Monday 21 February 2011

Richie Bates to seek Cairns ALP selection, calls for transparent process

Local Queensland Council of Unions Secretary, Richie Bates, announced his intention to stand for pre-selection as Labor candidate for the seat of Cairns, amid suggestions that the local party organisation want to steamroll a preferred candidate into the position.

With Bates publicly declaring his plans to seek selection, the ALP will now be forced to undertake a plebiscite amongst members.

"If there was four or five that wanted to put up there hands in Labor, I'd say that's a good thing," Richie Bates told CairnsBlog. "It would give more choice."

It is believed that Labor's administration committee will get together in the next couple of weeks, and make a decision when the pre-selection will be held.

"I assume that this will be the case, however with these things, there's no guarantees," Richie Bates says. "I'd just like to see an open and democratic process. That's all I ask for. It [the candidate] needs to be chosen from the rank and file ALP members."

The only other name that has been touted in recent months for the Labor nomination, is Tim Grau, a political strategist, who returned to Cairns over a year ago. In September last year, he wrote an opinion column in the Cairns Post, with no mention of his Labor party connections, something I called a party political advertisement. The following day, Grau responded in a fire-fighting mode, inflaming the original article and defended his right to to disclose his presidency of the Cairns ALP branch.

Many local Laborites have told CairnsBlog that retiring MP Desley Boyle has been saying for some time that a selection from the Party's "left" will get the candidate nomination "over her dead body."

Richie Bates doesn't know what his chances will be, but wants to raise issues about his party reconnecting with the people, something many observers have accused Labor of walking away from.

"It's about Labor reconnecting with the grass roots, it's local people and not a centralised party machine in Brisbane. I will be using my pre-selection campaign to say how we need to return Labor to the people," Richie Bates said.

Bates' point is exactly what came out in the Party review following the election debacle last year. They said that the party needs to return their focus to the membership and get more input from rank and file.

"If I can get this message out in the next couple of weeks, it is a powerful thing to say," Bates says.

The State election was thought to be planned for around March 2012, however this will clash with local Council elections across the State, which would suggest a possibility for Bligh to call an early election, possibility even November this year.

Bates supports the retention of public-owned assets, especially those lucrative assets like QR National (Queensland Rail) which underpin Queensland's economy well into the future.

"We are already seeing the first signs of QR National getting rid of jobs and damaging rural and regional communities," Richie Bates says. "We should learn from this lesson that we can't risk vital public services by handing them over to commercial interests who do act in the public interest. Privatisations of public assets are supposed to pass the public interest test."

Bates says QR National has failed and he will support the Labor Government in any effort to regain control and ensure the Party doesn't make the same mistakes again.

"My hope is to bring Labor principles back to the table in any major decision-making in government."

He supports Premier Anna Bligh and says she had shown strong and "inspirational leadership" during the recent natural disasters in Queensland.

"I would enjoy the opportunity to be part of her term that can provide strong and principled government to Queensland."

Bates, who ran for Cairns Regional Council in 2008 on Val Schier's Cairns 1st ticket, is a railway employee and delegate for the Rail Tram and Bus Union, and has been actively involved in community sport for many years. He is a staunch advocate for improved sporting facilities in the Cairns region.

1 comment:

Janine Aitken said...

I wish Richie all the best in gaining pre selection. I witnessed first hand his hard work ethic and dedication to the people he sought to represent in the 2008 Council elections.