Stop whingeing, Mundine warns ALP

Date: January 30 2006

INCOMING federal Labor president Warren Mundine has a blunt message for disgruntled members of his party: stop whingeing!

Mr Mundine, who stepped into the top job on Saturday after a two-year stint as vice-president, says one of his first priorities will be to lift morale across the party.

Mr Mundine argues that Labor people tend to be harsher critics of their own side's leadership, policy and tactics — compared with conservatives — because social-democratic parties are subject to "great expectations".

But determined to purge such negativity, he has warned them to perk up or shut up. "It's like a used-car salesman — you can't sell a car if you are bagging it the whole time," he told The Age. "People are not going to vote for us if our own members keep running the party down."

Mr Mundine, the first Aborigine to step into Labor's federal presidency, said he wanted to make people proud again of their membership.

"Some people have made a career out of whingeing about the Labor Party," he said.

"If you are not happy, stop whingeing, get in there and fix it. Stop focusing on your navel and thinking you are an overlooked genius. Be constructive."

Admitting to some trepidation at taking the helm of Labor's organisational wing, Mr Mundine likened the post to that of "a glorified eunuch".

"Everyone thinks you are the president and so you must have all this power, but you don't even get a vote (on national executive)," he said.

"All you can do is try to guide, and push and shove, and get people to do the right thing."

Acknowledging that more must be done to end branch-stacking in the party, Mr Mundine insisted great progress had already been made in recent years.