Liberal reformers issue call to arms

Paul Osborne, AAP Senior Political Writer

Supporters of changes to the Liberal party's rules and processes, which will impact on who runs for parliament, have issued a "call to arms" ahead of a crucial meeting.

Hundreds of Liberal faithful will gather in Sydney from July 21-23 for the Party Futures Convention.

The convention is aimed at finding a consensus on a raft of reforms, including greater member participation and improvements to the way the party campaigns.

One of the key issues will be the system of candidate selection, which reformers say is distorted by the involvement of party executive members and factions.

Walter Villatora, a key party figure in Tony Abbott's Sydney seat of Warringah, is drumming up numbers ahead of the convention to support the "one member, one vote" principle.

"The basic principle is 'one member, one vote' through plebiscites for all party elections including, most importantly, candidate selection," he says.

"This remains the cornerstone of the reform model and this must not be lost in the debate over less critical reforms."

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told a party meeting last year he wanted the convention to "chart a course to more open policy forums, more frequent and direct access to members of parliament and senators at party meetings, transparent delegate selection and preselection processes in which all members can participate".

However, Mr Villatora and his reform campaigners aren't taking anything for granted.

They are well aware of the laughter Mr Turnbull attracted at a NSW party meeting in October 2015 when he suggested the Liberal Party was not run by factions.

The reformers are planning a pre-convention forum, dubbed a "Call to Arms for Democratic Reform", in Sydney on July 1.

The previous such event - held last year before the NSW Liberal state council meeting - attracted 500 members.

The debate comes as the party looks to fill two key positions - federal director and party president.

Andrew Bragg has been acting in the director's role since May 8 following the retirement of party veteran Tony Nutt.

Mr Bragg, policy director at the Menzies Research Centre, is a party official in Mr Turnbull's Sydney seat of Wentworth and the prime minister launched his book on trade policy earlier this year.

A panel including outgoing president Richard Alston is understood to be assessing candidates.

Mr Alston's replacement as president is expected to be elected at a federal council meeting in Sydney on June 24.