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Abbott reformers seek to bolster numbers

AAP logoAAP 27/10/2016 Paul Osborne, AAP Senior Political Writer

Supporters of Tony Abbott's reform plan for the Liberal Party have launched a recruitment drive to bolster their numbers ahead of an historic convention next year.

The former prime minister's plan to overhaul party rules and give members a greater say in policy development and candidate selection was rejected by the party's NSW state council last weekend.

However, an alternative plan put forward by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was supported, which will see reform issues debated at a convention in 2017.

Backers of Mr Abbott's plan have sent out an email calling for members to sign up and attend the convention.

"If the all-members convention is in support of democratic reform, it is impossible to imagine that the state executive and the opponents of 'one member one vote' would defy the will of the majority of the membership," the email says.

"This is the most important meeting of the NSW Liberal party division since Robert Menzies."

Under the party's rules, members don't have to be attached to a local branch but can be "members at large" - which is promoted in the email.

The email from Mr Abbott's Warringah branch chairman Walter Villatora says he had "long suspected the lobbyist faction, which has until recently so dominated our party, was a house of cards".

"I am confident thousands of party members will come from across NSW to attend the all members convention and that we can build a world's best practice political party in the NSW division."

The "lobbyist faction" is a reference to high profile lobbyist Michael Photios, who is influential in the dominant moderate group within the NSW Liberals.

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