Electoral Matters Committee: conduct of 2014 Victorian state election (22.6.2016)
Written on the 23 June 2016
Statements on reports and papers
GEORGIE CROZIER (LIB - Southern Metropolitan)
I am again going to speak on the Electoral Matters Committee's Report into the conduct of the 2014 Victorian state election, which I have made a number of contributions on previously regarding some situations that occurred during the 2014 election. What I want to do in my contribution today is back up the comments that I have previously made with comments by a United Firefighters Union (UFU) member that are in the public domain. This is one of the UFU members who was on site at the Bentleigh pre-poll for the majority of the time that I was there. As opposed to other UFU members, he was certainly one of the UFU members who spent a significant amount of time at the pre-poll.
In this article dated October 2014 the UFU member talks about union involvement, and I quote:
When I became a firefighter, it was compulsory to join the union. It was a closed shop.
He lived in Bentleigh, and he was a great supporter of the then local member.
I am going to quote some large pieces from this news article for the purposes of Hansard, and I quote:Around about two years ago, in conversation with [United Firefighters Union secretary] Peter Marshall, we decided that with the advent of the new enterprise bargaining agreement we knew that we were going to have a fight on our hands with the government so we started to develop a strategy for how we would go about our new EBA and pressurise the government and we decided our best course of action would probably be a political campaign.I made a lot of phone calls to the troops in the field, the firefighters. And I started to get this strong feeling that the troops in the field were in for a fight
This article goes on and on, but I think it is very telling.An honourable member interjected.
Ms CROZIER This is what the UFU is saying, and I think it is important that we understand exactly what is going on here. This particular piece goes on to say, and I quote again:And to be honest the employers and government have played their part beautifully because they have antagonised the firefighters, they have been the sole creators of a lot of activists
I think there was always that intention of Trades Hall to get on board with it. We could see what was happening with the nurses dispute, the teachers as well, and the paramedics were in the thick of it at the time.We started to develop a plan and then I got exposed to (Victorian Trades Hall secretary) Luke Hilakari.
This was the next part of their campaign. They said people started to trust them and they started to do their doorknocking. I believe there were something like 43 000 houses that the UFU doorknocked. There were 723 UFU members that manned booths in that 2014 election. The article goes on, and I quote again:We did our first doorknocking in February, so this campaign has been a long egg hatching.
When we go doorknocking, we have nurses, teachers, paramedics and firefighters and we try to pair up a firefighter or other public sector work with an orange person we call them that because they wear an orange T-shirt.
When a firefighter or a nurse or an ambo turns up on a doorstep, it's been invaluable to our campaign. They're all such trusted professions
And can I say, as a former nurse, how disappointed I am to see these words in print. I cannot believe that the domination of the unions would be used to manipulate people, and we are seeing that again in this federal election campaign.To go back to this particular 2014 election, I quote from this particular article a final time:
We're in the last few weeks now and I feel we're making inroads, but as I caution others, this is not a time to relax, we've got to push all the way to the line and hopefully on election night we will get a good outcome.I'm hoping we can roll out a similar campaign in the future. Like the old Leonard Cohen song says, 'First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin'.
I would say this is exactly the intention of the UFU.
This was its whole intent: to start this campaign in 2014 at the state election and to run a similar campaign in time - and we have seen the paybacks with Daniel Andrews and his extraordinary support for this highly militant union. To defy the tens of thousands of volunteers in our community is extraordinary. The spin that is coming out of the government to say that we are the liars is extraordinary.
This article from the union member absolutely demonstrates what happened in 2014 and what will happen and is happening across the country.
I think everybody should be very concerned.
But I will say again that this was one of those unionists that I worked with very closely on the pre-poll at Bentleigh and I think it goes to why this inquiry made the recommendations it did and formed the views that it did.