What CFMEU split from Labor’s left means for Mackay
SUPPORT for the Labor Party in mining communities is under threat after the CFMEU’s shock decision to split from the party’s left faction, a political expert says.
In a statement issued earlier this week, the union said both the mining and the construction divisions had decided they could be “more effective advocates for workers as a voice totally independent of a faction that has lost touch with its core values”.
“The leadership vacuum in the left has seen a once powerful voice for working Queenslanders atrophy to the point where today it is little more than a creche for party hacks,” union boss Michael Ravbar said in the statement.
University of Queensland political expert Chris Salisbury said the union’s move could impact votes for Labor in mining regions like Mackay, where a proportion of voters may have previously backed the party due to its ties with the CFMEU.
“That is a concern for Labor, especially in the regions and especially after the performance of Federal Labor at last year’s national election,” Dr Salisbury said.
“The Labor Government will be quite conscious and sensitive to any loss of support in some of these regional seats, particularly some of these mining seats where they were already putting in effort to shore up that support.”
But he noted the CFMEU’s “jab” – just two months out from the state election – had been done before.
Dr Salisbury said an example of this was in 2017 when the CFMEU disaffiliated from the Queensland Council of Unions.
“(That) hasn’t necessarily cost the party in terms of the returns it got at subsequent elections,” he said.
“They will be displeased, no doubt, at Labor headquarters.
“But it’s not necessarily a fatal blow – It’s one they have had to deal with in the past.”
Dr Salisbury said the CFMEU split could also mean more attention for mining seats such as Mackay, Whitsunday, Burdekin and Mirani from state politicians in the coming weeks.
“Labor has put in a fair bit of effort trying to get up into these regional areas and promote its support for those communities,” he said.
“I dare say this move by the CFMEU will only make the party redouble those efforts.”