At least four state Labor branches have junked Julia Gillard's urgings to hold primary preselections before the 2013 federal election, with NSW general secretary Sam Dastyari failing to rule out a series of feared national executive interventions to protect incumbent MPs.

The ALP's December national conference inserted key clauses in the party platform encouraging state and territory branches to hold trial preselections, with the results to be communicated back to the federal party. Labor's updated guiding document now states boldly that "state and territory branches may trial community selection ballots when selecting lower house candidates" and that the party will support "state and territory branches that undertake a trial of community selection ballots when selecting candidates".

The prime minister has firmly backed the US-style experiments, which were a key recommendation of the Bracks-Carr-Faulkner review.