Shorten's call for party reform met with ambivalence

A DEMAND from Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten for wide-ranging reform in the Labor Party has been met with an ambivalent shrug from branches in Queensland and New South Wales.

The speech was released on Monday but unread with a press conference cancelled after the death of his mother on Sunday.

In the speech, he trumpets the need for change at both a national and state level for the Australian Labor Party.

"Today is a day for facing up to some hard truths," he wrote.

"Some of it wont' be easy to hear - not all of it is easy for me to say.

"Tony Abbott did not put Labor in Opposition - the Australian people put us here.

"And unless we change, it is where we will stay."

Mr Shorten said new members should not have to be part of a union and it should be cheaper to join.

He said the states should follow the federal example of having leaders chosen by both the rank-and-file and caucus.

ALP Queensland secretary Anthony Chisholm said the union member rule has not been enforced for at least six years.

Its leaders will be chosen through a "three-thirds" model requiring endorsement from caucus, affiliated unions and members.

NSW counterpart Jamie Clements said it also largely ignored the union membership rule but would elect its leaders as a half-half backing by members and caucus.

Each branch will formalise their election and membership rules at their state conferences in July.

Mr Shorten is now on leave, with Senator Penny Wong as Acting Opposition Leader while Deputy Leader Tanya Plibersek is overseas.

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