Labor calls in experts from Team Obama - grassroots activism

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    THE Victorian Labor Party has hired advisers from Barack Obama’s Democratic Party to help mastermind a grassroots campaign to topple the Napthine government.

    Two Democrat advisers were quietly headhunted months ago by Labor to advise on the strategy successfully adopted by the US President of engaging local campaigners — mostly volunteers — to target swinging voters.

    Labor has kept the presence of the US campaigners “below the radar’’ while also receiving advice from Britain. It has also hired two campaigners from New Zealand Labour. The overseas contingent is part of a campaign overseen by Labor’s Victorian secretary Noah Carroll, with direct input from Labor leader Daniel Andrews, a former party assistant secretary.

    The grassroots campaigning goes under the title of Labor’s Community Action Network and is expected to be picked up nationally when federal Labor goes to the polls by 2016.

    Victorian Labor has also backed a presidential-style public campaign involving an image overhaul for Mr Andrews. It includes a series of personal stories in advertising to soften his public persona and a video showing him with his father Bob, aged in his 60s, as he fights cancer.

    Mr Andrews confirmed to The Australian that the party had sought international assistance for the campaign. “We’ve got a few different people helping us out, have been for a year or so,’’ he said. “We’re doing most of it but obviously (we’re getting) a little bit of technical advice, if you like. We’ve got some great friends on the other side of the world that share our values.’’

    The Democrat advisers have not been named although sources said they were experts in Mr Obama’s strategy of grassroots activism. While Greens deputy leader Adam Bandt adopted a small-scale grassroots strategy last year, the Victorian poll, due on November 29, will be its first test as a whole-of-campaign strategy by a major party.

    Senior ALP sources said the Victorian party had conducted “gap analysis’’ to determine the party’s strengths and weaknesses. After this was done the party went on an international search for the best talent to ensure the strategy worked in marginal seats.
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