Michael Inman August 05, 2012
ACT Labor have launched a new membership drive, offering discount entry to attract fresh blood to its ranks.
The party recently unveiled a six-month introductory membership option for new or lapsed members.
The offer comes at a low $5 cost.
ACT ALP secretary Elias Hallaj said it was an opportunity for the curious to dip their toes in local politics.
''It's like a trial, come along, meet the people involved and who make decisions about government,'' Mr Hallaj said.
''Then, if you enjoy the company of the people you meet and feel like your contribution is making the city a better place to live, then you're going to want to stay involved.''
The offer comes as political party membership continues to dwindle across Australia.
The exact numbers are a closely guarded secret by party officials, but estimates suggest both major parties have about 35,0000 members each nationally.
Minor parties the Nationals and the Greens are much smaller, with about 10,000 members each.
The ALP national figure is well below the peak of 150,000 members in the 1930s.
But Mr Hallaj said the bargain basement $5 price tag wasn't about boosting ALP numbers.
''It's not just about numbers, we're looking for people who are passionate about their community to make Canberra stronger, better and fairer.
''Anyone who is passionate about working with other people in their local community to make Canberra a better place to live is welcome to join the party.''
In days gone by, party members were important for activities such as handing out how to vote cards, letter boxing and idea generation, Australian National University political expert Professor John Wanna said.
But Professor Wanna said the need for face-to-face interaction had been superseded by email and social media.
He said it had destroyed part of the soul of the parties, which they might be trying to reclaim.
''It's important for them to say they've got a certain membership base otherwise they're virtual parties,'' Professor Wanna said.
''If the parties lose another 10,000 or 20,000 members we're getting down to professional politicians and no ordinary members.
''You're left with the political ambitious who just want to get ahead and will crawl over every other person there to get the nomination.''