11/15/07

Union boss and wife quit politics in disgust

Union boss Kevin Reynolds has quit the Labor party over its treatment of his wife, Labor MP Shelley Archer, who also resigned before she could be expelled.

By quitting the ALP, Ms Archer pre-empted moves by West Australian Premier Alan Carpenter to expel her from the party over confidential leaks to her mentor, lobbyist and disgraced former premier Brian Burke. She faces possible criminal charges for also giving false information to a state parliamentary inquiry.

Ms Archer said eight months ago it would take a "sledgehammer" to get her out of the ALP.

Standing by her side as she quit on Thursday, Mr Reynolds, the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union's WA secretary, accused Mr Carpenter of running a vendetta against his wife for her lifelong friendship with Mr Burke.

"She's just being persecuted left, right and centre because she knows Brian Burke," said Mr Reynolds, who has been an ALP member for 30 years.

"God forbid, he's not an axe murderer or a paedophile or anything.

"I've got no intention of staying in the party, the way they treated my wife."

Mr Carpenter welcomed Ms Archer's resignation and denied he had an axe to grind.

"I'm not a dictator, but I am the premier and I've got certain standards that I want to see upheld ... and when there has been such a gross breach of appropriate behaviour I feel duty bound to act," Mr Carpenter said.

Contacted by AAP overnight, Mr Burke said he had no interest in making any comment.

Ms Archer is the latest in a string of political figures tainted by their links to Mr Burke and his lobbying partners.

Mr Carpenter has already sacked three WA government ministers over improper dealings with Mr Burke and his partner, Julian Grill, after the pair's lobbying activities were examined by the state's Corruption and Crime Commission.

The premier's move against Ms Archer came in the wake of a parliamentary report on Tuesday that recommended criminal prosecutions be considered against the Labor MP and against upper house Liberal MP, Anthony Fels.

Mr Carpenter said Ms Archer and Mr Fels should be kicked out of parliament for their "grossly inappropriate" behaviour.

But Mr Reynolds slammed the ALP over its unfair treatment of his wife, and others.

The union heavyweight recently vowed to fight the ALP's expulsion of his union deputy Joe McDonald, who has been the target of Liberal party advertising during the election campaign.

Mr Reynolds said the CFMEU may now reconsider its ties to the Labor party.

"We may have a plebiscite of our members to see whether they want to be in the Labor party or not."

Opposition Leader Paul Omodei on Wednesday moved to expel Mr Fels but may not have the success Mr Carpenter enjoyed.

Mr Fels says he has received a lot of support, including from former Liberal leader Matt Birney.

"When I see a clear injustice committed, you'll hear from me," Mr Birney said.

(news.brisbanetimes.com.au)

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