Rudd says ACCI head a 'political operator' for Howard

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Rudd says ACCI head a 'political operator' for Howard

Opposition Leader, Kevin Rudd, has told the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) that he regards its Chief Executive, Peter Hendy, as a Liberal Party operative whom Labor will never treat as a 'bona fide independent spokesman for an industry organisation'.

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Opposition Leader, Kevin Rudd, has told the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) that he regards its Chief Executive, Peter Hendy, as a Liberal Party operative whom Labor will never treat as a 'bona fide independent spokesman for an industry organisation'.

However, he denied claims made earlier today by Workplace Relations Minister, Joe Hockey, that he had threatened employer bodies with retribution for backing pro-WorkChoices TV ads which have been injected into the election debate.

Rudd also denied telling ACCI to get rid of Hendy, who was Chief of Staff to former Workplace Relations Minister, Peter Reith, at the time of the attack on waterfront unions.

Liberal Party operative

However, Rudd said he had never made it a secret he regarded ACCI Chief Executive, Peter Hendy, as a Liberal Party operative. He rejected the suggestion he told ACCI President, Peter O'Brien, he should get rid of Hendy.

'Not at all,' Rudd said. 'My view about Peter Hendy has been probably articulated on this program and 1,000 other programs across the country. He is a Liberal Party operative,' he told ABC Radio. 'He always has behaved that way, it seems to me.'

Rudd said he had provided Hendy with a reference when he went to ACCI, and said ACCI's decision on having Hendy in the job was a matter for ACCI.

Not independent

'But I have said to them quite bluntly and directly - don't expect us to treat Hendy as some bona fide independent spokesman for an industry organisation,' he said. 'We all know he is an extension of the Howard political office. That is as clear on the record as it is off the record in all of my discussions with ACCI and others.'

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