Change the way of choosing a leader. Hopefully the Labor Party — and, indeed, Liberals and Nationals as well — will learn one lesson from the last six years of leadership turmoil: there needs to be a new way of choosing and replacing leaders that gives far more stability than leaving the job to MPs.

Australian Labor should follow the example of British Labour and give a say to branch members and affiliated trade unions with firm rules on how and when challenges can be made. There’s a good summary of the procedures prepared by the House of Commons library, Leadership Elections: Labour Party.

That leadership challenge — when will it be? With that advice out of the way, back to the present. The experts of the parliamentary press gallery (and a lot of us outside it) don’t seem able to tell what is happening with the Labor ranks so it’s over to Crikey readers for guidance. If there is going to be another Labor leadership ballot when will it be formally announced?

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Just pick the day and time Labor’s Caucus secretary confirms there will be another challenge. The winner will receive a First Dog calendar to mark the occasion. And while you’re at it, give your opinion as to who will lead Labor on election day. If there is no challenge and thus no winner of the main contest, the calendar will go to the first entry received that picks the correct leader.

The other September election. They’re going to the polls in Germany on September 22 and the country’s national broadcaster DW believes it already knows what the biggest voting bloc will be: the party of non-voters. It reports how two independent studies recently reached the same conclusion. More and more people just aren’t bothering to vote.

“‘Non-voters the strongest force in politics?’ — ‘Voters go on vacation’ — ‘Non-voters are calling democracy into question’. These are headlines from recent studies conducted by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation — a group close to Germany’s Social Democrats — and by future trends researcher, Horst Opaschowski. They paint a rather gloomy picture of the upcoming elections in Germany. According to Opaschowski’s forecasts, non-voters could prove to be the largest party in the September 22 election.

I wonder if things would be any different without compulsory voting in Australia?

News and views noted along the way.

  • New to nature No 107: Typhochlaena costae — “Little is known about a new species of tarantula found in Brazil – but it is jaw-droppingly gorgeous.”
  • Learning from Australia’s political meltdown — Gareth Evans considers “how is it that a government which steered Australia comfortably through the global financial crisis, and has presided for the last six years over a period of almost unprecedented prosperity, could be facing electoral extinction in September? The answer holds valuable lessons for governing parties elsewhere.”
  • Reforming would-be suicide bombers in Pakistan
  • Italy leads growing trend in Europe — “According to a study commissioned by the European Union, ‘Italy is among the countries with the highest level of income inequality, second only to the UK in the EU, and well above the OECD average’.”
  • The Shibor shock — “China’s central bank allows a cash crunch to worsen.”


Australia has spoken. We want more from the people in power and deserve a media that keeps them on their toes. And thank you, because it’s been made abundantly clear that at Crikey we’re on the right track.

We’ve pushed our journalism as far as we could go. And that’s only been possible with reader support. Thank you. And if you haven’t yet subscribed, this is your time to join tens of thousands of Crikey members to take the plunge.

Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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