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Australian PM slams union leader for saying 9/11 a US plot

world Updated: Oct 20, 2010 16:49 IST

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Wednesday dismissed as "stupid and wrong" a trade union leader's remarks that the Sep 11, 2001 terror attacks in the US were a conspiracy.

Kevin Bracken, the secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia and Victorian Trades Hall Council (VTHC) president, Wednesday asked for a fresh inquiry into the 9/11 attacks, claiming the "official story doesn't stand up to scientific scrutiny".

Bracken, who has earlier faced criticism for comparing US anti-terrorism law with "civic controls" imposed by German Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler, claimed that elements of the then US government led by President George W. Bush, military personnel and security services were involved in the attacks.

However, VTHC secretary Brian Boyd distanced unions from Bracken's views, The Australian reported.

The Opposition opened parliamentary question time on the matter on Wednesday, with Victorian MP Josh Frydenberg asking the prime minister what action she would take against Bracken "to send a message that such remarks are unacceptable".

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

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 Opposition to expel every member who says something stupid, I'll start sending him a weekly list."

Bracken told The Australian Online Wednesday that aviation fuel from the hijacked planes that crashed into the Twin Towers in New York would not have been hot enough to melt steel, and no high-rise steel-framed building before or after Sep 11, 2001, had collapsed due to fire.

VTHC secretary Boyd said Bracken, who aired his views to ABC radio's Jon Faine, should not have identified himself as Trades Hall president when speaking about the 9/11 attacks.

The vast majority of unions condemned the events of 9/11 as terrorist attacks, and resolutions cited by Bracken did not endorse his views, Boyd said.

Bracken faced flak for his views in 2006 when he claimed the anti-terror laws introduced by the US and its allies, including Australia, were similar to the "civic controls" imposed by Hitler in 1933.