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Labor Needs Union Support More Than Ever

Release date: 29/05/2012

The federal opposition, business interests and conservative sections of the media are the most disciplined forces to have united against a Labor government in many years, ALP national secretary George Wright says.

AAP, Sydney Morning Herald

Mr Wright, who worked as a media adviser to former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd after leading the ACTU's Your Rights At Work campaign against Work Choices, says the federal government faced very significant political challenges that require the support of the union movement.

"I cannot recall a time when the conservative forces in this country ... have been so organised and so disciplined, and so focused in working together to remove a Labor government," he told a Transport Workers' Union forum in Sydney on Tuesday.

"We are up against a very, very well organised business community, a rampant and focused and disciplined opposition, an aggressive conservative media, in a way that I don't think we've seen for a very, very long time."

But Mr Wright rejected a suggestion from a delegate that the minority Labor government should allow Opposition Leader Tony Abbott assume power, arguing that the coalition would call an early election to entrench a majority.

He said the opposition probably had a 100-day plan, which involved radical industrial relations changes. "Those people will want payback, make no mistake about it," he said.

Earlier, NSW Opposition Leader John Robertson told the conference there was an industry of Labor critics, which included former Labor ministers.

"It's become almost an industry to bag the Labor Party, whether it's the federal Labor government or Labor governments at every level," he said.

But he declined to tell journalists if he was talking about former Hawke government minister Graham Richardson, who appears on the Seven Network and writes a column for News Ltd.  

"People know who they are. I wasn't talking about specific individuals," he said. "Anything I've got to say to any of them I will be saying to them directly, not through media channels."

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