Labor frontbencher Bill Shorten says he has the signatures of the majority of caucus members on his nomination for the federal parliamentary leadership.

Mr Shorten and fellow frontbencher Anthony Albanese are contesting a ballot for the leadership, following Kevin Rudd's decision to step down after Labor's federal election loss.

For the first time, the parliamentary leadership will be determined by a ballot evenly split between caucus members and 40,000 ordinary party members.

Mr Shorten, who hails from the ALP's Right faction, told reporters in Melbourne it was an "exciting time" for all party members to participate in an important decision and he was heartened by the support shown so far.

"I've got a majority of caucus members to sign my nomination," Mr Shorten said on Tuesday.

He said he had spoken with Mr Albanese, and they had agreed to a "civil debate about ideas, not personalities".

The pair also agreed the loser of the ballot would still get a "senior" role in opposition.

Mr Shorten said outgoing health minister Tanya Plibersek would make a good opposition deputy should she choose to run.

He said he would get around the country to speak to as many members as possible.

"My focus is on directly communicating with the people who contribute so much to the Labor party and that is our membership," the former Australian Workers Union boss said.

Asked whether he and Mr Albanese had any policy differences, Mr Shorten said their values were "quite similar".

But issues surrounding services for people with disabilities must be kept at the centre of the political stage and Labor needed to ensure during the leadership contest there was a focus on keeping the Abbott government accountable.

"I think the coalition is showing some degree of complacency," he said.

 

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