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New South Wales

May 17, 2010

When is a car bomb not worthy of condemnation? When the target is the CFMEU

The reason a terrorist-style attack on its NSW headquarters can be ignored is because the union represents a danger to the political and media elites, writes a former CFMEU insider.


So my old workplace was attacked with a car bomb last week. There are not many people in this country who can make that statement! The attack occurred in suburban Western Sydney, missing by less than an hour a community group meeting in the building.

A group of people stole a car, loaded it with canisters of petrol, smashed it through a three-metre high wrought iron gate and crashed it into the front doors of a three-storey office block. I had a look at the damage myself less than 12 hours after the attack.  The picture to my eyes looked very Baghdad indeed.


Amazingly, since the attack, not one state or national political figure has come out and condemned the violence. The reason? The target was the NSW headquarters of the construction division of the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union.

Imagine for a moment, if such an attack had been perpetrated on any other part of civil society. A church. An RSL. A scout hall even. Our political leaders would have been racing each other to the scene of the crime. Jostling to inspect the damage, crunch over the broken glass, comfort the staff, condemn the violence.

It would have been (mis)named as a terrorist attack. Bi-partisan condemnation would have come from all levels of government. The papers would be full of it for days.

Instead we get this … silence.

The attack got good electronic media coverage Friday but major papers such as the so-called “paper of record” in my home town, the Sydney Morning Herald, literally ignored the attack. For the readers of the SMH and The Australian, the attack just simply never happened. Not worthy of being reported on it seems. Middle-class indolence at its most revealing.

But I am mostly angry at Kevin Rudd and our political leaders. Rudd and IR minister Julia Gillard have shown their true colours here. They are fakes. Shallow fakes. A serious attempt to terrorise and intimidate a key plank of our civil society and they are mute. Too busy seeking reflected glory from Jessica Watson, in Rudd’s case. For these people, including Kristina Keneally, the puppet in NSW, condemning outrages must clearly never be about principle. This incident has demonstrated how there must always be a cynical political calculation behind every expression of sympathy or outrage. Some hollowman down in Canberra must have just done the calcs on Rudd or Gillard coming out on this and decided it didn’t fit the government’s “narrative.” Or something. Best ignored.

Clearly our political leaders are happy to associate themselves with a disaster when politically expedient, but run a mile when its not. That’s not what leadership is in my book. What a bunch of frauds.

The hypocrisy revealed in this incident is sickening. A bit of blue language on a building site and there are screaming headlines, a politicised Royal Commission (which could not find any of the corruption and organised crime in the building industry because it was only looking for it among the unions) and an industrial police with powers and an agenda that would make the Gestapo proud.  But drive an improvised explosive device into a union office? Somewhere a cricket is audible in the silence.

The shocking explanation is that what happened at Lidcombe simply does not fit with the anti-CFMEU agenda of the political and media elites in this country.

The CFMEU has all sorts of problems, I should know I used to work there. But the reason a terrorist-style attack on its NSW headquarters can be ignored in this manner is because the union represents a danger to the political and media elites. Along with just a handful of other effective unions, it remains an example, an imperfect and flawed example, of ordinary people having a little bit of power in their working lives.

That’s why the CFMEU is fair game.



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29 thoughts on “When is a car bomb not worthy of condemnation? When the target is the CFMEU

  1. whatiris

    I’m completely perplexed by how little coverage this has gotten.

  2. daveliberts

    Great article. The inconsistency between reporting on the war on terror and an actual car bomb landing in an organisation which is involved in various political issues screams out loud.

  3. Keith is not my real name

    Honest question – How do you know it was a “group” of people?

  4. Pamela

    What a joke the media and politicians have shown themselves to be. If this had been Liberal party headquarters we would still be hearing about it.
    However selectivity as to what is newsworthy and important as ever depends on who is an acceptable victime.
    A family drowning at sea is a tragedy and it is-
    BUT so are 5 asylum seekers drowning at sea as they set out on a bunch of tyres seeking rescue for the men , women and children on their failing boat.

    Guess the CFMEU and the asylum seekers are in the same boat.

  5. New Cassandra

    What a load of self rightous twaddle. So the “Insider” considers the CFMEU to be in the same decent society as churches, scout halls and RSLs.

    Guess what – you are thought of by the great majority as no better than bikies, and no one really cares when those thugs turn on each other.

    At least the bikies try to improve there image by having toy runs.

  6. AbeSafron

    Firstly, all Australians should deplore acts of violence. We only have to look to Thailand to understand that our freedom of speech and expression is priceless.

    Having said that let me say this… How dare former CFMEU Insider (read – current CFMEU lackie) defend an organisation that has perpetrated so much violence on others over the decades in Australia.

    Here is an organisation that allegedly kicked in the windows and physically threatened the greenies in Tasmania; who have been allegedly involved in a myriad of physical assaults over the decades; whose one time leader used to carry a shot gun in the boot of his car and whose violence to get their way has only possibly been ‘outgunned’ by the reign of the Painters & Dockers union on the Australian waterfront in the 9160s and 70s….

    Yes, we all deplore acts of terrorism, and the person who car bombed the CFMEU in Sydney should be jailed, but maybe Rudd and Gillard want to stay well clear on the CFMEU because of the union’s acidic nature over the decades.

    Violence begets violence.

    Uncle Abe

  7. angelamews

    It’s typical of a union like the CFMEU to cry foul when something like this happens to them! What about all their victims over the years?

  8. Liz45

    Abesafron – It’s ironic isn’t it? With a pen name like yours, you have the audacity to refer to another time and other people? No doubt you also justified and continue to justify the illegal invasion of Iraq, becuase Saddam Hussein was a bad man, and so all the people in the country are also bad by association – even after his death? The 1.6 million dead Iraqis, and the homeless, the unemployed and the babies being born with genetic deformities shouldn’t complain? Thank goodness you’re not on ‘the bench’?

    angelamews – As above! Provide proof. The fact is, that the Cole Commission didn’t bring up one example of corruption by the workers, who most belong to the CFMEU! Go and look at the findings.

    Coupled with this fact is the response of the Howard govt which introduced the Australian Building and construction Commission, which has more powers than either state or federal police. For example; there’s no presumption of innocence; no right to remain silent and a person does not have the right to a solicitor of their choice(this is the same as the component of the Anti-Terrorism Legislation).
    In plain terms this means, that if you have a conversation with a co-worker(or anyone else for that matter) at a barbeque out of work time you can be brought before the ABCC – you don’t have the right to remain silent(jail of 6 months) nor the presumption of innocence, and if you discuss the interview with your wife/husband/partner, you can be also jailed for 6 months.

    Tell me what part of living in a so-called democracy condones this type of behaviour, with no evidence let alone proof of breaking the law? How would you like to be hauled in for an interview after a social gathering at your home or workplace? If this is part of a fair go, it’s not for me! Evan Ivan Milat and the brutal murderers of Anita Cobby were entitled to the legal rights to which I referred! When we divvy up the legal rights of citizens depending on whether we agree with them or not, we’re no better than Saddam Hussein or any other despot! You either support the rule of law or you don’t!
    Jack Mundey was demonised too – now he’s a national treasure, of which he is!

  9. angelamews

    Oh dear Lizzie, you sound like CFMEU Insider (former that is) mum!

    You talk about another time and other people, but weren’t those CFMEU people down in Tassie kicking the Jesus out of the poor greenies car; and wasn’t that a CFMEU official in the video. And didn’t they threaten them physically?

    Deary me, Lizzy45, take off the blinkers realise that the CFMEU is ‘begetting’ what it has dished out over the years.

    It isn’t right that they were car bombed, but I agree with a previous reply… how do we know it wasn’t the CFMEU themselves seeking some some form of sympathy. hang on I shall get the violins out!

    And, right back at you tell me what sort of democracy allows thugs like the CFMEU to threaten fellow citizens. they are something of the past. politically and in every other way.

    Sorry Lizzy45 but thats the plain truth so swallow it!

  10. Liz45

    angelamews – You have not provided one shred of proof! I’ve met many members of the CFMEU, in fact I proudly walked with many during the May Day rally. These workers and their families have been striving for an increase in their wages for about 2 yrs now. They are family people, just like you and I. They mine the coal that provides your electricity! They provide the homes that ordinary people live in. I don’t judge people via a video that the media uses, nor do I judge the many members I’ve met by actions of the past. I’m also old enough to remember false videos and libellous so-called ‘evidence’ used over the years to blacken individuals and unions. The more militant and active the Union, the more money spent to blacken its name. This is an old trick that started in this country with the shearers strike of 1890. I also know, that the CFMEU like the MUA and many other unions have supported aboriginal people and others who are used and abused in this country!

    I don’t have to “swallow” your s**t at all! If it wasn’t for Union support, I’d never have been financially or physically able to sue my employer for negligence which 26 yrs later still causes disabling and acute pain. I took the action and they were found to be negligent! Take your anti union garbage and go to hell!

    Finally, I don’t want to live in a country, where the justice system only works for the ‘chosen’ but allows all sorts of crimes against those it doesn’t ‘choose’! Take a look at what “democracy” means? Not your version, thankfully! We should all be able to take comfort in a real justice system, not one designed by you and your mob!
    If CFMEU members were involved in crimes of violence, the relevant govts would be pushing for them to at least be charged, at best to be de-registered? I haven’t heard one word in this direction via the media, either on a state level or by AFP? Again, provide the proof or shut up! You don’t bother me one bit!

  11. angelamews

    Liz (read CFMEU Insider) I am sure you have walked among the comrades of the CFMEU.

    You are giving away you cover with your writings.

    Your sycophantic guff would make any reader of crikey vomit!

    And, then like any thug CFMEU unionist and insider you turn to abuse as none of you have the intellect of a wee ant:

    “Take your anti union garbage and go to hell!”

    Basically, if you cant stand the heat… all of you CFMEU bully boys hide behind a screen as did you fellow thugs in Tasmania.

    You are weak little men with no backbone… and that is why the media and the PM and Deputy PM dont listen to your absolute twaddle anymore… CFMEU is voiceless and weak!

    CFMEU have been involved in many crimes and convicted of many crimes — for anyone just Google CFMEU convictions/crimes/arrests – and as for bully boy Liz45… go and ply your pathetic crap on someone who may listen. or should that be CFMEU Insider (former of course)

    Sad, weak, CFMEU bully boy!

  12. Liz45

    @angelamews – “It isn’t right that they were car bombed, but I agree with a previous reply… how do we know it wasn’t the CFMEU themselves seeking some some form of sympathy. hang on I shall get the violins out!”

    Sticks and stones etc! I’m not bothered by you one bit!

    For someone who believes in a democracy, it’s obvious that you only intend it to be for those who you believe are ‘worthy’? I abhor all violence, regardless of who commits it, including you!

    No doubt you were leading the list of those who said that Howard and Downer should be hauled before the Court when those at AWB finally confessed, that the permission to hand over all those millions to Saddam Hussain came from the “top”? No, now why doesn’t that surprise me? I’m not a member of the CFMEU in any state, nor do any of my kids belong to that Union or ever have! I just hate your idea of justice! Rather like Pinnochet of Chile or???many others!

  13. Liz45

    @angelamews – did that! Doesn’t exist! Now why doesn’t that surprise me?

  14. Niall Clugston

    Well, the allegation that unionists in the NSW construction industry are “thugs” (by association with forestry workers in Tasmania etc) still doesn’t explain the lack of coverage. The Sydney Morning Herald covers underworld conflicts ad nauseum.

  15. angelamews


    dont be so naive!

    The CFMEU still has a forestry workers division… and that’s them in the YouTube video.


  16. Tom McLoughlin

    Andrew Ferguson as secretary of the NSW CFMEU has never promoted violence in my experience in NSW back to 1992 in terms of community politics.

    It’s somewhat early days I think in terms of the shock value of this arson attack. Yes it is bad. Very bad.

    Another puzzling lack of coverage was burnt to the ground Latin American House at Addison Rd Community Centre last year about 12 months back. A weatherboard that had been there some 30 plus years. AF was at a function there the night before expressing solidarity for a Left wing cause of some kind – might have been the 25th 30th anniversary of the election of the Allende govt or something like that. Can’t remember.

    Andrew Ferguson strikes me as the most left wing and most idealistic of the current dynastic generation. Indeed I admitted to me on a booth one voting for the Greens Senate candidate, she having done a work experience placement in their office. I also saw him at a vigil at Garden Island for the Chilean Navy ship formerly used to torture Allende supporters in Chile.

    I think it’s highly simplistic to conflate Tas rabid loggers, or indeed even NSW logger thugs (eg convicted for offences near Cobargo) at the direction of a certain federal ALP executive member, with Andrew Ferguson. Chances are that it’s just as likely a right wing union as anyone. NSW doesn’t tolerate independent indealistic thinking very much. Just like Juanita Nielsen and Jack Mundey shafted in their respective ways.

  17. Tom McLoughlin

    sorry about the fat finger typos on this netbook via wireless on a nsw suburban rattler

  18. angelamews

    CFMEU honour roll call of criminal charges:

    Union pair on assault charge

    CFMEU member charged over death threats

    Union member facing jail for failing to attend hearing

    Shall I go on… there are plenty more!


  19. Purkaeus

    I was very sorry to hear of this attack on one of the greatest threats to Australian plutocracy. Thanks for your coverage.

  20. Dan Murphy

    Union member facing jail for failing to attend hearing

    Member refuses be interrogated by seven times ILO condemned building commission so they deserved to have their offices blown up. That’s your argument.

    It’s always interesting how right wingers can so quickly excuse the use of police state powers and terrorism when targeted at one of their enemies. Then off to their blog to tap out some BS about the cause of liberty and the war on terror.

    Go on, bring yourself to condemn someone driving a car bomb through Sydney traffic to blow up the offices of a registered industrial organisation with over 100,000 members. I’ll bet you can’t.

  21. Meski

    Riiight, so it’s ok to bomb them. Remind me that I shouldn’t live next door then. That’s a load of crap, and I’m disgusted that people in this country think that it’s ok. (disclaimer: I’ve never belonged to a union)

  22. Liz45

    @angelamews – “You are giving away you cover with your writings.” Oh grow up! What “cover” am I giving away? That I’m a pro union person, always have been, always will be! I’m proud of that, as I was proud to walk behind CFMEU miners on May Day, who have been fighting for wage justice for two yrs – shut out of their workplace etc. One thing about people like you who stand for nothing – they usually fall for anything, which is what you’re doing now. As is Meski!

    There’ve been at least 4 members of the NSW govt(both sides) who’ve been questioned or charged with domestic violence charges/accusations. Does that mean that every male in the NSW govt(both parties, both Assembly and Council) is a wife basher? Of course not! One Labor Upper House member is in jail for sexual assault of a young man – does that make you question all the other males there? Of course not! The list goes on!

    Like most people exercising hysterical hate, you show a very twisted, jaundiced and almost pathological, illogical and unjust assessment of the whole(100,000) by the ALLEGED actions of an extremely small minority? Hysterical and damned stupid! Grow up! There’s more accusations against the police in several states in relation to at least 6 deaths in custody of aboriginal people – does that mean that every cop is a racist killer? Of course not! Even though there’s a disturbing history in this regard, a person is still entitled to a presumption of innocence until proven guilty – unless, in your view, they’re a union member! Grow UP!

    I’ve met Andrew Ferguson too. I’ve been to functions where he’s attended, one where he was the guest speaker – A May Day Toast a couple of years ago. Like TOM MCCLOUGHLIN I have never heard him utter one word or intonation or?? remotely supporting violence of any sort. However, I have supported his conviction, that the ABCC is undemocratic, unjust and purely criminal in the execution of their widespread laws! Like the arrest of Ark Tribe who is facing 6 mnths jail for not attending an interrogation by this fascist body, set up by Howard and continued by the Rudd govt, to their shame! If I was in his state, I’d be attending court to support him.

    If you and Meski approve of laws that force a person to speak about a conversation/s at a private function that just happened to have other union members present, then go and live in some other country, not this one! Bad laws should be protested about, and protested against until they’re removed – that’s what happens in a democracy, not ini a police state that you’re advocating.
    If people hadn’t marched, gone on strike etc married women would still be forced to resign from the commonwealth public service jobs the day of their marriage(like me) equal pay would be even more unequal than at present; you’d be working 50-60 hrs without a break, and there’d still be canaries and horses working down mines, and miners like my friend’s late father, would still be contracting ‘dusted lungs’ and people would still be working with asbestos, that too often result in horrible and agonising deaths.

    None of these changes happened because an employer/s or politicians woke up one day and said, ‘this can’t go on, it’s killing people etc’? No, workers went on strike so othat you have holidays, holiday pay and penalty rates – that’s in jobs that Howard didn’t impose his ideas of workers rights???His idea was, no rights or damned close to it!

  23. Liz45

    @MESKI – “(disclaimer: I’ve never belonged to a union)” No, like most bludgers, you’ve allowed others to do the ‘heavy lifting’ while you enjoy the fruits of their struggles. No doubt you don’t accept leave loading as part of your holiday pay; work longer hours unpaid; don’t allow your daughters to take advantage of higher education – the rights of which women, unionists and other committed people fought for over years. You enjoy the right to remain silent if arrested, and the presumption of innocence you probably take for granted. None of these things just happened! People before you fought for them, and people now are fighting to keep them! The jobs covered by the CFMEU are some of the most dangerous in the country – these peoples’ lives are at risk each day, and all too frequently by bosses who won’t spend the money to protect them – by supplying harnesses on all building sites for example!

    I suggest, that you quietly sit down, and write down all the things that you enjoy now, that others before you fought for, and went without their wages for in order to achieve these things – whether it’s in the area of worker safety or pay and conditions. None of them just happened – not one!

  24. Meski

    I don’t really work in a field that has unions, Liz, and as for the comment in the post before

    If you and Meski approve of laws that force a person to speak about a conversation/s

    I don’t understand how you drew that conclusion from what I said. I don’t.

  25. Liz45

    @MESKI – If I misunderstood your position, I’m sorry! Perhaps it would be a good idea to make it plain who you’re responding to – then we all know what your position is.

  26. Meski

    @Liz: It was a generalised rant against posts that thought that because the CFMEU had a somewhat chequered past, that it was ok to car-bomb them.

  27. Liz45

    @MESKI – As I said, I’m sorry! Like you I thought the posts were pretty revolting too! Funny how angelamews has gone quiet! People like her scare the hell out of me!
    Take care!

  28. Moira Smith

    Rudd had plenty of time to greet the plucky, nubile lone sailor Jessica Watson.

  29. Liz45

    MOIRA -Yes, it’s all a matter of priorities isn’t it?


Telling you what the others don't. FREE for 21 days.

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