State Labor leader Mark McGowan has moved to create online branch meetings and double the say of rank-and-file members in a bid to modernise the party and broaden its appeal ahead of the 2017 State election.
In a speech to the party faithful at its State conference yesterday, Mr McGowan said it was important to learn the lessons of defeat in March but insisted Labor's place "is not in Opposition".
"Our place is in government and we must make every step a step towards victory," he said.
Delivering his first State conference speech as leader after Labor skipped the event last year in the lead-up to the election, Mr McGowan challenged the notion that the party's constituency shrank as affluence grew in WA.
He said he wanted to expand the party's base beyond unions to include business owners and those in trades and professions.
"In fact, I fear we are doomed to failure if we refuse to recognise these people as 'our people'," Mr McGowan said.
In a pitch to the big business sector traditionally aligned with the conservatives, Mr McGowan claimed the Liberals had abandoned fiscal responsibility.
"It is Colin Barnett's heavy-handed, often ego-driven interventionalism that gets in the way of laying down the right ground rules and letting business get on with it," he said.
"It's Colin Barnett's imperial disdain for basic fiscal management that's made the State Budget a joke, lost our triple-A credit rating and condemned the people of this State to . . . years of mountainous debt."
He described modernising the WA Labor Party as "not a luxury, (but) a necessity for success" and said it would include online participation to grow membership.
"Imagine being able to take part in some of your local branch meetings via the internet from home," Mr McGowan said.
"Why can't I, or my shadow ministers, directly engage with you via the internet?"
He drew applause from delegates when he said the weighting of local preselectors at State executive would be doubled when picking candidates for contested State Lower House seats.
Shadow attorney-general John Quigley thanked delegates for adopting his policy of a sentencing council as the Labor platform. It was only the council - which would include judges, victims of crime and legal aid and would determine what sentences for offences should be - that could stop Labor from getting "wedged" by the Liberals over mandatory sentencing, he said.