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CFMEU fuming over Labor comments -

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CFMEU fuming over Labor comments

The CFMEU's Michael O'Connor says there will be no relationship with Labor environment spokesman
Anthony Albanese while Mr Albanese refers to union members as 'vandals'.

BARRIE CASSIDY: Now, they have got policies to think about of course, and one of them is the forest
issue, which is really at the heart of what's going on too with Stephen Conroy - it's one of the
issues. Michael O'Connor is from the CFMEU and he was caught up in this at the time, in the last
week of the campaign, and he joins us now. Good morning.

MICHAEL O'CONNOR, CFMEU: Good morning, Barrie.

BARRIE CASSIDY: How do you justify, in retrospect, being at a microphone at a rally for John
Howard. You are a delegate to the ALP National Conference, and there you were, moments before the
Prime Minister joined that rally, you were at the microphone?

MICHAEL O'CONNOR: I was actually at the microphone 1.5 hours before John Howard spoke.

BARRIE CASSIDY: You did mention to the rally, though, that John Howard was coming along shortly?

MICHAEL O'CONNOR: Yeah, that's right, but it was 1.5 hours before he spoke. But the bottom line, is
that we had a meeting called of members and workers and contractors, small business people in the
industry, and they were here to hear a leader of a major party announce their policy and the union,
and as far as we're concerned, needs to be there to listen to what one of those leaders has to say.

We gave the same opportunity to Mark Latham but he didn't agree to accept it.

BARRIE CASSIDY: So, what do you think about Mark Latham now? Is he a dead parrot, as Michael
Costello wrote during the week?

MICHAEL O'CONNOR: Well, I think any leader after such a defeat has a range of problems and he is
going to have to work his way through it. And I'm sure he'll do that in the next few weeks.

BARRIE CASSIDY: What's his biggest problem?

MICHAEL O'CONNOR: Well, I think that other people can comment on what Mark Latham's biggest problem
is.

As far as we're concerned, the area that we know best - we think there needs to be some more work
done on the forest policy.

The forest policy taken to the election was a job destroyer, it was a disaster. And we hope that
the Labor Party has learnt their lesson from that.

MALCOLM FARR, 'DAILY TELEGRAPH': Mr O'Connor, Malcolm Farr, from the 'Daily Telegraph'. What sort
of working relationship do you have now with the new environment spokesman, Anthony Albanese?

MICHAEL O'CONNOR: We don't have any relationship with him at the moment.

Anthony Albanese went down to Tasmania, spoke to every single person he could get his hands on
apart from our union - unionised workers in the timber industry - then went on 'AM' and called our
members vandals.

So there's no relationship and I think Anthony Albanese should stop acting like a political
hooligan on this issue.

And as far as we're concerned, he needs to grow up.

KAREN MIDDLETON, THE 'WEST AUSTRALIAN': Well, Michael, Karen Middleton here. Where do you think the
fault lies in the parliamentary Labor Party at the moment then? What do you think about the
criticisms and the sniping that are being made behind the scenes?

MICHAEL O'CONNOR: Well, we're not experts in the ins and outs of the Labor Party.

We are experts on, we think, forest policy and where that needs to go.

But to be fair to Mark Latham, the issue of forestry and where people stand on it, is an issue that
- it also riddles the Liberal Party as well as the Labor Party.

It's about whether people want to support the cafe latte set, the middle class, or whether they
want to support working people on this issue.

And it is whether people like Anthony Albanese want to line up with Bill Heffernan or whether
people want to line up with people like Dick Adams or Paul Lennon.

And we think that the forest issue is a key issue because it describes or demonstrates where people
stand on certain values.

And the Labor Party has to come to terms with those sort of issues, as does the Liberal Party, and
we think at some stage those debates will have to occur properly.

ANDREW BOLT, 'HERALD SUN': It is Andrew Bolt here from the 'Herald Sun'. Do you think though,
Michael, that the Labor can ever get over this problem that you've got the left which is taking up
issues which union leaders like yourself know kill jobs, aren't sensible aren't even remotely
connected to reality, but they think that to go with your particular point of view - the right-wing
of the Labor Party point of view - is actually evil. How can it resolve these contradictions? It
seems like two parties now within Labor, not one?

MICHAEL O'CONNOR: Well, the forest and furnishing division has a left-wing point of view.

ANDREW BOLT: You're not promoting a left-wing cafe latte point of view!

MICHAEL O'CONNOR: A left-wing point of view is this - is that you do not sacrifice blue collared
jobs to appease the middle-class of this country.

ANDREW BOLT: Hasn't the left changed then, Michael. That's a left-wing point of view and I don't
think that those who portend to be part of the left that want to destroy the jobs of blue-collar
workers are progressive. That's our position on this issue.

MALCOLM FARR: You seem to have described Anthony Albanese then. If I could just go back to him -
he's from the left and he'd say he's progressive. Do you think you can establish a working
relationship with him?

MICHAEL O'CONNOR: Not if he goes around calling our members vandals and not if he goes around
touring the forests of Tasmania without talking to our local MP or talking to the union that covers
that workplace.

MALCOLM FARR: Won't you take action against him, such as not allowing him into the councils of your
unions?

MICHAEL O'CONNOR: We certainly have a divisional executive on Tuesday, Wednesday this week where
we'll be discussing what action we'll be taking against Anthony Albanese about the comments he made
on national radio that attacked our members.

KAREN MIDDLETON: What are the options, Michael?

MICHAEL O'CONNOR: We'll certainly be looking at black-listing him from workplaces that we cover.

BARRIE CASSIDY: OK, thanks for your time this morning.

MICHAEL O'CONNOR: Thanks Barrie.