Unions opt out of backing NSW ALP leadership candidate


“This support is contingent upon the incoming NSW Labor leader ensuring the shadow cabinet and their policies are developed in a consultative and inclusive manner, and that they deliver fair outcomes for our members, workers and the community.

“We respect the decision of those unions who are supporting a candidate in the interests of their members.”

The Australian Workers Union and two of the biggest right wing unions – the Health Services Union (HSU) and the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association (SDA) – last week declared they would back Mr Minns, believing he has the best chance of winning an election.

The Transport Workers Union has yet to comment publicly on its position.

At Friday’s meeting, Ms McKay and Mr Minns faced questions from unions who have raised concerns about both candidates.

In 2008, Ms McKay angered unions when she supported former premier Morris Iemma’s privatisation push to sell the state-owned retailers and lease the generators.


More recently, she upset some when she appeared to distance herself from the party machine and the union movement in an email to rank-and-file members seeking their support.

“I’m not a career politician. I was never in Young Labor, I’ve never worked in party office, I was never a staffer, or a union official – I’m a country girl whose dad used to mow lawns,” she said.

Mr Minns has also upset unionists with what were viewed as anti-union sentiments in his 2015 maiden speech to Parliament.

In that speech he said that while trade unions were integral to Labor’s success and heritage, the party needs to also represent people who were not in a trade union.

“That will mean taking steps to reduce union control on the floor of our conference and increasing the representation of ordinary members of our party to have more diverse voices,” he said.

“In the long term, a more balanced split in the make-up of Labor will be better both for the party and for our hardworking trade unions.”

Darren Greenfield, state secretary of the biggest left-wing affiliated union, the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), said the NSW branch would back Ms McKay.

“Jodi has a track record of going into bat for workers in the Hunter,” he said.

Mr Minns, the member for Kogarah, and Ms McKay, the member for Strathfield, are both from the party’s Right. The ballot will be determined by a vote of the parliamentary caucus and the rank-and-file members, with each group having a 50 per cent say.

The new leader will be announced on June 30.

Anna Patty is Workplace Editor for The Sydney Morning Herald. She is a former Education Editor, State Political Reporter and Health Reporter.

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