Key party committees such as the Federal Executive and the Federal Policy Committee have a large block of members elected in a postal ballot every two years by the party’s federal conference representatives.* These directly elected members sit alongside committee members such as MPs elected by the Parliamentary Party in the Commons.
The arguments in favour of having federal conference representatives rather than party members as the electorate have tended to focus on practicality (the cost would be much higher to have all member ballots), accountability (if you go to conference you have the chance to hear the committee reports being debated, meet many of the committee members and so on) and fairness (all member elections often benefit well known names).
However, the party’s committees are arguably now far more important than they were in the past and, in addition, the rise of the internet has provided many alternatives routes to finding out about the work of committees and the attributes of individuals even if you never go to conference.
So is it time to change the electorate?
* As an aside: because of this voting right, it is well worth each local party making sure it has its full set of federal conference representatives, even if not all of them think they can make it to conference.
UPDATE: This change has now happened.