Political feeding frenzy, union cannibalism Down Under

Western Australian unionist Joe McDonald was expelled from the Labor Party without a fair hearing on the orders of "ruthless" Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd, construction union boss Kevin Reynolds has said.

Mr McDonald, deputy secretary of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union's (CFMEU) WA branch, was expelled from the party following a vote by the ALP national executive committee on Friday.

Mr Rudd recommended the move saying Mr McDonald had made "inappropriate and unacceptable" comments outside a Perth court on Thursday.

Asked if he had a word for Prime Minister John Howard, Mr McDonald had said: "John's gone. You know that. I'll be back". Mr Howard seized on the comments as proof union bosses would cash in on a Rudd Labor win at the federal election.

Mr McDonald had just been acquitted in the first of six trials for trespassing on Perth building sites, after having his right of entry permit revoked by the federal court.

CFMEU WA secretary Kevin Reynolds today said the union was seeking advice from lawyers Slater and Gordon to see if they could challenge Mr McDonald's expulsion. The vote should have gone before the whole national executive, he said.

"He hasn't had any opportunity to put his case. He's been hung, drawn and quartered without even getting to face his accusers, he said on ABC radio.

Mr Reynolds said Mr McDonald's expulsion was a political decision by a "pretty ruthless" Mr Rudd who wanted to show he was being tough on unions.

He said that if the ALP wanted to return the $400,000 donated by the CFMEU for the election campaign, he would not refuse.

Mr Rudd dismissed the comments as the unionist's normal "bluster".

"I expect full huff, puff, bluster and the rest from Mr Reynolds in the days ahead. That's just kind of what you expect," he said.


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