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ALP disunity - John Kerin's outspoken comments cause for concern. Stephen Loosley claims government is too aggressive and calls for changes in content and style for the ALP

PETER THOMPSON: Fresh assaults on the Federal Government by senior Labor Party figures over the weekend have ensured that last week's poor performances by Government Ministers aren't quickly forgotten. The ALP's federal senior vice president and New South Wales secretary, Stephen Loosley, has accused the Government of being too aggressive and called for changes in content and style. His comments were backed up by the Labor Opposition leader in New South Wales, Bob Carr, who warned the Government of the dangers of appearing out of touch and arrogant. The Prime Minister has already acknowledged that last week was less than glorious for the Government, with senior Ministers making almost daily gaffes.

Meanwhile, maverick Federal Labor MP, Graeme Campbell from Kalgoorlie, supports the stand of the Primary Industries Minister, John Kerin, who believes the green vote has too big a sway on the Government, and he's added that Caucus is all too often left out on major issues. Mr Campbell says Mr Loosley's line is typical of the right wing power brokers who expect the rank and file to follow the party without question. Graeme Campbell is talking to Katie Cronin in Perth.

KATIE CRONIN: Mr Campbell, you've been known to speak out on the environment, in fact you did set up your own group on the issue. Do you think the Federal Government is going a bit too green?

GRAEME CAMPBELL: The problem is that the conservation groups are now prohibitionist and what they are likely to do is to make the environmental issues, to trivialise them in the future, if they're not checked now. I think they are having a disproportionate influence on the party, and I believe the Labor party has got the best record on environmental matters.

KATIE CRONIN: What sort of feeling is there among federal backbenchers about the views Mr Kerin put forward about industry and the environment, last week?

GRAEME CAMPBELL: I think Mr Kerin has a lot of support for his position. I certainly support him and I think that would be the view of a lot of other people. See, one of the problems you have and what Mr Loosley apparently doesn't understand - it is no good the Government adopting a position which isn't thoroughly discussed within the Caucus, and that situation has been happening, and while that happens, I think you're going to get these outbursts.

KATIE CRONIN: Is it a case then of the big players, the Prime Minister and senior Ministers simply taking the reins and expecting the others to follow?

GRAEME CAMPBELL: I think that has occurred, yes.

KATIE CRONIN: Stephen Loosley's speech to the New South Wales ALP conference over the weekend, called for the party to pull itself together. Do other backbenchers worry about perceptions of disunity then, when you have incidents like Kerin and Hawke apparently disagreeing over environment issues?

GRAEME CAMPBELL: I suspect that what Mr Loosley really means is that everyone should do what he and the New South Wales right want and I am sure he would be satisfied with that. But it is a problem and I certainly don't advocate disunity, but on the other hand, while issues aren't thoroughly discussed in the Caucus, this is going to occur and it's going to occur increasingly. I believe what Kerin said was absolutely true. It needed to be said, I just wish that Kerin had said it earlier.

KATIE CRONIN: Finally Mr Campbell, what sort of response do you think you will get from Caucus by speaking on issues like the environment and the way Mr Kerin spoke, and the way that the senior Cabinet Ministers have performed?

GRAEME CAMPBELL: I am sure Mr Hawke will put it down to my colossal ego.

KATIE CRONIN: Will he take it further than that, do you think?

GRAEME CAMPBELL: I don't know but I do know that I am getting a tremendous amount of support for setting up a group interested in sustainable development and I believe that it's in Australia's national interest we go down that way.

KATIE CRONIN: Are you prepared to stick your political neck out to do it?

GRAEME CAMPBELL: I think my neck has always been out.