Temuka vote important in tussle
As the three-way contest for the Labour leadership heads towards its conclusion this weekend, it appears the party's Temuka branch might have a surprisingly large say in the proceedings.
Labour Party general secretary Tim Barnett said actual membership numbers were confidential, but he guessed the Temuka branch potentially made up "2 per cent" of the party's total numbers.
"A fairly large proportion of Labour's paid-up members in the Rangitata electorate would belong to the Temuka branch," he said.
In effect, this could give the members of the Temuka branch about as much say, proportionately speaking, as the Labour-affiliated Dairy Workers' Union, which has roughly 2.1 per cent of the total vote.
The public will find out on September 15 who will be the new leader, after candidates Grant Robertson, David Cunliffe and Shane Jones complete their electioneering.
The process began after David Shearer stepped down as party leader on August 22.
Secretary-treasurer of the Temuka branch Pam Cornelius said she could boast the largest membership of any single branch in the country.
"I've been doing this for 44 years, and I still don't use a computer, it's all done by hand and book. I much prefer a paper record," she said.
Mrs Cornelius said the Temuka branch membership was "in the hundreds".
"The secret is to keep reminding members, and keep updating your books," she said.
Although she was not sure how other members of the branch would vote, Mrs Cornelius said Mr Cunliffe was her first preference.
"All of them have good qualities. Shane Jones is a great orator, but I think David would be the one who could take it to Prime Minister John Key and shake things up," she said.
"I think this has been good for the party, it's energised members," Mrs Cornelius said.
Mr Barnett said the party's electoral college voting system consisted of 40 per cent party members, 40 per cent caucus, and 20 per cent affiliated unions. The party and caucus had "one vote per member", while the unions had a range of voting representation systems.
"It's all a new process. We think the new system gets the balance right, candidates will have to have enough support of the caucus, but also stay in touch with what the broader membership wants," Mr Barnett said.
Mr Barnett would not give official figures, but estimated the party had about 60,000 members, if affiliates were also included.
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