Tuesday, 15 October 2013

another plibersek, the left et al re Israel


Israel ban move opens rift in unions

THE push for a boycott of Israel has opened up divisions in the labour movement.
One of the country's most powerful union figures has distanced himself from more than 20 ALP-affiliated unions who support banning trade and cultural links with the Jewish state.
Australian Workers Union national secretary Paul Howes said yesterday the position of the anti-Israel unions -- which include the Queensland branch of the CFMEU and the Sydney branch of the MUA -- was divisive, at a time when unity was required.
"A worker is a worker is a worker," Mr Howes told The Australian. "Creating divisions between Israeli and Palestinian workers is not a good thing."
Mr Howes revealed he had signed the AWU up with an international labour organisation called Tulip which, according to its website, exists "to challenge the apologists for Hamas and Hezbollah in the labour movement and to fight for a two-state solution to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians".
His comments came as the Coalition sought to up the ante on Labor and the unions over Israel, arguing they were little different from the NSW Greens, whose successful push for a boycott by Marrickville council, in inner-western Sydney, has sparked widespread condemnation.
The policy has been labelled a "mistake" by the party's federal leader, Bob Brown, and prompted a public rift between him and Greens senator-elect for NSW, Lee Rhiannon, an outspoken supporter of the boycott.
In a combative speech in Melbourne yesterday, federal manager of opposition business Christopher Pyne challenged Julia Gillard to condemn Labor-affiliated unions that support an Israel boycott, and to take action against Human Services Minister Tanya Plibersek, who labelled Israel a "rogue state" in parliament in 2002.
"There is hypocrisy operating here," Mr Pyne said in his speech.
"The Labor Party wants to say one thing publicly, but behind closed doors tolerates significant unions that have passed resolutions about the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign.
"And within Julia Gillard's cabinet there is a minister who has said things not unlike the comments by (Greens senators) Sarah Hanson-Young and Scott Ludlam, who have been rightly condemned and properly outed."
Ms Plibersek told The Australian she no longer held the views she expressed in parliament.
"The comments that Christopher is referring to were made about 10 years ago, and I acknowledged at the time that I spoke injudiciously," she said.
"Like most Labor Party members and supporters, I'm in favour of a two-state solution. To compare the Labor position with the Greens is simply not right. The residents of Marrickville tell me that they are disturbed by the council's lack of focus on local issues and irrational boycott proposal."
The federal opposition also demanded yesterday that the Prime Minister distance herself from the four Labor Marrickville councillors who voted with the Greens in favour of the boycott, but are now backing away from the move.
Coalition Senate leader Eric Abetz said the Prime Minister and Senator Brown must assert their authority and influence within their respective parties to "denounce and stub out" the policy.
"Julia Gillard claims that Labor will have no truck with extremist Green policies," Senator Abetz said. "Well, if so, she should ensure Labor's Marrickville councillors vote to overturn its boycott policy."
Ms Gillard said through a spokeswoman last night her government deeply valued Australia's relationship with Israel.
"Australia is firmly committed to Israel's security and fully recognises the significant security challenges Israel faces," the spokeswoman said.
Mr Howes said if unions wanted to support a boycott it was "their business".
"But our view is that, if you want to be active in fighting for peace in the Middle East, then unity rather than division is the key," he said.
"It is in the interests of both Palestinian workers and Israeli workers to work together to create a strong and dynamic union movement in an independent and democratic Palestine and an independent and democratic Israel."
As the controversy sparked by the Greens position on Israel widened, NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell -- who has the power to sack councils and appoint administrators -- warned Marrickville council to return to its core business.
Mr O'Farrell dismissed Ms Byrne and Ms Rhiannon as "reds".
"Marrickville council needs to get back to to what the local government act stipulates that councils should do, which is roads, rubbish and rates," he said.
- See more at: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/israel-ban-move-opens-rift-in-unions/story-fn59niix-1226039365121#sthash.q1lEOmpJ.dpuf

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