Queensland Council of Unions President John Battams. Photo: Harrison SaragossiThe legislative leash – as loose as it may have turned out to be – is off and the state’s unions plan on using their newly-returned political campaigning freedom on Stafford.
Queensland Council of Unions president John Battams addressed a meeting of affiliated unions and employee organisations in South Brisbane on Wednesday to discuss all things byelection.
The main messages – “have a look at the other candidates, but don’t vote for the LNP”.
“There are some differences between this and the Redcliffe byelection,” Mr Battams said.
“There we were looking for a replacement for a dishonourable, disgraced MP. On this occasion, it is someone who operated with honour and couldn’t convinced his government to listen to him, which is a key issue for us.
“The other difference is the government, through the Attorney-General has had to rescind the legislation restricting union activity, so unions will be campaigning with their members, advertising, we will have some special events.”
Unions, while legislatively hamstrung during the February Redcliffe byelection following the passing of the government’s union transparency laws in October, still managed to campaign by accessing federal funds and establishing corporations which were exempt from the balloting requirements.
Mr Battams said this time the unions would hit Stafford “full force”.
“Yes, we will be there. And we will be campaigning directly to our thousands of members and talking about the asset sales plan,” he said.
“After Redcliffe, the government said they were going to listen. We don’t think they have listened at all – arrogant governments like that need a handbrake put on them and the only way for that to happen is for people to say no. So have a look at the other candidates – just don’t vote LNP.”
Soon after the unions’ made their statement, the LNP executive made one of their own.
State Director Brad Henderson said it was the “unions’ democratic right to participate in the democratic process, but they should stick to the facts”.
“The facts are the delivery of frontline services in Queensland has improved under the Newman LNP Government and more jobs are being created here than any other state,” he said in a statement,
“This government is giving Queenslanders an unprecedented opportunity to have a say on the state’s future economic direction in dealing with Labor’s $80 billion legacy.
“The result of the Stafford by-election will not change the government. But it will give the community the chance to elect a strong voice in government that’s delivering a strong plan for a brighter future.”
The Stafford by-election is set down for July 19.
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