A plan to introduce what was billed as significant populist reform to the Liberal Party has been shot down in Sydney, prompting some members to warn of a grassroots revolt.
NSW state delegates voted down the Warringah Motion - also known as the Rosehill Resolution - on Saturday at the NSW Liberal AGM, opting for a more moderate compromise.
The Warringah Motion, championed by Warringah MP Tony Abbott and backed by John Howard, would have given NSW Liberal Party members preselection votes in their respective seats.
However, state delegates voted for the Bennelong Motion, which Mr Abbott earlier in the day described as a "rearguard action by factional warlords" that would delay reform and "put off real democracy".
While the Bennelong Motion will give members the chance to vote in state and federal preselections in the lower house, it leaves the state council with the power over the NSW upper house and federal Senate.
It will only be implemented in two years, after the next state and federal elections.
Currently, all preselection decisions are left to branch delegates, which supporters of the Warringah Motion said nurtured factionalism.
After the vote Mr Abbott told reporters outside Sydney's Town Hall that while his motion was not passed, he was pleased there had been some reform.
"Its not everything the members wanted but nevertheless it is an important reform," Mr Abbott said.
"The Liberal Party is still to much of an insiders club but its much of an insiders club than it was."
Others were less diplomatic, with one Liberal member telling reporters there would be a revolt at a grassroots level.
"I think there will be a revolt, there were people that were sitting behind me that decided they were going to leave the Liberal Party because of it," the woman, who did not identify herself, said.
"NSW won't have a Liberal Party the way its going.
"I'll probably get the sack for this but too bad...I am upset and I do care but I'm going to say it anyway because it needs to be said."
In his speech to the AGM earlier in the day, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called for members to have a greater say in the Liberal Party, however it is understood he supported the more moderate Bennelong Motion.
"The best way to attract people is to give them a say in how the party is run," Mr Turnbull said to applause.
"Everything that we do to ensure that we are successful, to ensure that we grow, must give members a say."
New Senator Jim Molan, a vocal supporter of the Warringah Motion, said he was "a bit disappointed" in the decision.
"It took us a couple of thousand of years for western nations to become democratic, the Liberal Party is just following slightly behind it," Mr Molan, the former Australian Army Major General told reporters.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is also believed to have backed Bennelong.
"We need you to feel more engaged and more empowered in all aspects of our party's activities," Ms Berejiklian said.
Mr Abbott pleaded with angry members to not quit the party.
"When good people leave, worse people prevail, that's why the important thing is to always stay in and fight," Mr Abbott said.
Australian Associated Press