Passionate proposal: Bill Shorten hopes to broaden Labor's quota system to include unrepresented members of the Australian community. Photo: Mal Fairclough
Labor leadership aspirant Bill Shorten has proposed broadening the party's quota system to include gay and lesbian candidates and indigenous Australians, to improve their under-representation in Parliament.
In a bulk mailout to Labor members, due to arrive in coming days, Mr Shorten launches a passionate bid to be made leader.
He outlines his vision for the Labor Party as a younger, more dynamic organisation that would attract more professional women, academics, small business people, tradespeople and farmers.
To attract and keep more members, he says the party should offer discount memberships for union members, students, pensioners and people out of work, and allow people to join online. He says Labor must also redouble its efforts to promote at least 40 per cent female candidates.
Labor's membership has risen by more than 1100 new applications since the election, with broad support among the membership for the new leadership election process introduced by former leader Kevin Rudd.
NSW general secretary Jamie Clements said the leadership reforms had softened the blow of Labor's election defeat. ''A lot of oxygen has been sucked out of what's wrong with the Labor Party. That's not the focus right now. The focus is, members have an opportunity to elect their future. That's the net effect.''
National secretary George Wright said 43,000 members were eligible to vote in the contest between Mr Shorten and Left stalwart Anthony Albanese.
Mr Albanese and Mr Shorten are understood to have better chances in their home states of NSW and Victoria, respectively, despite NSW being controlled by the Right. The majority of branch members are not factionally aligned.
Ballot papers were posted to members on Tuesday and will be counted within a fortnight.