Electoral Matters Committee: Conduct of 2014 Victorian State Election (25 May 2016)

Written on the 26 May 2016


25 May 2016

COUNCIL 

Statements on reports and papers 

GEORGIE CROZIER (LIB - Southern Metropolitan)

 

I am pleased to rise and speak to the May 2016 report of the Electoral Matters Committee inquiry into the conduct of the 2014 Victorian state election.

In the last sitting week, when I was giving notice that I was intending to make a statement on the report of this inquiry, the Minister for Families and Children interjected, stating that I harassed paramedics. I just want to go to that point because I was on the Bentleigh pre-poll for the last week of the lead-up to the 2014 election. That poll, as Mr Dalidakis, who is in the chamber, will attest, was a very busy, significant pre-poll, I think it is fair to say, because the then opposition Labor Party identified it as a seat that it wanted to win, and indeed it did. But there was a lot of union activity on that pre-poll from firefighters, paramedics, teachers, nurses and a lot of people from Trades Hall.

On the ground they made no effort to hide the fact that the material the unionists were handing out came directly out of Trades Hall. There were plastic buckets there with notices on them to say, 'Ring such and such at Trades Hall if you need more material'. So it was a very fraught, tense pre-poll, and I dispute the minister's claims. I know there was one particular paramedic who was fairly vocal and obviously knew my history of once being a union member whilst I was at the Alfred. At that point in time, following an intimidatory process undertaken by the union, I decided not to become a member and continued to work. Members in this house know the history of my doing so. Nevertheless, this paramedic and a number of other paramedics and a number of other unionists knew a lot of details about me, in particular the firefighters knew a lot of details about my family and my family members.

As members know, I am no shrinking violet and I was keen to get every vote for the then very good member for Bentleigh, Elizabeth Miller, that I could and to retain good government in this state. So I was willing to speak to a lot of voters along the line, and I was willing to try to defuse a lot of tense situations but also to combat and refute what the union members were saying, which was quite outrageous. What we saw were fire trucks which came very close to the polling booth with signage all over them, and of course we know what happened around the state with paramedics. This report goes to a lot of what I experienced firsthand at the Bentleigh pre-poll and at the Prahran pre-poll too in Chapel Street in the previous week.

There were a number of submissions made to this excellent committee and inquiry, and they are in this report. There are instances outside of Bentleigh where they talk about Country Fire Authority volunteers being impersonated by union firefighter members, and there is a very good recommendation by the committee that looks at the issue that I alluded to before about using public property such as fire trucks. The report states at page 145:

It is implausible to claim that there was only one decommissioned fire truck used in the 2014 Victorian state election campaign, given the number of fire trucks seen all over the state.

The committee went on to recommend that:

the public sector code of conduct be amended to prohibit public sector workers using government property, such as ambulances, fire trucks and uniforms for political purposes and in election campaigns and that penalties be developed for a breach of this type.

I think that is the most significant recommendation out of this inquiry, because the messages on that public property such as ambulances was absolutely misleading and disingenuous. I thought it was an absolute disgrace. I said it at the pre-poll and I will say again: to deface public property using those ambulances as mobile billboards was inappropriate, and the union should be absolutely condemned for that behaviour, and the union activity throughout the entire 2014 election campaign was quite shameful.

 


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