Alannah MacTiernan is in the running for a quick elevation to Labor's frontbench once the party has ended its month-long leadership ballot between Bill Shorten and Anthony Albanese.
It is understood that whoever wins the leadership contest will be presented with 30 names from across the factions.
Under Labor's parliamentary party rules, the leader allocates portfolios to the frontbench selected by the caucus.
There will be 16 Labor MPs and senators from the dominant Right faction, 13 from the Left and one from the unaligned or Centre faction.
Ms MacTiernan, a former State minister whose fights with factional powerbrokers became legendary, is unaligned, though she was once with the Centre.
_The West Australian _ has been told Ms MacTiernan would be head-to-head with Canberra-based MP Dr Andrew Leigh for a frontbench spot.
The ALP national executive will meet today to finalise details of the leadership contest, including whether debates between Mr Albanese and Mr Shorten will be open to the public and the media.
At the end of the contest, there will be a caucus ballot and a separate ballot of the ALP's 40,000 members, weighted equally.
Mr Albanese said yesterday the fact that he had tasted the difficult years in Opposition made him the best person to lead Labor as it rebuilds. "I know what it's like to be in Opposition," he told Sky News. "I know how you get to government."
Mr Shorten conceded history suggested the next Opposition leader was unlikely to become prime minister but said he was "in it for the long haul".
Labor frontbencher Joel Fitzgibbon, a key plotter in Julia Gillard's removal, said Kevin Rudd was entitled to retain leadership ambitions "as long as he doesn't have any intention to destabilise the party".
"I don't think he has leadership ambitions. But if he does, good on him," he told ABC TV's Insiders program.