The federal Labor caucus has endorsed a plan to allow the parliamentary leader to be elected by MPs and the party’s 40,000 rank and file members.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says this means the decision to elect the leader will no longer be subject to factional influences.
“Each of our members gets to have a say, a real say, in the future leadership of our party,” he said after a caucus meeting in the Sydney suburb of Balmain.
“Decisions can no longer simply be made by a factional few.”
Under the reform, the leadership vote will be split 50-50 between caucus and grassroots members.
As well, an election for the leader will automatically occur after a federal poll in which the ALP goes to opposition.
An election can also be called if a leader resigns, or if at least 75 per cent of members of the caucus sign a petition stating the leader is bringing the party into disrepute.
But if Labor is in opposition, a petition signed by only 60 per cent of caucus members is required for a leadership vote.
The 60 per cent rule was one of three amendments to party rules accepted by the caucus, and seconded by Deputy Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.
The second amendment related to the close of nominations for the election of the parliamentary leader.
The third will allow the deputy leader or the highest-ranked House of Representatives MP to act as interim leader while a ballot is held.
“For the future, this is an important set of reforms for the party,” Mr Rudd said.
“We are a party of the grassroots.
“We are at our best when we are listening to people right across the country and we are at our best when the rank and file of our membership, all 44,000 of them, know they have an active say in the future direction of our party.”
The caucus meeting on Monday took almost three hours.
Mr Rudd also addressed MPs on the government’s planning for the upcoming election and his policy changes on the carbon pricing regime and the treatment of asylum seeker boat arrivals.
The prime minister said he had some further “challenges” to deal with before an election.