Rank-and-file preselection to be scrapped, Labor officials to pick candidates

( So much for grassrrots branch participation)

Rank-and-file preselection to be scrapped, Labor officials to pick candidates

By Frances Bell

Updated Thu Jul 11, 2013 2:27pm AEST

The ABC understands the ALP national executive will this afternoon intervene in the pre-selection process for safe federal Labor seats which are yet to secure a candidate.

The ALP yesterday said it had “placed itself on a full campaign footing” and would consider whether local ballots could be concluded in a “timely manner” for pre-selections that remain outstanding.

Those include the seat of Lalor, previously held by former prime minister Julia Gillard.

Diplomat Lisa Clutterham looked set to be handed the safe Labor seat, despite never living in the area and being a member of the ALP for less than a month.

Other seats include those held by retiring ministers in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.

It is understood the national executive will “call in” nominations for the seats this afternoon, halting the rank-and-file pre-selection process, with candidates to be picked by party officials.

It is also understood that the rank-and-file process already underway in the Brisbane-based seat of Rankin will proceed and wind up next Friday as planned by the Queensland Labor branch.

A decision to bypass the members would be likely to trigger disquiet in the branches and would stand in contrast with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s recent comments about “modernising” the party.

However, in a blow to Ms Clutterham’s chances, Mr Rudd told the National Press Club that he was surprised by the interview she gave this morning.

He said that although he would rather local party members choose their candidates, he is not entirely against parachuting in candidates.

“I don’t rule out people sort of coming to a seat where they’ve not had a previous connection, but I thought it was a pretty curious interview – I was a little surprised by it,” Mr Rudd said.

“One of the things they do look for is connection with the community. They also look for a range of other things – the skills that you bring and how you can actually take the cause of their community, their city or t

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