Labor appears set to take another halting step on its long, slow road to reform when the largest state branch gathers for its annual conference on the weekend. Two proposals will be put forward with a view to shifting the balance of power in the New South Wales branch from the union leadership to the rank and file -- of which one is set to pass and the other doomed to fail.

The first proposal follows the federal party’s example in allowing the membership to vote in state leadership contests, with a membership ballot carrying equal weight with the party room vote. The success of the contest between Bill Shorten and Anthony Albanese in October, in which the party presented a constructive new face to the electorate after the scorched-earth battles of the Rudd-Gillard years, has made this a hard reform to argue against.