Labor Party members have welcomed moves to give the public a voice in selecting ALP candidates before the next state election, predicting it will increase political engagement and counter voter cynicism.
NSW Labor will allow members of the public to vote alongside local branch members for their Labor candidate in the seats of Balmain, Newtown, Campbelltown, Londonderry and Strathfield, Opposition Leader John Robertson announced on Sunday.
The trial of the primary-style preselection process ''shows we are serious about opening our party up to new people and new ways of thinking,'' Mr Robertson said.
He promised community preselections for any other seat where locals were keen to adopt the new process.
A committee will determine how much weight to give the votes of branch members and community members.
The Labor mayor of Leichhardt, Darcy Byrne, said the trial heralded ''a new era of public participation'' for the party.
''Labor's candidates will be selected in the lounge rooms of Balmain and Newtown, not the back rooms of Macquarie Street,'' he said. ''To win a community preselection candidates will need to be active in local communities instead of the corridors of Parliament.''
The seat of Newtown has been created by redrawing the electoral boundaries of Labor-held Marrickville and is viewed as notionally Green, while Labor lost Balmain to the Greens' Jamie Parker at the 2011 state election. Campbelltown, Londonderry and Strathfield are marginal Liberal seats.
Councillor Byrne said giving local residents a vote in determining Labor's candidates would ''excite our thousands of supporters and help us win back the inner west''.
Damien Hogan, the secretary of the Balmain State Electoral Council, saw the trial as a good model for forging a more responsive and successful party and said greater community involvement would generate broad policy ideas.
Steve Hambridge, secretary of the ALP's Balmain branch, said while some members had expressed concerns that their vote ''will be diminished if more people are voting'', most agreed on the need for party reform.