In­ter­nal di­vi­sions trig­gered by frack­ing set to erupt as union plans coup at NT con­fer­ence

Sunday Territorian - - FRONT PAGE - KEN MCGRE­GOR

AN in­ter­nal La­bor war is set to ig­nite dur­ing the next fort­night as Queens­land union heavy­weights seek to over­throw the NT divi­sion’s sec­re­tary Kent Rowe, ac­cord­ing to se­nior party sources.

It is un­der­stood fac­tional ten­sions, which have sim­mered for more than a year, have been brought to a head by the in­ter­nal divi­sion over the Gun­ner Gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion to over­turn its frack­ing mora­to­rium and al­low the ex­trac­tion of on­shore shale gas.

The Sun­day Ter­ri­to­rian has been told the move will once again be spear­headed by QLD CFMEU leader Michael Ravbar, who at­tempted a sim­i­lar coup in June last year.

That move came as the NT La­bor Gov­ern­ment was ne­go­ti­at­ing with the pub­lic ser­vice unions on a new enterprise bar­gain­ing agree­ment but was ul­ti­mately thwarted by the ALP national ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee. The ten­sions be­tween SE­NIOR LA­BOR PARTY SOURCE the left and right, how­ever, have risen sharply due to the issue of frack­ing since that time and it is un­der­stood the move has much more sup­port this time around.

The lift­ing of the frack­ing ban, which could gen­er­ate sig­nif­i­cant rev­enue for the NT has been wel­comed by busi­ness groups and the Cham­ber of Com­merce but out­raged en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists.

The Left fac­tion have gen­er­ally been against frack­ing in the Ter­ri­tory while the right have tended to sup­port it.

A se­nior party source said Mr Ravbar would be fly­ing from QLD to the Ter­ri­tory shortly for the NT La­bor con­fer­ence mid next month.

“There has been strong de­bate (of frack­ing) and some strongly held views,” the source said.

“They are com­ing with the in­ten­tion of hard­en­ing up the left to fight frack­ing.”

The Sun­day Ter­ri­to­rian un­der­stands Mr Ravbar will be bring­ing with him his pre­ferred pick for Mr Rowe’s po­si­tion. Both fac­tions have been jock­ey­ing up sup­port for their po­si­tions and this is ex­pected to in­ten­sify as the con­fer­ence nears.

“This is po­ten­tially a wa­ter­shed mo­ment. It is an at­tempted takeover of the NT branch by the CFMEU,” the source said.

The source said the OLD CFMEU was at­tempt­ing to “ex­ploit” the frack­ing issue, de­spite the sol­i­dar­ity over the La­bor Gov­ern­ment’s stance on the issue.

United Voice was con­tacted for com­ment. Queens­land CFMEU state sec­re­tary Michael Ravbar

Pic­ture: AAP Im­age/Clau­dia Bax­ter

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