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Shadow minister announces his nomination for ALP presidency.

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Friday 18 August 2006

Shadow minister announces his nomination for ALP presidency


MARK COLVIN: The former Labor leader Simon Crean has announced that he's running for the ALP presidency. 


im Beazley challenged Mr Crean for the party leadership back in 2003, but now Simon Crean says he can work well with Mr Beazley despite past tensions. 


Nominations for the presidency closed this afternoon, and it's a small field, with only four candidates, all from the parliamentary wing of the party. 


That's disappointed the current President, Warren Mundine, who wanted more rank and file members to put their hands up. 


From Canberra, Samantha Hawley reports.  


SAMANTHA HAWLEY: Simon Crean was forced to stand down from the Labor Party leadership in 2003; a string bad opinion polls left him little choice.  


Now the Victorian MP and Opposition frontbencher thinks he should be the next Party President.  


SIMON CREAN: It was a difficult decision for me, because there were many urging me to stand. I've had to weigh up that, but I've decided to put myself forward and to contribute constructively to the election of the next Labor government. 


SAMANTHA HAWLEY: If Labor is elected it's expected Kim Beazley will lead it to government, the same man that challenged Mr Crean for the ALP leadership.  


But despite their chequered history, Mr Crean thinks he can work effectively with Mr Beazley in the lead-up to the 2007 poll.  


SIMON CREAN: I have no question of that, and I think that my role in terms of regional development and winning those marginal seats that we have to win to secure government, I think I bring great value to the party in that regard as well. 


SAMANTHA HAWLEY: Mr Crean, who's also a former head of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, will be competing against a small but experienced field.  


Veteran Senator John Faulkner, South Australian Premier Mike Rann, and New South Wales MP Linda Burney are all in the running. 


Three people will be chosen to hold the president's position to serve for a year each over a three-year period. 


Warren Mundine is the party's current president; he still has eight months left at the helm. 


He's distinguished himself from this year's candidates. 


WARREN MUNDINE: I was a bloke, unknown, coming from Dubbo, from a rural area, who was a rank and file and also was new, new blood into the whole system. 


SAMANTHA HAWLEY: You would've liked to have seen some more grass roots people in the field? 


WARREN MUNDINE: Well, it would've been nice to, because I think the original idea of having the presidency opened up was to give rank and file an opportunity to have a say in the whole process and what's going on.  


If we're... you know, because previously we only had parliamentarians and union organisers, or ex union organisers or ex parliamentarians sitting in this position. The idea of having an open presidency was to get a bit more enthusiasm, a bit more oomph in the whole process. 


SAMANTHA HAWLEY: Whoever takes over the presidency first will need that enthusiasm; their first challenge will be guiding the party through the uranium debate at the Labor's national conference in April.  


The Labor leader Kim Beazley wants the party to axe its no new uranium mines platform. 


It's a policy already causing division within ALP ranks, and will be debated at the conference next year.  


It's believed that Simon Crean supports Mr Beazley's stance. 


SIMON CREAN: It is a decision for the rank and file, and I think that we should not pre-empt that decision. It's a decision for the conference, and I'm not going to pre-empt that. 


SAMANTHA HAWLEY: Mike Rann also supports Mr Beazley on mines, but John Faulkner and Lindy Burney do not.  


Warren Mundine doesn't think that's a problem. 


WARREN MUNDINE: That will be a challenge, but I think it'll be good fun. You know, I look forward to it. You know, in the next eight months I'll be the one sitting in the chair during most of this debate before we get to the conference, and I'm looking forward to it, and I think it's going to be a great debate. 


SAMANTHA HAWLEY: Labor's 40,000 rank and file members take part in the month-long ballot from September the 1st.  


MARK COLVIN: Samantha Hawley.