The New South Wales branch of the Labor Party has produced some of the most egregiously corrupt politicians the nation has seen since the days of Joh Bjelke-Petersen and the “Moonlight State”. During its most recent stint in state government, the party created a toxic culture in which the public interest and basic good process were regarded with contempt, as minor hurdles to be overcome in the pursuit of corrupt deals by the likes of Eddie Obeid, Joe Tripodi and Ian Macdonald.

The party’s rejection of Senator John Faulkner’s proposals for reform at its weekend conference clearly illustrates that branch’s continuing problems.

Faulkner’s proposals to hand over preselection for upper house spots at both the state and federal level to party members would not have guaranteed Labor never produced another crook, but they would have struck at the heart of the factional dealmaking system that handed power to crooks like Obeid. Their defeat — at the behest primarily of the party’s Right faction — leaves intact that system. The only guarantee that we will not look upon his like again is Labor’s promise that it will do better in the future.

In refusing to fix the system that produced Obeid and others, Labor does the voters of NSW a profound disservice. Until it does so, NSW Labor should not be seriously considered as capable of returning to government. The party simply doesn’t get it, and doesn’t deserve to be allowed near the reins of power until it does.