The Labor Party’s potential next leader, Bill Shorten, has proposed for the party to include LGBTI people as well as indigenous Australians in its quota system in order to improve upon the continuing under-representation of minorities and women.
Shorten made the proposal as part of a newly launched website and policy booklet he will begin to mail out to all Labor members this week, in a bid aimed at attracting a more diverse range of people to the party.
“How is it that the Collingwood Football Club can get 80,000 people to join and we can get 45,000,” Shorten said in an interview on the ABC’s Insiders program on Sunday.
Outlining his vision in a bulk mail-out party members will receive shortly, Shorten said the party needs to find new ways to attract and hold on to new members and that meant allowing people to join online as well as discounts on memberships for unions members, students, pensioners and the unemployed.
As part of his efforts to modernise the party, Shorten suggested Labor had to redouble its efforts to promote at least 40 per cent female candidates as well as allowing LGBTI people and indigenous Australians greater representation in senior party ranks.
Labor’s internal LGBTI advocacy group, Rainbow Labor, said it welcomed any moves to increase the representation of LGBTI people in politics, adding that Shorten’s proposal was a step forward.
“The LGBTI community has been under-represented, particularly in political seats, both at a state and federal level in Australia,” Rainbow Labor national convener Neil Pharaoh told the ABC.
“There’s probably only 12 gay and lesbian identifying politicians across the country and probably not too much more in the history and its definitely under-representative.”
It is believed Shorten’s challenger for the party’s top job, current deputy leader, Anthony Albanese, opposes the introduction of quotas based on an aspiring MP’s sexuality. The discussion on a possible extension of the party’s quota system comes only a week after Rainbow Labor publicly released the responses of both men on a number of LGBTI-related issues.
“We need to make sure that Labor represents the diversity that is there in the community but the solution is not quotas for each group; that is not practical or politically astute,” Albanese told The Australian yesterday.
“People’s political contributions are not defined by their sexuality – that is just one aspect of a person and often a private aspect.”
The leadership aspirants will face-off in a third public debate in Perth Monday as well as both appearing live in a special episode of ABC TV’s Q&A program on Monday, following on from two previous debates in Sydney and Melbourne this month.