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Victorian ALP State Conference, Melbourne Convention Centre: transcript of doorstop interview: Party reform, refugee swap and Timor.

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Subjects: Party reform, refugee swap and Timor.

JOURNALIST: You said … don’t reward branch stacking. Do you think that branch stacking can be made a thing of the past and how bad is it?

CREAN: It needs to be because I think that we’ve got to build trust in the public that we’re sending the best candidates in our national and our state Parliaments. So it’s essential we do it.

JOURNALIST: Do you think the public doubt that?

CREAN: No I don’t think they do and I’m not suggesting that this is a problem for us. I’m just signalling that if we’re about reorganising ourselves, about modernising ourselves, it isn’t just the rules that we’ve got to address. It’s a culture and what I want us to be recognised for is what we stand for, positive initiatives and the best quality candidates available.

JOURNALIST: Are some of the MP’s in the Federal Parliament there because of their branch stacking skills rather than any other skills.

CREAN: No, no they’re not. I’m just saying that we have to be in a position where we put forward the best policies and the best candidates.

JOURNALIST: What quota do you think the Party can bear in terms of union representation?

CREAN: Well you know my view. I support 50/50 and I will be arguing for that. But it isn’t just the question of changing the rules. It’s changing the culture. The Labor Party has to be more inclusive, it has to renew its relationship with the trade union movement but it has to move with the times. But it’s also got to build relationships with other groups in the community and in particular with community needs, in particular their service needs. It’s policies suited to their needs that Labor has


to project and therefore it’s got to be more inclusive. That’s what I want the Labor Party to be.

JOURNALIST: Mr Crean the Head Office in Melbourne of the Labor Party has received a request for an independent inquiry into alleged branch stacking in the federal seat of Corio. Do you know anything about it and, will you want anything done on it?

CREAN: No I don’t but the Branch obviously will have to deal with it in accordance with the rules.

JOURNALIST: What do you think of the Government’s plan to swap refugees with the U.S?

CREAN: Well I saw this story today. I think this is quite bizarre. I hope it’s not true but if it is true I think the Government’s got a fair bit of explaining to do. What does the Government say about it? Ask them. Sounds bizarre to me.

JOURNALIST: Greg Sword said this morning that the unions might accept 50/50 if the ALP got its act together in other areas?

CREAN: I have never believed that the issue for reform of the party simply involves changing the quota of representation. I think that we’ve got to be a more inclusive and more representative Party and I agree with Greg Sword that we need to tackle these issues. If we do those properly I’m sure we can get acceptance of a comprehensive approach to Party reform. We’ve got to modernise ourselves because modernising Labor is about modernising the nation. What I’ve been doing this week is putting forward new initiatives, new proposals, positive proposals for the Australian people. But we’ve got to not just take the proposals forward, we’ve got to modernise ourselves and I’m committed to doing that.

JOURNALIST: Should the Government be concerned about Indonesian Patrol Boats outside Timor at the moment?

CREAN: It is very important that in Timor’s development now we get co-operation between Australia, Timor and Indonesia. That’s what we’ve got to ensure our efforts are aimed that. I’m going there tomorrow as part of their celebrations and recognition of them becoming an independent nation. This a great opportunity for them but Australia needs to be there as active partners in their development and growth and I think that Australia can play an important role in forging the three way relationship, Indonesia, Timor and Australia that’s going to be in all of our interests.

JOURNALIST: Do you think Timor though can ever really be independent?


CREAN: Of course it can be independent. This is a nation that’s struggled for independence. It’s fought for it over twenty four years. Tomorrow’s an historic day for them. We have an obligation to support them. We take independence for granted and to people who haven’t had it, to achieve it, it is a great thing. So it’s in our interests for the stability and progress in the region. It’s in all of our interests that that three way relationship is forged and I hope that Australia plays a key role in helping us go in that direction.