In 45 years as a member of the Australian Labor Party, Kiama's Bill Carey has seen the federal leader change 11 times. The leadership is about to change for a 12th time, as interim leader Chris Bowen will soon be replaced by either Bill Shorten or Anthony Albanese after a caucus vote on October 10.
Mr Albanese and Mr Shorten will both visit the Illawarra this week. Mr Carey wants them to come clean about how they plan to restore the ALP to its former glory.
Mr Carey is a life member of the ALP. He says his great-grandfather's friends formed the party, and that his family has been a part of the ALP since 1893.
In a two-page open letter to Mr Albanese and Mr Shorten, he asks both men about a wide range of Labor Party policies from representation quotas to the carbon tax, from factions to grassroots policy.
"One of my proudest possessions is my life membership certificate to the ALP, but I was fairly demoralised by policy on the run in the last election," Mr Carey said.
"They get spin doctors to float something and it becomes policy. That's not why it should be policy. It should be thought out in the party branches."
Mr Carey supports the new policy of allowing rank-and-file party members to have a direct say in electing a new ALP leader, however, he thinks the policy does not go far enough.
"It would be so easy to do it through a website, to give people an opportunity to read through the candidates' policies and see what their policies are," he said.
"It's a positive, but it's only about 1 per cent of things that need doing in the Labor Party."
Both Mr Shorten and Mr Albanese's offices were contacted for comment on the issues raised by Mr Carey's letter, but neither responded by press time. Mr Shorten will speak at Wollongong Golf Club at 6pm tonight and Mr Albanese is expected in town tomorrow.