New federal Labor leader Bill Shorten is prepared to force a parliamentary showdown with the coalition government over the carbon tax.

Junior minister Jamie Briggs said opposition to Prime Minister Tony Abbott's planned repeal of the carbon tax would show Labor had learnt nothing from defeat in last month's federal election.

But Mr Shorten, who took the ALP's top job on Sunday despite a rebuff from the party's rank and file, is undeterred.

"It is important to maintain a price on carbon pollution," Mr Shorten said.

In a pointed reference to Mr Abbott's tactics as opposition leader, Mr Shorten vowed not to wage a campaign of relentless negativity.

Labor's grassroots members were given a say in electing a party leader for the first time and 60 per cent voted for Anthony Albanese in the historic ballot.

But caucus backed Mr Shorten 55 votes to 31 and, when the two tallies were weighted against each other, Mr Shorten had 52 per cent of the vote.

Despite the conflict, the new leader is confident he has whole-hearted party support and vows to be a consultative leader.

"This ballot shows that there are still things for me to learn," he said.

Mr Shorten's election almost forced his mother-in-law, Governor-General Quentin Bryce into earlier-than-expected retirement.

Mr Abbott revealed Ms Bryce offered to resign to avoid any perception of bias.

"I have thanked her for her magnanimity but declined to accept her resignation," the prime minister said.

The Labor caucus meets again on Monday to elect a deputy leader, likely to be Mr Shorten's pick Tanya Plibersek, and members of the shadow ministry.

Mr Shorten will allocate portfolios on Friday.

Mr Albanese won't be a contender, however.

In an emotional media conference, Mr Shorten's beaten rival told his son Nathan he will instead spend time as deputy coach of the under-14 Rebels Canterbury division six-a-side soccer team.

In a sign of goodwill, former prime minister Julia Gillard, whose dumping by caucus in June was precipitated by Mr Shorten turning against her, tweeted best wishes.

"Congratulations to Bill Shorten on becoming Labor leader. A great honour! I wish Bill all the best. JG"

 

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