Construction union boss Michael Ravbar's colourful exit from Labor's Left faction changes very little but signals a hell of a lot.
Construction union boss Michael Ravbar's colourful exit from Labor's Left faction changes very little but signals a hell of a lot.

CFMEU’s swipe at Labor is history repeating

Construction union boss Michael Ravbar's colourful exit from Labor's Left faction changes very little but signals a hell of a lot.

In time it might threaten the dominant Left's absolute control of Labor conferences.

But given the CFMEU has long been a renegade and rarely liked to toe a factional line, there was a risk of that already.

Ravbar's real intention was to inflict a political poke in the eye on Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk just 66 days before the state election, while warning there'd be many more to come.

And he did it with aplomb.

Perhaps the best unionist of his generation, the Electrical Trade Union's Peter Simpson, did the same to then premier Anna Bligh in 2009 when Labor was tearing itself apart over asset sales.

Simpson quit the Left but kept the ETU's affiliation to Labor and his anti-privatisation campaign that followed helped destroy the administration.

Bligh pushed for him to be punted from the party and that just made Simpson a martyr.

Ravbar is signalling he's planning to do much the same.

 

The Electrical Trades Union’s Peter Simpson
The Electrical Trades Union’s Peter Simpson

 

At stake are the big dollars that the CFMEU commits to Labor directly and through its third-party campaign as well as the many foot soldiers it delivers to the party's ground game.

But the bigger threat is Ravbar's indication he's about to go rogue on issues like infrastructure, mining and the economy which would hurt Labor where it can least afford it, regional Queensland.

Sure, the CFMEU was already seen as a reprobate.

It called for Jackie Trad to be sacked at the height of her integrity scandals and has been campaigning against State Development Minister Kate Jones over Cross River Rail.

It has a criminal rap sheet that's more prodigious than some bikie gangs.

But loosened from factional allegiances and itching for a fight over an array of perceived slights, an unplugged Ravbar shapes as an entirely different beast to the one we've seen before.

His message was simple: You bastards ain't seen nothing yet.

 

 

 

Originally published as CFMEU's swipe at Labor is history repeating



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