Shorten to shake up Senate  selections
Losing out: Louise Pratt and Bill Shorten. Picture: Simon Santi/The West Australian

Bill Shorten will today commit Labor to revamping how it picks Senate candidates in the wake of the party's disastrous performance at the WA re-run election.

In a speech on party reform, Mr Shorten will outline sweeping changes that will increase the power of grassroots members and diminish the influence of unions and factional warlords.

The Opposition Leader will declare Labor needs to face up to "some hard truths" if it is to rebuild and regain the trust of voters.

Mr Shorten will also promise Labor will not protect crooked union officials exposed by the Government's royal commission into union corruption.

"Tony Abbott did not put Labor in Opposition - the Australian people put us here," Mr Shorten will say. "And unless we change it is where we will stay."

The task of fixing Labor has gained urgency after this month's Senate-only election, when the party crashed below 22 per cent and Senator Louise Pratt lost her seat.

Labor's dismal showing has been blamed on the selection of union official and staunch conservative Joe Bullock to top the ticket as part of a factional carve- up of safe seats by unions.

Mr Shorten has foreshadowed he wants the rule that Labor members have to be unionists be scrapped and State leaders be elected by a weighted vote of 50 per cent of MPs and 50 per cent grassroots members, as happens federally.

He will tell party members today in Melbourne the WA branch and national executive will come up with a way of giving local rank and file members a "meaningful say" in selecting Senate candidates.

"The rancour over the recent WA process shows that in the future we need a method that provides a local voice - in addition to a central component - so that we can select the best possible candidates," Mr Shorten will say.

Mr Shorten wants grassroots members to have greater input into preselecting candidates for Lower House seats by increasing the weight given to their vote by 20 percentage points.

In WA, local members' votes are weighted at just 25 per cent.

State leader Mark McGowan has already indicated he wants a 50-50 split between the grassroots and State executive.

Mr Shorten will also propose Labor rewrite its national platform, including updating the party's values for the modern world that could see the end of its totemic "socialist objective" pledge.

As part of a drive to increase membership to 100,000 people, Mr Shorten will propose the party set nationally uniform and cheap membership fees.

The West Australian

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