Tasmanian union boss lashes federal Labor

·2-min read

A Tasmanian union boss has taken a swipe at federal Labor's decision to sack the state party president and delay the branch's annual conference.

Ben McGregor was on Tuesday given his marching orders by Labor's national executive in the latest saga to hit the island state's opposition.

Mr McGregor had resisted recent calls from state secretary Stuart Benson to quit after a party investigation into allegations he sent inappropriate texts to a female colleague seven years ago.

He said the inquiry had cleared him of wrongdoing but Mr Benson said the complaint didn't fall within party policy, and the complainant didn't want to proceed.

Mr McGregor, who pulled out as a state election candidate earlier this year when the allegations surfaced, had threatened legal action against party members over how the investigation was handled.

Mr McGregor said on Tuesday he had been removed by the national executive without being given the chance to speak to them.

Health and Community Services Union state secretary Tim Jacobson described the national executive intervention as unnecessary and over the top.

"In a party like the ALP that professes to be democratic, (this is) completely undemocratic without any whisper of natural justice at all to the president," he told ABC Radio on Wednesday.

HACSU last month said it would disaffiliate from Tasmanian Labor, but Mr Jacobson has indicated he will remain a party member.

He said there was "significant and broad concern" among affiliate unions and rank and file members about the state of the Tasmanian Labor party.

The party, which in May lost a third straight state poll, has been embroiled in bitter infighting.

The national executive also postponed the Tasmanian Labor conference, scheduled for October 30, until after the federal election.

On Tuesday, Mr Benson said it was deferred because the top priority of the party was to focus on winning federal seats, including regaining marginal electorates Bass and Braddon.

"The problem is, Labor will need its rank and file in the lead up to the federal election to throw its support behind various candidates," Mr Jacobson said.

"Pulling the rope from underneath the rank and file ... will have a significant affect on the level of support those candidates will receive."

It has been a tumultuous year for Tasmanian Labor, which has been forced to shuffle leaders after the May 1 election loss.

Rebecca White, who stepped down from the role afterwards, was reappointed after her replacement David O'Byrne was accused of sexual harassment.

An internal investigation into allegations he sent unwanted texts and kissed a junior female union colleague more than a decade ago found the conduct was wrong but did not breach Labor's sexual harassment policy.

Mr O'Byrne quit state Labor caucus but continues to serve in parliament despite Ms White urging him to resign altogether.

He said he thought at the time his conduct was consensual but now understood it wasn't.

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