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Labor confident of calm conference -

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PETER CAVE: Previous ALP conferences have been dogged by protests and even close to all-out warfare
on the floor of the triennial meeting.

This year though you could almost count the number of protestors on two hands and many issues have
been neutralised days before the conference started.

Those who did protest may have been disappointed that the Prime Minister avoided entering the
Sydney Convention Centre via the front door.

Sabra Lane reports.

(Sound of singing)

SABRA LANE: As the 400 delegates arrived at the Sydney Convention Centre, they were greeted not by
angry chanting or wild demonstrations but by soothing music.

(Sound of singing)

The four person choir was courtesy of the Citizens Electoral Council. It chose a choral form of
protest to underline its dissatisfaction at Labor's policies on banking and the emissions trading

Lars Thystrup was among the choir and was holding up a banner protesting against the Government's
climate change policies.

A little bit off to the side people would be lucky to see you and your banner.

LARS THYSTRUP: Yeah, I'd rather be in people's faces (laughs). I don't really care because we're
saving the country.

SABRA LANE: Another protestor Terry, who wouldn't reveal his surname, was standing up against a
barricade welcoming conference delegates with a large home-made banner.

TERRY: It says "Coal is to Australia what Heroin is to Afghanistan".

SABRA LANE: Has anyone stopped to speak to you from the conference?

TERRY: No, no, no. They're too embedded with the fossil fuel industry. They won't talk to me.

SABRA LANE: Some had also travelled from the apple isle to protest against the pulp mill.

KARL STEVENS: Karl Stevens, I'm a councillor on West Tamar Council and I live within 10 kilometres
of a pulp mill that was proposed five years ago and still hasn't been built. Now they're trying to
use Swedish capital to build the pulp mill so it won't even be an Australian pulp mill and it's
going to just rape our resources.

SABRA LANE: Have any of the delegates or any of the MPs stopped to have a chat to you about your
T-shirt? It says stop...

KARL STEVENS: Yeah, they have, yeah. Some of the, Michael Polley one of the Tasmanian MPs. Yeah
I've got my message across to a couple of the other delegates, yeah. I mean I don't want to be rude
to them or anything.

SABRA LANE: Also the entrance, the Australian Nursing Federation. It wants the Government to
deliver on its promise to improve aged care and volunteers were offering to take blood pressure
readings from those arriving at the venue, including ACTU secretary Jeff Lawrence.

You're having your blood pressure taken?

JEFF LAWRENCE: Just to see how agitated I am really, just to see (laughs).

SABRA LANE: And how's he doing?

WOMAN: He's doing very well, very well indeed (laughing).

JEFF LAWRENCE: There you go.

WOMAN 2: He's in a Zen sort of space this morning.

JEFF LAWRENCE: Yeah, yeah, that's right. Very calm, very relaxed.

SABRA LANE: Are you going to be the same way in a couple of hours' time?

JEFF LAWRENCE: Oh absolutely, yeah.

SABRA LANE: Some suggestion that this has been stage managed to an inch of its life.

JEFF LAWRENCE: Oh no, I don't think that's right. I mean I think, you know, political parties
always try and make sure that issues are dealt with in an orderly way and there's been a lot of
work that's taken place on policy issues and so on as you saw with the announcement about the
protection of Australian jobs. So - and we've been involved in a lot of that. So I think that's
been a, that's been a positive thing.

But I'm sure there will be lots of discussions and debates about a range of issues and unions have
got a lot of things that they're going to push forward and we'll see where we get to.

SABRA LANE: Most issues won't be controversial and those that might have caused dissent have been
neutralised ahead of today's start with the Government anxious to show it's concentrating on
running the country rather than developing Labor party policy.

Treasurer Wayne Swan:

WAYNE SWAN: Well I think you always have vigorous discussion at Labor Party's conferences. This is
a broad based movement. That's an important thing. It demonstrates that we are a vibrant democracy.
So I welcome debate. I don't expect everybody to stand up at conference and support everything the
Government says every time there is a debate. We welcome debate.

SABRA LANE: Mr Swan left in time to avoid a scantily clad man who many thought was dressed like a
gladiator. He arrived at the conference entrance escorted by a woman who was dressed as a mermaid.

It turns out he was supposed to be King Neptune. The couple wanted to greet the Prime Minister with
a personal protest that they wanted more marine park sanctuaries. But the protest was left high and
dry as Kevin Rudd chose to enter the venue, and this forum for democracy, via the back door.

PETER CAVE: Sabra Lane reporting.