Joe McDonald fights ALP expulsion

October 26, 2007

Assistant state secretary of the Western Australian branch of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), Joe McDonald, was expelled from the Australian Labor Party on October 26, on the recommendation of Labor leader Kevin Rudd. Earlier this year Rudd had failed to have the militant unionist expelled, and the ALP had stated that it would await the outcome of McDonald's six charges for "trespass" on Perth building sites before making a decision.

McDonald was acquitted on October 25 of the first charge of trespass, and Rudd is claiming that his "thuggish behaviour" outside the court — when he commented to the media that "John [Howard]'s gone but I'll be back" — are cause for expulsion. The ALP's national executive made the decision the day after the Liberal Party released another internet advertisement featuring footage of McDonald on a Perth building site acquired by the Howard government's Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC), set up in 2005 to police the contruction unions.

The footage shows McDonald calling a building industry executive a "thieving parasite dog". The Liberal Party's ad says, "Joe McDonald is still a member of the Labor Party ... so much for what Mr Rudd says". The CFMEU has questioned how footage acquired by the draconian ABCC body can be used for "overtly party political purposes" such as appearing on the Liberals' website.

McDonald says he plans to fight the expulsion and is seeking legal advice. "I've made it quite clear that a piece of paper is not going to take away a lifetime of commitment and my beliefs."

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