Oz PM Gillard says trade union official's 9/11 comment ' stupid and wrong'

Canberra, Oct. 20 (ANI): Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has dismissed as "stupid and wrong" a senior union official's belief that the 9/11 attacks were a conspiracy, but refused to discipline him.

Kevin Bracken, the president of the Victorian Trades Hall and secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia, sparked anger this morning after claiming the attacks were not the result of terrorist activity.

"I believe the official story is a conspiracy theory that doesn't stand up to scientific scrutiny. In my mind, the buildings were imploded," Bracken said.

The Herald Sun quoted Gillard as saying in response: "Obviously I don't agree with the remarks, obviously they are stupid and wrong. The Labor Party is a large organisation, people join it as individuals - we don't dictate what people think."

The Federal Opposition seized on the comments in Parliament today, with Victorian MP Josh Frydenberg asking Gillard what action she would take against Bracken "to send a message that such remarks are unacceptable," The Australian reported.

After being accused by Liberal frontbencher Christopher Pyne of not answering the question on discipline, Gillard said: "If it is the intention of the Leader of the Opposition to expel every member who says something stupid, I'll start sending him a weekly list."

In Victoria, Shadow Attorney General Robert Clarke said Bracken's comments were a direct insult to Australian soldiers serving in Afghanistan.

"It strikes at the very heart of the West's struggle against terrorism and it is a disgrace that while Australian soldiers are serving and dying in Afghanistan that Mr. Bracken make these wild claims that undermine the very reason for their presence in Afghanistan," he said.

Clarke called on Premier John Brumby to condemn these comments in the strongest possible terms and for the outspoken union leader to be disciplined.

Trades Hall secretary Brian Boyd said Bracken did not speak on behalf of the organisation.

"The official Trades Hall position is not to entertain that theory," Boyd said.

"He (Bracken) is entitled to his views and we've discussed his theories," he said.

"But I totally disagree," Boyd added. (ANI)

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