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Labor's factions 'frustrating'

Labor Senator Louise Pratt has admitted that the factional system is stifling break-though talent but that reform must begin with cultural change within the ALP.

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Disquiet within the parliamentary Labor Party over the leadership contest and selection of the shadow ministry is threatening to boil over, with some MPs furious about the public presentation of harmony while in reality, the process had been ''brutal and treacherous''.

The depth of feeling has brought claims of dishonesty and vote selling for jobs in the caucus ballot, and an allegation that a parcel of votes was delivered to the ALP's headquarters by the Right faction last Friday, just an hour before the membership election closed.

Anthony Albanese.

Anthony Albanese. Photo: Andrew Meares

Left faction MPs loyal to unsuccessful leadership aspirant Anthony Albanese claim the Victorian Left faction chieftain, Kim Carr, voted for Bill Shorten in the secret ballot, despite his denials.

Another eight members of the Left's 36 MPs also broke ranks for Mr Shorten, giving him sufficient votes in the caucus to overcome a 60/40 vote in the rank-and-file ballot in favour of Mr Albanese.

Fairfax Media understands that the leadership ballot got off to a rocky start because Mr Albanese, the former deputy prime minister in the second Rudd cabinet, had been led to believe that if he ran, Mr Shorten would not.

While some senior Labor figures, such as former Speaker Anna Burke and former minister Warren Snowdon, have spoken out about the insidious role of factions in the process of selecting the Shorten frontbench, there was also anger at the way the month-long leadership ballot was conducted, and the way some MPs voted.

One senior Labor source described the situation in the Left as ''open warfare'', with Mr Albanese said to be seeking revenge on those in his faction who did not give him their leadership vote. ''One or two more votes in caucus and he would have been leader, so he's not happy,'' one insider said.

Another said recriminations were still being meted out in the Left, with Albanese loyalists driving them. ''The knives are out, yes,'' the source said. ''It is very clear that if you didn't vote with your faction, you're going to be punished.''

While both Mr Shorten and Mr Albanese emerged from the contest professing support and respect for each other, sources suggest the relationship is more strained after the Shorten camp was seen to engage in activities that were ''not in the spirit'' of the ballot. These included a revelation from a taxi driver that Mr Shorten had been overheard arranging to be asked a question during a party debate between the two hopefuls.

The behaviour of MPs in the caucus ballot also provoked anger in the Albanese camp.

According to one source, Mr Albanese secured 80 per cent of the rank-and-file votes in the ACT yet he got none of the three caucus votes from ACT MPs in the separate caucus ballot.

Fairfax Media has been told a parcel of 42 votes was delivered to the ALP's head office by Mr Shorten's supporters just an hour before the ballot ended.

However, a source from the Shorten camp said it was possible votes were pooled to ensure they were counted.