Mark McGowan will take a party overhaul to its State conference.

State Labor leader Mark McGowan will attempt to break the stranglehold of union powerbrokers on the WA branch of the party, proposing sweeping rule changes that would give rank-and-file members a say in all preselection decisions and in the election of the leader.

Mr McGowan wants a similar system for picking the leader to that used in Federal Labor's most recent leadership process to pick Bill Shorten, with a 50-50 balance between the Labor caucus and a ballot of rank-and-file members.

Mr McGowan also wants lay members to have 50 per cent of the say in preselections for seats in the Legislative Assembly and between one-third and a half of the say in preselection for Upper House seats, which have traditionally been the exclusive province of union powerbroker horsetrading.

The proposed reforms - which would be the biggest for any Labor State branch - represent Mr McGowan's first real foray into the inner workings of the party since he became leader in January 2012.

They are also a sign that Mr McGowan believes he has earned the authority to press for change.

Among other reforms, Mr McGowan - who is not aligned to a faction - wants the State leader to be required to stay out of factional dealings.

He wants feedback on a trial of "primary" elections in some seats which would allow non-ALP members to take part in picking a candidate, strengthened rules against branch stacking and simplified membership fee structures to encourage more people to join the party.

Mr McGowan will put factional war lords on notice that he expects changes to the party's rules at Labor's State conference in July, when his proposed reforms will be debated.

"At the end of all this, the ultimate aim is to have good, community candidates from a range of backgrounds who can represent WA Labor and the State well," he said.

Mr McGowan believes his caucus has been performing "magnificently" but admitted frustration that efforts to damage the Barnett Government had been undermined by Federal Labor's performance.

"My focus is on holding a very bad Government to account for their failures," he said.

The West Australian

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