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Greg Sword: even greater union power over ALP.

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   The Hon. Peter Reith, MP       Minister for Employment, Workplace Relations and Small Business       Leader of the House of Representatives       Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600

13 July 2000 113/00

Greg Sword: even greater union power over ALP Kim Beazley’s new preferred choice as president of the ALP, Greg Sword, represents a further consolidation of union dominance of the party.

Greg Sword will be the first serving union boss in 22 years to become president of the ALP.

Before the current president, Barry Jones, presidents of the party have been: Senator Stephen Loosely, SA Premier John Bannon, Federal Minister Mick Young, NSW Premier Neville Wran, Tasmanian Deputy Premier Neil Batt and ACTU president Bob Hawke. You have to go back to Bob Hawke’s tenure in the job between 1973 and 1978 to find a current union boss presiding over the federal executive of the ALP.

Greg Sword is a career union official. He is currently general secretary of the National Union of Workers (NUW) - a job he has held since 1984. Prior to that he was assistant general secretary of the NUW (first elected 1982) and an organiser of the Storeman and Packers’ Union (first elected in 1975). He is also senior vice president of the ACTU.

As the membership base of the union movement rapidly declines, with only 19.6 per cent coverage in the private sector, it ironically is tightening its iron grip over the ALP.

Over 59 per cent (ie one in six) of the parliamentary front bench is made up of former trade union bosses, while 20 of the 29 ALP senators, or some 69 per cent, are former union officials.

This stranglehold by one sectional interest group simply smothers the ALP and distorts its policy-making processes.

Where the Coalition stands for the public interest, Mr Beazley submits to trade union officials.

For further information contact: Brett Hogan 0419 484 095.

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