a few times and has some support from the locals, even if the caucus doesn’t see them as frontbench material. Maybe join the party, but don’t worry about working in associated organisations or the community. Just say you want a seat – maybe one of the ones we mentioned yesterday – and it will come.

Don’t worry about the other option – putting your profile to use in a seat that Labor needs to win to form government, not merely retain.

Labor’s vote in Victoria in 2001 was one of its highest ever, and other than the little problem with Christian Zahra in McMillan, it stayed strong last year. So the blokes who want to be Labor’s saviour – and they are all blokes, remember – are all in a pretty packed market.

No wonder ACTU assistant secretary Richard Marles, national ALP assistant secretary David Feeney, millionaire Evan Thornley and Melbourne silk Mark Dreyfus are looking more towards executive intervention or factional fiat to help them into Parliament. Maaaaate!

Instead, if you want to save the ALP, why not find a good marginal government-held seat in NSW or Queensland – there are plenty to choose from – move there right now, join the local branch, get involved in the local community, convince them that you’re a good guy, persuade some of them to join the party and push your cause, get preselected, fight to win at the next election – and get elected. Labor needs 16 or 17 of them to do so, and soon.

Hard? Yes. But rewards tend to come to those who are smart, work hard and are diligent and persistent and persevere – and so they should. Democracy is hard work. Politics is hard work. But the opportunities are there for the taking. Labor saviours, come on down. Your party needs you. Your country.

Peter Fray

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