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Labor MP to run as independent -

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TONY JONES: Well as they say, with friends like these who needs enemies. A long-serving Labor MP,
someone Kevin Rudd calls a mate, has announced he's standing as an independent against his old
party.

Former frontbencher Gavan O'Connor lost Labor pre-selection for the seat of Corio and was replaced
by an ACTU official. Now he's seeking revenge and in the process handing the Coalition a huge free
kick as it attempts to paint the ALP as union-dominated and undemocratic.

And as Ben Worsley reports, its believed there will be more good news for the Government in
tomorrow's newspaper polls.

BEN WORSLEY: It was written for showbiz, but applies to politics: never work with children or
animals. Even Kevin07 can come unstuck when the best-laid plans turn to dust. No canine concerns
for John Howard, more a mess of his own making. He was joined in Brisbane this morning by his local
candidate, Craig Thomas, name emblazoned on his shirt for most to see.

JOHN HOWARD, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: And Scott Thomas, the federal Liberal candidate for the
seat of Griffith.

BEN WORSLEY: One name he didn't get wrong is this one. Gavan O'Connor is standing as an independent
in the Victorian seat Corio.

He was the Labor MP there since '93, rolled in pre-selection and replaced by ACTU official, Richard
Marles. Gavan O'Connor says it's a symptom of a party overrun by unions.

GAVAN O'CONNOR, INDEPENDENT CANDIDATE: There is a malignant growth within the party and if it is
not cut out soon it will infect all of it.

KEVIN RUDD, FEDERAL OPPOSITION LEADER: Gavan, I've known him for a long time. I like him a lot, I
disagree with his decision. But Richard Marles will be a first-class candidate and member for that
seat.

BEN WORSLEY: Maybe, but it's all too tempting for the Coalition.

JOHN HOWARD: This is the latest example of how former trade union officials have muscled aside.

PETER COSTELLO, TREASURER: You've basically got the ACTU now getting itself elected through the
Labor Party to run the country.

BEN WORSLEY: Joe Hockey's taken the message up a notch. He says union influence in Australia is
essentially over.

JOE HOCKEY, FEDERAL WORKPLACE RELATIONS MINISTER: They're certainly becoming less relevant to
Australian workers, because they've been running their own campaigns in their own interests.

KEVIN RUDD: I'm surprised that Mr Hockey would take such an extreme position, given the critical
role that working families representatives have played in sticking up for those workers affected by
James Hardie.

BEN WORSLEY: A high moral ground quickly eroded. Labor's been sprung cropping this photo attached
to a pamphlet attacking a Liberal candidate for living outside his South Australian electorate.

NICK MINCHIN, FEDERAL FINANCE MINISTER: This is real dirty tricks and exposes Mr Rudd as a complete
hypocrite. He squeals like a stuck pig whenever we point out that 70 per cent of his frontbench are
former trade union officials.

KEVIN RUDD: I think it's wrong in terms of its focus on the personal circumstance of the Liberal
member and I've asked the production of that pamphlet cease.

BEN WORSLEY: Off message for a moment but keen to push his theme of the week, what he calls
Australia's housing affordability crisis.

KEVIN RUDD: I would now suggest that Mr Howard and Mr Costello have a look at this report. The
affordability report put out by the Housing Industry Association and the Commonwealth Bank today.
This report contains quite shocking news.

BEN WORSLEY: The survey shows housing affordability has fallen 8 per cent in a year, average
mortgage repayments account for more than a third of first home buyer's wages.

JOHN HOWARD: Look, I understand there's a problem with housing affordability. I do understand that.

BEN WORSLEY: And he'll no doubt discuss it on Sunday night. Kevin Rudd has finally agreed to join
the leaders' debate. He still wants three, but he'll start with one.

The first major opinion polls of this campaign are due out tomorrow and they appear to show things
looking up for the Coalition. The Galaxy Poll in the Daily Telegraph is believed to show the
Coalition closing the gap after preferences to six points while the AC Neilsen poll in the Fairfax
papers has the Coalition also improving on the primary vote.

Ben Worsley, Lateline.