‘Country Labor should be used to being ignored’

COUNTRY Labor – there’s an oxymoron if ever there was one. 

Labor’s hierarchy has decreed that regional people are to be shunned and excluded from the party’s newest policy making body.

If this policy forum is about the future according to Labor, clearly regional Australia has no place in it.

The barefaced rejection of regional interests has infuriated rank and file Country Labor members, who have launched an online petition in a bid to challenge the decision – www.countrylabor.com.au/ome.aspx.

The Country Labor website spits: “The national division of the Labor Party has today ruled against country representation on the National Policy Forum. Please sign our petition and help us protect country representation on the National Policy Forum’.

I wish them luck. I would have thought that Labor members outside metropolitan centres have every right to ensure that regional voices are heard within the Labor machine. Obviously the faceless men who run the party have other ideas.

Labor has been touting this forum as a “new policy process [that] will be broader, more inclusive, more consultative”, but with regional interests locked out and not even getting a look in, it confirms that country people and their issues have no place in today’s Labor Party.

It will also surprise no-one that the positions on the new forum have been stacked, 40 of the 60 spots on the forum have been reserved for ALP MPs and union officials. That’s hardly a revolution in Labor policy making!

But to specifically exclude country representation entirely speaks volumes for a party that does not understand or care about regional Australians and the issues that matter in their lives.

Country Labor members should have got used to being ignored by now. After all, every cabinet minister in the Rudd/Gillard governments lives in a capital city.

The reality for regional families, businesses and entire communities is Labor turned its back on them a long time ago.

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