THE former premier Morris Iemma has welcomed a raft of reforms to the NSW Labor Party, but has called for consideration of further changes, including whether MPs should be given a free vote in Parliament to counter the power of the factions.
On Sunday the Opposition Leader, John Robertson, announced a six-point reform plan, including a ban on the practice of factions ''binding'' their MPs to vote as a block on an issue.
The practice has been identified as one way the powerbroker Eddie Obeid maintained his influence over the former Labor government while leader of a sub-grouping within the Right faction, nicknamed the Terrigals.
The Terrigals dominated the Right faction caucus, which in turn dominated the full caucus.
The decision of the Right faction to ''bind'' its MPs on issues being voted on in the general Labor caucus subsequently delivered Mr Obeid enormous power to influence government decision-making.
At a Labor forum in Parramatta, Mr Robertson said the practice ''stood in the way'' of open debate among MPs in the caucus. He announced that at the next Labor caucus meeting he would move an amendment to change the party rules to ban factions from binding their MPs. The announcement was met with audible gasps from the assembled Labor faithful - and loud applause.
Mr Iemma told Fairfax Media the move was ''welcome, positive and a further step towards important reform''.
However, he called on the party to consider if a change was needed to present party rules which, with exception of conscience votes, force all Labor MPs to vote as a block in Parliament on a particular issue.
Following a corruption inquiry into Rockdale Council, the Independent Commission Against Corruption recommended a ban on councillors voting as a bloc when deciding development applications, and Labor changed its rules.
''It would be timely to have an examination as to whether there is not something similar extended towards caucus,'' he said.
Mr Iemma resigned as premier in 2008 and from Parliament after it became clear he could not get caucus support for a cabinet reshuffle amid a torrid debate over whether to privatise the electricity industry.
Mr Robertson's plan was announced the day before Mr Obeid was due to give evidence to ICAC. The commission is investigating allegations the family of Mr Obeid corruptly stood to make tens of millions of dollars from coal mining exploration leases issued by a colleague, the former mining minister Ian Macdonald.
In his speech, Mr Robertson said he would set ''a new standard'' for a re-elected Labor government under his leadership. This included requiring all Labor MPs to disclose their taxable income and to not only declare to Parliament their pecuniary interests but also those of their spouse and dependents.
Mr Robertson said he would impose the new requirement on MPs in his shadow cabinet from March 31 and would lodge his own pecuniary interest declaration reflecting the changes by the end of February.
He also said Labor MPs would be banned from holding second jobs - a proposal which was rejected by shadow cabinet on Tuesday but eventually endorsed on Saturday.
Under a Labor government ministers would be required to publish a monthly diary online to disclose all contact with lobbyists, private companies or other MPs and all mining licences would have to be approved by cabinet.
One Labor MP at the event said the present crop of ALP politicians were ''paying the price'' for the behaviour of a few predecessors ''but that's politics''.
Mr Robertson called on the Premier, Barry O'Farrell, to implement the changes immediately. Mr O'Farrell said he would wait for ICAC's final report and recommendations before considering changes to existing rules.